The Mane Objective: Olaplex No. 3 vs. Ion Absolute Perfection - Which One ACTUALLY Works for Natural Hair?
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Olaplex No. 3 vs. Ion Absolute Perfection - Which One ACTUALLY Works for Natural Hair?

4:59 PM

Olaplex No. 3 vs. Ion Absolute Perfection - Which One ACTUALLY Works for Natural Hair?
It's the battle of the bond perfectors!
I must say - this has been my most expensive natural hair experiment to date. And it took me like a month and some change to fully flush out. One of ya'll better find this helpful! I'm kidding...kinda. 😂

I dropped about $75 on this experiment, for two reasons -
  1. I needed an answer, and nobody on the internet seemed to have the definitive information I was looking for.
  2. I figured if I was looking, other people would be looking too. And I'm always up for a good round of investigative bloggerism.
But the super real reason I went down this rabbit hole of deep repair? There's a patch in the very front of my hair that's driving me CRAZY. 

As you guys know, I've been really serious about the health of my hair since late 2015, after going red had done a serious number on my curls. On account of tryna be cute, I found myself transitioning my natural hair a second time - from color damage.

Olaplex No. 3 vs. Ion Absolute Perfection - Which One ACTUALLY Works for Natural Hair?
I REALLY hope 2018 is the year my hair flourishes ignorantly.
I've stayed away from color, done a fairly good job at maintaining my moisture/protein balance, trimmed regularly, and even enlisted a few hair growth vitamins along the way.

Toward the end of 2017, my hair was looking and feeling closer to 2014 greatness than ever before. And I was ecstatic.

The Problem
Fast forward to April, and something has gone terribly awry. While the rest of my hair appeared to be flourishing (curls poppin', shrinkage epic), this one chunk in the front and slightly off center area of my hair has been refusing to cooperate.

It's the strangest thing - a row about 1.5 inches long is practically straight in the middle. The roots are fine. The ends are fine. But mid shaft is eerily straight. And for the life of me, I can't figure out why. I've stayed away from color. I haven't flat ironed my hair in about a year. I don't diffuse, and I don't band my hair nightly.

Olaplex No. 3 vs. Ion Absolute Perfection - Which One ACTUALLY Works for Natural Hair?
Look right above my nose...There's a mid-shaft area right under the top layer that's almost straight!
When I do wear buns, they're loose. 

Although I'm 100% clear that it's some kind of damage (otherwise my roots wouldn't be textured), I'm not sure how, where, or why it came about. But I did know one thing - it needed to be fixed ASAP.

No amount of deep conditioning, ApHogee-ing, or curl encouraging was fixing this fiasco at the front of my head - I had to call on the big boys.

Based on days of internet sleuthing, I unearthed two major findings:
  1. Olaplex No. 3 is a slightly weaker version of No. 2 - (containing 12.5% versus 15% of the active ingredient Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate). Both are considered bond builder/perfectors.
  2. Per Sally Beauty's website, when you mix their Absolute Perfection Booster and Color Sealer, it creates a bond perfector. 
With one at-home treatment coming in at $28 + tax for 3.3oz and the other as a duo kit for $12 with 2.03oz of Booster and 3.38oz of Color Sealer, is there really a comparison? What are the odds that Sally Beauty could save me some dough and a trip to Sephora?

(Because I only go to Sephora once per year, to buy my sister a gift card for her birthday 😂 - that store gives me anxiety and sensory overload.)

So I dropped the dough to find out - who could really fix my hair? Y'all know I had my fingers crossed and hoped to the high heavens that the Ion Absolute Perfection duo would work. 

But did my frugal prayers get answered? Let's dive into the finer details and find out.

Olaplex No. 3 vs. Ion Absolute Perfection - Which One ACTUALLY Works for Natural Hair?
First up - Olaplex No. 3!
Olaplex No. 3
$28 for 3.3oz

Where to Buy
I purchased mine from Sephora, to ensure I had authentic product. There's all these grey market warnings about purchasing from Amazon, but I'm not 100% sure they're true. At the same time, I'm not willing to risk my coins to find out, either.

What is It?
As mentioned previously, Olaplex No. 3 is the slightly weaker, take-home version of No. 2. It's supposed to be used as a weekly treatment to maintain an in-salon Olaplex treatment (No. 1 and 2), and up to 3x per week for damaged hair. I've also read that it can be left in the hair as you continue styling.

I don't know about your pockets, but mine can't afford to go through $60 worth of product in a week. I definitely did the leave-in situation, though. More on that later.

Key Ingredient
The key ingredient that makes everyone swoon over Olaplex in all its forms is Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate. Put your science cap on, because we're going to have a quick lesson - albeit grossly oversimplified.

The keratin in each strand of your hair is bound together by two sulfur atoms, commonly known as a a disulfide bond. These disulfide bonds are responsible for your hair's shape and strength. When your hair undergoes a non-permanent change (like a blowout or flat iron), the disulfide bonds are temporarily rearranged and can be restored as soon as you revert your hair (in our case, with water). But when you dive into chemical treatments (permanent color, relaxers), the disulfide bonds are permanently re-arranged. And with repeated use of heat, color, or relaxers without proper care, the bonds are broken and your hair ends up looking a hot, tattered mess.

This is where Olaplex comes in - the active ingredient Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate forms bonds with the sulfur atoms, forming an artificial disulfide bridge, temporarily linking them back together.

Basically, Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate is like the mamma that made you and your sister sit at the table mid-argument, forcing y'all to settle up and apologize. The truce, although effective in the immediate, is only temporary.

