Olaplex no.3 is unlike anything else I’ve used for my curly hair. It is not a gel nor a deep conditioner. When do we use it? What to do after you apply it? Just thinking about it felt overwhelming for me. In case you feel the same way, this quick guide will help you decipher the mystery of Olaplex no.3!
Disclaimer: This is not sponsored. I purchased my Olaplex no.3 many times since 2017. All views expressed in this article are mine, I have linked other sources for you to learn more. Please use this special treatment at your own risk and discretion, I am only here to share my experience hoping to help you understand your hair better too.
What is Olaplex No. 3?
This is a unique product to repair damaged hair. Try this if you have color damage, heat damage, sun damage, basically ANY hair damage. Curly hair bloggers Penny and Jackie use it on their virgin hair too! However, you will see a difference only if you have damaged hair. If you have extremely damaged hair, Olaplex recommends doing it weekly. Healthy hair may not see a drastic difference in my opinion. Olaplex no.3 is protein-free. It does have aloe as one of the ingredients (aloe may mimic protein)
What Olaplex No. 3 is not (based on questions I’ve been asked).
- Olaplex no. 3 is not a styler, not a gel nor a leave-in.
- It’s not even a deep conditioner, it will not moisturize curls.
- Not a shampoo nor conditioner, it’s not any of the usual suspects.
- It is not a protein treatment since it is protein-free!
- It will not bleach your hair.
What does Olaplex no.3 really do?
Olaplex is a bond builder. It repairs hair by temporarily building broken bonds in your hair. The bonds in your hair can break for many reasons. For example, if you have colored your hair (highlights/low-lights/global colors), you could also have heat damage due to straightening, sun damage because you expose your hair to too much sun, maybe you have breakage because your hair is weak or damage from not protecting it while you sleep, work or travel. If you do this treatment, it is formulated to make your hair stronger. The new Curlsmith Bond Salve works similarly. Read my review comparison here.
How to use it?
Think of this treatment like you would like a Prepoo! Since the bottle says “towel dried” it means damp hair. I use it on my DAY 3/4 buildup-free hair (like, when you use oil or butter-based products? Yeah no, I make sure my hair doesn’t have that before my Olaplex.) Olaplex no.3 has a very good slip. So as long as your hair is damp, you will get the slip. Brush over for even distribution. Some keep it overnight, I did that when I had bleached my hair in 2020.
- The bottle says to use it on towel-dried, unwashed hair. Start there.
- Detangle next.
- Apply this little by little in small sections.
- Keep for 20 minutes.
- Shampoo or cowash to wash it out.
- Do not use clay treatment after!
- Deep Condition after for best results.
The next steps are up to you but personally I will with a protein-free hair mask after shampooing , then condition, then style. Personally, I use Olaplex no.4 (shampoo) and Olaplex no.5 (conditioner) when I’m doing this Olaplex no.3 treatment. Note all other Olaplex products have soluble silicone. However, it’s important to note that these products are designed to work together and compliment each other. So, to get the most out of the treatment I like using other products in the line too. You don’t have to; its not mandatory. Sanne, @curlsandblondies explains the benefits.
Olaplex recently introduced THE Olaplex no.0 – I find it like a primer, allowing the No.3 absorb better. So as an investment it makes sense, I mean, You want the No.3 to penetrate in your hair better, right? So I recommend using No.0+ No.3 together. See this video here- Basically, apply no.0 on dry hair first. Keep 10min.
Other things to think about
You can use a heat cap for twenty minutes that you keep the Olaplex in your hair. It isn’t mandatory, though. Just that heat speeds up the chemical reaction of products making the treatment effective, especially for low/medium porosity hair. It’s not likely for anybody to wonder about this, but if you did, You don’t heat up the Olaplex before you use it. No please just use it straight out of the bottle. Don’t use the whole bottle at one go! NOOOOOO! One bottle gives my medium length hair at least 4 applications – use your discretion. You can use Olaplex on your greys. Grey hair is often finer and drier, and requires more care much in the same way you would care for damaged hair. For me, I find my grey hair more manageable after my Olaplex no.3 treatments.
Using Olaplex as a Leave-in
I’ve left the Olaplex no.3 in my hair – and I got fabulous 5 days with it! I always use high-moisture Products like that milk or curl creams over my olaplex. Olaplex is NOT a deep conditioner, I need a lot of moisture after I use it. Use your discretion before you try.
Trying Olaplex 1 & 2 instead
I found that the salon treatment (olaplex 1 + 2) is about 75% more potent than the at-home treatment. If your hair is extremely damaged for example, after bleach or blow dry, then it makes more sense to do the salon treatment first. Then keep up with at-home treatments later, at home. If you have no damage, the salon treatment is not needed.
Change in Porosity after using Olaplex
I have a theory – please bear with me – In my journey, my best was a happy medium porosity hair- balanced and thriving with the least amount of maintenance. Then I ruined that (so to speak) when I got highlights in July 2018. Then bleach postpartum drama of 2020. The color damage changed it to medium-high porosity hair. I know that from how easily the moisture escaped from my hair, appearing dull and dry sooner than normal, and the need to moisturize with heavy creams, unlike before.. all these cues led me to believe hair porosity changes with color.
Now, with Olaplex no. 3 treatments, I have Low Porosity Hair feelings. I mean, styling on damp hair never worked for me before, but it usually does right after my Olaplex treatments. My hair does not soak in water quickly, it takes time. Does this mean Olaplex can alter your hair porosity? I cannot say for sure, but this is my experience. If you feel the same, please tell me in the comments.
Thanks for making it this far
This was a long one, so I appreciate the time you took to get to the very end. If you want bonus reading and/or viewing material on Olaplex No. 3, check out Olaplex FAQs here.
Thank you for watching & reading!
For hair help Book 1:1 Coaching with me today.