We're positive you've seen Olaplex on the shelves at your local beauty store or hair salon before, but does its cheaper, lesser-known sister—Pureplex—give it a run for its money?
That's what we'll be finding out today as we compare the two side-by-side. Olaplex vs Pureplex - let’s get into it.
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Olaplex Complete Hair Repair System vs Pureplex Hair Repair System
For anyone with damaged locks (that’s most of us), it’s a good idea to address the damage every once in a while with a hair treatment. Even better, though, would be to stay on top of it by treating your hair regularly with a full hair care system.
For a comprehensive at-home routine for hair in need of some extra love, you have loads of options. Two of the most popular systems (at complete opposite ends of the price spectrum) are The Complete Hair Repair System by Olaplex and the Pureplex Hair Repair System, each containing a shampoo, conditioner, and several other nourishing treatments to restore your hair's health and lustre.
Let's break down each system into their individual steps and compare them one-by-one, starting with the shampoos.
Pureplex Clarifying Shampoo vs Olaplex No.4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo
Pureplex (by Knight & Wilson) and Olaplex both offer cruelty-free and vegan shampoos, which are also sulphate and silicone free. They also both claim to be suitable for all hair types. We'll need to dig a little deeper to figure out which is the more effective of the two.
The Pureplex Clarifying Shampoo is a blend of quality ingredients which help to remove impurities, and is a vital first step in repairing your hair. Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate is the star of the show - providing a deep cleanse without stripping natural oils - whilst Panthenol delivers a much-needed hydration boost. It is suitable for treating all types of hair damage (e.g. from heat, color-treatment, etc.), and also works well by itself if you decide you prefer a more minimal hair care routine. For those that are interested in the full system, the shampoo penetrates deeply so that subsequent products are better absorbed (thereby improving their effectiveness).
The Olaplex Bond Maintenance Shampoo, also known as No4, is ideal for everyday use. It is suitable for all hair types, from thin to curly and regardless of porosity. The shampoo aims to prevent frizz whilst simultaneously protecting from damage and restoring hair to its previous healthy condition. The ingredients list is sulphate-, silicone-, phosphate- and paraben-free, thus enabling us to escape the nasties you would find in other shampoos which secretly damage the strength of our hair. Unfortunately, the biggest size bottle is a mere 250ml, and it is more expensive.
If you have damaged hair and are looking for a gentle reparative shampoo, Olaplex is far and away the better choice based on quality alone. However, if you are searching for a more affordable alternative, the Pureplex shampoo will serve as a reasonable dupe.
Pureplex Conditioner vs Olaplex No.5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner
Conditioner should always be used in conjunction with shampoo, and this rule is certainly no different when it comes to reparative hair care systems.
Pureplex Conditioner is the last step of the hair care system. The goal of first using shampoo is to create an ideal base for the consequent products by purifying the hair, and the treatment prepares and rebuilds it. The role of the conditioner is to hydrate and protect the hair from further damage, as it is the last coat. The conditioner is left in for one minute so that it can be fully absorbed, and is then washed out. It is sulphate free, has a delightful fragrance, and contains Hydrolysed Keratin to rebuild the hair's protein bonds. It is worth noting, though, that the inclusion of fragrance and alcohol in the product could cause dryness and the weakening of strands (the opposite of what we're aiming for!).
Olaplex Bond Maintenance Conditioner, which is No5, moisturizes and repairs your hair thanks to Olaplex's patented bond-building ingredient: Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate. It has a low pH which is optimal in restoring your hair's health since hair is actually naturally meant to be acidic. Unlike Pureplex, it is not the last step. There are other fantastic treatments in Olaplex's repair system to follow-up with such as the bond smoother for ends, and hair serum for shine.
Pureplex Parts 2 & 3 vs Olaplex No.0/No.3/No.8
Treatment is an incredibly broad term in hair care. In general, though, it is applied less often than shampoo and conditioner, but is just as crucial for maintaining healthy and shiny hair, so it shouldn’t be overlooked. So, which types of treatment do both brands offer?
Pureplex has two options for treatment: the first is Bond Protecting Treatment, which is applied evenly after shampoo and is left for 5 minutes to be used as a base for the second treatment (to improve its efficacy). Then, without rinsing, you can apply the second Bond Reconstructing Treatment for 15 minutes - and then rinse. This gives your hair the volume you need for a healthy look, whilst working internally to strengthen the bonds and follicles. Although these treatments are undoubtedly restorative and have emollient properties, they contain alcohol and so are not entirely optimal for curly or dry hair.
Olaplex treatments are more extensive. A good example of this is the No0 Bond Building Treatment, which should be used with the No3 Hair Perfector up to 3 times per week. It should be used when the hair is already wet, but does not necessarily need to be used after shampoo and conditioner. The reason for using these two products together is to maximize their efficacy, but they each offer fantastic benefits on their own, too. Another fantastic option is the No8 Bond Intense Moisturise Mask, as it only needs to be used once per week and is less hassle (which is appreciated on days when you don’t have the energy for a long haircare session in the shower).
Overall, both Olaplex and Pureplex aid your hair in becoming stronger, looking healthier, and providing inimitable protection. Both brands are largely silicone- and sulfate-free, but Olaplex products contain fewer damaging alcohols and fragrances. It is also more environmentally friendly, saving thousands of trees being cut down as well as preserving water by the gallon. For a hair care system, it is the better choice because it is intense and covers every base. On the other hand, Pureplex is more affordable and is available in larger quantities, which is beneficial for long-term use.
Work in progress
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This article was originally published on August 10th 2022, but it has been reviewed and updated with the latest available information on February 12th 2024 by Sara Mckay, MA.
Calum Torrington is the founder of FemmeNordic. He has worked as a beauty editor since 2020 and employs his analytical background in mathematics to thoroughly scrutinize complex INCI lists. Now, he helps over 1 million people per year to find the best beauty products.