Olaplex is a luxury haircare brand that offers professional results…from the comfort of your own home. Sound too good to be true? Possibly. Because while I’m all about treatments to support healthier hair rather than those that promise miracle growth, Olaplex may not be for everyone.
Their treatments were originally created for color treated hair, plus to prevent damage from harsh chemical treatments like bleaching and heat styling. Nowadays, Olaplex make a variety of bond-strengthening hair treatments: with 2 in salon treatments and a full at-home range.
Their patented bond building technology has taken the world by storm. Since its beginnings in 2014, the brand has attracted a LOT of hype – from A-listers, celebrity stylists and customers alike.
Their at-home treatments have clocked up huge amount of positive Olaplex reviews. But what about the complaints? In this post, I’ll give you the lowdown on Olaplex: how it works, whether it could actually prevent hair loss and promote hair growth, plus some potential side effects.
Emma’s ‘not a doctor’ disclaimer
Hi there, I’m an alopecian, I’m not a doctor! Any advice I give is based on my own research and personal experiences. This site is, however, reader-supported. When you buy through external links, I may earn a tiny affiliate commission. Learn more here.
Olaplex began in a garage in California in 2014. Since then, the brand has taken a grassroots approach to become a global sensation, with millions of fans worldwide.
Olaplex is now one of the largest independent hair care brands in the world, with over 100 global patents across professional salons, prestige retailers and online.
Originally, Olaplex only had one at-home treatment (the Hair Perfector No. 3, which is a milder version of Olaplex No. 2).
But it turned out to be such a hit, the company launched a shampoo and conditioner, a hair oil and a bond intense moisture mask, plus a couple of other leave-in treatments like an dry shampoo. These days, the brands line spans from No. 0 to No.9: salon-quality treatments that are accessible at home.
Widely used by actors and actresses (who have to change their hair colour regularly for various roles), Olaplex is known as a miracle product for restoring and repairing hair after all that over-processing.
Olaplex gets extra kudos for its eco-friendly approach – as well as being vegan and cruelty free, it attempts to reduce its carbon footprint by limiting the use of secondary packaging in its products. Good to know.
Olaplex’s formula is gluten free and silicon free, without any parabens, phthalates or phosphates.
Plus, Olaplex are proud to have created what they call on their website, “the ingredient that changed it all”.
Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate, their patented bond-building technology, has allowed professionals and customers to reach new heights in color and haircare. Not only does hair get healthier, it takes on a completely new quality: blonde shades get brighter, brunettes more radiant, and redheads more vibrant.
This is the ingredient that sets Olaplex apart, and it’s in all Olaplex products. The other ingredients differ across the treatments but they include:
Thanks to these nourishing ingredients, and the bond-builder across all treatments, the Olaplex range brings the following benefits to all hair types.
Olaplex is best known for those with color treated hair or chemically treated hair (say, if you have a perm or use relaxers). It’s also really useful after intensive heat styling. Because flat irons, blow dryers and curling tongs can create thermal factors that typically leave hair feeling dry and brittle.
However, even non-colored, heat-styled or processed hair should benefit from the Olaplex line. As there are tons of other factors – like environmental (UV exposure or pollution), lifestyle, even overbrushing or friction from hairbands – that can cause damage, too.
Olaplex’s strengthening treatment is believed to bring even the most intensely bleached hair back from the brink!
Their bond building technology works on a molecular level: as Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate dramatically improves hair strength, protects each strand from within, and provides immediate results for all hair types.
So you get that glossy, swingy-haired style you’d normally only get from salon treatments right at home. And healthier, stronger hair means less breakage – so less hair loss, too. Phew.
According to customers who’ve used Olaplex, the styling products made their hair smoother, shinier and softer with less frizz – with much healthier hair after just a couple of weeks! Across different hair textures, those with color-treated hair said their hair “looked brighter and less dull” after using Olaplex.
For most people, treatments like the No. 3 Hair Perfector gave them instant and visibile results: they got that salon sheen after only one use, which lasted for days. Some even said their hair felt far healthier overall for at least a week after use.
I know there’s rarely any shortcuts to health…but Olaplex might just give you the appearance of healthy hair until it has time to become that healthy, too.
Between the proteins that make up our hair, there are millions of disulfide bonds that give each strand strength, structure and elasticity. When these bonds are broken, we get split ends and dry, damaged or frizzy hair.
