There are some things only those with overprocessed hair will know: finding dozens of split ends on your pillow in the morning, knots and tangles that make brushing feel like an Olympic sport, hair that's more like straw than anything... If your lengths are damaged by heat, relaxers, bleach or hair dye, it's likely you rely on one or two hair products to keep them in tip-top condition.
It might be a really great conditioner (like L'Oréal's Wonder Water) or a DIY hair mask that's trending on TikTok. But for many, it's something from the very popular Olaplex range. Just recently, the brand launched the Olaplex No.8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask, which transforms frazzled hair in a matter of minutes, not to mention its first ever purple shampoo for reducing brassy tones in blonde hair and moisturising brittle strands. The extensive collection of products (which includes a conditioner, oil and pre-shampoo treatment) is recommended by hairstylists and celebrities alike, so it's no wonder hair brands are keen to emulate its success.
The Inkey List's PCA Bond Repair Treatment, £12.99, has been likened to Olaplex No.0, while Mark Hill's Bond Repair Bond Building Treatment, £19.99, makes very dry hair sleek and smooth. Both have one intended solution in common: fusing broken strands back together and making hair a lot shinier, softer and stronger in the process. There's lots of hype around them both but it's Revolution's Plex range which has set tongues wagging this month. On TikTok, beauty enthusiasts can't get enough of the collection's ability to make hair soft and appear less damaged, minimising the appearance of split ends. In fact, a handful say it's a great Olaplex 'dupe'.
Intrigued, I had to see if the products lived up to the buzz. My hair is twice-bleached and I don't know how many times I've topped it up with dye. Until very recently it was bright blue but I've since had the colour stripped and re-dyed it brown. Put simply, my hair is fried and in need of some serious TLC. Trying not to overload my hair, I opted for just two products: Revolution Plex 3 Bond Restore Treatment, £10 for 100ml or £15 for 250ml, and Haircare Plex 7 Bond Restore Styling Spray, £8. The former is a post-wash treatment or hair mask (the texture is more like a lightweight conditioner) and the latter is exactly what it says on the tin: an easy styler.
Before I get into the nitty-gritty, I have to point out that Olaplex's star ingredient is bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate. It's a mouthful but it works to prevent bleach and colour from breaking hair's disulfide bonds – so much so that the brand has patented it. In other words, it's one of a kind and no other hair product lists it as an ingredient. What is similar is that Revolution Haircare boasts an entire hair system, including shampoo, conditioner, styling cream and treatments. The main components in the collection are lots of reparative plant proteins (which the brand claims target different layers of the hair fibre) and panthenol (otherwise known as provitamin B5). You might have heard the latter mentioned in TV haircare ads as it's known as a humectant, an ingredient which locks in moisture. Well-moisturised hair strands = fewer gripes like dryness and breakage. The products are also formulated without sulphates, which are known to strip colour.
First up, the treatment. A 50p-size amount was enough for my thick, medium-length hair and it smelled great. I used my fingers to rake the creamy product through my lengths from the roots to the ends and then a wide-tooth comb to make sure it was distributed evenly. The instructions suggest letting it work its magic for 10-15 minutes but I lost track of time and left it on for almost 30. That's not going to do your hair any harm (quite the opposite if it's parched like mine). As I rinsed out the product, I was surprised by how soft my hair was. I set to blow-drying and it felt so much better than before. It was sleek and satiny and the results were on par with the No.8 mask. My hair felt incredible but as you can tell by the before and after pictures, it didn't do very much to keep my frizz on lockdown right away (something No.8 excels at). But a day later, those frizzy, flyaway pieces of hair were much less visible and my hair was nice and glossy. It was a little more manageable than usual, too. In fact, I thought it a shame to straighten!
If you're on a budget, this product is a winner. My only grumble is that it's a chore to step out of the shower, towel-dry your hair, apply and then rinse out — especially when there are so many brilliant in-shower treatments out there. Try Amika Soulfood Nourishing Mask, £20, OUAI Treatment Masque, £32, and Garnier Hair Food Banana 3-in-1 Dry Hair Mask, £6.99, all of which deeply nourish dry hair in minutes.
On to the Haircare Plex 7 Bond Restore Styling Spray, £8. This has five-star reviews but, personally, it fell flat. The texture is very thin and could be a good option for fine hair but if your strands are on the medium to thick side, you might need something more substantial to slide through knots and tangles. This is where Olaplex's No.6 Bond Smoother, £26, is unrivalled. It repairs, protects and styles in one and if you ask any hair expert, they'll agree that it's worth its weight in gold.
If you've tried that and want to give something else a go, I can't get enough of Undone by George Northwood Moisturising Cream, £15, which is excellent value for money. Though it doesn't repair bonds like Olaplex, one pump goes a long way to reduce frizzy bits and to make hair soft and shiny. If you have curls, try Cantu Avocado Curling Cream, £7.99, with shea butter and coconut and avocado oil for added shine, or Charlotte Mensah's legendary Manketti Oil, £48, which works on all hair types and textures (and smells incredible).
Refinery29's selection is purely editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items we love! As part of our business model we do work with affiliates; if you directly purchase something from a link on this article, we may earn a small amount of commission. Transparency is important to us at Refinery29, if you have any questions please reach out to us.