OVER the last few years, the only response to messed-up hair from the beauty industry has always been Olaplex.
However, celeb stylist Marianna Ricciardi, who is the fashion deals editor at hotukdeals, notes that the idea of having to splash out a whopping £30 for a bottle of shampoo has never sit right with her.
But Olaplex has become one of the most duped beauty lines of all time with drugstore brands coming left and right with imitation products that promise to do the exact same thing for a fraction of the price – but is it just a lot of marketing fuff or do they actually work?
From Aldi to Primark, Marianna tries five affordable Olaplex dupes that are flying off the shelves…
1 . The INKEY List PCA Bond Repair Hair Treatment VS Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector
Marianna explains that the INKEY List 'PCA Bond Repair Hair Treatment' is a straight dupe for the £28 'Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector.'
However, there's one major difference – at £7.19 on Amazon, it costs about four times less than the "original" one for the same amount (100ml).
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According to the hair whizz, both products claim pretty much the same thing: help to rebuild, protect and strengthen damaged hair bonds for healthier-looking and smoother hair.
She notes how they should both reduce frizz, prevents split ends and improve overall gloss.
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However, Marianna points out that the first obvious difference is the consistency.
"The Olaplex treatment is a lightweight cream formula while the INKEY List one is a spray," she explains.
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"The Olaplex product is advised to be used pre-shampoo while the INKEY List doesn't have specific directions, but I personally prefer using it after I washed my hair, as soon as I am out of the shower with damp hair."
And Marianna has a clear front runner…
"My two cents on these two products: will sound very obvious but I definitely, 100% prefer the Olaplex one," she says.
"It's easy to apply, and I noticed that helped to make my hair feel so much smoother and shinier.
"It's not the lightest texture so make sure to saturate your hair but do not overdo it as sometimes I did and I felt the need to double shampoo."
She goes onto say that the budget 'PCA Bond Repair' has a pretty comparable effect to the 'No.3 Hair Perfector' but warns you really need to "saturate" your hair to see a clear effect.
"This will result in the product running out pretty quickly while with the Olaplex you need a smaller amount as it's a thicker creamy texture," she adds.
"The INKEY List product has nothing wrong per-se but I noticed that my hair has a bit of frizz-fever after using it.
"For this one, Olaplex takes the win!"
2 . Primark Bond Pro Repair Oil VS Olaplex N°7 Bonding Oil
Marianna is a huge fan of the £26.60 Olaplex Bonding oil and despite trying several dupes, believes it's been unmatched for years.
"It's very weirdly light-weight and not excessively greasy and it adds softness and shine to my hair while I style them like no products before," she says.
However, the deal expert does have one big problem with it – it costs more than £25 for 30ml.
So, she decided to try the £4.50 Primark PS…Pro Bond Pro-Repair range which people have been going wild for on TikTok – primarily because the entire range (which consists of three products) costs less than one single Olaplex product.
Despite admitting she had zero expectations when she went in the store to buy it, Marianna decided to do a split hair performance test.
So, on one half of my head she used the Olaplex No.7 Bonding Oil and on the other half, she went with Primark's budget version.
Sharing her findings, she says: "Performance-wise they're definitely not extremely different or miles apart as the Primark Oil does the job."
"But one thing that really put me off it is the consistency.
"While the Olaplex is lightweight and not greasy at all, the Primark one is pretty heavy and definitely thicker.
"I found the application trickier because if you get the product on the 'healthy' part of your hair it'll be really greasy."
She goes on to say that the bottom line is that Primark Oil is 33ml and costs £4.50 while the Olaplex comes slightly smaller at 30ml and costs around £28.
"So, if you're on a budget give Primark a try but remember that just because it looks like Olaplex, it doesn't necessarily work like it," she warns.
3 . Aldi Lacura Bonded Conditioner 250ml VS Olaplex No 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner 250ml
Aldi's Bonded range has gone viral and has sold out online in a matter of hours every time it's been re-stocked.
So Marianna decided to see whether it was all just a bit of a TikTok gimmick…and came to a quick conclusion.
"Let me tell you…these are the best Olaplex dupes I've tried so far," she says.
"The product that impressed me the most from the Aldi range was definitely the £3.99 Lacura Bonded Conditioner.
"It claims to do exactly what the Olaplex No.5 [£21.50] promises: the product is designed to strengthen and repair damaged-looking hair.
"Formulated with conditioning agents and cuticle smoothers, this conditioner helps to hydrate and replenish the scalp with weightless moisture while reducing frizz and increasing shine and manageability."
The hair whizz decided to do the split test again and noted that "both products do exactly the same thing."
She continues: "I couldn't spot any relevant difference in terms of texture and performance and if you saw my hair after the wash, you really wouldn't be able to tell that I used two different products.
"Considering that we're talking the same amount of product (both come in a 250ml bottle), the resemblance is uncanny."
4. Revolution Haircare London, Plex 4 Bond Shampoo VS Olaplex No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo
Marianna explains that the £28 Olaplex No.4 shampoo is probably one of their most famous and best-selling products all over the world.
"It's considered good for frequent washes and ideal for hair that has been exposed to frequent colouring, bleaching, chemical treatments and heat styling delivering moisture without weighing your lengths down," she says.
However, the hair guru goes on to say how she hears a lot of chit-chat about the £7 Plex 4 Bond Shampoo by Revolution, so she gave it a try.
And according to Marianna, there's a reason for the price difference…
"The Olaplex shampoo leaves my hair feeling softer and 'replenished' if I can get away with the term, while the Revolution one left my hair feeling pretty brittle and dry after using so this one is a bit of a no for me," she says.
5. L'Oréal Paris Elvive Bond Repair Pre-Shampoo Treatment VS Olaplex No.3 Hair Perfector
Marianna concludes by comparing L'Oreal's £7.50 'Bond Repair Pre-Shampoo Treatment' (200ml) with the £28 Olaplex 'No.3' (100ml).
"Big win for L'Oreal on this one!" she notes.
She goes on to explain that like the Olaplex, L'Oreal's replica is an intensive rinse-off treatment – adding that the first step of their new Bond Repair hair care routine is to be used before shampooing.
"The formula is powered by Citric Acid Complex and targets weak hair bonds," she continues.
"It claims to do pretty much the same thing as Olaplex and boy it delivers."
According to the hair guru, the outcome using these two products has been "pretty much exactly the same."
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She continues: "I used the Elvive treatment always following the 5 minutes instruction, but on one occasion I left it for about 10-15 minutes, and I liked the end result a lot more.
"So my advice would be to leave it on a little bit longer."
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