Bond Builders for Damaged Hair – Do they work?

It’s no secret that bleaching and excessive heat styling can do a number on your hair. Between chemicals and harsh tools, your locks can take a beating. But are bond builders like trendy Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector and K18 a step in the right direction to repairing the damage? In this post, we’ll take a closer look at what bond builders are, how they work, and whether or not they are effective for repairing damaged hair. Stay tuned!


What are bond builders?

Bond building hair products like Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector and K18 work by strengthening disulfide bonds in the hair cuticle. These bonds are responsible for holding your hair together, and when they become damaged, the overall strength and resilience of your hair is compromised. Bond repair treatments like these help to rebuild these damaged bonds, restoring your locks to their former strength and luster. These treatments work by infusing sometimes patented molecules deep into the hair shaft, both nourishing and protecting your strands from further damage and repairing the damage already done. There are a number of benefits to using hair bond builders, including increased strength and elasticity, reduced breakage, and improved shine and softness.

Do bond building products really work, though?

Yes! Clinical studies and anecdotal data show that bond building ingredients really can help your hair withstand and recover from damage from chemical processing like relaxing, bleaching, coloring, and straightening or physical processes like heat styling and manual manipulation (like playing with your hair or putting it up in a tight elastic).

How often should I use bond building products?

How often you need to use hair bond builders will depend on your individual needs. If you have damaged or brittle hair, you may need to use them more frequently. However, if you have healthy hair, you may only need to use them once or twice per week as a preventative measure. The easy answer is to assess your hair’s overall shape and add in bond building treatments when your hair isn’t feeling it’s best or if you are planning on undergoing chemical or heat styling procedures.

Salon vs. At Home Bond Building Treatments

Olaplex was originally made to be applied in a salon alongside a bleaching treatment but at-home versions are available now. If you want the most concentrated amount of their signature ingredient, Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate, you’ll want to head for your stylist’s chair but frequent application of their at-home line can provide similar results. K18 and other treatments are also available for at-home use so you can save a bit of money applying them yourself (even if the product itself is sometimes quite pricey).

What to Look For in Bond Building Treatments

These days, it seems like every brand is advertising their miraculous bond building technology but beware of the hype. While Olaplex and K18 use patented ingredients shown to strengthen hair bonds, many others are just glorified conditioners (perhaps with added protein). The best way to know if you are getting a legitimate bonding product is to read the ingredients and do some research.

Bond Building Treatments vs. Protein Treatments

Bond builders and protein treatments function differently in the hair and both may have a place in your routine. While bond builders actually penetrate the hair to increase the strand’s elasticity and resilience, protein fills in gaps in the hair’s cuticle. While you can use bond builders regularly and can’t really over-do it, you will want to only use protein treatments on occasion as protein overload can lead to breakage and “crispy” feeling hair. Yuck.

Our Picks for Best Bond Builders for Damaged Hair

Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector

  • Apply as a pre-shampoo and rinse out
  • Patented ingredient, Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate, repairs broken disulfide bonds
  • A cult favorite for a reason!

Amika The Kure Multi-Task Repair Treatment

  • Utilizes Bis-PCA Dimethicone to bond to damaged spots in the hair
  • Can be used as a rinse out treatment or leave in conditioner
  • Features other nourishing ingredients like Sea Buckthorn & Hydrolyzed Quinoa Protein

K18 Leave In Molecular Repair Hair Mask

  • Apply as a leave in conditioner after shampooing, before styling
  • Patented bioactive peptide reconnects broken peptide chains in the hair
  • Very expensive but shows quick results

Redken Acidic Bonding Concentrate 14%

  • Meant to be applied pre-shampoo and rinsed out
  • Citric acid, an alpha hydroxy acid, reinforces weak hair bonds
  • Clinical results show 63% less breakage

Whether you’re fighting heat or chemical damage or just want to keep your mane looking healthy and strong, these bond-building products are an effective way to protect and improve your precious tresses.

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