This Drugstore Alternative to Olaplex Helps Strengthen Hair in Just 6 Washes

Photo: Getty/Westend61
From DIY protein treatments to peptide masks, there are lots of options to try in the pursuit of stronger hair. Hair bond treatment products are another buzzy category—you've heard of Sephora's best-selling shampoo, Olaplex, right?—and while they were once found in salons only, they're now heading to a drugstore near you courtesy of L'Oréal Paris's new EverPure Bond Strengthening System.

At just $7 each, this shampoo and conditioner duo is said to bolster weak strands, caused by weak bonds in just six washes. But what are bonds, you ask? According to Courtnie Burke, a hair colorist at River Rock Salon in Lake Placid, New York, our hair’s protein structure is held together by something called disulphide bonds. Texture, elasticity, density: All of these hair characteristics are determined by the strength of these bonds, which changes over time. The stronger your hair's bonds are, the healthier it looks and feels.

Coloring hair is one thing that can affect its bond strength. “You can deposit color, which can make the bonds stronger, or you can strip the color, which makes the bonds weaker,” Burke says. In addition to bleach, chemicals like sulfates, relaxer, and even air pollution can all break down vital disulphide bonds, leaving hair dull, frizzy, and damaged. And while there are plenty of hair masques and deep conditioners that can add softness and shine to the surface of the hair, getting to the core and actually reinforcing your strands from the inside out is tricky.

Enter the new L'Oréal Paris Bond Strengthening System, which is designed to firm up those tired bonds in damaged or color-treated hair of all types. It does so by targeting the mineral ions that keep hair's weak bonds from reconnecting with each other. And while it can often take a while for hair to bounce back after a rough go, this system works fast. In one study, 96 percent of Bond Strengthening System users reported more hydrated and healthy lengths in just six uses.

The best part? The whole system is only $14. Like Burke, we stan Olaplex, the OG name in hair bond treatment. But for $28 a bottle, it's a bit pricey. Instead, this new drugstore system is an affordable and effective drugstore alternative. Bond strengthening may sound like rocket science, but at this price, giving it a try is anything but.

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