Battling split ends ranks right up there with trying to figure out solutions to never-ending acne breakouts and oh yeah, solving the Pythagorean theorem. For some, it’s an endless (and seemingly impossible) battle to win.
But in 2014, the hair game changed when a product emerged on the market that promised to stop overstressed hair from splitting, especially for those who endure the most damage during regular dye jobs.
When applied through various products, OLAPLEX promises to repair damaged hair bonds from the inside out, and also protect it from future damage, making it stronger and less likely to break. While it was originally offered in-salon only, consumers can now use the conditioning products regularly at home.
With celeb fans like Kim Kardashian, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, it’s easy to see why the brand quickly became a cult fave. Drew Barrymore even wrote an ode to the product on her Instagram page, saying it was the only thing that could fix her over-bleached strands.
How Does OLAPLEX Work?
According to Cosmetify.com, “While other hair care brands simply smooth over the problem, the OLAPLEX formula actually repairs the damage using their patented single ingredient Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate. This works on a molecular level to restore your hair. In fact, it is the only patented bond builder in the biz.”
OLAPLEX works with a system of products, based on specific steps, but it can be used separately, although it obviously works better together.
What Is a Bond-Building Product?
A bond-building treatment essentially “reduces the oxidative stress inside the hair by protecting the strong bonds and restoring the broken bonds, forming a new bridge between the keratin proteins. This will strengthen the hair and help stop any further damage to the internal structure of the hair,” says Orenda Hair.
Damage is caused by coloring, perming, heat-styling or chemically straightening your hair, and even just roughly drying it with a towel or sleeping on it, can cause it to break.
Like any brand with a huge mass following, OLAPLEX expanded its lines to encompass general overall hair care, with an emphasis on strengthening hair bonds and fixing split ends. The OLAPLEX “Healthy Hair Starter Kit” sets you back $180 and they even offers a quiz on the brand’s website to help you get started, and select the products that are right for you.
But spending over $100 on hair care is well out of reach for most. So, we’ve rounded up some top-rated products that’ll deliver OLAPLEX-like results, at a fraction of the price.
OLAPLEX No. 7 Bonding Oil Dupe
1. OGX Argan Oil of Morocco
The 1-ounce $30 OLAPLEX No. 7 Bonding Oil promises to dramatically increase shine, softness and color vibrancy while minimizing flyaways and frizz. OGX Argan Oil of Morocco Penetrating Hair Oil Treatment helps seal in nutrients and shine, leaving hair strong and smooth in the process — for under $10. Plus, you get 3.3 ounces of this product compared to 1 ounce of the OLAPLEX.
OLAPLEX No. 2 Bond Perfector Dupe
2. Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate
The OLAPLEX No. 2 Bond Perfector was part of the company’s signature two-step treatment to repair any bonds that may have been missed during any sort of chemical service (like coloring). It’s not available through the company’s website and finding it in stock from a reputable retailer for its normal price is a tough ask.
But we found this Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate for $12 on Amazon, which claims to repair and strengthen hair from the inside out in five to 10 minutes when you use it before you shampoo.
OLAPLEX No. 3 Hair Perfector Dupe
3. Coco & Eve Bond Building Pre-Poo Treatment
The OLAPLEX No. 3 Hair Perfector is the 2022 Bazaar Beauty Icon winner for weekly pre-poo treatment repairs by preventing damage for stronger, healthier-looking hair. But it’s $30 for a 3.3-ounce bottle or $60 for an 8.8-ounce size.
Coco & Eve’s pre-poo is applied the same way and stays on your hair for the same 10 minutes as OLAPLEX No. 3. It protects, strengthens and repairs your hair by rebuilding the structural bonds damaged from color treatments. Like OLAPLEX, the Bond-Building Pre-Treatment is vegan and cruelty-free. You also get 4.23 ounces for $25.
OLAPLEX No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo Dupe
4. Revolution Bond Plex Shampoo
OLAPLEX’s No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo is top-rated by customers and a 2022 Allure Reader’s Choice Award winner, for its ability to prevent hair from breaking. It’s $30 for an 8.4-ounce or $96 for a 33.8-ounce size.
Revolution is a British beauty brand that you can shop online or find in-store at Target and is similar to OLAPLEX with its steps and numbers. The Revolution Step 4 Bond Plex Shampoo is a vegan and cruelty-free formula that deeply and gently cleans your stressed-out hair. You get 8.45 ounces for under $10.
OLAPLEX No. 6 Bond Smoother Dupe
5. L’Oreal Paris Air Done It Undone Styling Cream
OLAPLEX No. 6 Bond Smoother is a leave-in styling treatment that helps protect the hair before you style it, especially when it involves heat tools. But just over 3 ounces will set you back $30.
Instead, try this L’Oreal Paris Air Done It Undone Styling Cream for half the price at Amazon. A longtime fave of mine, it enhances your hair’s natural shape, definition and texture and gives you 24-hour flexible control.
OLAPLEX No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner Dupe
6. L’Oreal Ever Pure Strengthening Conditioner
Just like all the other OLAPLEX products, the No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner promises to strengthen hair bonds, while you condition. It’s $30 for just over 8 ounces. L’Oreal’s sulfate-free Ever Pure Bond Strengthening Conditioner promises the same, with a wallet-friendly price tag for 6.8 ounces at Ulta.
OLAPLEX No. 1 Bond Multiplier Dupe
7. Ion Absolute Perfection Booster Step 1
The No. 1 Bond Multiplier is the first step of the in-salon OLAPLEX System which is used as an additive to lessen damage during chemical processing. It is also used as the first step in the brand’s stand-alone treatment that prevents damage by restoring and repairing the hair, although it’s not readily available like the No. 2.
Instead, try ion’s Color Brilliance Absolute Perfection Booster, which seals in color and strengthens hair bonds during processing. It’s under $9 for less than 1 ounce.
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