Is Olaplex on Natural Hair Worth The Hype? We Put It To The Test

Jun 12, 2021

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Olaplex has been made quite a splash in the natural hair community over the past couple of years.

A salon-grade brand, Olaplex’s mandate is to repair, protect and strengthen all hair types for visibly noticeable results.

Many naturals wonder, as the brand is not targeted directly to coily hair, if using Olaplex for curly hair is worth the hype.

The answer: hell yes!

Let’s get into why Olaplex for natural hair should be considered a non-negotiable.

a GIF of Olaplex No 0 and Olaplex No 3 rocking back and forth

The Importance of Protein for Natural Hair

We all know that protein is a key cornerstone of healthy natural hair.

Not only is our hair primarily composed of disulfide-bonded keratin protein (anywhere up to 95%!), these proteins are responsible for reducing breakage, encouraging moisture retention and keeping our curls bouncy and elastic.

We also know that natural hair is incredible sensitive and fragile, and our protein stores are highly susceptible to damage from mechanical weathering (i.e. detangling, excessive manipulation) or chemical weathering (flat irons and heat tools, bleach).

Common signs of lack of protein in natural hair includes:

  • Hair that is frizzy/does not retain a style
  • Dries very quickly after a shower
  • Has turned a lighter colour, especially at the ends

Unfortunately, as our hair is dead cells, it cannot repair or regenerate itself. We need to keep up with regular protein treatments that will replenish our protein stores until the next treatment session.

Now, not all protein treatments on the market will work for your hair type.

A downside of many popular protein treatments is that they can create a film around the hair, especially protein treatments that include larger-sized protein molecules, such as collagen and hydrolyzed wheat/soy/rice/oat proteins.

These molecules are unable to penetrate into the hair strands, creating this film. This will be effective to treat high porosity hair but is bad news for low porosity naturals, who already struggle with product buildup.

Cue in Olaplex for curly hair.

a gif of all the Olaplex products in front of a pink background

Why Olaplex is Different From Other Protein Treatments

Olaplex’s signature and patented ingredient, bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, is more than just a protein source.

This ingredient is chemically similar to the disulfide bonds in our hair and is able to actually penetrate into our hair and support our native proteins.

Studies have indicated that this ingredient, under a microscope, visibly improved the structure of the hair fibre. This will immediately yield an increase in moisture retention.

Curl elasticity is the second benefit, where the hair has increased in strength and malleability and can withstand manipulation.

The best part about this ingredient is that it does not create a film around the hair, unlike other protein treatments.

Not only that, your hair will take whatever it needs from the formula, and the rest will be washed away, ensuring no product buildup. Score!

This protein treatment is great for low porosity naturals but high porosity hair will benefit from using this product too.

Olaplex No 3 is especially effective for natural hair – the formula contains a plethora of conditioning agents that will provide some slip during the application process, while the other products (i.e. Olaplex No 0) do not contain any conditioning agents and may be best for straight or wavy hair.

an image of olaplex no 3 hair perfector

Olaplex No 3 Hair Perfector

Best for all naturals

Olaplex’s Hair Perfector No 3 Repairing Treatment has a patented agent that is chemically similar to the disulfide protein bonds in our hair. Using it monthly prior to your wash day as a pre-poo will replace broken bonds in your cuticles caused by sun damage, dyes/bleach, heat tools and manipulation.

Olaplex for Natural Hair: How To Use It

Section your hair out in 4 parts.

Apply the No 3 treatment and leave on for at least 10 minutes but no more than an hour.

Cleanse your hair with a gentle yet effective shampoo and follow up with a moisturizing, protein-free deep conditioner. Style with moisturizing leave-ins and gels full of plant extracts and fim-forming humectants!

an image of camille rose sweet ginger rinse

Camille Rose Sweet Ginger Cleansing Rinse

Best for TYPE 4

This shampoo is incredibly gentle and non-stripping, but contains enough surfactants to thoroughly cleanse your hair and remove buildup. Ginger root oil – the second ingredient in the formula – is antiseptic, boosting overall scalp health. A great, gentle shampoo for weekly use. 

an image of tgin Miracle Repairx Deep Hydrating Hair Masque

TGIN Miracle Repairx Deep Hydrating Hair Masque

Best for TYPE 4

This mask is loaded with a healthy balance of strengthening and conditioning ingredients that will soften your coils and keep dryness at bay. A great deep conditioner for boosting moisture! 

a picture of camille rose curl love moisture milk

Camille Rose Curl Love Moisture Milk

Best for TYPE 3-4

This product is well-loved by all naturals, but the film-forming humectants, such as aloe vera and slippery elm, is great for high porosity naturals experiencing moisture loss. The plethora of conditioning ingredients will also make your hair feel supple and soft. A must try for all naturals!

Camille Rose Almond Jai Twisting Butter

Best for TYPE 4

If you’re looking for a setting cream for your twist-outs and braid-outs, look no further: this twisting butter is so rich and creamy, your hair will feel supple and soft after taking down the style, especially high porosity hair. Plays well with their Curl Love Moisture Milk.

Earthtones Naturals Curl Enhancing Jelly

Best for TYPE 3-4, low porosity

A Canadian-based brand, Earthtones Naturals focuses on holistic, natural ingredients – and this gel is no exception. Its formulated with some ingredients such as aloe leaf juice, panthenol and sea kelp!

Kinky Curly Curling Custard

Best for TYPE 3-4, high porosity

This gel is a cult classic. Long before the plethora of hair gels for natural hair, this gel was holding it down for the curls. Jam packed with film-forming plant extracts such as marshmallow root and aloe vera will keep your coils hydrated and ensure every coil is defined. A fan fave for high porosity naturals!

Final Thoughts on Olaplex for Curly Hair

It’s an unfortunate reality that natural hair is highly sensitive to both mechanical and chemical weathering.

Proper protein upkeep is essential for strong and malleable natural hair.

Olaplex for natural hair is seriously worth the investment. Their No 3 treatment is an incredibly innovative and exceptional product for natural hair, as it is extremely effective in penetrating into the hair shaft, smoothing down our cuticle layer and supporting our native proteins. A must have!

The Curl Market is a natural hair blog catered to helping black naturals grow their curls into a long, luscious manes.

We use the latest evidence-based scientific research to provide you with the top tips on growing your curls, regardless of hair type.

We also provide lifestyle tips, both self care and mental care, to ensure you are optimizing your body’s natural hair growth cycle – because you can’t grow natural hair if you’re stressed out!

Come as you are.

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WRITTEN BY

Ayana Aden

Ayana is The Curl Market’s brand founder. When she’s not deep in natural hair research or creating content, she’s hanging on the couch with her husband and her cat, reading a book or scrolling through TikTok. Follow her on Instagram at @tothecurlmarket.

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