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The best bond repair hair treatments to heal damaged hair

September 27th 2021 / Melanie Macleod / 0 comment


If your hair is dull and dry, a bond repair treatment could be exactly what you need to restore it to its glossy, strong glory

If your hair looks dry and dull or is extra frizzy, chances are you’ve damaged your hair bonds. Hair bonds are what give your hair strength, elasticity and shine and everything from heat styling to colouring, to brushing and pollution can cause the bonds to break. Luckily they can be repaired, with bond repair hair treatments working from the outside in to help repair and strengthen the bonds. Rather than simply hydrating like many hair masks, bond repair treatments work to heal the hair.

How often should I use a bond repair hair treatment?

This depends on the condition of your hair. “If you have hair that is weak and prone to breakage, or you do a lot of heat styling you should try to use a bond maintaining shampoo and conditioner every time you wash, plus a deeper reparative treatment once a week,” says stylist and hair colouring expert Samantha Cusick, who recently opened her second salon in central London. “If your hair is generally healthy and you just want to make sure it stays that way, weekly bond-building masks are great for this.”

You can’t actually see broken bonds, as they occur in the inner layer of the hair, but Samantha tells us that dry, damaged or chemically treated hair more than likely has bonds that have been broken, showing themselves as coarse, dry, frizzy hair with breakage.

How long do bond repair hair treatments take to work?

The good news is they get to work right away. Each time you use bond repairing hair care, the condition of your hair will improve with each use, says Redken educator Jack Cunningham-Rose.

According to Olaplex, it takes ten minutes to repair a broken bond, so be sure to leave treatments on for at least that long

We tried out bond repair hair treatments on colour and heat damaged hair to see which ones worked to make it shinier and frizz-free. Here’s what we found

Best for heat styling: Redken Acidic Perfecting Concentrate Leave-in Treatment, £18.25


This launched earlier this year, alongside shampoo and conditioner, all designed to target weakened bonds of processed hair. Redken users reported 56 per cent less breakage while using this, while split ends appear reduced by up to 78 per cent and hair is shinier and less frizzy. It’s designed to be applied to damp hair post-wash. You only need a little bit (about as much serum as you’d apply to your face) and it contains citric acid which helps protect the weak bonds. It smells like salon haircare and our tester found it made her hair smoother and bouncier after one use, plus her hair was easier to comb through while wet once this was on, making it feel more elastic in a good way. It protects the hair from up to 230-degree heat, so stops further damage from occuring too.

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Best bond repair mask: Olaplex No.8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask, £26


Our tester applied this the first time she washed her hair post-bleach and was impressed by how easily it soothed her distressed tresses, which normally tangle up like a birds nest the first time she washes post-colour. It works to reinforce fragile bonds to make the hair look smooth and shiny, with avocado and hemp oil to nourish. You need to leave it on for ten minutes for it to get to work, so not one to use if you’re in a rush. Samantha suggests using this to maintain freshly coloured hair from home, or to top up hair that’s had an Olaplex treatment in salon. It’s a fairly thick mask and it soothes the hair cuticle for that smoothed look, but it doesn’t feel heavy on the hair.

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Best budget hair bond treatment: The Inkey List PCA Bond Repair Hair Treatment, £12.99


Just like all of The Inkey List’s hair care, this is pleasingly affordable and just as high performing as you’d expect from the brand. It’s a lightweight leave-in mist that helps to rebuild damaged lengths with a hair strengthening compound that works on the hair shaft, improving shine and helping prevent future split ends. You need about ten sprays if you have shoulder-length hair, like our tester, and while the nozzle is a bit stiff and difficult to use, it’s well worth it in terms of manageability and smoothness.

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Best quick fix bond repair treatment: Amika The Kure Multi-Task Repair Treatment, £23


If you fell in love with hair waters earlier this year, this light treatment will be right up your street. It has the texture of slightly thick water and glides through hair with that unmistakable fresh Amika scent. You use it after shampoo and conditioner and rinse it out after one minute, though if your hair is extra damaged you can leave it in to give hair an extra layer of protection. It’s made from a blend of plant butter, including mango butter extract, shea butter and borage oil and adheres to damaged areas of the hair to make them more resilient (just like hair waters do). It also includes castor oil, which is known to be a BFF to damaged hair for stronger locks.

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Best vegan bond repair treatment: Aveda Botanical Repair Strengthening Leave-In Treatment, £28


This took six years in the making and is designed to strengthen and repair damaged hair with plant-derived technology, working on three layers of the hair to protect from the inside out. It’s silicone-free and sulphate free too and vegan. It has a gel-cream texture that mimics the outer layer of the hair to create a protective shield that makes the hair five times stronger but is lightweight and undetectable when you apply it. You apply this to damp hair like you would a blow-dry cream and it melts in, making a sort of veil of protection, providing heat protection up to 230 degrees and UV protection too. Our tester found her hair was instantly smoothed but did find herself using a lot as it’s lightweight so you feel the need to keep smoothing it on.

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Best bond treatment for split ends: Philip Kingsley Bond Builder Split End Remedy, £26


Split ends are a sure-fire way to ensure your hair never looks polished, luckily this bond builder from trichologist Philip Kingsley is here to save the day. It’s a light but creamy formula that you smooth through the lengths of your hair to bond the splits back together. Obviously the only way to banish split ends for good is to chop them off, but this minimises the appearance, working on the cuticle itself and the outer layer. It seals and strengthens weak strands without weighing them down. Our tester has an overly styled and coloured fringe and this worked like magic to make it look less brittle at the ends, without looking greasy. It fuses the damaged bonds together, shrink wrapping them for a much healthier hair look.

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