The Mane Objective: Does Olaplex Work on Natural Hair?
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Does Olaplex Work on Natural Hair?

3:47 PM

Does Olaplex Work on Natural Curly Hair?
The Olaplex Trio
...Is the question I had been incessantly Googling for weeks.

In case you've been under a product-free rock for the past year or two, Olaplex has literally taken the hair care world by storm. It's this super concentrated, super patented, super expensive three-step treatment touted as "insurance for your client's hair".

Originally, Olaplex was designed as an add-in treatment for in-salon clients receiving color services, and a way to take hair from one extreme to another without compromising the structural integrity of the hair.

My first thought? Dang, I wish they had it back in 2014. Could've avoided a lot of problems, potentially.

Does Olaplex Work on Natural Curly Hair?
Color Damage will loosen your curls and make your hair appear...well, actually it is, thinner.
What is Olaplex?
Olaplex is considered a "bond multiplier" that contains a patent-pending active ingredient, Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate. Olaplex works by re-building broken disulfide bonds in hair damaged by chemical, thermal, and mechanical processses.

Okay, quick science lesson.

How Olaplex Works
Our hair is made up of keratin - which you probably already know. Keratin is comprised of the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine, which forms strong bonds with other sulfur containing molecules in the hair - creating disulfide bonds (di = two). Natural, curly, textured hair has many more disulfide bonds than straight hair, which is one part of why our hair curls, coils, and kinks up. The other part of that is follicle shape, which we'll talk about another time.

As previously mentioned, these disulfide bonds can be damaged in any number of ways. In order to achieve straight or colored hair, relaxers and dyes break and rearrange the disulfide bonds in the hair. We temporarily rearrange disulfide bonds when flat ironing as well. And of course, with the weathering and aging of hair, repeated mechanical stress (like picking repeatedly or twisting every night) can cause cuticle damage to the hair and rearrange these bonds as well.

So when it comes to hair, let's take my color damaged hair for an example. The disulfide bonds in my hair were broken down due to coloring - and the end result is curls that are noticeably more limp and fragile. Had I gotten an Olaplex treatment at the time, there's a strong possibility that my curls would not have sustained as much damage - or any at all because the bonds broken during coloring would have been immediately repaired.

Only if.

Why I Wanted to Try Olaplex Now
Even though I've grown out the majority of the color damage, I still have a few spots in my hair that don't quite behave like they used to. Between diligent care and a professional cut, I'd say my hair has bounced back about 85%. Maybe 90%. But those spots - y'all probably can't tell, but I can. I know what my hair used to look like there - and let me tell you, this ain't it!

For whatever reason, the front/center and crown sections of my hair was the hardest hit by color. Ironic too, considering that those areas of my hair are more highly textured, and I assumed (incorrectly) that they could withstand the color better than any other parts.
Even though my hair has grown out considerably, there's a few inches (3, maybe 4?) of color damage in each section of my head that I wish would grow out. And because it's in the canopy of my hair, the damage tends to cover up the healthier curls.

Does Olaplex Work on Natural Curly Hair?
This is what I'm talking about!
With this in mind, I began the Googles. While I found a few articles about Olaplex treatments for curly hair or while coloring curly hair, I didn't see anything that really reflected my situation - majority healthy hair with some #strugglebits that were not new damage.

Unsatisfied, I turned to my resident all-things-hair expert, Brandie Kekoa. She broke down the Olaplex system to me, and told me about how she uses the system for clients that want color. She's a believer in Olaplex's claims to maintain the integrity of the hair during coloring, but had never done a standalone treatment on curly hair with my particular situation.

So I drove out to Temecula, for a trial run.

Does Olaplex Work on Natural Curly Hair?
Yes! Brandie Does Olaplex and Be Kekoa!
My Experience & Results
I won't bog you down with details about how we did the treatment, because the Olaplex system is to be used in-salon only, with the exception of the number 3 solution. Now, I wouldn't be saying this if there was another way because Lord knows I tried. Oh man I tried.

I scoured every corner of the internet for the kit, and tried many a times to fenaggle my way into a CosmoProf - none of which worked. The only way to get your hands on Olaplex numbers 1 and 2 are to go into a salon and have it done, or have your cosmetology license and go to a store like CosmoProf. Olaplex has recently started selling the number 3 at home treatment (to maintain results) on their website, in an attempt to mitigate diversion and the sale of fakes on Amazon.

