Both Epres and Olaplex offer salon-exclusive formulas, but this article will only compare the respective brand’s at-home bond repair treatments.
Hair is mostly composed of a protein called keratin, and according to Dr. Eric Pressly, disulfide bonds help connect the keratin in our hair—consider it the essential “glue” that holds our hair together.
“When our hair is wet, these are the bonds that stop your hair from breaking,” Dr Eric Pressly says.
Disulfide bonds can be damaged because of chemical treatments such as hair dying, excessive heat application, rough manual force applied to the hair, or environmental pollution.
When these bonds are broken, this results in brittle, dehydrated, and damaged locks (think: unruly hair, split ends, and frizz).
Both Epres and Olaplex are specifically designed to repair these internal broken bonds – meaning they focus on repairing damage to the hair structure.
This is distinct from conditioners that work on moisturizing and sealing the surface layer of your hair, so it gives the cosmetic appearance of smoother and softer hair.
Olaplex should be applied on wet hair, whilst Epres can be applied on dry hair.
Epres contains a bio diffusion technology that enables the treatment to continue repairing hair damage, even after it has been washed off — but it can also be left on overnight for maximum effectiveness.
Olaplex can only be left on for a maximum of 90 minutes.
With Olaplex, you simply deposit the product straight from the bottle and onto the hair – combing the product from the roots of your hair to the ends.
On the other hand, Epres comes with an atomizer spray bottle and 2 x 15ml treatment vials.
You pour one vial of the formula into the spray bottle, fill the bottle with water up until the line specified on the bottle, shake the formula, spray it onto dry hair, and comb the hair for even distribution.
Although both products work to link broken hair bonds, the ingredients that do the heavy lifting are very different.
Epres only contains 4 ingredients (all biodegradable and vegan) and is a waterless formula.
This minimalistic formulation helps preserve the strength of the formula and ensures greater absorption of the key ingredients that help repair broken bonds. Epres also does not contain any acids, which Dr Pressly says can lower the pH level of your hair and reduce the effectiveness of subsequent hair treatments.
“If you’re bleaching, acids can slow the amount of lightening, with colouring you’re slowing the colour deposit which increases the amount of time and product you may need,” Dr. Pressly says.
Epres Ingredients: diethylhexyl maleate, oleyl alcohol, alcohol denat, and stearamidopropyl dimethylamine.
In contrast to Epres, Olaplex contains a more extensive ingredient list, including nourishing oils, botanical extracts, and vitamins.
It contains ingredients that not only repair broken bonds but also hydrate and soothe the hair, such as jojoba oil, aloe vera, and ascorbic acid (water-soluble vitamin C).
The formula is not water- or acid-free, but it contains a very high concentration of the active bond-repair ingredient “Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate”, so the additional ingredients work to enhance and complement the hero ingredient instead of diluting its potency.
Olaplex ingredients: Water, Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate, Propylene Glycol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Glycerin, Hydroxyethyl Ethylcellulose, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine, Quaternium-91.
Sodium Benzoate, Cetrimonium Methosulfate, Cetrimonium Chloride, Fragrance, Polyquaternium-37, Tetrasodium Edta, Butylphenyl Methylpropional, Etidronic Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Phytantriol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice.
Panthenol, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate.
Olaplex is creamier and more emollient in texture. Although the richness does not necessarily weigh my hair down, it had a significant “straightening” effect on me, where any natural waves I had were drastically reduced and the overall texture became poker straight.
There was definitely a slight coating it left behind, but I wouldn’t call it a greasy film; it was more of a matte protective barrier that tamed frizz and flyaways effectively.
Think of it as the ‘ smoothing down’ effect you get from spraying hairspray but without the dry or hard texture.
Epres is more lightweight in formula and feels like a lotion as opposed to a cream.
When you actually spray the product on your hair, it comes out as a very fine mist. It left my hair feeling more bouncy, voluminous, and airy.
