Olaplex: how does it work?

What is Olaplex?

Olaplex is a hair treatment brand focused on repairing hair ties. You’ve probably heard of Olaplex by now, especially if you’re an improved blonde. Olaplex treatments have been making the rounds on Instagram as a professional treatment for the past few years to help lessen the harmful effects of chemical treatments like bleaching. More recently, Olaplex has launched a range of home treatments that bring the popular salon treatment to your home.

Olaplex is a brand that owns the rights to its own ingredients. According to the patentis the main link in Olaplex Bisaminopropyl diglycol dimaleate. Because of the patent, you will not find this ingredient anywhere else on the market.

According to the studies attached to the patent Bisaminopropyl diglycol dimaleate helps to reconnect broken disulfide bonds in the hair, Improve hydration without heavy products.

the breakdown


the good: Helps repair broken bonds in hair and reduces damage from dye, heat, or perm. This can help improve the moisture, texture, and smoothness of the hair.

not so good: Not much research has been done on the ingredient other than research by the patent holders.

For whom is that? All skin types except those identified as having an allergy.

Synergetic ingredients: Works well with most ingredients.

Keep an eye on: The patent does not expire until 2034, so it will be a while before Dupes come into circulation.

How does Olaplex work?

That can get a little complex, but we cannot overlook it. Hair is made up of keratin proteins bound by a disulfide bond or, if you remember the chemistry of high school, an SS bond. These disulfide bonds connect the proteins in the hair and form small bridges between the keratin proteins. Think of the disulfide bonds as connections between the larger keratin molecules.

The disulfide bonds in your hair are responsible for the shape, strength, and texture of your hair. For this reason, permanent curling or straightening treatments break the disulfide bonds in your hair. This allows the hair to be given its new look before the disulfide bond reform. One reason chemical perm treatments put so much stress on hair is because these disulfide bonds are broken. Some of them will not improve and the hair will feel damaged.

Other harsh treatments like high pH products, bleaches, repeated heat exposure, and chemical treatments also break the disulfide bonds in hair. This break will vary in severity between treatments and will depend on your hair texture, thickness, and previous treatments.

According to the bis-aminopropyl patent Diglycol dimaleate forms bonds with the sulfur molecules in the broken disulfide bond. This creates longer artificial bonds between the sulfur molecules. This makes the hair stronger, more manageable, and can reduce moisture loss.

There are five different strengths of Olaplex on the market. The two strongest are for professional use only, which means that they can only be used by hair colorists and hairdressers. The other three are home care products or treatments.

Are Olaplex products sulfate-free and silicone-free?

Olaplex is free from silicone and sulfates. It’s also gluten, DEA, and aldehyde free.

Are Olaplex products vegan?

Yes, according to their website, Olaplex does not use any animal products and is not tested on animals.

Is Olaplex Safe?

While there hasn’t been much independent research into the safety of this ingredient, the patent process does evaluate safety. However, as with any ingredient in skin care, cosmetics, or hair care, you can be allergic to it. So if you have a reaction, see a doctor.

Gargano EM, Mangiatordi GF, Weber I. et al. Persulfate Reaction in a Hair Bleaching Formula: Revealing the Unconventional Reactivity of 1,13-Diamino-4,7,10-trioxatridecane. ChemistryOpen. 2018; 7 (5): 319- 322. Published 2018 Mar 25.

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