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Bleaching, dying, heat styling, and chemical relaxers may help you achieve your hair goals, but they come with a hefty price, leaving your hair feeling dry, brittle, and breakage-prone. I would know: I’ve put my hair through all of them. Fortunately, there are a ton of bond-building products on the market that can help to reverse and repair this damage, making hair look — and feel — much better from the inside out.
According to Jay Small, a professional hairstylist and cofounder of Arey, hair is made up of disulfide, hydrogen, and salt bonds. Disulfide bonds — the strongest bonds, which play a role in hair health and elasticity — are broken down by chemical treatments like bleaching, dying, and permanent relaxing. That’s where bond builders come in: they penetrate the hair shaft to rebuild these broken structures.
Without a doubt, Olaplex No. 3 is the most well-known bond builder: it quickly reached cult-favorite status after countless professionals claimed it rescued their clients’ damaged tresses. But Olaplex came under fire in 2022 after customers claimed the product caused breakage and hair loss — and a lawsuit alleged that the company didn’t disclose the fertility-related health risks linked to an ingredient in the product. Despite using “a trace amount of lilial” at a 0.01% concentration, which the company claims isn’t a harmful amount, it has since been phased out of the formula.
Olaplex may be the first bond builder on the market, but it’s no longer the only option — nowadays, there are many other bond builders to choose from, each with its own unique benefits. Read on for the best Olaplex dupes, which we’ve tested and reviewed. Keep in mind that many of these products could be on sale this Black Friday, making it a great time to try them out at a cheaper price.