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The 5 Best Bond Treatments to Repair Your Hair

Bond building hair treatments are widely known in the beauty world as the answer to treating damaged, over-heat-styled, over-chemically-processed hair. Sometimes a deep conditioner or hair mask isn’t enough: a protein-rich bond builder works to repair hair that’s been majorly devastated by bleach or excessive heat-styling by linking broken protein bonds in the hair both during and after chemical services to make your hair stronger. And chances are, if you’ve ever highlighted your hair or used a flat iron, you could probably use a protein bond-building hair treatment. 

A bond building hair treatment is especially essential if you plan on lightening up your locks again without doing even more harm. Over-bleaching can lead to spongy, rubber-band like locks and split ends that are extra-prone to breakage and straight-up falling off. In fact, colorists often use bond builders as a bleach or lightener additive in order to prevent damage. Bond builders make your hair shiny and manageable, repairing each strand from the inside out.

Types of hair bonds

At the base level, bond repair products use chemistry to repair chemical bonds in your hair, targeting three types of chemical bonds:

  • Hydrogen bonds: Hydrogen and salt bonds in your hair are physical side bonds, meaning they can be easily broken by water or heat damage. Hydrogen bonds are responsible for about one third of your hair’s total strength.
  • Salt bonds: The second type of physical bond responsible for another third of your hair’s total strength, salt bonds can be broken by strong alkaline or acidic solutions because they’re affected by changes in pH.
  • Disulfide bonds: While hydrogen and salt bonds are physical side bonds, disulfide bonds are chemical side bonds. While they cannot be broken by water or heat damage, things like chemical hair relaxers or perm treatments can chemically alter the hair’s disulfide bond.

Wet hair Davines shampoo shower

When do you need bond treatments?

Now that we’ve discussed an overview of what bond treatments are, let's look at some common times that getting one can be beneficial to your hair. While bond treatments can be used by all hair types, these are some situations when they’re most needed:

After highlights or hair color

You don’t need platinum blonde hair to benefit from a bond treatment. Bleach used in lightening services strips the hair of its natural pigment, which can mean brittle and dry hair. That’s why many stylists will send their clients home with a bond-building treatment after a color session to help repair and maintain the overall health of the hair.

After a salon chemical treatment

When you go to get a perm or chemical relaxer, it breaks the chemical bonds that keep your hair healthy. Talk to your stylist about using a bond-building product after your next salon visit to keep your hair looking and feeling its best.

After flat ironing or heat styling

We know that certain bonds in your hair can be broken by heat damage, and if you heat style too frequently (or at a high enough temperature) even the best heat protectant products might not be enough. Add in a bond treatment into your hair care routine and see if you notice a difference in its overall health.

If your hair is prone to breakage

Since bond-building products can be used on all hair types and textures, it might be a good idea to work one into your routine if you’re prone to dryness, breakage and damage. But like we mentioned above, consider speaking with your stylist to see what products or routines they recommend you follow.

How do bond treatments work?

Let's break it down to science. Your hair is made mostly of a protein called keratin. Inside keratin are copies of the amino acid (which are the building blocks of protein), cysteine. Cysteine bonds with other cysteine copies forming disulphide bonds. These tiny bonds are what hold the protein together and give it strength. This is the most important bond in human hair as it accounts for as much as 95% of your hair’s overall strength and toughness. However, it is easily broken when a substance of a pH of 5.5 or greater is applied. A common part of all bond-building treatments are the inclusion of amino acids — they work similarly to how keratin and protein treatments do, strengthening your hair with naturally-occurring ingredients — but on a much deeper level. Amino acids can work deeper into the hair shaft itself, past the cuticle and repairing the cortex.

During the perming, coloring, bleaching, and straightening processes, the chemicals break down the disulfide bonds and harden them into a new shape, resulting in what we call hair damage. Bond building hair treatments work to not only reconnect those bonds, so your hair is physically stronger, but create a glossy, healthy-looking seal over the hair protecting it from future damage from hot tools or root touch-ups. 

Davines Liquid Spell amino acid repair hair treatment

The 5 best bond treatment products

Ready to start improving the health of your hair? Find the right bond-building hair treatment product for you:

  • The Nourishing Hair Building Pak from our Naturaltech line is a reparative and deeply nourishing treatment designed to restructure, repair and care for the hair shaft. The Nourishing line is infused with both a bond-rebuilding Hair Protective Booster to repair structural damage and restore disulfide bonds, and vegetal keratin to keep strands shiny and soft. The Nourishing family helps deliver moisture and protein to super porous strands that are resistant to absorbing nutrients, and therefore prone to further breakage. The family contains phytoceuticals extracted from grapes, rich in polyphenols and antioxidants.
  • Liquid Spell Reinforcing Bodifying Fluid is a heat-activated amino acid hair treatment that transforms sensitized or fine hair, and is an amazing product to use before blow-drying your hair. It strengthens and compacts the hair structure, giving vitality and body to the hair, making it look healthier, silkier and naturally-shiny from the inside out. Ingredients like citric acid, soy and wheat amino acids work together to give you impressively beautiful hair.
  • Of other bond treatment products available, Olaplex No. 3 Hair Perfector is probably the most well-known. It’s noted for being a good choice to help repair hair that has been damaged by bleaching, dyeing and excessive use of heat tools. Vegan and sulfate-free, it’s been shown to noticeably repair damaged hair.
  • Redken Acidic Perfecting Leave-In Treatment for Damaged Hair: the citric acid in this product is what helps to repair and strengthen broken bonds. Use it on towel-dried hair to heat-style your way to noticeably healthier locks (as it also includes thermal protection).
  • Color and keratin-safe, Amika the Kure Bond Repair Conditioner is a replacement for your traditional conditioner, using vegan protein and plant butter to help repair damaged hair. You can also pair it with a matching shampoo for a double dose of bond repair.

Final thoughts on bond-building treatments

If you’re confused about where to start with bond-building treatments, we’d suggest beginning by speaking with your hairstylist before you go on a wild Amazon search. They’ll be able to make a recommendation based on your hair type, styling and coloring frequency, and it’s current condition, without you having to try a bunch of different things to see what works. But you can’t go wrong with our Naturaltech Nourishing line or Liquid Spell Reinforcing Bodifying Fluid — made in our in-house laboratories in Parma, Italy, you can be confident that you’re treating your hair to something made by an ethical, sustainable company. If you have any additional questions on how to repair chemically damaged hair or how to fix frizzy hair, check out our past blog posts to give you more information on essential hair care tips. And if you have any additional bond repair products that have worked for your hair (or other general lifestyle tips to keep your locks healthy), be sure to let us know in the comments below!

by Lauren Hannel (staff contributor) and Jaclyn LaBadia (featured contributor)

Photos by @goldandglowco

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