Going blond has always meant gambling with hair health. Drastic lightening of naturally dark hair or frequent highlighting is risky. For those who want to go really, really blond, breakage is a major obstacle – especially for natural brunettes. No product or treatment has been available to prevent or repair the damage over-processing wreaks until the recent debut of space-age sounding Olaplex. Both a set of products sold in stores and an in-salon treatment, Olaplex has been touted as a revolutionary “bond multiplier,” the first to claim the power to restore processed hair.
Hollywood actresses were the first to embrace the reparative treatment because of their occupational hazard of frequent and dramatic color changes. For the mass market, Olaplex became the must-have treatment in Manhattan salons in the last year and very recently Long Island salons have begun offering it, both as a standalone and as part of coloring services. The Studio in Babylon Village was one of the first to incorporate Olaplex. Owner Donna Griffin said salon employees were required to have a formal education session on the products; representatives came to instruct all the colorists and employees on how to use Olaplex. “This is the only thing out there to fix and prevent hair damage. It’s the thing everyone is talking about now,” Griffin said.
Olaplex was created almost accidentally by a chemistry researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The lead chemist, Craig Hawker, asked Olaplex’s eventual founder Dean Christal what the single biggest hair industry need was while the two were attempting to create a different product. Christal said it would be something that could prevent breakage and an idea was born. Hawker and his chemists, used to developing innovative polymers for computer chips and the medical industry, took on the first world beauty problem and developed a silicone-polymer based cream with the new secret ingredient: a molecule that binds the broken hair strands back together.
There are three Olaplex products: No. 1 is an optional recommended add-on into the hair color applied at The Studio. “We use it on almost everyone,” Griffin said. “Clients are going blonder because they feel safer.”
Olaplex No. 2 is the standalone clients can add to a cut, blowout or as a single quick process. The product is massaged into wet hair, left to work for 15 minutes and then washed out. Olaplex No. 3 is a take-home product sold through The Studio and other salons. It can be applied at home, reportedly the more often the better.
Danielle Daurio, a colorist at The Studio, advises clients to leave the product in as long as possible, even overnight, several times per week. Griffin remembered one client who wanted to go so light the salon had her sign a consent form, anticipating major damage. Her hair was breaking so much it was coming out when brushed. After several in-salon treatments and using Olaplex No. 3 religiously, her hair looked completely different, Griffin said. The breakage was repaired and she was able to keep her super-light blond color. “Anyone who has used it keeps using it. It’s exciting to be able to offer something that works. It’s like a health regiment for your hair.” Griffin even uses it on her very dark locks, for general hair health.
After a year of lightening my dark brown hair to a medium blond with highlights, my hair was damaged to the point of having an entire broken section in the back. Every time I got a cut, stylists wondered if I had had extensions or slept in a wet ponytail. Daurio promised Olaplex would be a game- changer for what she delicately called “my situation.”
After two in-salon treatments and two months of keeping the product in my hair overnight at least once a week, my hair is noticeably healthier and not breaking off as much. I’ve even noticed a change in the texture, as it’s starting to have body and texture again after being limp and straw-like.