Is L'Oréal Professionnel Smartbond the New Olaplex?

Sarah Kinonen, Lexi Novak
Allure
Is L'Oréal Professionnel Smartbond the New Olaplex?

By Sarah Kinonen, Lexi Novak. Photos: Courtesy of Brand.

If you bleach your hair, you're probably well-versed in Olaplex. Sure, you might not know exactly how the magic strengthening treatment works to repair your stripped strands, but you know if you don't use it at least once a week, you'll never hear the end of it from your colorist. But now, thanks to L'Oréal Professionnel Smartbond, renewing your color-treated hair just got a whole lot more accessible.

L'Oréal Professionnel Smartbond, a two-part, in-salon treatment that protects and strengthens hair during the coloring and/or lightening process, is touted to brighten, soften, and smooth dyed hair over time, whereas the in-salon (and at-home) Olaplex system rebuilds the damaged disulphide bonds (the stuff that gives your hair elasticity) that are broken during the chemical process.

Although both treatments sound super-similar, as both work inside the hair shaft to renew colored-treated strands, there are still vast differences between the two, says cosmetic chemist Joseph Cincotta.

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"[With the Smartbond system], the malic acid is added to the color and absorbs into the hair shaft [during the chemical process," says Cincotta. "It does not react with the broken bonds in any way as the Olaplex—it acts as a lubricant between protein chains to make hair not as brittle and to give it more elasticity. It does not restore strength to hair."

Olaplex, on the other hand, works via chemical reaction to rebuild strength by mending disulfide bonds, according to Cincotta. "When you go through the coloring process, some of the bonds that are responsible for the strength of the hair are broken," he says, "and once they’re broken, the hair loses strength and is more susceptible to breakage."

Basically, both services work to treat the hair from the inside, but offer two completely different treatments: Smartbond improves elasticity and softness, and Olaplex rebuilds strand strength.

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Because Olaplex is already trusted in the hair-color world (Hollywood's top colorists, including Tracey Cunningham, who works with Emma Stone, Lily Aldridge, and more, swears by the stuff), L’Oréal Professional had more than 700 stylists and colorists, including "lived-in color" master Johnny Ramirez, test the stuff during development. The result? Nothing less than a few praise hand emojis.

"Smartbond really helps me achieve any color correction without drying or damaging the hair in any way, shape, or form," says Ramirez. "It makes the hair soft and strengthens the hair and doesn’t slow the [coloring] process down at all." According to Ramirez, Smartbond can also be [added to gloss to condition the hair. "A lot of the time, you have all these other products that you mix with your bleach or glosses, and they move the color sometimes," he says. "Smartbond doesn't move the color at all."

For those who are looking to brighten and smooth recently dyed strands, beginning this month, L'Oréal Professionnel Smartbond services will be available in salons, starting at $25. Can't wait to try it at home? You'll have to wait until January, once the take-home treatment becomes available for $28.

This story originally appeared on Allure.

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