How Bond-Building Haircare *Actually* Works

March 4, 2022

Photo: ©ohlamour studio / Stocksy

If you regularly heat-style, perm, or dye your hair, you’re probably familiar with the signs of damaged strands: dryness, breakage, split ends, frizz, and—if you’ve really put your hair through the ringer—limp, stretchy strands that feel mushy to the touch. Luckily, in recent years, haircare shelves have been flooded with products designed to repair damaged hair on a molecular level. Bond-building (or bond-repair) haircare—which can include shampoos, conditioners, masks, treatments, and styling products—is often touted as having miraculous reparative qualities for even the most stressed-out tresses. Ahead, we dive into the science behind bond-building hair products to answer the question, “Do they really work?”

How does bond-building haircare work?

Hair is made up of a fiber-like protein called keratin. Chemical bonds hold those keratin cells together, forming the cortex (or inner core) of each strand of your hair. Hot tools, hair dye, chemical treatments, physical styling, and environmental stressors can all weaken or break the bonds that structure hair. Bond-repair products aim to fill in those broken bonds, improving the structural integrity of individual hair fibers. By mending these broken bonds, bond-building treatments can help strengthen, repair, and restore damaged, overprocessed hair.

We suggest:

Raincry Rebuild Bond Repair

IGK Antisocial Overnight Bond-Building Dry Hair Mask

Bumble and bumble. Bond Building Repair Treatment

Who should use them?

Anyone can benefit from bond-building products, no matter your hair type, texture, color, or styling routine. Even natural hair can be weakened by brushing, braiding, UV rays, salt water, chlorine, or other environmental factors. That said, those who frequently bleach, perm, or chemically treat their hair may see the most dramatic results from a bond-repair treatment.

How are they different from protein treatments?

Protein treatments also help restore damaged hair—just in a slightly different way. Proteins temporarily fill in the holes in the protective outer layer of the hair, known as the cuticle. Bond builders, on the other hand, penetrate into the hair’s cortex and work inside the hair. In protecting and reinforcing the hair’s cuticle, protein-rich products help hair hold onto moisture and promote elasticity and strength.

We suggest:

Oribe Hair Alchemy Resilience Shampoo

Oribe Hair Alchemy Resilience Conditioner

Oribe Hair Alchemy Fortifying Treatment Serum

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