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Olaplex: Hair Color's Holy Grail

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via @olaplex

@olaplex

via @olaplex

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Consider this a PSA for anyone who wasn’t scared off of bleaching by Annie or Emily: Your colorist should be using Olaplex. Not only because people like Tracey Cunningham and Aura Friedman swear by it (and have the Instagrams to prove it), but because it works.

First, the science: Olaplex is an additive that eliminates the bad reaction oxygen has with broken sulfite bonds in chemically treated hair that leads to breakage. And like the Big Bang, penicillin, and other scientific things of significance, it was discovered almost by accident. Olaplex founder and beauty industry veteran Dean Christal was in the process of developing a silicone-based alternative to Moroccan oil (soon to be available as well!) when he met with UC Santa Barbara's Dr. Craig Hawker—one of the world's leading chemistry Ph.D's—in hopes of completing the process. After solving Christal's first problem, Hawker asked as an aside “What is the holy grail of hair product development?”

'I had no idea what to tell him?” Christal said over the phone last week. “So I said if a beauty company could keep chemical treatments from hurting hair, that’d really be something. He said he’d call me if he had any ideas, I wrote my phone number down, and walked out of his office. He literally called me 10 minutes later and said to come back the next day. When I came back, he and his partner Dr. Eric Presley handed me a jar of Olaplex that they had cooked on a hot plate in their garage lab the night before?”

If you immediately said “That sounds a lot like Breaking Bad?” you'd be right—Olaplex has had something of an immediate and addictive effect on the industry. Four months into its publicly available life, it’s already in 7,000 salons around the world, and a deal with beauty supply behemoth SalonCentric is in the works. The company's main source of publicity? Instagram.

'Yesterday, we sold to 196 new salons. Yesterday?” Christal told me. “Honestly—and I can say it because I’ve suffered in the beauty industry a lot in my life—it’s not because we had some genius business plan or anything like that, we just caught it at the right time?”

The right time indeed. All we can say is stay tuned—we're expecting big things...

–Emily Ferber

Photos via @Olaplex, @g _stylist, @hairbylindsayxo, @jczhair, @damacabelos, @jesshairstylistbns, @hairbyamberham, and @haemilchang _hmua.