The Best Olaplex Alternatives
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When it comes to beauty products with a cult following, few have reached the status of Olaplex and its damage-repairing No. 3 Hair Perfector. Thanks to the brand's patented ingredient that helps restore the structure of damaged hair, the treatment has amassed more than 75,000 five-star ratings on Amazon alone. But if the $28 price tag isn't in your budget, or if you’ve tried the treatment and it didn’t work for you, the best Olaplex alternatives are worth a try. In many cases, similar treatments will note that they're "bond-building," but when in doubt, look for products — usually hair masks — that are formulated with proteins and nutrients like amino acids or pro-vitamin B5.
Celebrity hairstylist Sophie Rose Gutterman tells Elite Daily that Olaplex and similar re-bonding treatments are popular in salons among pros — especially during coloring services. "All chemical services, no matter how mild your developer, will still cause damage," she says, while explaining that treatments aimed at re-bonding, or those that contain hydrolyzed proteins like wheat and silk, help to reinforce the structure of your hair. When used at home, be sure to follow the instructions specific to the product you're using, as too much of any protein treatment can actually cause damage. In fact, Gutterman stresses that at-home treatments aren't always the solution to damaged hair. "When you start seeing pieces of your hair on the counter when brushing, that's when you want to seek professional help," she says. "Breakage can happen easily from brushing, chemical damage, heat damage, or [using] the wrong products," Gutterman explains. "If you are feeling helpless with your hair, don't wait to see a professional."
To avoid further damaging your hair, Gutterman says to be more mindful when it comes to your styling routine. "If you blow your hair out with heat, enjoy your blow out, but the next day, instead of flat ironing, do an updo or a braid that doesn’t require heat," she suggests. "Try to minimize the amount of heat you're using by finding styles that you can do without it. One of my favorites is a sleek low bun with a center part," she shares, adding, "I use a mask instead of a gel, and nobody knows I'm masking while still at work."
To better care for your hair at home, scroll ahead for the best Olaplex alternatives (including Gutterman's top pick).
1. The Best Olaplex Alternative, According To The Pro
"I have all my blondes leave with a bottle [of this] and make them promise they will use it overnight once a week," Gutterman says of this repairing and conditioning mask. "[It's] something you can do at home, and it will actually fill the hair with proteins that your hair loses when you do color," she explains of the EVOLVh Ultra Repair Reconstructing Masque, which is also great for curly hair and anyone experiencing heat damage. The silicone-free mask is full of amino acid-rich ingredients that help make up keratin (the protein our hair is made of), which bind to the cuticles to help fill in any gaps that are present in damaged hair. It’s not exactly cheap, but it still costs less than Olaplex and works similarly.
2. Best Leave-In Treatment
Among the thousands of five-star reviews on Amazon, multiple shoppers have referred to OGX’s Restoring + Bonding Plex Leave-In Treatment as a worthy alternative to Olaplex. Applying just a dime-sized amount of this through your hair while it's still damp helps to immediately enhance smoothness and shine, while also preventing future damage as you style it. For optimal results, the leave-in treatment was designed as the third step in OGX's restoring and bonding hair care routine, which also includes the Bonding Plex shampoo and conditioner.
3. Best Drugstore Hair Mask
This L'Oréal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Power Restore treatment helps improve the look and feel of your hair in as little as one minute, according to the brand. Hydrolyzed wheat protein is the key ingredient here, which seals the hair cuticle, protecting it against damage and leaving your hair immediately smoother and shinier. The multi-use treatment can be used as a mask in the shower or as a more intense leave-in treatment on dry or wet hair (though you may want to consult with your stylist about which method is best for your hair). It's also worth pointing out that at $10, L'Oréal's 23-ounce jar is more than double the size of Olaplex's value-size option, which would set you back $56.
4. Best Salon-Brand Hair Mask
This damage-repairing hair mask also helps prevent your color from fading, and is a favorite among Amazon users, having been awarded over 2,000 five-star ratings thus far. Joico's Defy Damage Protective Masque combines hydrolyzed keratin with arginine and a protective lipid to strengthen the hair bonds while simultaneously defending your hair against damage caused by heat styling and UV rays. The mask also focuses on the importance that moisturizing ingredients play in our hair's health, so it harnesses the powers of coconut oil, moringa seed oil, and rose oil.
5. Best Hair-Strengthening Gummies
When it comes to healthy hair, Gutterman stresses that, "Besides good products, what you put into your body is important." While a well-balanced diet will ensure that you have all of the nutrients your hair needs, Gutterman says that she likes to take vitamins like the HUM Hair Sweet Hair Gummy Vitamins. The vegan, heart-shaped gummies are packed with biotin and folic acid, which are both types of B vitamins that are believed to help keep our hair, skin, and nails healthy. The gummy also includes zinc, vitamin B12, PABA, and Fo-Ti, an herb used in traditional Chinese medicine, but because it's an oral supplement, you'll want to consult with your doctor before adding this to your routine.
Sophie Rose Gutterman, celebrity hairstylist