Is Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector the Answer to Stronger, Softer Hair?
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As the owner of some pretty fluffy hair that can only be described as ‘triangular’, I am forever on the hunt for products to tame it.
And on that hunt, I thought I’d check out cult product, Olaplex’s No. 3 Hair Perfector, in an effort to improve my unruly mane.
So how did I get on?
This is new, up-to-date information. We updated this article in July 2023 to add our further thoughts on the product, complete with updated prices.
What does Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector do for your hair?
This at-home version of the brand’s famous in-salon hair strengthening treatment has been hailed as something of a hair-saviour for those who don’t have the time (or budget… it’s really quite pricey) for the full professional experience.
And although recommended in conjunction with the salon treatment, No. 3 can be used at home as a pre-shampoo treatment.
Olaplex uses its patented bond builder to repair hair’s disulphide bonds (the bonds that hold hair structure together) and the main ingredient used here to achieve that is bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate (catchy, I know).
Healthline has actually addressed this product itself in relation to hair growth, saying “Their formula contains the patented ingredient bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, known as a ?-unsaturated Michael acceptor. It’s sulfate-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free, color safe, vegan, and cruelty-free.”
The company’s No. 1 and No. 2 treatments are both in salon products designed to be applied by a haircare professional either as a standalone treatment or while colouring or otherwise chemically treating hair.
The idea is that Olaplex can repair broken disulphide bonds either after they’ve been broken or even as your hair is damaged through chemical treatments.
The at home No. 3 treatment was created to allow clients to top up the bond-repairing action between salon appointments, or for even for use without a salon treatment.
So in the hopes of bringing my bleached hair back to health I’ve been massaging this through damp, towel-dried hair around twice a week, before leaving it on anywhere from 10 minutes to overnight, and washing and conditioning as normal.
Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector review
Olaplex No.3 promises to strengthen and protect bonds in damaged hair strands, and for me it does deliver. Immediately after washing, even my ends feel stronger, and my hair overall is less fluffy and kinked.
Although this is suitable for all hair types, this is definitely a strengthening treatment, not a hydrating one, so those with simply dry hair are likely to see the most benefit.
For those lucky enough to have both damaged and dry hair (like me), I’ve found that using a moisturising shampoo and conditioner alongside this works well, making my hair look healthier and shinier overall (Function of Beauty’s custom shampoo and conditioner are a definite favourite).
I would also point out just how tiny this bottle is, particularly if you have a lot of hair (again, like me). For travel purposes the 100 ml here may be handy, but I find that I’m reordering this a lot.
I do think that for me this absolutely delivers on its claims, though, and it’s also paraben, sulfate, phthalate and cruelty-free, as well as vegan.
Despite global success with hundreds of thousands of online followers and customers, Olaplex received a knockback in March 2022 when it was forced to remove Lilial- a fragrance also listed as butylphenyl methylpropional- from its ingredients over claims it could harm fertility.
The following February the company was hit again after a class action lawsuit saw 30 women claim Olaplex products had left them with bald patches and irritation.
Olaplex robustly defended the claims, with the company’s CEO, Jue Wong saying, “OLAPLEX products do not cause hair loss or breakage. OLAPLEX products are safe and effective, as millions of our customers can happily attest.
“To demonstrate this, we have publicly released test results from independent third-party laboratories, going above and beyond industry standards. We have full confidence and believe in the safety and efficacy of our products.
“Medical and scientific experts have publicly stated that there are a wide variety of reasons for hair breakage or hair loss, including lifestyle, various medical conditions, medications, the aftereffects of COVID, skin conditions, and more.
“Anyone experiencing consistent hair breakage should consult their stylist and dermatologist to best understand their unique hair and skin needs.
“We are prepared to vigorously defend our Company, our brand, and our products against these baseless accusations. We want to reassure our community of Professional stylists, customers, and fans that they can continue to use our products with confidence.”
How to use Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector
I’ve personally always found No. 3 to actively improve my hair. And while I’ve at times been slightly underwhelmed by the company’s styling products (like Olaplex’s No. 7 Bonding Oil), I’ve never had any issues using the line.
But how exactly are you meant to use No. 3?
Neither a shampoo nor conditioner, Olaplex’s No. 3 is designed to be used as a pre-shampoo treatment once or twice a week to repair damaged hair.
The company recommends combing it through damp locks before leaving for 10 minutes and then shampooing it out. If you’re on day 6 hair or have tons of product on it already, you might find it more effective to shampoo your hair first before applying No. 3 Perfector and then shampooing again.
Olaplex doesn’t recommend leaving the product on for any longer than 10 minutes though and actively advises against using it overnight (since it can get into your eyes).
Finish with your normal styling or hydrating products.
The full list of ingredients
Water (Aqua), Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate, Propylene Glycol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Glycerin, Hydroxyethyl Ethylcellulose, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Quaternium-91, Sodium Benzoate, Cetrimonium Methosulfate, Cetrimonium Chloride, Fragrance (Parfum), Polyquaternium-37, Tetrasodium EDTA, Benzyl Benzoate, Etidronic Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Phytantriol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Panthenol, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate.
This definitely does noticeably make my hair feel stronger.
As I mentioned though, it really isn’t a moisturising treatment- so if you’re hair isn’t particularly damaged and you just want a shot of hydration you might not find it makes much of a difference to hair.
Having said that, pretty much anyone who has ever coloured, heat styled or in any other way damaged their hair (snaggy hair ties! chlorine!) might enjoy the occasional hit of repairing goodness.
Great for: Damaged hair types, particularly bleach fiends like me.
Not-so-great for: Moisturising, so this needs to be used before using a conditioner.