Since launching in 2014, hairstylists have been recommending the best Olaplex products for keeping strands strong and healthy, even after bleach has damaged it. And the brand has gone down a storm with those keen to look after their locks too, in recent years—the brand showed a 20% surge in sales during the pandemic (perhaps as we had more time to dedicate to haircare).
For fans, none of this a coincidence. Olaplex doesn’t just gloss over hair damage by making it look shinier with silicone or oils. It actually dives into hair strands to improve their structure, allowing you to color your hair without causing irreparable damage. This all comes down to its patented molecule called bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, which works from inside hair strands to strengthen weak bonds.
So if you're looking to incorporate some of Olaplex's iconic products into your own haircare routine, you might be wondering which are the best Olaplex products for me? We've tested all of them to bring you the seven best, and broken down what each product actually does and what sort of hair it would be best for, to help you make a decision.
HOW DOES OLAPLEX WORK?
Each of the best Olaplex products contain the first-of-its kind molecule, bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate. Tom Smith, celebrity hairstylist and Olaplex ambassador, says: “The effects of this ingredient are two-fold: it repairs existing damage and protects hair from further harm on a molecular level by rebuilding broken disulfide bonds within the hair’s structure.”
This is especially important when you bleach or color your hair. Hair is made up of keratin fibers, which are held together by bonds—the most important of these are called disulphide bonds. Any time you change your hair color, you alter and potentially damage these bonds by causing them to split in two, turning them into single sulfur-hydrogen bonds.
This is especially true when you go lighter than your natural color, as bleach breaks your hair’s bonds, causing the cuticle to swell in order for the dye to seep in and lift the shade. Without Olaplex, the oxygen molecules in peroxide attach themselves to these vulnerable sulfur-hydrogen bonds, depleting the hair of protein so it becomes brittle and snaps off.
On the flip side, when the Olaplex No.1 Bond Multiplier is mixed in with your colour in the salon, its ingredients, including a high concentration of bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate (we're not sure how to say it either), step in fast to prevent the sulfur-hydrogen bonds from reacting with the oxygen in peroxide. They ‘glue’ together any cracks in the hair strand and create a new bond that is actually stronger than the original disulfide one.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST OLAPLEX PRODUCTS FOR YOU
While the best Olaplex products will keep strands in peak condition both in the colourist’s chair and at home, the real beauty of Olaplex is that you can use it even if you don’t dye your hair. Celebrity hair stylist Halley Brisker, whose clients include supermodel Kaia Gerber, says: “Disulfide bonds can be found in all hair types and look exactly the same regardless of race or biological sex, so Olaplex technology repairs what is fundamental to human hair.” Likewise, anything that changes the structure of your hair, such as chemical straightening and heating styling with a curling tong or even your blow dryer, can damage your strands, so Olaplex can make a difference.
When it comes to choosing the best Olaplex products for your hair, Halley recommends, “Identify your hair health concerns, your current routine, what results you’d like to see and your time commitment, which can be split into three different routines:"
- According to Halley a ‘Treat’ routine leans on No.0, No.3 and No.8. He says: “This is all about priming, repairing and moisturising, and is perfect for someone who has the time to really utilize the products on offer.”
- A ‘Maintain’ regimen uses No.4, No.4P and No.5, and focuses on the more day-to-day routine of shampooing and conditioning.
- Then, there's a ‘Protect’ routine, which includes No.6, No.7 and No.9, and does what it says on the tin—works at protecting your hair and undoing damage.
Halley says, “All of these are best for post-hair wash, where you will be styling your hair and possibly protecting it from any heated tools you will be using.”
REASONS TO BUY
+ Delivers the highest amount of the bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate molecule in the entire Olaplex range
Consider No.0 as a primer before applying No.3. With the highest possible amount of Olaplex technology in any at-home product, its primary function is to repair hair, so it's a step not to be missed if you’ve radically changed hair color, have recently chemically straightened your hair or are simply addicted to heat styling.
