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The Best Bond Repair Alternatives for Olaplex, Ranked

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All Curly Girl Approved too!

I’ve used Olaplex for over 5 years now. You can read my Olaplex guide here. But over the years I’ve also heard complaints how Olaplex doesn’t fit the budget for some. I’ve been on the lookout for Olaplex alternatives and found a few that are curly girl approved. That means these are SLS-free, silicon-free and paraben-free! Let me know if you find these options useful.

1. Glycolic Acid – my cheapest alternative to Olaplex

Bond Repair Effect: Immediate

Inspired by Jude’s @fiddysnails video tutorial for exfoliating scalp with acids, and Annalisa’s @skinperspective solid research for using Glycolic Acid on hair, I tried it and it works! My hair immediately felt oh so soft (I have very dry rough coarse curly hair). My grey hair behaves so well with Glycolic Acid treatment. Note, this is also a clarifying treatment so time it wisely.

How to Use Glycolic Acid on curly hair: Use as a preshampoo treatment. Apply both on scalp and hair. Keep up to 30min, depending on how much buildup you have. For example, my clean scalp has no dandruff, my healthy hair benefited from 10min only. If you have flake-y scalp and damaged hair, keep it longer say 15-30min. Where to buy: Find country-wise list here!

2. Mane Method Mask

Bond Repair Effect: Immediate

This product was gifted to me in 2020. I was fascinated to try it since the brand owner mentioned how this was an alternative to Olaplex! This oil is fragrance-free, all natural blend of Bantana Oil and Castor Oil. It comes in a cute tin and after scooping your desired amount it melts into oil as you rub it in your hands. A little goes a long way; I’ve had this tin over a year so it really depends how often you use it and hair length/texture. The essential oils vanilla and orange in this makes it smell almost nutty to me. But the scent disappears once incorporated into the curls.

How to Use: Use as a preshampoo treatment, weekly or monthly depending on your hair damage. My bleached hair loved overnight prepoo with this oil. My virgin low porosity hair appreciated a quick 20 minutes in the plastic shower cap.

Helpful tip: Use less; keep it for less time if you’re worried about moisture levels for your hair. Ideal oil for LOC Method styling during winter. If you are wanting to try, take advantage of my affiliate *discount code: HONESTLIZ* for 10% off @mane_method. Based in Canada, they ship worldwide too.

3. Curlsmith Bond Salve – Olaplex Alternative with protein

Bond Repair Effect: Immediate/surface-level

You have to know, my coarse hair prefers protein-free products. So this did not work for me on my virgin low porosity hair. It actually made my hair frizzy and curls lost shape within the day. After I highlighted my hair, I found my colored hair appreciated this better. Will this work for you? I wrote a detailed guide and compared this Curlsmith Bond Salve Vs Olaplex here.

4. Hair Therapie Mask – Olaplex Alternative with protein

Bond Repair Effect: Immediate

This mas was gifted to me in 2021. I was very skeptical of this because of the gelatin. From my DIY experiments I know gelatin is a strong protein treatment for me. I tried it and guess what? My coarse low porosity hair LOVED IT!  This is for all hair types.

How to Use : Use as a preshampoo treatment. Apply both on hair, focus on the roots. Keep up to 30min, depending on how much hair damage you have. For example, my healthy hair benefited from 10min only. If you have bleach, heat, or chemically damaged hair, keep it longer say 15-30min.

5. Curlsmith Bonding Oil

Bond Repair Effect: Gradual

The hype is real. This new oil does everything so many bloggers advertised it would. My favorite thing about this oil is the scent and how it “holds” curls! I purchased this oil in India and just could not stop using it because it made my hair smell so good! But like all good things come to an end, sadly it revealed a con to me. It broke me out; turns out I’m sensitive to shea butter now too. So avoid this oil if you have sensitive acne-prone skin like me.

How to Use: Best to use it for styling (not as preshampoo). Use for LOC Method styling or break your crunchy curls at the end of your routine (SOTC).  

Helpful tip: Use it daily in the morning from second day onwards. My coarse thick hair once had a fantastic week, went up to day 6 after I applied a pump of this oil daily. No, don’t do this if you have fine hair or low density hair because oils can buildup. If you are wanting to try, take advantage of my affiliate *discount code: HONESTLIZ* for 10% off here in india OR use this referral India link to get 10% off on your first order.

