Olaplex no.3 is unlike anything else I've used for my curly hair. It is not a gel or 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!
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What is Olaplex No. 3?
The Olaplex no.3 is a very, very special treatment to repair damaged hair. It’s safe for protein-sensitive hair since it has no protein in it. It does have aloe as one of the ingredients (aloe may mimic protein) so protein-sensitive hair gets the benefits without the risks.
Although curly hair bloggers like Penny and Jackie use Olaplex on their virgin hair and swear by it; this special treatment is meant for damaged hair and you will see a difference only if you have damaged hair.
Healthy hair may not see a drastic difference in my opinion. Try this if you have color damage, heat damage, sun damage, basically ANY hair damage.
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, not a shampoo nor conditioner, it’s not any of the usual suspects. It is none of those things.
It is not a protein treatment since many believe protein treatments are to repair hair also. But it doesn’t have any protein in it! It will not moisturize curls, so you will still need to follow up with a deep conditioner after you wash this treatment out.
It will not bleach your hair.
What does Olaplex no.3 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/lowlights/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. That’s the basic idea of Olaplex.
Jannelle explains Olaplex no.3 beautifully in this video. I don’t follow her application method exactly, but you really should watch this video to understand the science behind Olaplex. .
How to use it?
The bottle says to use it on towel-dried, unwashed hair. Start there. Think of this treatment like you would of 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.)
Section your hair. I make two-strand twists with small sections, just like Hif3LICIA does in the video linked below.
According to HiFelicia, and I agree, the two-strand twists encourage curl clumping and encourage your curls to naturally fall in that DNA-Curl-way, even after
Keep for 20 minutes. Some people keep it overnight; I don’t because I don’t quite see the point. I just leave it on my hair, under a shower cap, for 20 minutes and then wash it all off.
After the 20 minutes are up, shampoo or cowash to wash it out.
Do not use clay treatment after!
The next steps are up to you but personally I will deep condition (sometimes with a tea rinse for extra moisture like Felicia shows in her YT video below), then condition, then style. You can skip this “tea rinse” step after you shampoo if you want but for best results, deep condition with a protein-free hair mask after shampooing your Olaplex no.3 out.
TOP TIP FOR SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONING
Personally, I use Olaplex 4 and 5 when I’m doing the Olaplex 3 treatment. Note 4 and 5 have silicone (not CG) However, it’s important to note that these products are designed to work together and compliment eachother. So, to get the most out of the treatment I like using other products in the line too. You don’t have to; it certainly isn’t mandatory to use 4 and 5 just because you’re using 3. When I do it, I have to clarify my hair after two washes to remove all the silicone out so Sanne, @curlsandblondies explains this so well in this post!
How often should you use it?
If you have extremely damaged hair, Olaplex recommends doing it weekly. Me? I do it once in two months or whenever I feel like I need the treatment. I don’t do it on the regular (but perhaps I should!)
Where can you buy it?
You want to source from authorized dealers only. For India, Olaplex is sold on
Other things to think about
You can use a heat cap for the 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 have to 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 if you want to. 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 - Just applied it on my buildup-free hair, layered curl-milk and a gel over it and I got fabulous 5 days with it!
When I leave it in, I always use high-moisture Products like that milk or curl creams over my olaplex. Olaplex is NOT a deep conditioner, it needs a lot to moisture after for me. Use your discretion before you try. More on this post and comments here:
Change in Porosity after using Olaplex
I have a theory - please bear with me -
In my journey, my best hair was a happy medium porosity hair, which was balanced and thriving with the least amount of maintenance.
Then I ruined that (so to speak) when I got highlights in July 2018. 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 my 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.
Disclaimer: This is not sponsored. I purchased my Olaplex no.3 twice so far. All views expressed in this article are mine, I have linked other sources and affiliated links 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 better.
I hope you have a happy, healthy hair journey!
Thank you for watching & reading!