The first time hairstylist Danielle Frank tried Olaplex, she had what she calls a "deeply emotional" response to the products. "I'm not naturally blonde. So before Olaplex came around, I was lifting my hair, very high, and it used to break off like the needles of an old Christmas tree," she says. "I would disguise it with a lot of product because I loved that bleach-blonde look, but it was hard because my hair didn't feel the way it used to."
All of that changed, though, when Olaplex came around. The brand, which launched in 2014, is known for its revolutionary reparative formulas that can restore the health of even the most damaged strands. "It was remarkable," says Frank. "Suddenly my hair felt stronger... It felt like my virgin hair. It felt healthy so immediately, I started incorporating it into everything."
After seeing the results that Olaplex could deliver, she joined the team as lead stylist and educator. In the latest episode of Well+Good's Routine Rundown, she's giving us a first-hand look at the game-changing science behind the brand and then some.
Listen to the full episode here:
To understand what makes Olaplex Olaplex, it's first important to understand the science behind how it works. When an external factor damages your hair, it causes a chemical reaction that breaks up the disulfide bonds that make up the structure of your hair and "eats up" all of the proteins that keep your strands healthy. "Damage doesn't just happen from getting your hair colored or lightened," says Frank, explaining that cumulative damage can also come from hot tools (yes, even the most hair-friendly blow dryer) and the environment.
"And you would think that the simple solution is to go ahead and fix this by putting some protein in the hair, but the truth is, it's a chain reaction—you need to take care of the source of the problem, which is the broken disulfide bonds. The rest of it you can take care of after."
This, she says, is where Olaplex comes in. "When you're using Olaplex regularly... you're mitigating that damage so that the reaction never happens, and you don't have something eating away at your hair—you're basically making your hair strong," says Frank. "This is the first thing you do to make sure you're [supporting] the structure, so then you can do all of the other things you need to do to make sure you have healthy, strong, beautiful hair." In other words: It's not a Band-Aid solution that will cover up damage so your hair looks healthy—it's actually doing the work to fix it.
Because damage can come from so many different factors, Frank feels strongly that everyone could benefit from having Olaplex in their routines. "It's this unique, patented chemistry... and I think that every single person should have this as a tool in their arsenal, because this happens to everybody," she says.
Shop the products that she uses to keep her own platinum hair healthy below, then check out our full conversation (which spans from the link between hair and identity to the skinification of hair care) on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.
“Olaplex No. 3 should be in every single person’s arsenal, period,” says Frank of the brand’s original formula. Though Olaplex’s reparative tech is present in all of its products, this pre-shampoo treatment packs the biggest punch. Frank recommends adding it to your routine once or twice a week, which is exactly what she does herself.
“I’ll do this 10-15 minutes before I take a shower. Dampen my hair real fast, put in the number 3 and make sure it hits every strand, leave it in for 10 minutes and then shampoo and condition,” she says. You can leave it on for longer, but just make sure it doesn’t dry completely (otherwise, you’ll be left with crunch and grease) and always wash it out thoroughly.
“If you have seriously damaged hair, I definitely recommend also adding in the number zero, which kind of boosts the efficacy of [the reparative technology],” says Frank. Use it as a primer before applying Olaplex No. 3 to intensify its benefits.
“I’m a big fan of our shampoo and conditioner, which, like all of our products have the patented ingredient our chemists made,” say Frank. “They’re phenomenol, especially for people who do a lot of things that can drain out the moisture in their hair, like flat ironing or lightening their strands.”
“What’s phenomenol about this is that it is so lightweight, and it absorbs into your hair… you’re getting it all into your hair, and your hair needs that,” says Frank, noting that a little bit of product goes a long way. “It says [to leave it on for] 10 minutes, which is optimal, but I’ll admit I might wash my hair when I first get into the shower, then put that on and do everything else, and I rinse it out after whatever amount of time that takes and get great results.”
“We all have that skin-care product that’s the first thing we put on… that is this product. You put this on wet hair as the first product, no other product before, and you need so little—one pump should take care of your whole head,” says Frank. “It’s a serum, so of course it has our active ingredient, but it also has these antioxidants that are basically going to protect your hair from free radicals as well as help to get them out so that you won’t have continuing damage—it’s protecting your hair for up to 48 hours.”
But protection isn’t the only thing this formula offers. “It has this memory, so when you’re blowdrying your hair with it you’re creating a base hairstyle that’s going to last you for days,” says Frank. “If you have curly hair, it makes the curls more manageable and more forming, and it’s anti-tangle… and anti-static.”
Before any sort of heat styling, Frank will also layer on Olaplex No. 9 for extra protection (Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Hair Oil is also a great option for those with coarser, drier textures). It’s got a triple-action formula to strengthen, protect, and smooth. It does this with the help of Olaplex’s bond-building tech, plus red algae extract with bonds to hair to defend against damage from hot tools, pollutants, and UVA and UVB rays.
“Toners in blonde hair will oxidize over time, so really my hair has more of a yellowish undertone at this point even though I tend to be on the cool side,” says Frank. “So I do use Olaplex No. 4, which is our purple, blonde-enhancing shampoo. And that really does help give me the longevity of [my color] and doesn’t make me look like I have brassy hair.”
Because purple sits opposite of yellow on the color wheel, it will help neutralize any brassiness in your hair, which is why stylists recommend purple shampoo to keep blonde highlights looking fresh. Though there are many great purple products on the market, this one comes with Olaplex’s bond-building tech, which means it will keep your hair healthy and looking great.
“On the day of my [color] appointment, I have to clarify my hair, so I’m definitely going to be using the Olaplex 4C Bond Maintenance Clarifying Shampoo because I don’t want anything to interfere with the [professional] product working the way it should.,” says Frank. “I’d recommend that to anyone getting any sort of color service, any bleaching, et cetera, because your hair sucks up everything. So you want to get all of that out so that the products [your stylist] is using on you are working in the most efficient way and the color they choose is working the way it should.”
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