Here’s Why Everyone’s Talking About Olaplex’s No. 3 Hair Perfector and Links to Infertility


To say that the hair community is obsessed with Olaplex would be a massive understatement. Since its launch in 2014, the haircare darling has become the “holy grail” of hair treatments for hairstylists and at-home users as well as celebrities, like Kim Kardashian, who can’t seem to get enough of its products’ epic smoothing, strengthening, and color-maintaining properties.

But as beloved as Olaplex may be, lately, the brand has found itself in a bit of controversy after questions were raised about an ingredient in its global best-seller, No. 3 Hair Perfector, and its overall safety. 

It all began when a recent viral TikTok video — created by Hasini Kay — proclaimed that Europe and the UK were set to ban Olaplex. The clip, which has since garnered over a million views, quickly sent Olaplex fans into a tailspin. As Kay further explains in a follow up video, Olaplex’s No. 3 Hair Perfector contains an ingredient called butylphenyl methylpropional (commonly referred to as lilial) — a molecule used as a fragrance, which has been linked to infertility. 


Reply to @rat_bastard why current olaplex formulas are being banned #olaplex #damagedhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #curlyhairproblems

♬ original sound – Hasini Kay

So, what exactly is the truth and should we all be worried? Ahead, we breakdown everything you need to know surrounding Olaplex’s ingredient controversy. 

What is Lilial and why is it being banned?

For those who don’t know, lilial is a chemical compound frequently used for fragrance purposes in most cosmetic products. Pretty much anything with a floral scent — from perfumes to powder — contains lilial so, more than likely you’ve already been exposed to it before. But, don’t worry — research shows that it’s only harmful in large quantities.

Nonetheless, as of March 1st 2022, the ingredient is set to be removed from all cosmetic products in the EU, after the European Commission published a report in May 2020 updating lilial’s classification to “Rep.1B.”  According to the European Chemicals Agency, ingredients that fall into this category could potentially have “adverse effects on sexual function and fertility or on development,” “may impair fertility,” or “may cause harm to the unborn child.”

Is Lilial currently being used in Olaplex’s No. 3?

It was in the past, but it isn’t any longer. As of January 2022, Olaplex has made a point to remove lilial from all of its products ahead of the European Commission’s March deadline. Not only have they phased it out in the UK and EU, but they have also removed it from their entire global supply chain.

“In September 2020, the EU regulatory authority announced their intent to phase out butylphenyl methylpropional commonly referred to as ‘lilial’ by March of 2022,” the brand shared in a statement across it’s social channel . “At Olaplex, lilial was previously used in small amounts as a fragrance in No. 3 Hair Perfector. It is not an active or functional ingredient. While this phase out is limited to the EU, out of an abundance of caution, Olaplex proactively removed lilial from our No. 3 Hair Perfector globally.” 

So, can I keep using old bottles of Olaplex’s No. 3?

Good question! If you haven’t bought a new bottle of Olaplex’s No. 3 Hair Perfector this year, it might be a good idea to throw out any old bottles that you have lying around — just to be on the safe side. 

However, it is worth noting that Olaplex has advised that their old formulation is still safe to use.

“Cosmetic experts at The Cosmetic Regulatory have clarified that lilial is usually present in formulations at a concentration of 0.1 per cent or less and ‘is not enough to directly impact fertility,’” the brand wrote in its statement shared on Twitter. “Olaplex previously used 0.0119% as a fragrance and as an inactive and non-functional ingredient in Olaplex No.3 rinse out product. According to the Cosmetic, Toiletry, & Perfumery Association (CTPA), ‘Consumers who have bought cosmetic and personal care products that contain lilial can be reassured that these products are still safe to use. They will have undergone a rigorous safety assessment by an expert safety assessor to ensure their safe use.’”

What else has Olaplex said regarding the ingredient controversy?

In response to all of the widespread concern from its consumers regarding its No. 3 Hair Perfector and the ban on lilial, alongside releasing various statement with updates on the situation, the brand’s Chief Scientist and VP, R&D and Regulatory, Lavinia Popescu also took to Instagram to share a five-minute video addressing consumer questions surrounding lilial and explain the brand’s decision to remove the ingredients without affecting its formulations.

Additionally, Olaplex recently posted a video on Instagram that shared new updates on lilial from experts not associated with the brand. In the video’s caption, the brand shared a link to a TODAY article featuring quotes from cosmetic chemists, Kelly Dobos and Victoria Fu, as well as Dr. Evan Reider, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at NYU.

In the article, Dobos, Fu, and Dr. Reider all work to clear up misinformation and alleviate concerns regarding lilial. The main takeaways?  One, being that the removal of lilial from Olaplex’s No. 3 will not make the product any less effective. 

“Without lilial, your new bottle of No.3 might smell a little different, but it should work just as it always has,” Dobos told TODAY.

Additionally, the trio also share that though lilial has been linked to fertility issues in rat studies, the ingredient has never been officially recorded to cause infertility in humans.

With that all being said, now more than ever it is so important to always check the labels on the products that you are buying and to stay incredibly informed about the products that you use. 

If there is any concern about using Olaplex products, we highly encourage you to check the ingredients list and reach out to the brand’s customer care with any questions. For more updates from Olaplex regarding lilial, be sure to follow @olaplex on Instagram. 

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Camille Nzengung

Camille Nzengung is a Features Editor at The Tease, where she covers all things hair. You can find her writing about the best hair products, the coolest hair trends, and all the exciting new hair launches. Send her a pitch:


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