A Look into Bond Building Technology
and what they actually do
Bond building technology is a fairly new concept. It used to be considered impossible to repair the bonds in your hair. Once the damage was done all you could do was use oils and silicones to mask the problem and hopefully prevent the hair from completely breaking off. Now it seems like every time you turn around there is a new product claiming to do what before was scientifically impossible. Can we trust these claims? If you’re like me you have a really hard time jumping in and believing these new claims. It just seems too good to be true. Although I’m not a chemist, I decided to do my best to try and learn the science behind how this could be possible.
I started with Olaplex. I’ve used them from time to time after I was introduced to them at a class four years ago. I’m an extension specialist and often times I have clients coming to me to help fix their severely damaged or fragile hair. I liked the product enough and I felt they had science on their side so I was comfortable recommending my clients give it a try. Occasionally I would have clients ask me how it worked. I could only give a very elementary description. I hate not having answers and with the rise in popularity of other brands, like Brazilian Bond Builder, I was really starting to lose confidence in recommending any product to my clients. So I dove in, hoping to actually understand what is taking place when we use these products.
Here is a quick background on what damage these products are trying to correct. There are three different types of bonds in the hair; hydrogen bonds, salt bonds and disulfide bonds. The main bond we will be focusing on is the disulfide bond. It is the bond that actually holds the hair fibers together and it accounts for up to 90% of the hair’s overall strength. In order to add or remove color in the hair you have to break the bonds between the sulfur molecules. Damage occurs when these bonds have been so chemically altered that they can not reattach.
Olaplex claims all the magic happens with its main ingredient, Bis-aminopropyl Diglycol. It is important to note that they do have multiple patents on their products. That means that they have no competitors using their same exact formula until their patent runs out. That gave me some confidence in their product but I still wanted to understand how it worked. What I learned is that when coloring hair the peroxide is breaking the disulfide bonds. Once that happens there are two potential outcomes; the bonds can either naturally reattach themselves in the next few days or the peroxide can create a type of cap on the end of the sulfur molecule preventing it from rebonding. This capping is what leads to damage. Olaplex works by creating an artificial bridge between the sulfur molecules. It works faster than either the hair naturally attaching itself or the peroxide capping the sulfur molecule. This artificial bond essentially leads to a lot less damage being able to occur. It also creates more opportunities for that bridge to be created. The artificial bond is more flexible than our natural bonds, creating a bond that can be beat up a bit more before breaking. However I am unsure how long the bonds stay in place. The are highly attracted to other ions. I am most worried about the ions that can be found in water. With that being said, it appears that even if that bond was broken it could be replaced with continual use of the Olaplex system.
BRAZILIAN BOND BUILDER
The next product I looked at was Brazilian Bond Builder. This product claims to repair all three bonds in the hair using a specially formulated copolymer. After looking through their ingredient list I have to assume they are talking about hydrogenated castor oil/sebacic acid copolymer. What the ingredient does it seems much more simple to understand; it works as a cuticle sealer. It adheres to lifted cuticles to seal them together and smooth the hair fiber. Described as a silicone like substance, its benefits can last through several shampoos. The rest of the ingredients are all hair smoothing or conditioning agents. I could see how this product would be beneficial for some hair types but I can’t find any science on how these ingredients could be doing any actual bond repairing. Damaged hair with lifted cuticles doesn’t reflect light well. The uneven surfaces reflect light in all different directions leaving the hair appearing dull. Brazilian Bond Builder would smooth out the cuticles leading to increased shine making the hair appear healthier. However, after a few washes it will rinse out and you will be left with whatever condition the hair was in before. I also t has I also found hydrogenated castor oil/sebacic acid copolymer in other products lines such as It’s A 10, Living Proof, Joico and Paul Mitchell.
After this research into Brazilian Bond Builder I feel as though they are just like other companies that claim hair repair but really were just a band aid over the real problem. I feel as though Brazilian Bond Builder’s claims of bond repair are completely false. Technically all bonds will reattach themselves over time if they aren’t chemically altered beyond repair. But I see no ingredient on their list that would be working to reverse that damage.
My conclusion on these two products is that there is no guarantee of preventing damage but with Olaplex we are getting closer. I believe the most benefit and most permanent repair can only be achieved if the whole system is consistently used insure the artificial bonds stay in place. I hope in the future to see more research on Olaplex and its use long term. For now I will choose to stick with Olaplex only in the occasions of serious hair damage and hair repair. We still have to be responsible as hairstylists to do our job to protect the integrity of our clients hair.
Let me know know your experiences using bond builders personally or professionally in the comments below. Also if you have questions, please let me know. I would love to hear your feedback.