“He was born a bit like other great technological advances of the last century: in a garage in California. Its founder, Dean Christal, was the son of a hairdresser and a cosmetics distributor. In the family, for other reasons, they were investigating the benefits of stem cells and that’s how he met Dr. Hawker and Dr. Pressly, who were researching chemical formulations to create products that would treat hair better. , they ended up creating Olaplex’s star ingredient, bis-aminopropyldiglycol dimaleate,” he says. S-Mode Rosa Roselló, training director of the Druni perfumery chain. “It was 2014 and from there they created their collection of products for the care and repair of damaged hair or, better said, to prevent the different treatments applied to them from damaging them. He arrived in Spain in 2018,” he adds. It shows: this is where its rise in popularity began with a 100% increase according to Google Trends.
Since, Olaplex is one of the most requested treatments in beauty salons around the world and also one of the most democratized luxury products – its number three, used at home, best-selling on Amazon – is, for many fans of the brand, their go-to shampoo. Stylist Tracey Cunningham is its chief ambassador and a quick glance at her Instagram profile is enough to confirm that she’s also responsible for Hollywood’s best blondes: Lily James, Jessica Biel, Mariah Carey, Sydney Sweeney, Jennifer Lopez , Paris Hilton and, of course, Khloé Kardashian.
But why such notoriety? What do Olaplex products have to be a hit with celebrities and mortals? How did it become a cult treatment?
Science Matters: The Not-So-Secret Ingredient
Olaplex is an open secret whose best marketing tool over the years has been word of mouth: “In the salon we do all kinds of services, but we are passionate about color, the truth is that for us and our clients there has been a before and after with Olaplex. It makes the hair less punished by color work, it is stronger and it lasts much longer, so for us the results are much more satisfying. Of course we use it in the salon and our customers are delighted: healthy hair is vital for shine and color hold, all customers who try it see the result and the difference when they do not use it . That’s where his fame comes from,” they say. S-Mode Natalia Infantes and Manu Guillén, co-founders and creative directors of NiM Salón. “It is a world-renowned brand with an important track record and very good results. The most important thing is that it works by filling the hair fiber, that is, repairing it from the inside with amino acids and proteins, providing spectacular shine and increasing its thickness,” adds María Sedano, stylist at The Beauty Concept salon.
As revealed on the brand’s own site, the key ingredient in the product (which they even share the formula for) is called Bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate is a unique molecule that radically improves hair strength and protects hair from within: “When disulfide bonds are broken, the result is damaged hair. Olaplex restores damaged and weakened hair by repairing it from within with our unique patented ingredient, and these bonds provide structure, strength and stability. Once all the bonds are intact and aligned, the hair is healthy, beautiful, shiny and soft to the touch. Pedro Catalá, doctor of pharmacy, cosmetologist and founder of the skincare brand twelveBeauty, acknowledges that the ingredient does its job: “It’s the molecule Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate and is a well-known synthetic skin and hair conditioner. In the case of hair, it greatly repairs their chemical structure, which deteriorates over time, pollution and, above all, with the discoloration of hair before dyeing. By strengthening its structure, it makes it less dry and easier to style. It is very effective and requires a very low dose to get results.
While to anyone off topic this might sound like every supposed benefit of hair products, this ingredient is not trivial:”The result is so obvious… Its patent, its formulation, is different from what was on the market until now. This ingredient literally manages to repair badly damaged hair because it repairs the structure and those broken or damaged bonds. Until now we knew of other types of products that acted on the hair cuticle to prevent frizz, give more light and improve the texture based on antioxidants, silicones and other ingredients, but not only that. they act that way,” says Rosa Roselló, from Druni.
Only for blondes?
