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Bond Builders Can Strengthen Damaged, Color-Treated Hair

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When your hair needs some serious strength-training after excess heat styling, color, chemical treatments, consider bond-building hair formulas to be the aggressive, yet effective personal fitness coach your strands need. Praised for nursing even the most damaged strands back to a smoother, healthier state, bond rebuilding formulas have been gaining in popularity in the hair realm—see the astonishing before and after reels on your news feed for proof—and just about every hair type and texture can benefit from their reparative magic.

“Bond repair products work to reconnect the breaks along the x-axis—or the width of hair—to temporarily patch damaged disulfide bonds,” says hairstylist and colorist Linh Phan. “They can actually help to reverse damage from the inside out.” Here, we spoke to pro hairstylists Phan and Christina Carlsson to find out exactly what bond building technology does, which hair types benefit most, and how often you should incorporate bond building products into your routine.


  • Christina Carlsson is a hairstylist and colorist based in the Pacific Northwest, as well as the lead educator and platform artist for Amika. She is the owner of Marquee Salon + Studio in Vancouver, WA, which focuses on creative hair color and craft haircutting.
  • Linh Phan is a hairstylist, colorist, and K18 ambassador. He is the founder of two salons that specialize in color—Phan Haus Salon in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Bescene Studios in Rockville, Maryland.

What Are Bond Builders?

“Bond builders are products that contain bond repairing technology used to reinforce damaged cuticles and prevent future breakage,” says Carlsson. He goes on to say that bond builders can come in the form of multi-step treatments, shampoos, and leave-in creams.

How Do Bond Builders Work?

To understand how bond-building formulas impact hair, it’s key to first understand what happens to your strands when they get damaged. “There are billions of polypeptide chains in a single strand of hair,” says Phan. “When hair gets damaged, the polypeptide chains, or keratin chains, that make up the inner structure—responsible for strength and elasticity—of the strand breaks. As a result, your hair loses the look and feel of healthy hair.”

According to Carlsson, the technology in bond-builders works to repair those damaged keratin chains before the protein in your hair is depleted. “Most bond repair products focus on either broken disulfide bonds or hydrogen bonds, both of which contribute to your hair’s overall strength and health,” she says.

Benefits of Bond Builders

Because bond-building technology works to repair damaged keratin bonds within the hair shaft, you can expect to see a smoother, softer appearance, less split ends, reduced frizz, and less breakage with continued use. Additionally, bond builders play well with any color treatments, as they actively work to repair the bonds broken during the lifting process. “The K18 bond repair salon service includes a Molecular Repair Mist + Molecular Repair Mask, which allows me to take my clients to the brightest vivids and get super creative without damaging hair,” Phan says. “I use it for everything from a root touch up, all the way to a bright color transformation.”

Drawbacks of Bond Builders

While many claim that bond builders can’t be overused, Carlsson stresses that there can be too much of a good thing, particularly if your hair is very damaged. While the bond building technology won’t further damage your hair, over-treating heavily processed hair can result in its own set of issues, like breakage. “Like all good things, moderation is key: Using any hair product in excess, bond builder or not, is never recommended,” she says. “Damaged hair can be extremely upsetting, and it’s not unheard of to binge-buy every bond repair product on the market in a moment of panic. The best approach here is to consult with a professional hairstylist and develop a customized bond-building routine that addresses your specific hair needs.”

Who Should Use Them?

Carlsson notes that all hair types and textures can use bond builders, but color and chemically-treated strands that are prone to dryness and damage will see the most significant results.

What to Expect

According to Carlsson, bond building formulas work both instantly and in the long run, so while you’ll have immediate results after your first use, the impact will get better and better with time and regular applications, especially if you do a fair amount of heat-styling, coloring, or chemical treatments. “While not all types of damage can be fixed every time, the first application will target all salvageable broken bonds, and immediately help to prevent further breakage,” she says. “With regular use over time, those same bond building products will continue to improve your hair’s overall health, reduce frizz and increase strength.”


As mentioned, bond builders can come in many different forms. Formulas can range anywhere from $10 to $75.

The Final Takeaway

Even if you don’t get regular color treatments and don’t do a ton of heat-styling, everyday factors like exposure to the sun, heat-styling, or brushing your strands too roughly can compromise the bonds within your hair shaft1, so incorporating bond-strengthening formulas into your routine can help to minimize varying forms of damage, while promoting a shiny, healthy, frizz-free appearance. The end result is even more significant if your hair needs some extra TLC—namely, some reprieve from heat-styling, color sessions, or chemical treatments. However, if your strands are especially damaged, make sure to consult with a professional first to figure out the bond building formula best suited for you, and advise on how often you should be using it.

See some of our favorite bond building formulas, below.

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Amika The Kure Multi-Task Repair Treatment

Amika’s The Kure Multi-Rask Repair Treatment

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Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector

Your entire TikTok feed sings the praises of this bond-building treatment to the tune of whichever sound happens to be trending at the moment, and with good reason. The No. 3 Hair Treatment is the iconic formula you’ve heard about, but all products within the Olaplex range are infused with bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, which is the patented ingredient the brand uses to repair damaged bonds. “The special technology has the ability to realign and restore the hair bonds, and seal the hair’s outer cuticle layer,” says celebrity colorist Bianca Hillier. “The ingredient works two-fold to protect the hair from damage, while simultaneously also being able to re-link the disulfide bonds back together.”

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K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Mask

Designed as a leave-on mask you apply after shampooing, K18 works to repair damage on a molecular level, targeting and mending the broken bonds within your hair shaft. “The bioactive peptide is the perfect molecular structure and size to fit in and reconnect broken keratin chains, and because it mimics the structure of your amino acid sequences, your hair recognizes it as natural,” says Phan. Since the treatment isn’t meant to be rinsed out, you have a protective veil over your strands until your next shampoo, and with continued use, you can expect to see less damage and breakage over time.

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Climaplex Strength & Volume Shampoo

With vegan ingredients that help to reduce the impact of climate change, pollutants, and free radicals on your strands, the reparative technology in Climaplex’s Strength & Volume shampoo targets damage on both the inside and outside of the hair cuticle, and can be used on the scalp to remove buildup that hinders new growth. “Climaplex maintains the natural hydration and structure of hair to make it healthier and more manageable,” says Simon Ostler, co-founder of the brand. “The formula, which uses a lipid complex, vegan keratin, and fruit acids works in two stages—first, by reconstructing the disulfide bonds within the hair, and then by rebuilding the outer layer of the cuticle.” Additionally, the absence of silicone in the formula leaves your strands feeling smooth and airy.

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