Courtesy of Shahirah Ahmed

I Tried Olaplex On My Natural Hair For 30 Days & Here's What Happened

Was the popular hair-care line worth the hype?

I Tried It

I’m learning the importance of trusting my instinct, especially when it comes to aspects of life I take pride in maintaining. In 2018, I committed to achieving healthy hair which began with freeing myself of unwanted and excessive damage caused by years of straightening. I remember the day of my big chop—a weight lifted from my shoulders. I felt a mix of both excitement and relief as my dead ends fell to the floor. As part of my promise to take care of and nourish my hair, I vowed to never make the same mistake twice, refraining from heat entirely.

While faithfully dedicated to my kinky texture, I became curiously anxious to do a length check four years later. I’d be lucky to enjoy straight hair for 3 to 4 days. What could go wrong? I knew I would either hate my straight hair or love it, but never did I think it would be the last time seeing my curls fully intact. As predicted, after less than a week of straight hair my curls began to revert, slowly returning to their natural state—or what was left of it. My once carefully defined curls were no longer existent. Devastated, I took to social media to express my shock and frustration for going against my “no heat” rule. Immediately after posting a clip of my damaged hair, I received messages suggesting I use the Olaplex hair repair treatment to improve the look of my hair.

Courtesy of Shahirah Ahmed

Devastated, I took to social media to express my shock and frustration for going against my “no heat” rule. Immediately after posting a clip of my damaged hair, I received messages suggesting to use the brand Olaplex’s hair repair treatment to improve the look of my hair.

Within those 24 hours, I received several messages from women with a range of textures claiming this brand is an absolute game-changer when repairing hair to its proper state. Surprised by the number of recommendations raving about the positive results of the products, I was desperate to try anything with reviews from people I know in real life.

Does Olaplex Help Repair Damaged Hair?

My curls before using Olaplex.

Courtesy of Shahirah Ahmed

Olaplex is a patented system to treat extreme damage using technology that restores compromised hair by repairing it from the inside out. Within our hair, bonds provide structure, strength, and stability. When broken, these bonds become weak and the result can be flat, dull, and unflattering.

There are several causes of damage, including destructive hair habits, hot tools, chemicals, dye, and styling. Olaplex uses a patented single ingredient, bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, which helps build bonds, and in alignment, you have healthy and beautiful hair. From curly hair to stick straight, the brand states it's suitable and beneficial for all hair types, so I decided to try it for myself.

Olaplex First Impressions

My curls after one week of using Olaplex.

Courtesy of Shahirah Ahmed

In all honesty, I was a bit skeptical of the blanket claim to help all hair types (even kinky curls like mine). Not all hair care is created equal. Starting off, I purchased the No. 0 Intensive Bond Building Treatment ($28/5.2 fl oz) and No.3 Hair Perfector ($28/3.3 fl oz). Because they were a pricey investment, I was hopeful each bottle was worth every penny.

The No. 0 Intensive Bond Building Treatment is a two-part at-home treatment for damaged hair created to absorb nourishment when used along with No. 3 Hair Perfector, 1 to 3 times per week. Considering the size of both bottles and the amount of repair I was in need of, I decided to apply the products twice per week.

Is Olaplex Worth It?

My curls after week four of using Olaplex.

Courtesy of Shahirah Ahmed

I didn't see much progress after the first week, but nothing great happens overnight. Not to be discouraged, I continued with the duo seeing a slight yet recognizable return of my natural curl pattern appearing in week two after the fourth application. By week three, I began to see texture reappear where curly strands had previously been completely lifeless and flat.

My curls after four weeks of using Olaplex.

Courtesy of Shahirah Ahmed

After week four, I noticed not only had most of my curls come back to life, but my hair also appeared more hydrated, more full. My curls were more defined than ever before. While there are still damaged areas in need of improvement, I’m convinced that continued and consistent use of Olaplex products will allow my curls to be at their peak.

A game-changer revolutionizing the hair industry, these are products that should remain in our hair-care collections at all times.

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Featured image courtesy of Shahirah Ahmed

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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