Olaplex is a hair product that’s been the talk of the town for years. From celebrity hair stylists to beauty insiders, its five star-level ability to repair dry, processed strands has gone unrivaled. But now, a restorative mask treatment by the brand khairpep is being raved about by hair pros, who are swearing by its transformative powers on damaged hair.
The khairpep K18Peptide Masque ($75) is a hair treatment meant to repair the actual structure of each strand. The formula repairs and reverses damage because it actually contains the necessary amino acids that deliver keratin protein (which is found in your hair naturally). “The way it works is that the product goes into the cortex of your hair and seals it, and since it’s a peptide bond, it holds on to the protein that your hair structure is made of,” says Madison Rae Garrett, a master colorist at Spoke and Weal. “With Olaplex, when you stop using it, it falls out of your hair because it’s not a natural protein—your hair can’t hold on to it.”
Break out the beakers because we’re going to go a bit more science class: You should know that the khairpep mask works to repair damage differently than Olaplex does. “Olaplex works on the cystine bond of your hair, while the khairpep is working on the polypeptide chain,” says Brent Hardgrave, trichologist and hair restoration expert. “The khairpep [K18Peptide] Masque is great if you’re dealing with damage from heat styling, while Olaplex is more for bleached hair.” And, he explains, it’s worth a note that the Olaplex method uses fake bonds, and you can reach a point where you’re using it so often that your hair “becomes so strong that it breaks.”
Shop now: khairpep K18Peptide Masque, $75
When Garrett used the K18Peptide Masque on my hair—which only takes four minutes to penetrate, BTW—I noticed an immediate difference. My hair, which was dry from monthly root dyeing and city pollution, felt silky and soft, and almost thicker in texture. It also looked like satin, with an otherworldly sheen on my hair that I’ve never seen before. This was before Garrett then colored my hair, so when my salon visit was over, I left with hair looking strong and brand new. “The khairpep is going to really help with the color and the condition of your hair,” says Garrett of the mask. That means even the most color-treated strands can benefit from using it without losing the luster of their shade. And it doesn’t take much: Garrett recommends just using it once a week.
Besides adding softness and boosting the strength of your hair, khairpep works to repair damage from everyday styling. “Khairpep would be awesome for friction ponytail damage, and it really works on the lipids of your hair,” says Hardgrave. “The polypeptides increase the pliability of your hair, so say that it’s fried from too many blowouts or too much flat-ironing—it rebuilds the hair after that.”
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