This is why Olaplex No. 3 exists - to keep the results of the initial No. 1 and 2 treatment going long after you've gone home.

Did it Work?
You ever want something to not work, just so you can go recoup that coin you dropped? That's exactly how I felt about Olaplex No. 3. I wanted it to show no visible difference, so I could dart into Sephora like hiiiiigimmemymoneyplease!

Olaplex No. 3 vs. Ion Absolute Perfection - Which One ACTUALLY Works for Natural Hair?
Olaplex No.3 put a lil' bend back into the straight section!
Unfortunately for my wallet, I found Olaplex No. 3 to be fairly effective in helping my mysteriously damaged curls bounce back. After my very first use, I saw a teeny change in my damaged curls, but not enough for me to run out and clear the shelf at Sephora. It put quite a bit of spring into my healthier curls, though.

It wasn't until my second rinse out + leave-in combo treatment that I really saw what No. 3 was workin' with. And I liked it. No, my curls don't look like they touched the hem of Jesus' garment - but they don't look like they've been cast into the fiery furnace, either.

Overall, I was pleased and pleasantly surprised that Olaplex No. 3 had a very positive impact on my curls.

But how did Olaplex No. 3 stack up against the Ion Absolute Perfection duo?

I'm glad you asked.

Olaplex No. 3 vs. Ion Absolute Perfection - Which One ACTUALLY Works for Natural Hair?
And now, Ion Absolute Perfection!
Ion Absolute Perfection
$12 for 2.03oz of Booster and 3.38oz of Color Sealer

Where to Buy
Ion Absolute Perfection is a packaged duo of the Absolute Perfection Booster and Color Sealer, and is sold individually and together exclusively at Sally's.

What is It?
As mentioned a bit earlier in this post, Absolute Perfection is a two-step process that is designed to repair and help generate new bonds, while preventing breakage and dryness. Like Olaplex, it was formulated to work in tandem with chemical color services, but can be used as a standalone treatment.

Key Ingredients
Ion Absolute Perfection does not contain Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate in either product; believe it or not, that ingredient has been patented by Olaplex. So what's in Ion Absolute Perfection Booster? Emulsifying and conditioning agents and proteins. Hydrolyzed Wheat and Pea Proteins, to be exact. I went down the ingredient list, and there's just lots of conditioning compounds, proteins, and a few botanical extracts. Within the Color Sealer itself, there's more conditioning agents and oils. Just because Ion Absolute Perfection didn't contain any fancy ingredients, I wasn't counting it out.

Did it Work?
Not going to mince words here - disappointment doesn't even begin to cover it. I wanted SO badly for the Ion Absolute Perfection to work - and maybe for coloring it does - but as a standalone repairing treatment? Not at all.

Olaplex No. 3 vs. Ion Absolute Perfection - Which One ACTUALLY Works for Natural Hair?
Ion, did you even try? 😂
To keep things consistent, I used the exact same wash and style products during the course of this experiment. No handing out freebies. Each product had to stand on their own two. So when I say what I'm about to say, just know that I'm ruling out all other possibilities.

First of all, it didn't work. My damaged curls showed NO visible signs of change. Not one bit. To be honest, I get better results with ApHogee 2 Minute Reconstructor. Secondly, it made my scalp freeeeeeeeak out. Like, made my scalp psoriasis flare up in a way that I haven't seen in a while. I'm taking...nevermind. Just know, it was BAD.

I refused to subject my scalp to that foolishness a second time, so I don't have a follow-up experience to report. Sometimes, a no just has to stay a no.

Olaplex No. 3 vs. Ion Absolute Perfection - Which One ACTUALLY Works for Natural Hair?
Disregard the shirt. Check out the post-olaplaex poppage!
So which one ACTUALLY works for natural hair? If I had to make a recommendation, it would be for Olaplex No. 3, which showed the most improvement on my hair. As much as I wanted it to work, Ion Absolute Perfection simply didn't perform.

If you're looking for information on Olaplex No. 1 and 2 in salon, read about my experience here.

If you're looking for a few more cost effective solutions to try out before diving into the expense of Olaplex No. 3, check out this list.

Good luck - dealing with damage is absolutely no fun. 🤦🏽‍♀️

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  1. I was soooo giddy when I saw you post on IG about Olaplex and a possible dupe. I literally just ordered a bottle from Sephora yesterday morning. I remember your salon Olaplex post but didn’t know of any of my trusted hair bloggers/vloggers who have tried step 3. I wanted the Ion dupe to work for you too, so that I eventually save some coin! Lol. I have researched and found out that Costco sells a double pack of Olaplex for about $33 but of course Olaplex is saying Costco isn’t an authorized retailer so “they can guarantee the product is authentic” 🤔. I’ve read review saying it’s the exact same product and users couldn’t tell the difference so if this 1st bottle shows improvement on my strands, I will definitely get that double pack from Costco to test the difference myself.

    1. OMG! I need to look this up for myself. I don't at all buy into those "authorized retailer" cautions at this point. Costco is too big, with too much money on the line, to fool around with bootleg product. Same thing with DevaCurl spouting that places like Target are selling unauthorized product. Let me head to now lol

  2. looks very cool. tell me, is this tool suitable for straight hair or just for curly?

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  5. Thank you so much. I just ordered the step ion brilliance color sealer due to the reviews on Sally's. And now I regret that. Ugh. Should have just gotten the olaplex. You explained everything wonderfully and now I feel educated on the products. Thank you so very much.

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