Olaplex is considered one of the holy-grail products in the hair-care world, especially for those with damaged strands. Whether that’s from too much heat exposure, excessive styling, harsh shampoo, or towel drying, it’s easy for hair to become damaged and lose its strength and integrity. This is particularly common among those with naturally curly hair, as it tends to be more fragile, which means strengthening treatments like Olaplex are vital to maintaining happy and healthy strands.
“Olaplex products have their exclusive bond-building technology which repairs damaged disulfide bonds [within the hair follicle],” says Bianca Hiller, celebrity colorist and Olaplex ambassador. “Curly hair types have more hair bonds so it’s essential to use a bond-building product like Olaplex.”
With that in mind, keep on reading to find out more about how to use Olaplex on curly hair, according to stylists.
Which Olaplex works best for curly hair?
Hair damage occurs when the structural protein bonds within a hair follicle are broken. Olaplex works by using a proprietary technology that rebuilds these bonds while also helping to protect strands from future damage by defending against external stressors.
While Olaplex can benefit those with curly hair (and any type of hair) by fortifying hair bonds on a molecular level, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the right products for your hair type and concerns. The brand has a wide selection of strengthening and conditioning products to choose from, however, there are a few that work best for curly hair.
Hiller recommends using the Olaplex No. 0 Intensive Bond Building Treatment (a primer that offers the highest concentration of the patented bond-building technology available for at-home use) and No. 3 Hair Perfector (a pre-shampoo treatment that strengthens and repairs the hair) once or twice a week. They are designed to be used one after the other.
And if you aren’t sure if your hair falls into the “curly” category, “Ask a salon professional if Olaplex is for you and which part of the system,” says Leigh Hardges, stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. “I’ve seen adverse results when not using the right product for your hair issues.”
How to use Olaplex on curly hair
1. Apply primer
Olaplex No. 0 is designed to be applied to dry hair, so it should be the first step in your hair-repair routine (ideally before you even step into the shower). Section your hair, use the product to saturate strands from mid-lengths to ends. Leave on for 10 minutes.
Rinsing your hair will not only wash away the primer, but it will also help prep your hair for the next part of the process. “For curly hair, I often prefer to apply products while the hair is still damp so it absorbs better to nourish and hydrate curls,” says Hiller. When your hair is wet, it’s in a better position to allow products to penetrate more deeply, but you want to make sure it isn’t so wet that the products are slipping and sliding down the strands. Somewhere between “damp” and “sopping” should be just right.
2. Apply treatment
While your hair is damp, liberally distribute Olaplex No. 3 from roots to ends. “When applying Olaplex to curly hair, it’s important to use a wide-tooth comb to evenly distribute the treatment through the curls to ensure that all areas of the hair are covered,” says Ivy Camacho, hair stylist at Angelo David Salon in New York City. Keep in mind that the porosity of your hair will determine how much product you need, so it may take a few tries to figure out the right amount to use. Leave on for 10 minutes (or longer) for best results.
3. Rinse again
You’ll want to give your hair a thorough second rinse before moving on to the final step of the process.
5. Shampoo and condition as normal
Because these Olaplex treatment products aren’t your typical shampoo and conditioner (though, FWIW, the brand makes those too!), you’ll still want to wash your hair as you usually would. Look for moisturizing ingredients, like avocado oil, argan oil, and jojoba oil, which will deliver hydration to help fend off some of the dryness and brittleness curly hair is prone to. You can shop a few of our favorites here.