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Today we’re covering off a topic that’s really taken off in the hair care world over the past few years and you’ve probably seen a bunch of products claiming they contain ‘bond repair’ ingredients. But what is bond repair, who needs it, how do these products work and which are worth checking out? Let’s dive in...
If you’re fortunate enough to have luscious, flowing, healthy hair that never experiences breakage: congratulations, you can probably exit this post! However, most of us process our hair in some way; whether that’s by using heated styling tools or colouring it. Whether your hair is visibly damaged or doing ok, if you regularly process your hair in these ways: you can benefit from bond repair products.
Your hair is made up of chemical bonds and processes such as heating and colouring the hair can break down the protein chains that make your hair strong and healthy. By strenghthening these bonds, your hair can become more resilient to these external factors. Some ingredients can penetrate deep into your hair strands and reinforce the structure from within, whereas others externally reinforce the bond. Some products are aimed towards healing existing damage, whereas others are more preventative. Using these types of products can lead to less visible breakage and hair that's smoother, shinier and - most importantly - healthier.
The first product we have to talk about is kind of the OG and still - to many - the best in this category: Olaplex’s No3 Hair Perfector* | £28. There are a bunch of products in the Olaplex line and which is for you kind of depends on what you find easiest to use and the sorts of textures you enjoy, but No3 is widely-considered to be the most intensive treatment of the bunch. The reason why Olaplex is considered the most trusted product range of its kind is that it’s formulated with a very promising patented ingredient: Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate. This ingredient targets the hair’s sulfur disulphide bonds which determine the structure of your hair. This forming of new links strengthens the hair from the inside. Olaplex is widely used in salons but No3 is the ‘take it home’ version; you dampen your hair, apply the treatment for 10-20 mins (this is a light lotion) and then wash with shampoo and conditioner as normal (ideally, reach for it 1-2 times a week). I can attest to the amazing results I’ve seen in my own hair from using this treatment and there are plenty of ‘before and afters’ online showing how it improves the health and appearance of the hair. I’ve personally experienced so much less breakage. My only drawbacks are really: a) this is an extra step in a hair care routine that not everyone will have the time or inclination for and, b) it’s kind of expensive as a regular part of your routine.
The next product I have to discuss is actually pretty new to the UK market but is already making a splash: the K18 Leave-in Molecular Repair Hair Mask* | £55. This product works by reconnecting broken polypeptide chains within the hair by mimicking them. It’s actually targeting the same bonds as Olaplex and also works from within the hair, but the technology works in a slightly different way, by imitating the entire structure of the hair’s keratin, strengthening each strand both horizontally and vertically. There’s a bit of a knack to using this product and personally, I do find it a little more effective than the Olaplex No3... You only need 1-2 pumps of the product, applied directly after shampooing. That’s it! Whilst it’s designed to be left in, the brand have said that so long as you keep the product on for the 4 minutes required for it to work, you can actually rinse it out and condition afterwards. I probably used this once a week or you could use it for every wash for a few weeks after something like hair bleaching. This is amazing as a low-maintenance, minimal time and fuss alternative to something like Olaplex No3 and the results (for me) were pretty immediate, which I loved. My hair was smoother, sleeker and silkier immediately after use and this product has helped me to grow out my hair in a healthy way. My only negative is honestly the price!
A fairly new launch is the Living Proof Triple Bond Complex* | £42. This is essentially a pre-blow-dry treatment lotion; I use 3 pumps and it doesn’t make my hair feel stiff or leave any noticeable residue. To also benefit from the heat protection in this formula, you’ll want to wait 10 minutes after application to apply heat (allowing the product to penetrate) and it should be used at least once a week. The technology used here is patent pending, so further details of how exactly it works should be available soon, but based on the Living Proof website, it looks to work by creating new bonds within the hair strand (so isn’t dissimilar to something like Olaplex). This instantly made my hair look shinier and feel softer and sleeker, which is great for such a quick and easy product to use. Anecdotally, I really did see visible results quickly with this product and I didn’t need to use a lot of it to reap the benefits. The way it’s pretty much traceless in the hair is also a huge pro. I’m interested to hear more about the science behind this product when it’s available, but my own personal experience has been very positive!
Next we have Amika’s the Kure Multi-Task Repair Treatment* | £23 | which is a little more affordable than the majority of the products in this post. I won’t lie: it was tricky to find much detail on how this product works. It’s touted as ‘bond repair’ but I actually think it’s more of a vegan keratin protein treatment sealing damage from the outside. On the positive side of things: the fact that traditional keratin isn’t being used means you’re probably not going to get issues with build-up (which can paradoxically cause breakage), plus this is a really quick and easy product to use: after shampooing and conditioning, you apply this rinse-style product for just a minute before rinsing. The use of it after conditioner also makes me think it’s working on the surface rather than getting into the hair itself. I do notice my hair looks shinier and feels sleeker after use, I’m just not convinced it’s working as a bond repair product.
Lastly, we have the new Philip Kingsley Bond Builder Restorative Oil Lipid Shield* | £26. This product is more of a protective formula than something to help existing damage; it’s aimed towards replenishing the lipid barrier of the hair, which is its first line of defence against external damage (in particular, heat damage). It contains heat protection and also replenishes the nourishment that hair loses via processes such as bleaching. I don’t believe this product is getting right into the hair’s structure to repair it from within but it’s a lovely, lightweight, moisturising, softening hair oil that is going to help guard the hair from further damage.