Although the formula was able to smooth over unruly kinks, reduce split ends, and soften brittle patches, I was able to retain natural waves.
There was more movement in my hair, and my locks definitely felt cleaner and more clarified.
I noticed my hair also appeared more luminous, and even hair strands that previously resembled fried hay had a beautiful glass sheen.
Olaplex made my hair feel stronger and more resilient. My hair was less prone to static—when your hair does not stay in one place and instead seems to lift itself up in different directions in a frizzy manner.
This was almost impossible for me to get rid of, no matter how many moisturizing conditioners I used in the past, so I was thrilled! The ends of my hair that previously appeared damaged also appeared significantly healthier.
The effects were definitely not just a temporary cosmetic effect, because the frazzled parts of my hair did not return to their brittle state even after a few washes without the treatment.
Severely dehydrated areas did require about 2 treatments to effectively eradicate, but even after one treatment, there was a difference in taming wild and difficult-to-manage frizz.
The product works effectively at improving the long-term integrity of my hair because I noticed the ends of my hair didn’t become so dry even after straightening.
Yet, although my hair definitely did look healthier and stronger, enhancing shine and softness is not Olaplex’s strength. I did not notice any superior shine, and my hair did not look exceptionally luminous or feel more silky.
The best way to describe it is: Olaplex is excellent at reducing damage, so your hair doesn’t have flyaways, frizz, or static, but it doesn’t cosmetically make it shinier and Pantene-commercial-worthy.
The most significant thing I noticed with Epres, was less hair fallout. I noticed just after two applications that when I comb or blow dry my hair, the amount of hair that would fall out drastically reduced.
I noticed my hair actually looked thicker, and baby hairs started to grow in areas that were previously bare.
Individual strands of my hair were fuller, and my hair overall just looked more voluminous, which was very surprising to me because deep repair treatments usually have the opposite effect: making my hair limp, thin, and greasy.
Areas that were brittle and dehydrated looked more luminous and actually felt softer to the touch.
After applying the treatment twice a week for a month, I noticed the shine and smoothness actually lasted even when I did not use the product for a whole month.
Like Olaplex, I also noticed my hair was stronger. Not only did less hair fall out, but there was virtually no breakage when I combed through my hair.
Although the formula is less emollient than Olaplex, I noticed damaged areas were more hydrated and softer to the touch, and split ends looked less noticeable with only one treatment.
However, the ‘taming’ effect of frizz and flyaway is not as strong as Olaplex. While Epres did effectively reduce unruly hair and frizz, it did not create as strong of a smoothing barrier as Olaplex, where I felt the product formed a hairspray-like ‘film’ across my hair.
Olaplex and Epres both target damage effectively in the realm of beauty care, and using both treatments helped repair my brittle locks and fried hair, returning my locks to a healthy and more manageable state in the context of beauty maintenance.
However, in the beauty aspect of glossiness and smoothness, Epres won by boosting these qualities of my hair.
while Olaplex was better at taming frizz and flyaways, a common beauty concern.
That being said, in the beauty routine for frizz management, Epres still works quickly at reducing even the most difficult-to-remove frizz.
Olaplex does make the hair look more alive and fresh; it’s just that each has stronger beauty benefits in certain areas.
Texture-wise, from a beauty perspective, I prefer Epres because it does not “coat” my hair with a matte film in the way that Olaplex does, which can affect the beauty outcome.
Those who prefer a poker-straight and heavier finish in their beauty goals may prefer Olaplex.
Overall, in my personal beauty experience, Epres would be better for finer hair because it retains the natural bounce of my locks while enhancing shine and reducing damage. It’s also excellent at salvaging very coarse and dehydrated areas of my hair.
Olaplex, from a beauty product texture standpoint, is more emollient and creamier, which makes it fantastic at really taming unruly locks—but maybe a little richer for fine hair; however, it doesn’t weigh my hair down — the formula is just not as lightweight as Epres in beauty applications.
Story by Kristina Zhou. Holding shot by @heloise.guillet.