By Victoria Moorhouse
Updated Sep 07, 2018 @ 1:00 pm
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You can get your hands on Olaplex without stealing it from your colorist's stash. The answer is Olaplex 3 — the at-home version of the in-salon hair treatment designed to prevent and repair damage that comes along with dyeing or bleaching. So how exactly does Olaplex 3 stop your hair from snapping off?

It's a pretty similar process to how the original Olaplex (the one you can only get in a salon) works, so let's start with a little refresher. The professional-only products (Olaplex 1 and 2) uses a technology that repairs broken disulphide bonds. These bonds are responsible for holding together the keratin fibers that make up your hair, and they're often broken during a coloring process. The addition of Olaplex, though, helps to rebuild them while your hair is being lifting or processed.

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The at-home treatment is designed to do the very same thing after you've already colored your hair. Instead of a conditioner —which is what many post-dye treatments really are — it's specifically made as a strengthening treatment. So as it sits in your hair, it's working to rebuild those injured disulphide bonds. That, in turn, results in stronger, healthier-looking hair with less breakages and flyaways.

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To use it, you follow nearly the same routine as you would a regular hair mask, except you don't wash your hair first. You go straight to applying it to damp or towel-dried hair.

"Put a quarter-size amount in your hair. Cover all over [your hair] and leave on for an hour or so in the morning," celebrity hairstylist Tracey Cunningham recommends.

Hot tip: Cunningham lets it really sink in while she's having coffee and checking her emails.

After an hour, she'll head to the shower and shampoo and condition it out. While Cunningham likes to let it sit for a full hour, it only really needs 10 minutes minimum to be effective.

For anyone with damaged hair, it's recommended to be used two to three times a week. And while it's really meant to be rinsed out, Cunningham says it can be left in as a styling product to fight frizz — but at $28 a pop, you might want to choose your uses wisely.