If you’re anything like us, you know bond repair is important, but you really have no idea what it actually is. Our first introduction to the term (and likely yours, too) was by way of Olaplex, which boasts six products devoted to bond care. Since releasing their wildly popular formulas—which saw an even bigger rise since the launch of last year’s No. 8 Bond Repair Intense Moisture Mask—we’ve seen products with similar uses and goals pop up everywhere. Alterna, amika and K18 are examples of popular haircare brands that have launched notable bond repair products.
So, what is bond repair? Leave it to Olaplex’s celebrity hair colorist Bianca Hillier to break it down.
The Definition of Hair Bonds
Ok, here’s a little lesson in the anatomy of your strands.
“Everyone’s hair is built of disulfide bonds,” Hillier explains to Mane Addicts. “They’re connected in pairs across, so think of it like a ladder. This ladder is the skeleton inside of your hair holding it all together. Just like a body has bones, the foundation is like the bonds in hair. Then you have the muscles (the cortex), and of course the skin (the cuticle and outside layer of the hair). These bonds make up the inside structure of your hair.”
Why Hair Bonds Commonly Need Repair
Unless you’re one of the chosen people with inexplicably perfect strands, you’re well-aware that it’s easy to damage your hair (and therefore its bonds).
“Environmental causes such as pollutants, UV rays and even ocean water are common causes that break down bonds that often can’t even be avoided,” Hillier says. Other harmful bond breakers are thermal styling. Every time you flat iron, curl or blow dry your hair, you destroy those ladder steps. Another huge contributor to breaking bonds are chemical treatments such as bleaching or coloring.”
As for what actually happens when bonds are broken? “They become singular,” Hillier says. “When a single bond latches onto an oxygen molecule, it then creates lactic acid and starts eating away at the protein in your hair. This explains why a client with extremely damaged hair leaves the salon feeling decent, only to go home and complain that their hair is falling out. It’s because the oxygen molecules are linking on as the hours pass!”
How Bond Repair Products Work
Olaplex No. 3 Bond Perfector, for example, “increases the amount of bonds in the hair,” Hillier explains. “Think of it like adding more steps to the ladder. It’s putting more bones into the skeleton of your hair, adjusting any slipping ladder steps that have been misplaced and gluing them in the correct spots. When the inside of the hair is properly maintained then the outside can follow suit.”
These types of products are good for anyone‘s hair, damaged or not, but Hillier says if you start noticing “split ends, frizz, dull color, or brittle, dryness at the tips,” it’s time to incorporate a bond repair product into your routine.
A great time to apply bond care products? Right before and after a bleach service. Learn more HERE!