Hairdressers refer to it as a game changer, celebrities swear by it to maintain glossy locks and you’ve likely scrolled through countless rave reviews on social media; but does Olaplex’s No.3 Hair Perfector live up to its hype? Beauticate writer, Kristina Zhou, bleached her hair multiple times and put this product to the test for six months. Read on to discover her honest Olaplex review, as she reveals the pros, cons, and most effective application techniques.

First things first: Olaplex is not a conditioner

After reading a few Olaplex reviews, I discovered there was a common misconception that Olaplex No.3 is a deep conditioner that primarily provides hydration. Instead, think of Olaplex as a treatment that rebuilds the broken layers of your hair. Healthy hair is made of properly paired bonds; these bonds must remain intact to prevent hair breakage. Overtime, these bonds become weaker and eventually break down due to external factors such as environmental pollution, heat processing and chemical damage. Olaplex claims to link these bonds back together and salvage the breakage from the inside, targeting the root cause.

The state of my hair beforehand

I have dyed my hair a rainbow assortment of colours, from lilac, blonde, red, ash brown, warm brown, to deep violet, pitch black, and midnight blue. Suffice to say, my fine Asian hair took a serious beating; the ends were fried, and the overall texture became brittle. I couldn’t even run a comb through my hair, without encountering several stubborn knots, and worse yet, sometimes it would snap because of how fragile each strand became. Olaplex reviews raved about how this gem resuscitates lifeless hair, so I decided to take the plunge…


Could Olaplex resurrect my hair?

Lesson: Don’t use too much

The first time I used Olaplex, I slathered it liberally across dry hair, from the roots to the end. I left the product on for approximately on hour and rinsed it off with cool water. The results after the first application? My hair became more manageable, the ends were less damaged, and the texture was noticeably smoother. While my hair felt softer, it didn’t add any noticeable shine. My hair also became insanely straight, which may be great for people with coarse hair, but for someone with thin hair like me, this translated into seriously flat hair. The next day I had to add copious amounts of volumising powder and tease my hair to retain even an ounce of body. It was also difficult to style my hair, as the hairstyle would become limp within hours, I suspect due to the heavy remnants of Olaplex.

Tip: Always Apply on slightly damp hair

The second time around, I decided to use less product and only applied Olaplex to the ends of my hair, restricting the time limit to 15 minutes. Hairdressers have also told me that water acts as a barrier to product absorption, so I applied the product on slightly damp hair to counter any potential heaviness. The results were similar: my hair felt sleeker, the ends less jagged, frizz was reduced, and I could even brush my hair without running into unruly kinks. This time, the product didn’t weigh my hair down significantly, but there was still less bounce and body. Again, there was not a significant increase in glossiness or moisture levels either.


The techniques to maximise effectiveness

I continued to use the product for six months, tweaking application techniques along the way and tailoring things to my hair’s ever-changing needs.

1) Do not skip conditioner
Olaplex wasn’t nourishing enough to counteract severe dryness. I remedied this by mixing Olaplex with small amounts of conditioner, around the size of a five-cent coin. Pureology Strength Cure conditioner is my favourite product to mix with Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector because it imparts luminosity and moisture, without weighing my hair down – a difficult feat.

2) Use a volumising shampoo before and after
To minimise the ‘hair flattening’ side effects of Olaplex, I used a volumising shampoo to wash my hair prior to application and also afterwards to remove the remaining product. Be careful, though, as volumising shampoos can often leave your hair feeling stripped. Fudge Hair Xpander Shampoo is one of the few that provide fabulous body yet doesn’t compromise hair hydration levels.  Admittedly, my hair feels slightly smoother if I don’t shampoo both before and after application; but I am willing to sacrifice a little softness for more bounce.


My final thoughts

With long term usage, Olaplex reduced my hair breakage and I noticed a decrease in hair shedding after the first month. My hair feels stronger, more manageable (no more kinks!), and the frizz has been significantly tamed. During the period I trialed Olaplex, I dyed my hair once, back to its original dark brown colour. Because I have bleached my hair five times, the dark dye generally fades overtime to reveal brassy orange tinges. With Olaplex I noticed my hair retained the darker colour for longer and while the dye did eventually merge into a lighter brown, brassiness was kept to a minimum.

But this isn’t an all-in-one miracle product. Unlike other Olaplex reviews I read, the high shine/gloss wasn’t evident for me, and it’s critical for me to follow up with a conditioner, as the formula doesn’t provide strong hydration. For thin-haired gals like myself, it’s important to use this sparingly, as it could be too heavy.

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Story by Kristina Zhou, with expertise from Suzy Yang

Comment (2)

  1. December 16, 2020
    Holly Palmerl

    Lol….. it’s a pre-shampoo treatment I.e you wash your hair after it so no wonder it didn’t feel great😂

    1. February 15, 2021
      Belle Burnell

      The writer tried it with and without an after-shampoo, and with pre-shampoo and after shampoo – as stated in the article – to test what did & didn’t work for her – different hair can react differently to the same product, I find it also makes for a more helpful / interesting write-up. Better without the vacuous boring celeb pics though.
      *Capitalising ‘i.e’ looks wrong btw; you’d be better using a dash & i.e….. ‘lol’ ‘eye roll emoji’ etc.