What it was like to use: It’s very cool on the scalp, and watery in texture rather than thicker.
How easy/difficult was it to use? The idea is to really saturate dry strands and leave it to get to work for 10 minutes before applying No.3 over the top for a further 10 minutes. I found the nozzle hindered how much product was delivered onto the hair, so it took quite a long time for me to cover the whole head. I also found that one bottle only really had enough product for two to three treatments on my shoulder-length hair. So be warned, using this product up to three times a week on severely damaged, long hair could prove expensive.
How well it fit into my routine: This is a quick and efficient self-care treatment that only takes 20 minutes but really reaps results.
What the results were like: I swear by this two-step process the day before I color my hair and the day after. Immediately afterwards, hair feels smoother, more manageable and hydrated. Over time and frequent use, I have noticed less breakage on even the most fragile strands. In fact, clinical trials show hair is three times stronger after No.0 is used together with No.3.
How it compared to other Olaplex products: Texture-wise, No.0 is very different from any other product in the Olaplex range. It delivers the highest amount of the bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate molecule and feels more like an in-salon treatment which I loved.
REASONS TO BUY
+ A little goes a long way
If frizz is your biggest hair bugbear, especially on humid summer days, consider adding this Bond Smoother to your routine as it will add definition to your curl pattern. Even though my fine hair is normally straight, it’s prone to flyaways and gets unruly in certain climates. A little of this product patted on to flyaways or worked through the mid-lengths and ends keeps it sleek and shiny, and is one of my biggest curly hair tips.
What it was like to use: A whipped cream, it adds hold and creates definition but without any stickiness or crunchiness.
How easy/difficult was it to use? Very easy. Simply apply 1-2 pumps to wet shoulder-length hair. Use more for longer, thicker hair; less for fine or short hair.
How well it fit into my routine: I love how it speeds up blow dry time (if you're using one of the best hair dryers for curly hair) while smoothing down the cuticles.
What the results were like: The versatility of this product is great. It can be used on all hair types, whether you prefer to blow dry or air dry. It defines and smoothes air-dried curls for 72 hours, while it transformed my slightly kinky strands into sleek, shiny sheets of hair.
How it compared to other Olaplex products: A little goes a long way, making it better value for money than the Bonding Oil.
REASONS TO BUY
+ Multi-purpose as a three-in-one product
There’s a strong case for using hair oil, especially on Afro hair where the kinks and coils make it harder for natural scalp oils to travel down the hair shaft and moisturize the ends. According to Nicola Clarke, Creative Colour Director at John Frieda: “A hair oil will replenish the lipid layer on the surface of the hair and penetrate deep into the strand to strengthen weak spots.”
What it was like to use: Olaplex has dubbed this product a ‘reparative styling oil’. No.7 is lightweight and non-greasy so it didn’t feel like I was slopping down my fine hair. However, it does still feel like an oil, so I’d advise finer hair types to focus on its reparative benefits rather than attempt to use it for styling. I actually prefer to apply it and plait my hair as it kills any volume.
How easy/difficult was it to use? Easy to use. Remove the cap and turn the bottle upside down and gently tap to dispense a metered drop. One pump does everything: protects up to 450°F, smoothes frizz and adds shine.
How well it fit into my routine: No.7 is a three-in-one product so makes light work of hair styling and reduces the number of products on your bathroom shelf.
What the results were like: Thick, curly and natural hair types will benefit most from this nourishing oil. As well as the brand's star ingredient to repair broken bonds, the addition of moringa and sunflower seed oils in this golden elixir makes it all the more conditioning.
How it compared to other Olaplex products: No.7 is the only oil in the Olaplex line but fine hair types looking for heat protection might be better suited to the No.9 Bond Protector Nourishing Hair Serum.
REASONS TO BUY
The ingredients list for this product reads like something you’d find on a jar of the best moisturizer for dry skin. It contains hyaluronic acid, a moisture-attracting molecule that holds 1,000 times its weight in water, deeply hydrates each strand, plus ceramides to lock in that hydration. It also contains oils including avocado and rice bran bring added smoothness.
