So, you've decided you want to try one of Redken's best-selling systems for damaged hair, but you can't quite figure out what the differences are? We've all been there, don't worry!
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Redken Extreme vs Acidic Bonding Concentrate
First and foremost, it's worth noting that even Redken themselves struggle to articulate the differences between the two. In their words, the Acidic Bonding Concentrate "[is] designed to help protect and [repair] hair", while Extreme "helps to treat damage and combat future types of damage".
Honestly, this just sounds like two different ways of saying the exact same thing. Fortunately there is a simple explanation, though.
The short version is that while they're both intended for damaged hair, the Extreme range is for all types of damaged hair, and the Acidic Bonding Concentrate range is specifically for processed, damaged hair (e.g. color-treated or heat-styled hair).
The long version involves a deeper dive into their formulas:
Extreme products are formulated with Redken's "Strength Complex", a combination of Amino Acids and Arginine (a type of Amino Acid). Amino Acids help to protect and strengthen your hair strands, reducing breakage and enabling them to hold on to more moisture.
Acidic Bonding Concentrate products instead contain Redken's "Bonding Care Complex", which is essentially just Citric Acid (as far as we can tell). Citric Acid helps to balance the pH of your hair, stabilizing the ionic bonding within your hair strands, consequently defending against the negative effects of hair coloring, heat styling tools, and even water.
In practice, the Extreme system offers 73% reduction in breakage (when you follow the entire routine), and the Acidic Bonding Concentrate system offers 56% less breakage, 82% less visible split ends, 11x smoother hair, and color fade protection.
So, they're incredibly similar regarding outcome (the strengthening of hair strands at a molecular level), but very different in the actions they take to achieve those outcomes (in accordance with the types of damage they're treating).
To reiterate, when deciding between the two, it mainly comes down to the nature of your hair's damage. The pH-balancing formula of the Acidic Bonding Concentrate will greatly benefit hair damaged caused specifically by color-treatment or heat-styling, whereas the protein-packed formula of the Extreme system helps to treat all types of damage.