But with Olaplex’s patented bond-building ingredient, bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, we can repair and rebuild these little bonds – for hair that looks and feels healthier, and is less prone to breakage, too.
Rather than resting on the surface, this single molecule attaches itself to the ‘broken bonds’ of your hair. In doing so, it penetrates each hair strand to repair these disulphide bonds (which became damaged from bleaching, heat damage, chemical treatments, environmental factors or even heavy-handed brushing). It even multiplies the bonds to give you stronger, more resilient locks and increase hair density.
To put it simply, by improving the structural integrity of each hair fiber, Olaplex helps to reverse damage: from inside out.
I haven’t used Olaplex before so I don’t know how true all of this is – but hey, if it’s good enough for A-list celebrities like Kim Kardashian and J-Lo (who both have fantastic hair, even though they put it through a lot of styling/coloring!), that speaks volumes to me.
I haven’t included Olaplex No. 1 or No. 2 here as they’re only sold in hair salons but for a quick overview: No. 1 is a ‘bond multiplier’ that hairdressers mix into hair dye to prevent the kind of damage and breakage that bleaching your hair can lead to. And No. 2 is a highly concentrated ‘bond perfector’ to relink damaged disulfide bonds after chemical processing.
The following products are Olaplex’s most popular at-home treatments.
One of Olaplex’s two “hero products”, No. 0 acts as a primer and intensive repair booster to enhance the benefits of No. 3. Its sulfate free, lightweight formula is great for those with fine or flyway hair.
No. 0 contains the highest level of hydroxybis-amino compounds available to consumers – so it’s a pretty powerful solution that claims to restore even the driest of bonds.
Since they redesigned the nozzle on the bottle, it’s also much easier to use. Meaning a quick and targeted stream application tht delivers the highest concentration of their patented bond building technology, without fuss or mess. Your bottle should last you for 3–6 applications, depending on your hair density.
Designed to be used once a week, spray the milky liquid all over dry hair, fully saturating each section. Leave it to sit for 10 minutes before applying Olaplex No. 3.
The first at-home hair treatment that Olaplex sold, and still the holy grail product…it’s on my best hair loss serums list, too!
Designed to be used before the shampoo as a weekly intensive treatment, Olaplex No. 3 works by repairing hair bonds from inside out.
When combined with No. 0, you get the highest levels of their patented bond-builder to make your hair, as Olaplex claims, a whopping three times stronger and 68% greater repair. If you want to dip your toe into the world of Olaplex, go for No. 0 and No. 3 – or even just Olaplex No. 3 by itself, as it’s the original at-home treatment and still considered the brand’s secret weapon.
Use this pre-shampoo treatment weekly or even once a fortnight. If you have badly damaged locks, that isn’t prone to getting oily, you could use it twice or three times a week for more intensive repair.
Apply 2 pea-sized amounts to damp hair, from roots to ends. Leave it to work for a minimum of 10 minutes – although the longer, the better…you could even leave it in overnight! Follow up with Olaplex shampoo and conditioner.
This highly nourishing sulfate-free shampoo works to repair and protect hair from everyday stresses – like UV exposure, heat styling or pollution – by relinking broken bonds. More than your average store-bought cleanser, it works on a molecular level to repair damaged hair or split ends and eliminate frizz.
The shampoo lathers well and leaves hair feeling healthier, more manageable and deeply moisturized, without ever stripping it of its natural oils. The reviews of this product are so positive, I’ll be adding it to my list of best shampoos for hair loss!
No. 4 is color-safe but Olaplex also makes a special purple shampoo, which has a violet pigment to even the tones of brassiness in blonde hair. Plus, a detox dry shampoo, which uses ultra-fine rice starch pigments that don’t leave a chalky residue.
Since this anti-frizz shampoo is quite thick, a little will go a long way. Although it’s apparently designed as a daily shampoo, the formula might be a bit heavy for those with fine hair or thin hair…so you might only want to use it once or twice a week. On the other days, I’d recommend Revita.
The color-safe conditioner aims to strengthen and hydrates your dry, damaged hair: once again, while repairing bonds from inside out. Used frequently, and especially in conjunction with other Olaplex products, you’ll notice less frizz and thicker, smoother, shinier hair.
Like the shampoo, this formula is fairly thick. So you only need to use a pea-sized amount – otherwise you might end up with hair greasy or oily. Apply daily, mainly to the ends of your hair, and leave it to rest for up to three minutes before rinsing with cool water.
