Olaplex is a hair products brand that makes some interesting health claims. The company claims that their patented ingredient bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate fixes damaged hair on a molecular level and “provides immediate results for all hair types.”
But is this ingredient actually proven to fix damaged hair or is this just a marketing claim? Does Olaplex have any other research-backed ingredients to justify its high price? Does it have any harmful additive ingredients? And how do real users respond to Olaplex treatment?
In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more as we review the ingredient that Olaplex claims makes their shampoo unique, review the other ingredients in their most popular products, and share real, unsponsored user reviews of each product.
Is Olaplex's Patented Ingredient Legit?
Olaplex claims that their patented ingredient bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate is what repairs damaged hair.
This compound works in theory by repairing the disulfide bridges of keratin, which is the protein that composes most of the structure of our hair.
We’re only able to locate one medical study on this patented ingredient. The study examined the chemical composition and potential effects on hair of bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate for restoring damaged hair, but did not test it or prove any efficacy in a real-world trial.
We can’t find any clinical trials proving this ingredient is effective in improving hair quality on humans or animals, so we will conclude this is an interesting ingredient but not one that’s proven to be effective.
We urge Olaplex to refrain from making claims of efficacy until this ingredient is actually proven to improve damaged hair in humans in a clinical trial.
Olaplex No. 3 Review
Olaplex’s best-selling product is called No.3 and is a “Hair Perfector.” It’s a liquid treatment meant to be applied to hair prior to shampoo, and left on for 10 minutes or more.
Simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil may improve hair thread and breakage resistance according to a clinical trial published in the Polymers journal, but only when combined with a class of cosmetic ingredients that does not appear to exist in this product.
We are unable to identify any other ingredients proven to optimize hair quality or repair damaged hair, but there are a number of ingredients in Olaplex No. 3 that we recommend avoiding.
Safety data on fragrance ingredients was analyzed in a 2021 medical review and the researchers concluded that “their risks clearly outweigh their benefits.”
Olaplex No. 3 also contains four preservatives: sodium benzoate, benzyl benzoate, cetrimonium chloride and phenoxyethanol.
The last of these was shown in a clinical trial to be toxic to human cells, as we documented in our review of Routine Shampoo (another product containing this ingredient). In our opinion, it's illogical to use hair products containing questionable synthetic preservatives when there are hair products on the market free of preservatives.
Overall we do not consider Olaplex 3 likely to repair damaged hair as we cannot identify any ingredients proven to do so in medical studies. We do not recommend the product due to the inclusion of various additive ingredients.
One of the most popular YouTube reviews of this shampoo comes from a creator named Gena Marie who published a video including a product demo and before-and-after images:
Unsponsored Review of All Olaplex Products
A YouTube review published by a creator named Audrey Victoria has over 2 million views at the time of updating this article. In the video, Audrey reviews every popular Olaplex product, providing before-and-after images and gives her take on whether or not she recommends the brand.
The video appears to be unsponsored:
Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo Review
Olaplex’s second-most popular product is their No. 4 shampoo which the brand claims “nourishes, strengthens and repairs” the hair. This product has an unbelievable 73 ingredients at our count.
Punica granatum extract, otherwise known as pomegranate extract, is an effective ingredient for a hair restoration shampoo. A 2021 meta-study found this ingredient to have anti-lice, antidandruff and hair growth promoting effects after reviewing data from clinical trials.
We're unable to identify any other effective ingredients.
Outside of the fragrance and preservatives, this shampoo contains an ingredient called chlorphenesin. As we documented in our Maelys review article, this ingredient was shown in a test tube study to be toxic to human cells and we recommend avoiding it.
Overall, we consider Olaplex No. 4 to be potentially effective for hair repair but we do not recommend the product overall due to the inclusion of questionable additive ingredients like preservatives and fragrance.
A YouTube creator named Heidi published a review of Olaplex 4 after six months of use that has over 270,000 views and appears to be unsponsored:
Is Olalpex Banned in the E.U. Over Toxicity Concerns?
Many users (especially on TikTok) express concern over whether Olaplex products are banned in the European Union (E.U.) over toxicity concerns. While one of the ingredients in Olaplex's old formulations appears to have been banned, the company has apparently phased the use of that ingredient out.
Popular beauty blogger Abbey Yung explains the ingredient in question and shares content from a scientist who discusses whether consumers should be concerned:
Our Non-Toxic Shampoo Recommendation
The shampoo we recommend is Acure Vivacious Volume Shampoo.
This shampoo is formulated with effective and non-toxic plant-based compounds like aloe vera juice and argan oil. It also contains rosemary leaf oil which was shown in a clinical trial published in the Phytotherapy Research journal to promote hair growth.
Most importantly, this shampoo contains no questionable additive ingredients like fragrance or synthetic preservatives. It’s less than half of the price of Olaplex shampoo, costing only $8.49 at the time of updating this article.
Interested consumers can check out Acure Vivacious Volume Shampoo at this Amazon link.