You’ve likely seen Living proof and Olaplex products on your social media feed before, or perhaps you’ve seen them at your favorite hair salon. Both are highly sought after, but which brand should you use?
If you're thinking about giving them a try, check out this comprehensive guide to find out which cult-favorite hair system is better.
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Living Proof Triple Bond Complex vs Olaplex
As we live our day-to-day lives, our hair is subject to damage. Even if you don’t do anything to your hair aside from washing and conditioning it, it's still susceptible to natural breakage. It gets damaged from the sun, it gets damaged as it grows, and it gets damaged from other things like dying it and styling it. That’s why it’s *so* important to find a good treatment to repair breakage.
If you've browsed through Living Proof's online store page for the Triple Bond Complex, you'll find plenty of references and comparisons to 'the leading bond builder'. They never explicitly say who or what this is, but it's relatively safe to assume that they're referring to Olaplex (especially after digging through the cited NPD data). And if they are, they've made some pretty bold claims.
In particular, the statement: "stylists prefer Triple Bond Complex over the leading bond builder" got us excited. We love a bit of competition. But is there any truth to this assertion?
Anecdotally, yes, the jaw-dropping side-by-sides tell a lot of the tale in this regard. This video showcasing the relative strengths of hair after treatment is also very convincing from a more scientific standpoint.
Speaking of science, let's zoom in on a molecular level for a second. Olaplex boasts their patented "Bond Building Technology", while Living Proof boasts their patent-pending "3D Fortifying Technology". Both sets of 'technologies' are more or less the same thing, though: they're molecules which build bonds.
Olaplex's molecule builds an ionic and covalent bridge between sulfur hydrogen bonds to form disulfide bonds, whereas Living Proof's supposedly builds ionic, covalent, *and* hydrogen bonds. The result? Stronger hair strands!
The Living Proof Triple Bond Complex is scientifically proven to make hair 8x stronger. Olaplex doesn't offer a comparable stat (how convenient), only that when used in combination with No. 0 it offers 68% more repair and 3x stronger hair. Read into that what you will.
From our point of view, the Triple Bond Complex is the new champion. Although there's not enough quantifiable evidence to objectively pass over the 'bond building' crown, the linked comparison video and photo is damning enough of Olaplex.
Combine that with the fact that Living Proof's treatment also contains color-protecting oils and an emollient blend to enhance softness and shine, you bet we've already lined our shopping baskets with the stuff.
Living Proof vs Olaplex Repair Mask
In the context of hair care, a 'mask' implies to cover or conceal damage. This is as opposed to a 'treatment' which acts as an actual solution to the underlying problem. In essence, you'll want to be using *both* rather than one or the other.
The Olaplex No. 3 and the Living Proof Restore Repair Mask are both hair masks meant to repair your hair from damage, and prevent new breakage. Both masks are put on wet hair and made with organic ingredients, leading to a soft, shiny, enviable mane. You’ll see the results after just one use. The two masks - their results, formulation, and usage - are remarkably similar. When choosing between the two, it comes down to optics.
The Olaplex No. 3 is to be used two to three times a week, depending on the level of damage. Since it has to be applied to damp hair, the amount of times it has to be used to see the best results isn’t conducive to most hair-washing schedules. The Olaplex mask also calls for damp or towel-dried hair for use, requiring you to either get in and out of the shower or fuss with an alternative way of rinsing.
The Living Proof Restore Repair Mask only has to be used once a week to see results, and it only has to be left in your hair for five minutes, where the Olaplex mask has to stay in for ten minutes. The Living Proof mask goes straight onto wet hair, and its packaging is specifically designed for in-shower use, making it much more convenient to use.
Living Proof’s mask costs ~$10 more than Olaplex’s, but you get twice as much product. This, combined with the convenience of the use, makes the Living Proof Restore Repair Mask the better purchase.
Living Proof vs Olaplex Shampoo
A great shampoo is one that effectively cleanses your hair fibres whilst delivering special care for any specific hair concerns you might have (e.g. volume, shine, moisture, etc.). I don't think there's a single person out there that would dispute the fact that Living Proof and Olaplex shampoos are some of the best in this regard, and there are dozens to choose from. Fundamentally, though, there are a few key differences to note.
Olaplex and Living Proof also both have shampoos to address damage and breakage. The Olaplex No. 4 works by repairing the bonds in your strands, restoring hair from the inside out. It’s hydrating and gives your hair a noticeably better look and feel.
The Living Proof Restore Shampoo is also hydrating and repairing. It strengthens your strands, making them more impervious to new breakage, and it works to make your hair cleaner so you don’t have to wash it as often. Both shampoos can be used every day or every wash, depending on how often you wash your hair, and have the same amount of product for the same price.
Again these products are very similar. It really comes down to personal preference. Both have generally favorable reviews, but Olaplex does not work for everybody. Olaplex’s results are best when you utilize their entire system, but it’s a large investment for something that might not work for your hair. That being said, Olaplex does have a smaller size available for around half the price, making it easy to try out if you are unsure about the product.
Living Proof’s shampoo does everything Olaplex does, but results are also best if you use the entire system. However, the Living Proof system has far fewer products, making it more affordable and simpler to use.
If your hair is significantly damaged, then Olaplex No. 4 is more than worth the investment to restore all parts of your hair - their system has products that will address every type of damage. However, if your hair has minimal damage and you just want to restore its body and sheen, Living Proof is just as effective.
Once again, it depends what you are looking for, but overall we see Living Proof's Restore Shampoo as the winner here, too.
Living Proof vs Olaplex Conditioner
Akin to cleansing your skin, washing your hair is a critical step, but in doing so you are stripping it of moisture, and you need to replace that moisture by using a conditioner—just like you would for your skin with a moisturizer! As far as conditioners go, there's not too many as good as those by Living Proof and Olaplex.
The final product comparison for Olaplex and Living Proof is between their conditioners: the Olaplex No. 5 and the Living Proof Restore Conditioner. Both conditioners guard your hair from breakage, aid in the growing process to give you noticeably longer tresses, are suitable for every hair type, and can be used every day or every wash. Both are made with cruelty-free products and restore your hair’s moisture barrier.
Both products cost the same amount of money and are made with organic ingredients. The two brands are both dedicated to producing eco-friendly products - Living Proof has a recycling program for their empty bottles, and Olaplex saves water and trees and eliminates emissions through their manufacturing.
The Olaplex conditioner, aside from being a conditioner and not shampoo, is not much different from its shampoo. It’s formulated to address breakage the same way as its shampoo, and is to be used just as often.
The Living Proof Restore Conditioner, however, does have more properties to address hair issues than its shampoo, making the two of them a desirable duo to purchase. The Living Proof conditioner is designed to make your hair stay cleaner for longer so you don’t have to wash it as often. I love this about it, because it makes your hair healthier while also making it look better.
Any product that makes it so we don’t have to wash and style our hair as often is a win in our eyes; so, when it comes to conditioners, our choice is Living Proof.
Living Proof vs Olaplex Conclusion
Both Living Proof and Olaplex have big followings - many of their customers use their products exclusively. You really can’t go wrong with either, but Living Proof offers far more products to choose from than Olaplex. No matter what you decide to buy from either of these brands, though, you’ll have salon-fresh hair after every use.
Living Proof Best-Sellers
Work in progress
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This post was originally published on 28th February 2022. Last updated 7th April 2023.