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Plus the best products with bond-building technology.
Have you ever left the salon with bouncy, shiny hair—relieved to find that your hair wasn’t too damaged—only to find that the effects fizzle out over the next few weeks? This may be because your stylist was using a bond-building product on your hair. The good news? A long-time staple at salons, the hair-care category is becoming increasingly popular with at-home products.
“These bond/chain repair products have been a game changer in our industry—we’ve been able to protect hair while coloring or performing other damaging chemical services,” says Tina Deeke, colorist at Maxine Salon in Chicago. “In the past coloring, straightening, and blow-dry/thermal styling did not have the technology to protect the bonds. More recently, many products have bonders built in to protect your hair.”
We spoke with a few hair experts to get to the root (ha) of how bond-building hair care products can benefit your hair long-term.
What are bond-builders?
“A bond-builder is a protein rich formula designed to repair damaged, over-processed hair from bleach or excessive heat styling,” says Nunzio Saviano, hairstylist and owner of Nunzio Saviano Salon. (An example is Olaplex, i.e. one of the most popular bond-building hair care brands.)
If you’ve dealt with dry, dyed, and weak hair, you know how many products there are on the market claiming to help reverse any damage you’re experiencing. While they may help your hair look better, they may not actually get to the root cause of the problem.
Instead of simply coating your strands with moisture like most products, bond-building products help repair disulfide bonds or polypeptide chains inside the hair that are broken while coloring, straightening or from thermal abuse. In other words, it helps to build up damaged, broken hair bonds from the inside out. “Think of it as a brace or splint for broken bones,” says Saviano.
What are the benefits of bond-building hair products?
Bond builder products help strengthen the chemical makeup of your hair, making it less prone to breakage (read: thicker) and adding shine.
That means that they’re ideal for damaged hair, regardless of texture or type. Since hair is damaged already, bonders are especially effective when paired with your chemical services. However, you don’t have to have color or dyed hair to use these products. You can have “virgin” hair and still use them for extra strength.
Deeke recommends buying products through your stylist or salon or through a reputable retailer, as your stylist can suggest which bond product is best for your hair type. “I typically prescribe the products to be used exclusively the first week and then once a week thereafter for maintenance depending on the condition of your hair,” she shares.
Best Bond-Building Products for Hair
Bond-builders can be found in hair oils, leave-in products, and shampoos and conditioners. Shop some of our favorites, below.
Living Proof Triple Bond Complex
Living Proof’s patented thermo-reactive technology can repair all three bonds (hydrogen, ionic, covalent) that are broken to restore hair to its healthiest state. A blend of lipids and peptides deeply nourishes strands, while a biomimetic emollient blend smooths and aligns hair fibers, making hair more manageable.
Olaplex No 6 Bond Smoother Reparative Styling Crème
Olaplex’s leave-in styler (part of its bond-building collection) decreases blow-drying time to minimize heat damage. The brand has a wide range of maintenance products depending on your hair type (10 products total), which Deeke says she has used on her clients for years.
K18 Biomimetic Hairscience Mask
“K18 is a straightforward line with two shampoos and a mask,” says Deeke, who recommends the mask as part of your regular routine. A popular one amongst professionals, the system is also easy to use at home.
More Inches LifeSaver Pre-Wash Treatment
This silicone-free, pre-poo treatment makes hair feel stronger and look shinier after using it.
Andrew Fitzsimons AF1 Restructuring 10-in-1 Leave-In Conditioner
This leave-in conditioner features strengthening ceramides and castor oil infused into a detangling formula. In addition to helping with hair health, it also works to reduce frizz and make styling easier.
Climaplex Moisture & Repair Shampoo
If you’re looking to repair your hair with minimum effort, this shampoo that has bond-building properties built in is a great place to start.
Bumble and Bumble Bond-Building Repair Treatment
This bond-building repair treatment can be used weekly in the shower during your hair-washing ritual. Experts say it will help reverse the look of damage and prevent future breakage.
Amika The Kure Multi-Task Repair Treatment
Made without sulfates and perfect for those experiencing dry hair, this fast-acting mask/leave-in treatment will help strengthen your hair while reducing breakage. Use it once or twice a week for maximum results.
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