How OLAPLEX Built an Entire Category



In 2014, two chemists — Craig Hawker and one of his former students — established the groundbreaking science of OLAPLEX that has revolutionized the entire beauty industry, creating a completely new category called “bond-building” haircare. Today, OLAPLEX is one of the largest independent haircare brands in the world and remains the #1 Professional Bond-Building Brand* with over 100 worldwide patents.

Although a household name thanks to its innovation, you may not know much about that actual innovation. Enter us. Below, The Tease tracks the brand’s history as well as its vision to help salon pros continue to change what is possible for hair.

*Kline’s Salon Hair Care 2022 Global Series

The “Invention”

Most professional hairstylists are familiar with OLAPLEX as a bond-builder without knowing how those bonds are built. OLAPLEX’s exclusive, patented Bond Building Technology re-links broken bonds deep within the hair to repair damage from key causes like chemical services, heat styling, mechanical friction, environment, and pollution leaving all hair types stronger and healthier looking.

Known as the “invention,” the Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate ingredient allows professionals to reach new heights in color and care, working on a molecular level.

Bis-aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate, a single molecule, relinks broken bonds, which helps to improve hair strength and protect from within for all hair types. Hair wasn’t just healthier; it took on a completely different quality — blondes were brighter, brunettes more radiant, and redheads more vibrant.

Jump Start Thanks To A Famous Friend

After working to identify the “invention,” OLAPLEX’s founders knew they had uncovered something incredible that would make people more confident by having amazing

hair during and after chemical services with minimal to no damage. With some experimentation and development in Santa Barbara, California, OLAPLEX was born.

Months later, the founders were introduced to celebrity hair colorist Tracey Cunningham in Beverly Hills. After a 30-minute meeting, they gifted Tracey a bottle of OLAPLEX. It didn’t take long for her to realize what a game-changer it would be, so much so that she said she would never color hair again without it.

“I was the first person to get my hands on OLAPLEX in color, and it was very exciting because in our industry, there aren’t a lot of a-ha moments, there aren’t a lot of new products coming out,” said Cunningham. She continued, “You get a lot of you know ‘I have this new shampoo and it has Argan oil in it.’ You know, we’re not reinventing the wheel. And OLAPLEX created a new category…”

Immediately after this meeting, OLAPLEX began initial production.

A Step Above for Salon Professionals

OLAPLEX goes above and beyond to ensure its products are safe and effective including third-party testing, like the human repeat insult patch test (HRIPT), before OLAPLEX products are made publicly available. The HRIPT is the standard human clinical test used for personal care and pharmaceutical products which follows a strict protocol to ensure the product(s) tested do not cause skin irritation or skin sensitivity on normal skin types. When products pass such a test, it means the product does not cause inflammation or sensitivity. OLAPLEX also conducts testing on sensitive skin for several product lines to further ensure the safety of its products. These results show that the products have no irritant or sensitizing potential.

Further clinical testing is done on the hair itself to measure the response and effectiveness of OLAPLEX products to fortify hair and relink broken bonds at the molecular level. OLAPLEX utilizes third-party factories to manufacture their products, all of which comply with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). GMP ensures that products are manufactured according to high standards for safety and quality control in the industry. As part of their compliance with GMP, OLAPLEX’s contracted factories have robust cleaning and sanitation programs to ensure that the production lines are clean of any contaminants.

What’s Next for the Brand

As the largest independent haircare brand and #1 Professional bond-building brand*, OLAPLEX continues to test boundaries by creating new incredible innovations that clean and style hair, repair damage, and protect hair against daily stressors. Just a few short weeks ago, the brand launched its No.5P Blonde Enhancer Toning Conditioner, inspired by OLAPLEX’s No.4 & No.5 — the #1 best-selling prestige shampoo and conditioner.** Its new No.5P conditioner locks in brightness and neutralizes unwanted yellow for blonde and gray hair.

OLAPLEX can be found in over 100 countries, in professional salons, prestige retailers & e-commerce channels.

To stay up to date with all things OLAPLEX, visit their website. For more, be sure to follow the brand on Instagram and TikTok.

*Source: Kline’s Salon Hair Care Global Series 2022 full-year data based on sales in 28 markets (excluding China). 

**Source: Circana/U.S. Prestige Beauty Total Measured Market, Daily Rinse Shampoo Product Sales, 3 months ending June 2023. Cannot be used in China.

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