Is Olaplex a Game Changer for Damaged Hair? 5 Editors Tried It to Find Out
It’s a good thing hair is technically dead, because the myriad abuses we put it through (bleaching, blow-drying, strangling with ponytail elastics) are tantamount to torture. So when my stylist told me about Olaplex Hair Perfector No. 3, I was intrigued. The brand is known for its salon-grade treatments—often an add-on to color services—that work to actually repair broken bonds (aka damage) in the hair. And its much-hyped at-home treatment contains the same active ingredient, developed by two chemistry and materials PhDs.
Naturally, we had to try it out—you know, for science—so I recruited some of my fellow editors to give it a whirl. Spoiler alert: We all had really different results.
The Frizz Hater
"I wash my hair really infrequently—about once a week—so I was really looking forward to using this product. At first, I wasn't too impressed. I didn't love that I had to apply it, wait ten minutes, then rinse it out and start my shower. And immediately after blow-drying, nothing felt too different. But, by the time I brushed my hair the next morning, I did notice that things were just a little less frizzy than usual. I have thick, color-treated hair that frizzes up at the mere suggestion of humidity, so anything to tame it is much appreciated." —Jillian, VP of content
The Volume Seeker
“I tried it twice, about five days apart. My hair is really fine and Olaplex infused it with so much body and volume—I was amazed. The first time I tried it, I was actually in the bathroom trying to comb through and style it for close to five minutes longer than I normally take to get ready. It was that thick—an unexpected perk. Olaplex made my hair feel softer and added a touch more shine, too. I was hoping it would feel significantly more hydrated, but it still felt a bit dry. (But that might be the seasonal shift and turning my heat on for the first time this year?) I also seriously struggled to find ten minutes of time to let it work its magic, though." —Rachel, senior editor
The Texture Struggler
“My hair is thick and doesn’t break easily, but it’s majorly prone to dryness and dullness (it doesn’t help that I’ve been, ahem, ‘enhancing’ my natural color for the past ten years). Both times I tried Olaplex, I left it on for close to the maximum time (45 minutes), figuring my sponge-like strands needed a while to soak everything up. One thing that surprised me is that after washing it out, my hair didn’t feel slippery-smooth like it would with a deep conditioner—it actually felt a little more…textured? But that said, after styling, it had a ton of volume and I even felt like my usually half-assed natural waves were bouncier and more defined. Not the results I was expecting, but definitely something I’ll be reaching for whenever my hair needs a pick-me-up.” —Carolyn, senior editor
The Perpetual Washer
“I haven't seen my natural hair color since eighth grade, so I'm a prime candidate for Olaplex. My biggest hair complaints: My hair dries out and tangles easily at the ends, but it gets super greasy at the roots. I can barely go 24 hours without needing to wash my hair (who wants to look like a human oil spill?), which probably makes the problem even worse. I took a bath on Saturday morning and kept the Olaplex on for 20 minutes. It smelled awesome, so it was a great way to unwind after yoga class. My hair didn't look noticeably different after it dried, but it definitely felt softer and smoother. I woke up on Sunday morning and…drumroll, please…my roots actually weren't oily at all! I went grocery shopping without my usual baseball cap and actually waited until after dinner to wash it again. This. Is. Huge. I can't wait to try it again next week.” —Lindsay, food and wellness director
The Ponytail Addict
"I've been curious about this product forever, but I typically see it being used by women with super-bleached hair, so I wasn't sure it would do anything to my virgin brunette locks. Boy, was I wrong. I have pretty thick, coarse hair with a lot of breakage at the crown from constantly wearing it in a ponytail or bun while working out. I usually have to blow-dry it straight out of the shower if I want any sort of smoothness, but after using Olaplex, it air-dried silky soft and had major shine. I also noticed it was way less puffy than usual and the frizz near my crown was non-existent. I may have just found my new desert island hair product." —Brianna, editor