6. Curly Ellie Intense Oil

Bond Repair Effect: Gradual

Designed to repair broken hair bonds, this oil makes curly hair shine, and softens my coarse hair. This vegan oil is a blend of natural seed and fruit oils including Castor oil, Grapeseed oil, Olive oil and Abyssinian oil.

How to Use: This is a multiplayer oil. You can use it as preshampoo, for styling on wet hair, and also in between washdays on your dry hair. 

Helpful Tip: Calling all those who struggle with water refreshes! I use this Hair Oil on my dry hair (in between washdays) and instantly notice my rough dry hair go oh so soft! My hair also looks shinier, and frizz is controlled all day too. Totally recommend! If you are wanting to try, take advantage of my affiliate *discount code: HONESTLIZ* for 10% off @curlyellieintense. Based in UK, they ship worldwide too. 

There are many other bond repair treatments in the market but Olaplex was the first to patent this, repair at a molecular level too. A quick google search will take you to high authority websites like Allure, Refinery, and others who enlist commerical brands like Loreal, Matrix, Redken etc.

Note, commercial products may not be CG safe. CG =CURLY GIRL. Which means these may contain silicones, drying alcohols and things of that nature that promise immediate gratification, but follow with bad unmanageable hair days right after. Use your discretion as always and for best results, use gentle, CG approved products. Meanwhile, Ill be sure to update this list as I try new products! Let me know in comments if you come across any too.

Thank you for watching & reading!

Need Help? Ask Liz here

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12 thoughts on “The Best Bond Repair Alternatives for Olaplex, Ranked

  1. I do pre shampoo oil treatments. I also have a curlsmith pre shampoo bond treatment. Is it ok to combine them or should I make sure to not do both on the same day, pre w ash? Thank you so much! I’m new to the prewash treatment thing.

    1. Thank you for asking me. You see, oils seal moisture – like a laminate. So imagine if you oiled first and then applied the yummy bond repair treatment. Do you think the treatment will penetrate hair through the oil barrier? Even if it does, it may not be as effective as trying the treatment on buildup free hair. The scriptures Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 say “A time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.” so time your treatments wisely to get the most of it 🙂

      1. Thank you so much, and especially for the scripture 😊 I figured you should not do them together, but understanding the WHY helps so much

  2. Does glycolic acid has same results in hair as olaplex home treatment?
    And how many times a month do you recommend glycolic acid treatment? Right now my hair is love olaplex but I can’t do this treatment more than twice a month because it cause protein overload due to aloe in it ( thanks to you for figuring this out for me) .

    1. I find it works better than Olaplex – I didn’t have to deep condition my hair. With Olaplex I only get results after use a hair mask. I’m doing it weekly and then taking a break when my hair feels hydrated and healthy. So you decide the frequency. AND it seems like protein-free no?

      1. Protein free 😍 yes . Will try this now . My hair thrives on moisture .
        Oh I read your where to buy it from blog and it’s 1/4th of the price of olaplex home treatment 😮 so yayy!!
        Thank you for finding us such treasures 🤗.

  3. I tried the Ordinary Glycolic Acid pre-shampoo treatment you posted about last week on Instagram. I also have gray , coarse, hair. All I can say is WOW! Thanks for sharing this. It’s a game changer for my hair as well as my scalp! Hair is so soft, manageable, and my scalp feels so clean. Thanks for all your education and time that you put in to researching all things hair!

    1. Tasha when we think about this, the act of applying the glycolic acid on hair and leaving it is like a hair mask only 🙂 Since this is open to interpretation (without context) I don’t think a regular CG hair mask with theirs butters and oils and whatnot along with glycolic acid in it will be comparable to using it in the pure form. I could be wrong though, perhaps hair with minimal damage would appreciate the cg mask with a little bit of acid in it. The only way to find out is to try it and compare both results!

  4. Hey liz. Can I try glycolic acid right after my delivery. It’s been a month since I delivered and my scalp itches like crazy. Do let me know 😍 Also I n loveeee all ur Suggestions. ♥️

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