These days, there are countless ways to let our hair do the talking. With the influx of incredible, unique heated tools and the countless colours we can choose to try out, we certainly aren’t short on choices.
However, this can all take its toll on hair, leaving strands dryer, weaker, and more prone to damage than before.
If you are a regular user of heat or colour, you may want to consider investing in products that will restore your hair to its former glory.
What is a hair bond builder?
There is often confusion about how a bond builder differs from a run-of-the-mill hair mask.
Hair masks are brilliant, but they usually only target the surface of hair to improve its condition in the short term. The best hair masks offer shinier, softer, silkier locks, but often don’t get to the root cause of any major damage in the long term.
This is where bond builders come in. Products such as Olaplex and K18 use patented molecules, ingredients and technologies to penetrate the hair cuticle and repair broken bonds caused by things like excess heat, styling, and colouring.
Long term, these products work like a dream to address existing damage and protect from future problems.
The best hair bond builders
Sold? These are the best options around:
Redken Exclusive Acidic Bonding Concentrate Intensive Pre-Treatment, £21.50
Redken’s newest addition to its Acidic Bonding range is a five-minute rinse-off intensive pre-treatment. The product is supercharged with its highest concentration of bonding care complex and citric acid to strengthen weakened bonds, while adding serious strength and shine to parched locks.
It’s already getting glowing online reviews – and it smells like skittles.
Living Proof Triple Bond Complex, £42
PSA: the brand behind the best dry shampoo on the planet also has a bond-repair treatment, and while it’s closer in price to the likes of K18, the science behind it looks just as convincing.
Living Proof claims its hero molecule can also strengthen strands from within, repair bonds and also build new ones, resulting in eight times stronger hair. Sounds good to me.
Wonder Water by L’Oreal Elvive Dream Lengths 8 Second Hair Treatment, £9.99
While not a bonding product per se, L’Oreal’s TikTok famous Wonder Water trumps K18 on both convenience (eight seconds in the shower versus four minutes post shower) and of course price, by a country mile.
I know so many beauty editors who are obsessed with this for good reason. Personally, I find it can drown my fine locks, but for thicker hair this is definitely a winner – and at a virtually unbeatable price point.
Olaplex No 3 Hair Perfector, £28
The original, and what some may still say is the best, Olaplex’s No 3 Hair Perfector is a beloved bond builder in the beauty biz’. The brand uses its hero ingredient (the patented bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate) to target damaged, broken bonds within the hair cuticle to transform dull, dry or over-processed lengths.
K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Mask £9-£55
Perhaps considered Olaplex’s biggest rival currently, K18 has been hyped up online big time. I’m a huge fan, especially of the brand’s newest two shampoo iterations, but you can’t beat the leave-in bond builder for restoring struggling strands.
K18 uses a patented peptide to protect and defend hair, as well as boosting moisture levels. It is applied after shampoo to damp hair and left on, making it a convenient in-shower option for those short on time.
The Inkey List PCA Bond Repair Treatment, £13.99
Beloved skincare brand The Inkey List threw its hat into the haircare arena a while back, and the line has perhaps become best known for its own Olaplex alternative.
This leave-in spray is designed to be applied onto damp hair post-shampoo and conditioner and pre-styling. It uses Pyrrolidone Carboxylic Acid and a unique technology called Granrepair Powerbond® to penetrate the hair fibre and strengthen, protect and repair. A great affordable option that won’t leave you standing in the shower shivering for ages.