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From oils and masks to leave-in conditioners, there are hundreds of hair products out there that claim to repair and strengthen dry, damaged and over-processed hair. But most hair specialists would argue that nothing works quite like Olaplex.
The hair treatment system (which contains the patented molecule bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate) treats all types of damage, from chemical (keratin, colour, perms and relaxers) to mechanical (brushing, tugging and drying), as well as heat styling and environmental damage, for example sun exposure.
What is Olaplex?
The Olaplex range consists of a number of different steps from No.1 to No.7. Professionally done in salon, No.1 is mixed into bleach, lightener or hair colour and repairs broken bonds as a result of the chemical process, which can lead to dry, brittle hair. No.2 follows: left on for 10 minutes, it continues to rebuild and strengthen those weak strands so that hair emerges soft, shiny and healthy.
Olaplex's No.3 Hair Perfector is essentially a hair mask, which can be applied to damp hair for 10 minutes or even left on overnight, while No.4 and No.5 are the Bond Maintenance Shampoo and Conditioner, to reinforce and protect hair in between washes. The No.6 Bond Smoother is a leave-in treatment or styling creme, which ensures hair is moisturised until your next wash. Finally, No.7 Bonding Oil is a styling oil that can be applied to damp or dry hair for an extra hit of moisture.
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What is Olaplex No.0?
Enter the newest product in the Olaplex haircare dynasty: No.0 Intensive Bond Building Hair Treatment. This treatment is an extra-strength product inspired by professional salon treatments. It boasts the highest concentration of Olaplex’s patented molecule, bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, and "deeply repairs, strengthens and protects hair integrity," according to the brand. It works best when used in combination with No.3. The best part? You can skip the salon and use it in the comfort of your own bathroom. Plus, it only takes 20 minutes in total.
How do you use Olaplex No.0?
Unlike other Olaplex treatments, which are thicker in texture, Olaplex No.0 looks and feels like water. Because of this I was sceptical but its transformative powers aren't to be sniffed at. It's easy to use: simply apply to dry hair until it is fully saturated and leave on for 10 minutes. Olaplex says that leaving it on for longer (up to 45 minutes, otherwise the product loses efficacy) won't cause any damage to the hair. It is recommended that you don't leave the product in overnight, though, as it could end up in your eyes.
After 10 or so minutes, Olaplex No.3 must be applied through the hair and left on for a further 10 minutes before it is recommended that you shampoo and condition your hair. The brand suggests using the treatment once or twice a week, or more often if your hair is very damaged.
Does Olaplex No.0 work?
My hair has been through lots of chemical processes lately: an at-home keratin treatment, followed by '90s-inspired chunky highlights using bleach, then an all-over darker colour to take me back to my roots. It's fair to say that my hair is in need of some TLC, as it can feel a little dry and matted, especially when I let it air-dry. I was intrigued to give the new Olaplex a go. The squeezy bottle and precise nozzle is meant to make application simple but if you have a lot of hair, it could take a while to saturate your lengths fully. I struggled. In the end, I had to section my hair. I applied the product to the top of my hair, then flipped my head upside down and repeated the step. It was a hot day and the formula dried fast, so I did this a couple of times. To make sure each and every strand was covered, I ran a wide-tooth comb through.
I lost track of time and left the product on for 20 minutes before following with No.3. The first product dries relatively quickly, so the second step keeps hair damp, which means both products can work to the best of their potential. The brand recommends shampooing and conditioning with Olaplex No.4 and No.5 but I'd run out. Instead, I used a colour-safe shampoo (Christophe Robin Color Shield Shampoo, $50) and conditioner (Ouai Medium Hair Conditioner, $43).
As I blow-dried my hair like usual, I was positively surprised. I couldn't see any frizzy bits, which usually crop up at my roots, and the rest of my hair felt like silk. I considered rocking my natural waves but wanted to see whether styling would be easier. I was right: straightening felt like much less of a chore, as my hair was so soft. I've very recently had a trim so I can't say that it helped repair any split ends, but the brand says that this is another perk of the treatment.
From No.0 to No.7, Olaplex products can be used on all hair types and textures. Hair that is very damaged will see better results with No.0 but if your lengths look a little dull or feel a bit dry, it's definitely worth a go, as it perks hair up fast. At the moment, Olaplex No.0 is available in a limited edition kit with the No.3 Hair Perfector, so you might be required to purchase them separately in the future. One thing is for certain: I'll be shelving my current hair mask treatment for a helping of this pre-wash. It really does work.