Olaplex Salon hair treatment explained

If it seems like everyone is talking about Olaplex, that’s because they probably are (especially on TikTok). For many, the Olaplex brand is synonymous with beautiful hair, especially colored hair. The logo is proudly displayed in salon windows, and in-house products are sold at stores like Sephora and Ulta. But what, exactly, is this legendary hair brand, and what does it have to offer that others don’t? We spoke to Tina Deeke, colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, to learn more about Olaplex, including what it does, who should get it, and more.

What is an Olaplex treatment?

While other hair treatments help repair hair primarily on a more superficial level, Olaplex is different in that it transforms strands from the inside out. Simply put, damaged hair contains damaged disulfide bonds and Olaplex’s patented ingredient, Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate, helps repair them.

“The salon service is designed to protect the disulfide bonds. It strengthens the hair,” says Deeke. Olaplex treatments can be beneficial for anyone with damaged hair, but they are especially useful for those who have experienced a dramatic color change, such as bleach. “I personally use it on my clients who are fragile or looking for a platinum look,” says Deeke. “It’s a must at every service.”

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What are the benefits of Olaplex?

Olaplex essentially makes hair healthier from the inside out, helping it look shinier and smoother. It also helps hair color appear brighter, often after just one use. Finally, it strengthens the hair, thus preventing further damage. One of the other benefits of Olaplex is that it is safe to use on all hair types, including curly and natural hair, as well as chemically treated hair. In fact, Olaplex can even be used to care for human hair extensions.

What is the difference between Olaplex home and salon treatments?

You may have noticed that Olaplex is available in salons and in stores, but the formulas are not quite the same. (The numbers on the bottle correspond to what stage they are in the full system.) The Olaplex you get at a salon is technically the first two stages of the system and is more concentrated. Additionally, “salon treatments are usually integrated into salon chemical services,” says Deeke. You can find a salon that offers Olaplex treatments here.

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On the other hand, “Retail Olaplex is a slightly diluted version designed to continue the benefits of in-salon treatment,” says Deeke, who says they “can also be used before chemical services.” You can still use these formulas even if you haven’t followed steps one and two, and you will still see results. The colorist also says she always recommends the brand’s at-home products for maintenance.

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Melissa R. Brumfield