What it was like to use: One push on the airless pump will dispense the right amount of product to add shine and moisture to dry, damaged hair.
How easy/difficult was it to use? You simply work out how much product is needed and apply the product to freshly-shampooed, damp hair from the mid-lengths to the ends, and leave it on for 10 minutes (the brand recommends 2 pumps for shoulder-length hair; use less or more depending on length).
How well it fit into my routine: The 10-minute application time is typical of most hair masks and is easy to fit into a busy schedule. I usually apply it in the morning and leave it to get to work while I make my breakfast.
What the results were like: Impressive. Independent clinical trials reveal strands have two times more shine, four times more hydration, and six times more smoothness after just one session, and I can vouch for that, as my hair literally looked reborn after using it. Even on fine hair like mine, I never felt like my hair was weighed down with product.
How it compared to other Olaplex products: It's the perfect booster product and I like to rotate it with No.3 so I get the best of both worlds: happy bonds and that light-reflecting gloss rarely seen if you bleach your hair.
Olaplex's No.4P purple shampoo is a customizable shampoo with highly concentrated pigments, so you can dial up your toning level depending on how brassy your previously icy blonde hair is looking.
What it was like to use: The shampoo lathers up well and washes easily from the hands and bathtub without staining.
How easy/difficult was it to use? Like all Olaplex products, it’s straightforward to use. Simply leave to process for one to three minutes or, for more intense toning, leave on hair for up to five minutes.
How well it fit into my routine: I like how you can just slot this shampoo into your regular hair care routine without having to buy a separate conditioner to create a de-brassing ‘system’. I wouldn’t, however, use No.4P two to three times a week as recommended by the brand. This purple shampoo is powerful, so I found using it once a week sufficed, otherwise blonde hair can start to take on a slightly gray tinge.
What the results were like: According to clinical trials, hair looks three times brighter after just one use of the Olaplex No.4P compared to the top purple shampoos in the market. My hair certainly returned to its creamy platinum hue, as if fresh from the colorist’s chair.
How it compared to other Olaplex products: This is Olaplex’s first venture into color-correcting hair care but like all shampoos in the line, it is free from harsh surfactants such as SLS.
REASONS TO BUY
+ Resurrects damaged hair
In the US, one Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector is sold every 3.5 seconds—and it’s hardly surprising, given this is the DIY version of the in-salon No.2 treatment and the crown jewel of the brand’s at-home products. To be clear, no Olaplex product is formulated specifically with hair growth ingredients. But by strengthening the hair, you prevent premature breakage, thereby helping your hair to reach its full potential,and protecting it from mechanical, chemical, thermal damage, and even damage from the sun.
What it was like to use: It's a creamy formula that feels like a hair mask, and is easy to work into strands.
How easy/difficult it was to use: Very easy—simply apply it on damp hair for 10-20 minutes before shampoo and conditioner.
How well it fit into my routine: If you’re serious about repairing damaged hair then you won’t mind applying 1-3 teaspoons of this treatment once a week or, if your hair is in need of some serious TLC, two to three times a week.
What the results were like: This was the first Olaplex product I ever tried. Before it even launched in the UK, I was given an unmarked bottle and asked to blind test it after a color disaster left my hair straw-like. It literally resurrected my bleached hair, restoring body, shine and touchable softness to each strand. I’ve used it religiously once a week for nearly 10 years since then.
How it compared to other Olaplex products: The No.0 contains the highest amount of Olaplex’s patented molecule in an at-home product, followed by No.3, so you might think I’d prefer the former. But No.0 relies on a two-part process whereas No.3 is really simple to apply—I’ve sometimes slept in it and simply shampooed as normal in the morning.
REASONS TO BUY
+ Hair is immediately more manageable after use
Whether your hair is damaged or not, No. 4 is a great product for maintaining the health of your hair on a daily basis, and is a good entry level product.
