In the world of bond-building haircare treatments, Olaplex reigns supreme. After all, "It is the OG of bonders," says hair colorist Lauren Paglionico. Yet, despite its revolutionary reputation and cult following, not all hairstylists are fans. Is it the cost? The time commitment? Or the fact that it's facing some stiff competition from a newer bond realignment treatment for hair: Brazilian Bond Builder. To find out more, we tapped Paglionico and experts Lori Goddard and Kerry E Yates to shed some light on these bond repair systems.
Meet the Expert
Keep reading to learn about how Olaplex and Brazilian Bond Holder stack up against each other—and which is best for you.
What Is Olaplex?
Olaplex is a three-step treatment that repairs broken bonds in the hair caused by heat, chemical, or mechanical damage.
There are so many people—those with bleach-processed hair, especially—who swear by the hair-saving graces of Olaplex. But first, for the uninitiated, what exactly is Olaplex? "The first of its kind, Olaplex invented bond building," says Yates. She explains, "Olaplex designed their signature ingredient to build up the broken bonds in the hair and allow once-impossible-to-color-hair to experience color once again." Although you can't immediately see or feel the effects of this professional treatment, Yates comments, "The brand has created a synergistic portfolio that helps treat the hair from the cortex to the cuticle, smoothing the cuticle layers down, creating a smooth, shiny surface."
Whether you've got virgin tresses or hair that's seen its fair share of color/chemical treatments, you can benefit from using Olaplex, Paglionico tells us. "Olaplex is great for hair that has been over-bleached or damaged (say, from a major hair color change) and/or chemical services like keratin treatments and perms," she adds. But before you go off and join the Olaplex fan club, it's worth noting that it's not the only bond-building hair treatment in town. Enter: Brazilian Bond Builder.
What Is Brazilian Bond Builder?
Brazilian Bond Builder (aka B3) is a one-step bond-building hair treatment. It aims to prevent and reverse hair damage from color and chemical treatments, heat styling, and environmental agressors.
If you can't resist having the lighter, brighter hair that only bleach can achieve, then you might want to consider Brazilian Bond Builder. "The Brazilian bonder is a great addition to permanent and semi-permanent hair color services since it repairs and strengthens weakened strands and helps your color to stay vibrant longer," explains Paglionico.
According to Yates, "The premise behind B3 is similar to Olaplex: protect the hair during the color process by enhancing (or they say strengthen) the bonds within the cortex to support hair elasticity and overall health. Per the INCI list, B3 contains a blend of super emollients and copolymers that help to improve hair’s flexibility and suppleness. When intermixed with color at the backwash, the client will not experience that negative straw-like feel after their blonding service."
Olaplex vs Brazillian Bond Builder: The Key Difference
Although Olaplex and Brazilian Bond Builder are similar hair bonding treatments, they do share some notable differences. Firstly, you'll need to invest more time—and money—in Olaplex since it is a three-step treatment, with the first two steps taking place at the salon. "The third step is a take-home product that mimics steps one and two," comments Paglionico. On the other hand, "[Brazilian Bond Builder] is a one-step treatment that is done in the salon," she says.
The treatments also differ in their chemical makeup. Whereas Olaplex's formula is water-based, B3's is not. This distinction is key for certain colorists like Goddard who find adding a water-based product diminishes hair color performance and thereby negatively impacts color service. Meanwhile, “The B3 formula has a few oils and no water in the ingredients. I prefer it because it adds shine and strength without slowing down my process time,” reveals Goddard.
Which Is Best For Your Hair Type?
As it turns out, both Olaplex and B3 are popular hair bond treatments because they work on everyone. So whether you opt for one over the other has more to do with personal preference than hair type or texture. Goddard agrees: “I think it is important to test new products and discover what works best for you and your clients."
And in case you didn't have enough options, Yates offers one more alternative for those looking to beef up their hair's bonds. It's called the Madison Reed Bond Building Cleansing Treatment ($30). "This treatment focuses on supplementing the hydrogen bonds in the hair," she explains. "These bonds are easily broken with shampoo and styling. However, by supplementing them, you are, in essence, improving the elasticity in the hair, albeit on a more temporary basis."
The Final Takeaway
If you're looking to add a little hair color to your life, by all means, go right ahead. Just keep in mind that you shouldn't skimp on aftercare and maintenance. "Regardless of hair type/texture, if you are using lightener on your hair, you need to investigate Olaplex or B3 treatments," comments Yates. "Lightening products formulas like bleach are designed to be super aggressive, and overuse can literally destroy your hair. The addition of these bond-building treatments can help protect and alleviate the damaging results caused by creating blond lights." Consider it an investment in the perfect shade of healthy hair.