Skip to content

What’s Olaplex? What will it do to your hair?(and scalp!!!!!)

This is a good example of how novelty is bad for your health.

Let’s look at the ingredients.

No.3 Hair Repair Perfector

Water, Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate, Propylene Glycol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Behentrimonium Methosulfate, Cetyl Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Glycerin, Hydroxyethyl Ethylcellulose, Stearamidopropyl Dimethylamine , Quaternium-91, Sodium Benzoate, Cetrimonium Methosulfate, Cetrimonium Chloride, Fragrance, Tetrasodium EDTA,Polyquaternium-37, Benzyl Benzoate, Etidronic Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Phytantriol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Panthenol, Jojoba Seed Oil, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate

Nothing special: water and other solvents, fragrance, and preservatives, except for… Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate. The promise is that “Olaplex will repair broken bonds for stronger hair”.

What makes how hair strong? Keratin. What makes keratin so strong? Its structure. What makes the hair go “weak”? Mistreatment.

From my book:

The hair we see is the hair shaft, which displays no biochemical activity and is considered dead: the cells that the hair bulb formed are now mostly keratin. As the synthesis of hair keratin progresses, the protein assembles into rope-like intermediate filaments. The structure of these filaments provides strength to the hair shaft. As determined by their amino acid sequence, the protein molecules twist to form a very stable, left-handed superhelical (a coil that coils itself into another coil) motif that assembles with other such units forming filaments made of multiple copies of the keratin monomer. In addition to intra- and intermolecular hydrogen bonds, keratins have large amounts of the sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine, required for the disulfide bridges that confer additional strength and rigidity by linking into permanent, thermally-stable super-structures.

As you can see from this summary description, keratin structure (not completely elucidated to date) makes hair so resilient that it can resist harsh conditions like those encountered in daily life. Hair will grow for years without noticeable damage, although UV light will bleach the melanin in the hair shaft and lighten hair after a sunny summer.


Keratin is super strong, with those amino acid chains linked by a lot of bonds including the super-duper disulfur bonds, those that we break (and reform) when we do a perm. So “they,” said: let’s establish stronger bonds between amino acids in the hair! Let’s fake it. And so they did, with bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate. But you can’t actually fake it. the maleato group will alkylate SH groups. Dimaleate has two maleate groups, and each will react with an SH group and cross-linking. Don’t expect broken disulfur bridges to be repaired, a lot more likely is that amino acids in enzymes important to the functioning of our scalp will be killed by cross-linking them with whatever is around.  Hair is created in the scalp, a scalp that is very much alive and can be easily damaged.

A person with respect for chemistry, biology, and hair would not use (or sell) products with Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate. And this is why you should be careful when you buy a skincare product that is new enough to “deserve” a patent.
Yes, some sour grapes here. Skin Actives products are great and innovative, but they have never been innovative enough to “deserve” a patent. Maybe I should take that as a compliment rather than a cause for complaint.