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It's highly likely that there are two things responsible for the dry hair epidemic. First up, the harsh weather conditions. It isn't just your skin that feels the damaging effects of the sun, even in winter; UV rays are able to penetrate hair strands, zapping the proteins which give hair its elasticity and bounce. Add to that our affinity for trending hair colours like hair frosting, glowlights and golden hour balayage — all of which enlist bleach — and it's safe to say that more of us are dealing with strawlike strands.
When it comes to breathing life back into dry, damaged hair, beauty editors and colourists tend to gravitate towards a handful of go-to products. The most famous is arguably Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector (a bond-building treatment). You might also have seen buzz around K18 (a leave-in, repairing hair mask) as well as Color Wow Money Masque, not to mention Aldi's viral Bonded haircare range. Now there's another exciting bond-repairing hair product vying for your attention and it already has a professional following.
According to the brand (and without subjecting you to a chemistry lesson), the product repairs all three hair bonds: hydrogen, ionic and covalent. Bonds make up your hair's structure and are responsible for elasticity, bounce, shine and texture. In other words, keeping your bonds intact is absolutely necessary for healthy hair. But for Living Proof it wasn't enough to fuse existing hair bonds together temporarily. This product is proven to create new bonds so that even overprocessed lengths can look and feel like virgin hair.
So how do you use it? After shampooing and conditioning, apply two pumps to towel-dried hair, let it sink in for 10 minutes and then blow-dry to activate. There's no need to rinse and you can apply your trusty styling products afterwards. Having tested the product in secret before its hotly anticipated launch, Jenna Perry (hair colourist to the stars, including Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner) is a big fan — and her clients are sold, too. "This is so good!" wrote one underneath an Instagram post. "My hair looks so healthy since you used [it] on me!"
It's safe to say we were intrigued at R29. Three staffers with damaged hair gave the product a go — and here are their honest thoughts.
Susan Devaney, acting managing editor
"Here's the rub: fine, curly hair cannot be easily tamed. Anyone who is also in possession of naturally curly hair will concede that the thirst is never fully quenched, no matter how much product you spray, slather or soak your locks in. And yet the hope of finding a product that might just offer up a solution never wanes — especially if it has already been likened to everyone's dry, damaged hair saviour, Olaplex.
Having fine hair also means that I can’t apply too much product or my freshly washed hair will look like it's been glued to my head. So instantly I liked that the instructions advise applying only two pumps to clean, damp hair. After doing so and forgoing my heat protector spray, I set a timer on my phone for 10 minutes (diligently wrapping my hair in a towel so it didn’t instantly dry into spring-like curls). I blow-dried it as per and I could feel that it was a bit smoother than normal, but not enough to warrant paying $65 per bottle. However, it did feel a bit fuller and more voluminous.
Never one to give up easily, I tried it out again the following day. This time around I applied three pumps to my tresses while ensuring to cover the back of my hair, where it’s always very dry. It definitely felt smoother than before and had a slight shine – but not enough for friends to ask: what new hair product have you discovered?"
Ellinor Weir, senior social editor
"Since getting a bob by accident two years ago, I've been terrified to go back to the hairdresser for anything other than a little balayage so it's safe to say my hair is a little damaged. My hair is thin and straight but will knot all over just by looking at it. The added bleach damage makes the ends wiry, dry and means I can't go anywhere without a brush to hand. In the two years since the haircut-that-shall-not-be-named I've tried a long list of repairing products, to varying degrees of effectiveness. As my hair is so thin I try to avoid anything too heavy or creamy as it will just make my hair immediately greasy and weighed down. I was excited to try the Living Proof product because I had just finished my Olaplex No.3 and needed a top-up!
The instructions say just two pumps but when I put it in my hands it just didn't seem enough (at a whopping $65 for a small bottle you'd hope that it would go the distance). I applied to my recently shampooed hair (ends first) and hoped for the best. After I ran it through my ends I actually felt like I needed another pump (or two) for the rest of my hair so I applied some more before combing it through. The instructions recommend letting it sit for 10 minutes and then blow-drying but here's where I diverge from the instructions again as I don't have a hairdryer and always air-dry my hair. So I just left it in and waited impatiently for my hair to dry. [Beauty editor's note: This product requires heat to activate. Without it, the results will not be as impressive so it pays to stick to the instructions.]
As an unofficial hair mask connoisseur, I wasn't bowled over with the outcome. My ends still feel pretty dry but admittedly my hair was easier to brush out and it definitely had a nice shine for a few days after use. For fellow bleached ends girlies, I've had the most success with BLEACH London Reincarnation Mask, $11.88 (even over Olaplex) or I use Sam McKnight Happy Endings Nourishing Hair Balm in between washes for a quick refresh.
P.S. I know I should get my hair cut. Don't worry, I'm working on it."
Maybelle Morgan, entertainment editor and acting operations manager
"Most people who have had the misfortune of being in earshot of me these days will know too much about my current hair woes. The heatwave and years of bleach abuse have left my hair in dire straits and no expensive miracle product has been able to save it. Naturally, I literally leapt at the chance to try this. Straight off the bat, though, I balked at the price. It would really have to do magic for me to justify spending that much.
The instructions advise you to apply the product to clean, damp hair. So after washing, where I would normally spritz on a detangling spray because my hair is so thick and prone to big knots, I (painfully) went without, but brushed my hair first to make sure the product would go on evenly when applied. I was not a fan of the smell, which I found to be chemical-like. Now, it doesn't explicitly say to do this but the product reminded me of K18, where a lot of people recommend emulsifying the product in your hands first by rubbing it between your palms and then applying it.
I used three pumps and for such a small amount I did feel like it covered my hair quite evenly. After drying, my hair didn't feel any softer or more nourished, which I'd say is my main pain point. It was really in the days after the wash where I noticed the most difference: my hair was shinier and did feel stronger. All in all, it definitely did something but I don't think I could fork out $65 in good conscience."
A note from the beauty editor
Judging by the pictures above, the difference in how hair looks post-product is actually pretty impressive. In each case, the lengths appear fuller and a lot healthier. Bonding hair products work instantly (great for the impatient among us) but treatments like this serve up best results when used weekly, especially if hair is bleached.
What I will say is that it's imperative to follow the instructions to a tee in order to reap the benefits. That involves blow-drying or even quickly blasting your hair with heat to activate the special formula. Without this step, it's unlikely you'll see results.
Lastly, it's also recommended to wait for around 10 minutes to let the product work its magic before applying any other styling products — which you're allowed to do! If your hair is very dry and damaged, follow with a lightweight leave-in conditioner, like Gisou Honey Infused Leave In Conditioner, $51.48, or Noughty Intensive Care Leave-In Conditioner, $11.89, and Aussie Miracle Leave In Conditioning Hair Spray, if you have a little less to spend.