Note: If you REALLY want to invest in your hair health – and have the money to do so – you could try the complete Olaplex Hair Repair System: including No. 0 to No. 8 to repair and transform your hair.
Acts as a leave-in styling serum that helps to strengthen and condition hair, speeding up your blow dry time while smoothing and reducing flyaways for up to 72 hours. The highly concentrated formula is great for different hair types: including dry, grey, colored and chemically treated hair.
Olaplex recently redesigned the bottle to feature an easy-dispensing pump, making it easier to apply the spray serum and add definition (without adding hold or excess weight)
Use on wet hair or damp hair and air dry or blow dry your hair afterwards. Apply ½ pump for shoulder-length hair (more for thicker, long hair), from mid-length to the ends. You can also use a small amount on dry hair to tame frizz.
While No.0 and No.3 should form the base of your haircare routine, it could also be useful to go for a shampoo, conditioner and serum. If you want to go the whole hog and try everything Olaplex has to offer, well fear not – there’s more!
Olaplex make the following treatments to nourish and repair your hair:
No. 7 Bonding Oil: A weightless reparative oil that increases shine, softness and color vibrancy while tackling frizzy hair and flyaways.
No. 8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask: A weekly intensive color-safe hair mask that delivers moisture and smoothness. Go on, treat yourself!
No. 9 Bond Protector Nourishing Hair Serum: Contains red algae: a powerful antioxidant that works to prevent free radical damage to the scalp.
Although I’ve given short instructions under each treatment, the full Olaplex system might appear a little daunting. So here’s one way you could make full use of Olaplex – but of course, the amount of treatments you go for, if any, is up to you.
If you want to go for the full range of Olaplex products (apart from the in-salon only treatments #1 and #2), here’s a recommended way to use them:
No doubt, trying all of these Olaplex treatments is time consuming, plus it asks for some organization on your part! But once you get into a rhythm, you won’t even have to think about it…it’ll just become your hair care routine.
This is a brand that’s clocked up a humongous online following – most likely because of all the celebrity endorsements. The Hair Perfector even has its own Instagram hashtag (#olaplexno3) with over 40 million visitors on TikTok – yep, this haircare brand is viral!
But…and there is a massive but. The reviews are incredibly mixed, with either people saying it’s the best thing ever or that it severely damaged their hair and scalp, sometimes even beyond repair.
On TrustPilot, 22% of the reviews are 5-star but 68% are 1-star. That gives me serious pause before I’d recommend Olaplex as safe to use.
I would buy the whole set if I could. I currently have and use Olaplex No 3, & 5 which are pre-wash, shampoo and conditioner respectively. I cannot tell you the difference in how healthy and salon-treated my hair looks…all the time! It’s a miracle and I cannot wash it with anything else. I have struggled with growing out my hair and split ends made it look so bad but Olaplex saved it. It is worth every penny I have spent on the big bottle.
– Deedee, UK: May 2023 via TrustPilot
I love this product, I’ve only used it twice but what a difference in my hair. I have movement and fullness in my hair. When I first used olaplex 0, 3, 4, and rinsed the product out I noticed some hair loss. But I continued with the conditioner and the rest of the products and experienced softer and healthier feeling hair. The second time I used the product I didn’t notice any excessive hair loss at all. My hair is so soft and manageable. I don’t understand the negative reviews…don’t accept every negative thing you read about this product; try it for yourself. I’m glad I did, customer for life.
– Gwendolyn W, US: March 2023 via TrustPilot
It has literally saved my hair! After a ‘blonde specialist’ burned half my hair off, I was left with spaghetti hair that fell out in clumps. I’ve been using the pre wash 0 and 3, as well as the intense moisture mask and finish my routine with no 5 and 6. About 2 months in and my hair feels like it did before the damage. I can actually feel my hair is restored and the gross spaghetti feeling is completely gone. I am forever grateful for olaplex. Warm or cold water, wash once a week, stay away from thermal styling and just a warm blow dry, my hair is on the right track.
– Sin Y, Australia: Feb 2023 via TrustPilot
I was excited to try this product as I’d heard great things. I paid £25 for travel sized shampoo and conditioner. I’ve only used them twice, but my scalp has been unbearably itchy and lumpy. I won’t ever use the products again and I’ve contacted the retailer asking for a refund.
