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When Olaplex hit the market in 2014, it introduced the world (or at least those of us who shop at Sephora) to the concept of bond-building technology. In the years since, a slew of similar reparative formulas has hit the market in full force, coming to the rescue to repair the bonds in our strands that get broken down by chemical treatments, heat styling, and environmental factors that cause damage. While many of these products are great, they often require you to slather on a treatment before you hop in the shower (and who can remember to do that?) or set aside time to sit with a hair mask on. Luckily, though, there’s been so much innovation in the space of late that you can now get your bond-building boost through leave-in serums, oils, and sprays.
What is bond-building technology?
Your hair gets its texture, elasticity, and density from keratin protein structures in your hair, and three different types of bonds hold these structures together. “There are disulfide bonds, which give the hair its strength and shape and can be broken by heat and chemical treatments; there are salt/ionic bonds, which are temporary, weak bonds that can be broken when hair is wet or because of a pH imbalance; and there are hydrogen bonds, which are temporary but strong bonds that can be broken by water and heat,” Nassim Belhaq, innovation director at Coco & Eve, previously told Well+Good.
When these bonds are broken, it can lead to hair damage in the form of dryness, breakage, and an overall change in texture—and that’s where bond-building technology comes in. These types of products come in to repair broken bonds, leaving you with smooth, soft, healthy hair. “Prior to bond-building products, you could only repair your hair in the salon,” says Adel Chabbi, a celebrity hairstylist in New York City. “Bond-building technology is fairly new, but has become extremely popular due to its repair abilities.”
When you apply bond-building treatments, they repair the three different types of bonds in your hair.
To experience the best bond-building serums, oils, and sprays, shop some of our favorites below.
8 best bond-building hair treatments
Refresh and strengthen your strands without washing using this dry mask. Just spray on dry hair and brush through immediately before going to bed. Then, wake up, comb, and style. The formula uses bond-building tech and vegan silk extract to repair and softens hair without mess or residue.
Unlike Olaplex’s famed original formula (a rinse-out, pre-shampoo treatment), the brand’s ultra-lightweight styling oil is designed to stay in your strands. It makes hair soft, shiny, and vibrant while strengthening strands and protecting against heat damage. It’s made with bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, an ingredient that finds single sulfur hydrogen bonds and crosslinks them back together to form disulfide bonds. It’s also got nourishing grape seed oil and fermented green tea oil.
This weekly leave-in repair treatment uses 3-D Fortifying Technology, a patent-pending tech that forms a 3D network within strands to build new bonds. It also has encapsulated cellular oil to protect against thermal and UV damage (and the color fading that comes along with them) and a blend of smoothing and softening emollients. After you shampoo and condition, apply it to damp hair and let it sit for 10 minutes before adding heat or additional products.
This leave-in treatment is designed to replace the conditioning step in your wash-day routine. It’s made with the K18Peptide, an ingredient previously used in rug fiber repair, to fuse bonds back together. Apply it after you shampoo, let it sit for four minutes, and follow up with any additional leave-ins and styling products.
Instantly seal split ends, strengthen existing bonds, and repair broken ones with this fortifying treatment. It uses Granrepair Powerbond, a bonding technology that protects, strengthens, and repairs damaged hair; Prodew 500, a moisturizing, strengthening amino acid; antioxidant-rich and protective purified green tea; and more. Every three washes, apply it through the mid-lengths and ends of roughly towel-dried hair, paying close attention to the most damaged areas.
After you shampoo and condition, roughly towel dry your hair and add a few spritzes of this lightweight spray. It repairs, protects, and strengthens damaged hair with Granrepair Powerbond, a bonding technology, Crodasone P, which protects hair from thermal damage and splitting, and Betaine, which conditions hair.
Swap out your conditioner with this leave-in spray. Shampoo, towel dry, and spray from roots to ends. It uses apple acid and styling polymers to penetrate the hair cuticle and repair even damage due by creating new bonds within the hair fiber and providing volume.
This long-lasting heat protectant spray is enhanced with caviar-based tech and algae extract to seal damaged hair cuticles, protect hair from free-radical damage, and restore moisture, elasticity, and shine to hair. Spray it on towel-dried hair.