It was the Kardashian effect that propelled Olaplex to the top with this famous line from Kim –“Being a blonde is a full-time job”– and also with the multiple platinum blonde shades that the sisters of the clan they usually show off. And while the brand claims its products are suitable for all hair colors and types, it makes sense that Olaplex’s first steps are in bleaching: “Their first products are usually only used by professionals because their formulation works very visibly when applying other chemical treatments that are normally done in salons or hair salons, I am referring to dyes or discolorations: these are times in which they break the disulphide bridges or the cuticle is opened to modify the appearance of the hair, and by applying the Olaplex treatment in this process, we cause them to regenerate quickly, ”explains Roselló to S Moda . “Olaplex Nº1 will only be effective when mixed with a salon chemical treatment, such as bleach”, They add brand.
However, as confirmed by professionals and nearly two and a half billion views of videos on Comments from Olaplex registered on TikTok, their range of products is not only intended for blondes but also acts against the damage caused by thermal factors (curling irons or irons), chemical (not only color but, for example, straighteners), mechanical (brushing, hair breakage and tearing), environmental (UVA rays and bad weather) and environmental (pollution). “As in almost all types of products, the recommendation is something more individualized, that is, it depends on the person and their needs. The vast majority of products are good if applied by the person who is to apply them. In the case of Olaplex, it is undoubtedly a magnificent treatment, very restorative and which can prove useful for almost all types of hair, since all hair suffers damage to the cuticles which makes it dull. , dull or dull and have a rough appearance. touch, not only due to dyes and discolorations, but also due to more external factors. But the hair, like the skin, must receive what it needs at all times. And there are times when, as I mentioned, volume or oily scalp issues are more pressing than dealing with those fibers. Today we have a wide range of formulations and excellent products for the care of all hair types and problems. Olaplex deals with one in particular, but not all of them,” recommends Roselló.
Like any product in the spotlight (and like Kim), Olaplex is under fire from critics. The latest when the same platform that served as an incentive for her success backfired: a viral video on TikTok linked one of her formula’s ingredients (lilial) to fertility issues. The European Union regulator has recommended the brand remove the ingredient from formulations by March 2022. “Lilial, which actually comes from fleur-de-lis, is used as a non-active fragrance compound . […] There was too much information online and many women were mentally affected by it; so, since September, we have started to reformulate our products to be free of this ingredient and comply with EU regulatory standards,” explains JuE Wong, CEO of Olaplex in this article. US vogue. insured (also in New York Times) that the company quickly responded by not only reformulating, but also removing more than four million dollars worth of inventory.
Supposedly this problem has been ruled out and despite the brand’s desire to be more sustainable and more respectful of both the environment and the body, one wonders if something is going on in its formulas protected by its star ingredient. For some professionals, the answer is no. At Espacio Q 01, Quique Sánchez’s second and new salon in Madrid, they appreciate the product but do not use it: “Olaplex is a treatment that rebuilds the bonds in the hair that are broken when we perform smoothing and coloring. It is also used to treat the most damaged hair. However, some of their products contain silicones, a detail that makes them incompatible with the philosophy of Espacio Q. In our salons we work only with natural ingredients and exclusively with Aveda. Other than that, Olaplex is incompatible with curly hair as it can make the hair hard and stiff and be a drawback for this type of hair. As an alternative, there are molecular plant repair treatments such as Botanical repair from Aveda, which strengthens the fibers from the inside by creating bonds in the hair from vegetable molecules and not synthetic.
So, maybe its formulas and its secret ingredient are not so unique and irreplaceable. Cosmetic chemist Perry Romanowski, founder of thebeautybrains.com, confessed to New York Times for this article that probably “if Olaplex’s secret ingredient were not included in its #3 product -the best-selling of the entire line-, no one would notice the difference”. Either because those who use it usually start with damaged hair that almost any treatment would work on, or because its loyal followers usually incorporate a neat and meticulous routine in addition to the famous product. “If you’re using Olaplex, you’re probably doing other things for the health of your hair, like washing it less,” another of the colorists at the celebritiesEmilie Baum. With these premises, and some disbelief from an increasingly savvy and informed public, will Olaplex continue to hold the crown? Only time and TikTok will tell.