What it was like to use: The coconut-oil derived surfactant in the shampoo means it still lathers up without stripping away your color.
How easy/difficult it was to use: Use daily in place of your regular shampoo.
How well it fit into my routine: As above—it's so simple to incorporate into your existing haircare processes.
What the results were like: Packed with nourishing ingredients like biotin and argan oil, this is formulated to protect the hair from split ends and frizz by repairing broken bonds. Hair is immediately more manageable without tangles.
How it compared to other Olaplex products: No.4 may not contain the highest amount of Olaplex’s bond-repairing molecule but if you’re looking for an easy first step, this daily shampoo is it.
LIST OF OLAPLEX PRODUCTS:
To sum up, this is what each of the 10 products in the entire range do, and what you might want to use them:
- Olaplex No.0 Intensive Bond Building Treatment: The first step in a two-part system with the No.3 Hair Perfector, this treatment primes hair for deeper repair with the highest dose of patented Olaplex technology in any of the at-home products.
- Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector: The hero of the range, this weekly at-home treatment reduces breakage and repairs extreme damage, especially when used together with No.0.
- Olaplex No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo: Daily shampoo to repair and protect hair from split ends and frizz by re-linking broken bonds.
- Olaplex No.4P Blonde Enhancer Toning Shampoo: Purple shampoo for blonde and gray hair that neutralizes brassiness.
- Olaplex No.4C Bond Maintenance Clarifying Shampoo: The newest addition to the range removes product build-up and other impurities—to be used once every few weeks.
- Olaplex No.5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner: Daily conditioner that leaves hair easier to manage and shinier.
- Olaplex No.6 Bond Smoother: Leave-in smoothing creme that strengthens and eliminates frizz and flyaways for up to 72 hours.
- Olaplex No.7 Bonding Oil: Reparative styling oil that increases shine, color vibrancy and strength, while minimizing flyaways and frizz.
- Olaplex No.8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask: Reparative hair mask shown in clinical results to double the amount of shine and quadruple the amount of moisture in strands after just one use.
- Olaplex No.9 Bond Protector Nourishing Hair Serum: Leave-in, silicone-free hair serum to shield hair from pollution and provide heat protection.
WHICH OLAPLEX SHOULD YOU USE AT HOME?
There are only two in-salon Olaplex products—the rest of the range is designed for use at home, so you can use any of the above products in the comfort of your own four walls.
In the salon, your colorist will mix the Olaplex No.1 Bond Multiplier, which contains the highest concentration of bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, in with your bleach or color. Olaplex No. 2 Bond Perfector is then applied when you're at the back wash and the hair dye has been rinsed out. A bit like a deep conditioning hair mask, it’s left on for around 20 minutes to add protein to your hair and repair its bonds.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU USE OLAPLEX?
The frequency with which you should use Olaplex products varies, depending on which one you are using:
- In the salon, you should ask for Olaplex No.1 and No.2 every time you color your hair.
- Products like the No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo, No.5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner, No.7 Bonding Oil and No.9 Bond Protector Nourishing can be used daily.
- No.4P Blonde Enhancer Toning Shampoo and No.6 Bond Smoother should be used 2-3 times per week.
- No.8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask and No.4C Bond Maintenance Clarifying Shampoo deliver the best results when used once a week.
- Depending on the severity of your hair damage, No.3 Hair Perfector and No.0 Intensive Bond Building Treatment can be used once a week. But for moderate to severely damaged hair you might want to consider stepping this up to two to three times weekly. You can also use Olaplex No.3 if you haven’t experienced the in-salon treatment—it won’t replace it, but it will still help to improve the health of your strands.
CAN OLAPLEX DAMAGE HAIR?
While protein-rich masks and treatments that list hydrolyzed wheat protein and keratin in the ingredients list can strengthen and fortify damaged hair, overuse can actually make hair brittle and snap off.
But there’s no danger of that happening with Olaplex, Halley says: “Olaplex is not a protein-based treatment, so it can't damage the hair from being overused.”