Olaplex has been a trusted favorite by salon stylists and color specialists for a while now.
But lately, it’s been making its way to becoming a household name that just about anyone has heard of. But what exactly is Olaplex?
Well, this seemingly magic hair elixir is generically known as a bonder.
It goes by many other names — bond repair, bond builder, bond maintenance. But it’s all the same thing.
Our hair is made up of tiny, microscopic chains of protein and chemicals.
But like any other chain, over time and with damage, the links can get weak and even broken.
According to Olaplex’s website, the power of this product comes with their patented special ingredient — Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate.
Whew! What a mouthful.
But what it does is simple.
It can restore and repair broken and damaged bonds, resulting in softer, smoother and stronger hair.
Olaplex claims to repair all kinds of damage — heat damage from irons and curlers, chemical damage from dyes and bleach, physical damage from brushing and tugging, and even environmental factors like UV rays, temperature and pollution!
It also claims to be good for all hair types and comes in a myriad of products — shampoos, conditioners, oils and masks.
The brand also claims it’s best used in a 3-step, or even 7-step routine.
But overall, their crown jewel is the Olaplex Hair Perfector.
The Hair Perfector is a deep hair treatment that you can use 2-3 times a month to reverse visible damage.
But for a product that comes at $28 for a tiny travel sized container, it makes you wonder..
Is there anything better than Olaplex?
Even the modest 3-step Olaplex routine costs more than a hundred dollars!
So, is there a cheaper alternative to Olaplex?
The biggest edge Olaplex has over Wellaplex is its course of action. Each strand of hair has a cuticle — the outermost layer, the cortex (the middle layer), and the core (the innermost layer).
Olaplex’s claim to fame is that it repairs each hair strand from the inside out.
So it attacks damage from the cuticle all the way to the core. This way, hair is made healthier from the inside.
Wellaplex offers a little more than just surface-level fixes as it repairs both the cuticle and cortex. But the effect isn’t as deeply rejuvenating as Olaplex.
However, if you’re on a budget, Wellaplex does boast a smaller range at a lower price point, so you can get the look of healthier hair with less products and for much cheaper.
Prevention and protection is always better than cure and that’s what Redken is for hair!
Redken is an Acidic concentrate that makes use of citric acid to protect hair. It’s best used before you even start doing coloring, bleach or heat in order for it to be most effective.
The way it works is the acid locks in the cuticle to protect the rest of your hair from damage, and restores the natural pH of the hair to prevent it from further bond-breaking.
However, if your hair is already damaged and needs some deep repairing, it looks like Redken might not be the best alternative to Olaplex in that case.
The Pronexa Hair Bond Repairing Complex is a close dupe to Olaplex at just ⅔ the price.
Its course of action is similar to Olaplex in repairing broken bonds from the inside out. The formula fixes sulfide bonds in hair, just like Olaplex to renew it to its natural glory.
Pronexa also boasts less products needed to achieve the full result — with only 3 product in their line.
It’s a good budget option given how it works almost just like Olaplex and is also paraben-free, phthalate-free and sulfate free!
Chromaplex comes in at a much cheaper $30 for 500 mL. That’s almost 5 times more than what you get with Olaplex! It also seems like a worthy alternative to the OG.
Chromaplex makes use of its signature Fibre Bond Technology in a 3-step process. It repairs hair from the inside out and even improves hair elasticity.
This makes hair less prone to physical breaks and chemical damage all in all. For a much cheaper dupe, it packs a lot of bang for your buck.
Smartbond is a lot more similar to Redken than Olaplex as it uses an acid to prevent hair damage.
The malic acid in Smartbond restores the pH balance in your hair, while also giving the cuticle more elasticity to prevent damage in the future.
However, it doesn’t have the same chemical power that Olaplex has to really get into those broken bonds and fix damage that’s already there.
While Smartbond also softens and smoothens hair, and is safe for color users, it’s best used as a preventative product.
If you have some real damage that needs deeper healing, then Smartbond won’t be able to cut it.
Manufactured by Farmavita, an Italian brand known for their hair coloring products, Omniplex claims to have “molecular technology” that binds to the proteins of hair to repair damage and enhance hair strength.
It also comes in a three-step process that strengthens the hair from its core to the cuticle.
However, not much is known about the ingredients in omniplex.
You can’t say for sure whether it really does work similarly to Olaplex, or if it’s another acid treatment that isn’t as effective on badly damaged hair.
Kairplex boasts being the least expensive dupe for Olaplex.
Aldi claims its got "salon technology that seals the hair bond to help restore damaged hair"
You can get a complete 3-step regimen from this line for just $20 — that’s even less than a single bottle of Olaplex!
But is it really a dupe for Olaplex? Well, chemically, no.
Olaplex’s secret ingredient is theirs and theirs alone.
What Kairplex does have is a lot of ingredients that encourage moisture, elasticity and damage prevention in hair. It leaves hair soft, smooth and shiny, but there’s no guarantee for any long lasting damage control and repair.
At the end of the day, the best haircare product is really up to the user.
Hair colorists recommend bond-building hair products for all hair types and textures. It's even more important if you have damaged hair from dyeing, bleaching, heat styling and chemical treatments.
Most at-home bond repair products have their own patented formulations so it's hard to do a side by side comparison.
For those on a budget, you can start with any of those cheaper alternatives to Olaplex we've mentioned above.
If you have a bit more to spend, and your hair needs some serious repair, then the price tag on Olaplex may be well worth it for you!
However, know that bonders are all over the market and for a much lower price you can also get products that improve the look and feel of your hair while protecting it from damage.