Is The Cheaper, High Street Version Of Olaplex Really Worth It?

My hair is frazzled. Since having it bleached and dyed bright blue, it's been a chore to keep it as soft and healthy as possible. Throw in the UK's mega heatwave and oh, boy. With my lengths resembling straw as opposed to actual hair, I've looked to none other than Olaplex (namely the incredible shampoo, conditioner and new No.8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask) to breathe life into my limp strands. But a shiny new product caught my attention this month in the form of The Hair Lab by Mark Hill Bond Repair Bond Building Treatment.
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Available from this week at Boots in store and online, the restorative 10-minute treatment has had beauty editors talking for some time now — specifically how it could live up to the hype of Olaplex, the original (and arguably the best) bond-repairing treatment. At £19.99 for 150ml, the price doesn't differ hugely from cult Olaplex favourites such as No.6 Bond Smoother and No.3 Hair Perfector (both £26 for 100ml), though it is available on the high street, which makes it a little more accessible.
So what's in it? Behentrimonium chloride is known as an anti-frizz, anti-static ingredient in haircare and helps to condition strands. Then there's glycerin – which draws moisture into the hair and scalp, making lengths feel soft – plus a handful of nourishing oils, such as argan oil, to improve elasticity and make hair shiny and silky. Among other smoothing, repairing ingredients, they help minimise the damage from hair dye, heat styling and the environment, which can cause split ends, dryness and flyaways.
Before treatment
I had to give the treatment a go to see whether it lived up to the hype. I wanted to give my parched lengths a head start, so used the matching Mark Hill Bond Repair Re-Bond Shampoo, £14.99, and Conditioner, also £14.99. They boast the brand's keracreathanol complex, which strengthen's the hair's internal keratin (this protects against humidity and keeps frizz at bay). In other words, it makes hair smoother, softer and a lot more manageable. The shampoo left my hair feeling squeaky clean (not what I expected) and when this happens, my hair gets a bit dry and tangled. The trick is to follow with a heavy helping of conditioner, which made my brittle lengths feel very smooth.
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The Bond Repair treatment is unctuously thick — more like a body butter than any hair product I'm used to — but I found it easy to rake it through my towel-dried hair from root to tip using my fingers, paying special attention to my split ends. I brushed my hair using a wide-tooth comb to ensure every single strand was coated and wrapped it up in an Aquis Hair Turban, £30, to cocoon it in moisture for 10 minutes like the tube instructs. Just like Olaplex's No.8 Mask, it was really easy to rinse out and didn't leave behind any greasy residue. To give my hair a bond-building boost, I followed with a dollop of Mark Hill Bond Repair Cream, £16.99, in place of my usual styling cream (Undone by George Northwood Moisturising Cream, £15) and let my hair air-dry naturally.
After treatment
I was expecting my hair to feel silky soft as it does when I use Olaplex No.8 but I didn't notice much difference in the texture. I was a tad disappointed until I took a look at the before and after photos. Compared to the picture sans the Bond Repair treatment, my hair is considerably less frizzy now. As you can tell, it's a lot sleeker, shinier and smoother, which made styling with straighteners so easy. The biggest difference is in the strength of my hair. It no longer feels brittle, as though it might snap off. It's a lot stronger and on closer inspection, my split ends have also been minimised.
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All in all, it's a good result but softness and shine are important to me as my hair is over-processed thanks to bleach and dye. If you're in the same boat, I'd recommend also using something like L'Oréal's Dream Lengths 8 Second Wonder Water, £9.99 (currently on offer for £4.99). While it doesn't necessarily work to restore the hair's structure like the new Mark Hill range, it will give you smooth, swishy and bouncy hair worthy of a shampoo advert — whatever your hair texture. Finally, if you're happy to step away from the high street, I can't speak highly enough of Dizziak's Deep Conditioner, £22. The five-star reviews don't lie: it makes scorched hair feel brand-new in five minutes. You can use it in the shower if you find hair masks and treatments a chore to incorporate into your hair routine.
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