I repeat - Amazon and the like are fakes. I don't know what you'd get instead, but I do know that it ain't Olaplex. So don't waste your coins :)

Anywho, here are my results with the standalone number 1 and number 2 Olaplex treatment on my hair:

Does Olaplex Work on Natural Curly Hair?
Not a miracle, but definitely some difference.
Nope, I didn't cut my hair. And in both pictures, I used the same products - Rapunzel the Future of Hair Lotion and Eco-Styler Argan Oil Gel. After Olaplex, I've noticed that my hair has shine, and in areas that were mad frizzy (crown, I'm looking at you_ have calmed down a bit.

Those nearly straight sections in the front have added texture, from some bond repair I'm sure. But they're not 100% what they used to be, or anywhere identical to the roots where my true texture is. What shocked me the most is how responsive the looser textures in my hair were to the treatment. Olaplex acted almost like a curl booster - enhancing the pattern and giving me a little more shrinkage.

Does Olaplex Work on Natural Curly Hair?
The shine is amazing though!
In the back view, you can definitely see where the frizz overtakes the curls in the crown area on the left. In the photo on the right, you can see those 'not quite curling' pieces in more detail. But the shine and enhanced definition is undeniable.

All in all, for me, Olaplex wasn't a miracle-worker. And truthfully, I didn't expect it to be. At most, I thought it might give my curls a little oomph, put some bend back into the straight ends, and help me retain length by strengthening the parts that are still color damaged.

After washing the Olaplex out of my hair (yes I drove home with Olaplex in, the longer step 2 stays in, the better), I noticed that my strands felt a little heftier and stronger - which was cool.

So far, we're 2 for 3 - with shine and de-frizzing as an added bonus. I'll have to report back on whether it actually decreases breakage (and honestly, split ends) or not.

Would I Recommend Olaplex?
To be honest, yes and no. I do like the results I got, and I do believe that if it existed in 2014, my hair would have remained healthier. I can also see an Olaplex treatment benefitting a naturalista who straightened her hair, and wants to give her hair an extra oomph in the bounceback. It may also work for a transitioner with heat or relaxer damage not have to chop off as much hair come that time to go completely natural.

However - remember what I said in the beginning about Olaplex? It's insurance, not a guarantee. Sometimes, we think our insurance policies cover certain types of incidences, only to find out it covers such a small percentage or none at all. That's how Olaplex is in my mind. It may work completely, it may work a little, or it may not work at all.

But what I am about to do is order some number 3 off the Olaplex website, and see if it maintains or enhances my results. I'll report back when it's empty :)

Got questions about Olaplex? Drop 'em below! And if you've had an Olaplex treatment done, let me know how it went for you! 

More About Be Kekoa:
My Experience at Be Kekoa Salon for a Curly Cut
How I Use Be Kekoa Products on Wash Day
Be (Bae) Clean Cleansing Conditioner Review
Be Moist Hydrating ConditionerReview

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  1. Replies
    1. You can perform a treatment as often as needed since there is not protein or ingredients that can build up in the hair. For healthy hair, we typically recommend an in salon treatment monthly with weekly use of No3. For severely damaged hair a little more often.

  2. YASSS... I'm about grab my sister's cosmoprof card and check this out!!!! Soooo....inquiring minds just GOTTA KNOW! You've given us life with all these new products this month but... Which is your all-time favorite? It is so time to stock so... out of...

    Up North Naturals
    Naturelle Pro
    Jane Cartier

    Your face IS .... DRUM ROLL PLEASE.....

  3. YASSS... I'm about grab my sister's cosmoprof card and check this out!!!! Soooo....inquiring minds just GOTTA KNOW! You've given us life with all these new products this month but... Which is your all-time favorite? It is so time to stock so... out of...

    Up North Naturals
    Naturelle Pro
    Jane Cartier

    Your face IS .... DRUM ROLL PLEASE.....

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. I have used the olaplex treatments in the following manner. I used no 3 initially left it on overnight. Results: wow my curly hair was back(after 3 years of Keratin treatments my hair had lost its curl memory). I waited a month and did it again with more amazing results. I then went on to do the stand alone treatment 2 times and one time I did a mini treatment with just no 2. Each time I use i notice increased curl pattern and softer hair.

  6. How are the olaplex treatments coming along. Are you still doing the #3 treatments.

  7. Yeah, what Shawn said... How did you like the results after using it for a while?

  8. I don't have color, I have fine porous kinky Type 4C hair that likes to break if you look at it. Do you think it might help my hair type?

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  10. where can I get an in-salon olaplex treatment in the UK?

  11. Does it repair hair that is heat damaged as well as colour treated?