– Julie H, UK: June 2023 via TrustPilot
Whilst there are many positive reviews of this product I feel compelled to share my experience. I used this product at home once and it left my hair like straw so rewashed it. Yesterday my hairdresser used it and my scalp has itched ever since to the point I had to re wash and condition with my regular products. It’s appalling that a product that is extremely overpriced has attracted so many negative reviews. Perhaps rather than patch testing dyes before application, hairdressers should consider patch testing this. Awful product.
– Lynne D, UK: May 2023 via TrustPilot
Although Olaplex claims to be suitable for all hair types and textures, I think it sounds better for those with thick hair. Simply because its formulas are fairly dense and they could leave fine hair looking a little greasy or oily.
(Of course, if you do have finer hair and want to try Olaplex, you could just buy less products in their haircare regime, or use them less frequently.)
I was pretty much sold on Olaplex as a brand until I came across those pretty worrying reviews on TrustPilot. Reviews that mentioned bald spots and increased hair loss, dermatitis, long-term scalp aggravation and itching. No.3 apparently even contained a fragrance called lilial that could adversely affect reproductivity – but Olaplex has since removed this from its formula.
For me, the jury is out. Sure, there are reports of initial hair loss: but this happens with plenty of hair loss treatments, or when you switch to a new product. It’s a side effect of your scalp getting used to the new formula, and shedding ‘dead hair’ before new hair can grow.
What worries me more is those reports of pretty bad scalp irritation – so either check with your doctor to see if you have any allergies before using Olaplex, or do a patch test to check for safety.
Olaplex prides itself on being “highly concentrated”, as a strong approach to repair your hair. But if you want a more gentle, subtle and holistic approach – which is kinder to your scalp and hair in the long-term – I’d highly recommend the following brands.
They’re vegan and cruelty free, they’ve helped reduce my hair loss and even, as I’ve seen from personal experience, stimulated hair growth! They offer a less chemical-heavy, more natural alternative to Olaplex and, because of that, have minimal side effects.
Currently my favorite haircare brand, Revita shampoo stopped my hair shedding in its tracks. It also made my existing hair appear far healthier, thicker and stronger, with heaps more volume. I love the smell, the price (it’s much more affordable than other hair loss treatments out there) and the customer service is fantastic.
Although I’ve only ever tried Revita’s shampoo and conditioner, the brand behind Revita (DS Laboratories) make a range of other hair thinning products. I’m especially keen to try their serum with nanoxidil!
After using Vegamour’s shampoo, conditioner and serums, I had white vellus fuzz return to my bald patches, for the first time in several months. I also saw fantastic results after using its eyebrow serum: having lost my entire right eyebrow postpartum, this serum brought it back again.
Like Olaplex though, Vegamour doesn’t come cheap. And even though its ingredients are all-natural, people with a biotin sensitivity might have side effects like nausea or skin rashes. Still, I can vouch that it actually works and it’s another of my top brands for this reason.
Ok, that’s a lot of material we’ve covered! So here’s a quick recap of the company’s pros and cons, if you’re still unsure whether it’s the right hair loss treatment for you.
I haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t say for sure. But although it appears expensive for the full system, you could just start off with Olaplex No. 3 – in which case, it’s good value. A single bottle could last several months.
You can find Olaplex on the company’s website, on Amazon, Sephora or Nordstrom. Many salons and hairdressers stock Olaplex, too.
Yes, Olaplex is free from parabens, phthalates and sulfates. For more great sulfate-free shampoos, check out this post.
I must admit, Olaplex seems fairly attractive – after all, it’s rare to find a hair product that gives salon-quality results after just one use, let alone visible results that last for days. So I think Olaplex – even if it’s just Olaplex No. 3 – could be an amazing asset for big occasions, like if you’re going to a wedding and want to save on going to the hairdresser.
However, I’m not sure about using it in the long-term…whether it’s affordable, convenient or safe! The treatments themselves take a long time – even if they’re only once a week, you still need to set aside quite a lot of time to do them – and the negative reviews about scalp irritation would make me hesitate before buying the full range.
My advice would be to start with the “hero products”, No. 0 and Olaplex No. 3. Then, if you like Olaplex and it looks like the only brand for you, you could try the rest of their range for improved hair health, less shedding and – who knows – maybe increased hair growth.
I’d love to hear how you get on with Olaplex: so please share your experiences in the comments!
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