To understand this new formulation, we have to look at the anatomy of hair. Each hair strand is made up of bonds that are responsible for its structure, whether its shape, strength, elasticity or shine – basically all the factors that go together to make your mane ooze health. Where other bond-repair formulas only target one or two bonds, Living Proof says this new leave-in treatment goes the extra step, repairing the three bonds found in hair (hydrogen, ionic and covalent).
Put simply, the product works by using a plant-derived and patent-pending molecule that, when activated by heat, penetrates the strands before re-linking the internal bonds and building new ones. The company says the new treatment performs so well that it made hair eight times stronger during clinical studies.
While it works on the inside of the hair strands, from the cortex to the outer cuticle, it also works its magic on the surface layer. Damage to the cuticle makes strands feel rough and dry, you’d see this under a microscope as a raised-scales appearance. The molecule seals these lifted and damaged scales, resulting in smoother, more-manageable locks.
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The complex also works on the water-repellent layer of lipids (known as the F-layer), in which our strand’s cuticles are naturally covered. When this layer of natural conditioner gets damaged, water can get through, causing brittleness, frizz and unmanageability. The emollient blend in the formula mimics the substance, replenishing it and acting as a lubricant, making hair feel soft and silky and giving it a shine.
The multi-layered approach is designed to work for all hair types and levels of damage. The formula isn’t just for repairing severe damage, but preventing it in the first place, by making it more resilient to future damage. By creating new bonds, hair will naturally be stronger and able to contend with the day-to-day factors that cause damage. It also provides heat protection up to 230C and, like the rest of the Living Proof haircare range, you won’t find any silicones, sulphates, parabens, phthalates or formaldehyde.
Living Proof’s triple bond complex also differs from other bond repair treatments when it comes to how you use it. We’re giving it top marks for ease of use, as it couldn’t be simpler to fit into an existing haircare routine, and you only need to use it once a week.
Simply apply after shampooing and conditioning – unlike Olaplex no.3, which can be a faff as a pre-shampoo treatment, and K18’s leave-in mask, where conditioner should be skipped, making combing through unmanageable hair types tricky. You need two to three pumps (depending on hair length) that should be worked through from roots to ends on damp hair. A comb is the easiest way to do this, to ensure even distribution.
Leave the product in for 10 minutes before adding any of your favourite styling products and blow-drying. If you prefer to air-dry, remember the product is heat activated, so do follow it with a blast of heat from your hair dryer.
We’re pleased to report that, if you’re as impatient as our tester and want to see instant results, the Living Proof triple bond complex delivers. From its very first use, we could see the benefits. Previously parched due to bleaching, our strands felt soft to touch and looked shiny and smooth. Add to that an improvement in manageability, getting a brush through without any tugging, and even straightening with stylers took less effort
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After using the product for four weeks, there was a marked improvement yet again on all of the above, as well as in how much stronger our strands felt. The proof was in seeing less fall-out in the hair brush and the shower, where hair-shedding lessened.
But what everyone really wants to know is: is it better than the other bond-repairing treatments out there? When it comes to performance, in one word: no. However, it is up there with them. It’s also another expensive offering, on par when it comes to pricing with Olaplex and K18’s products. You may pay less for Olaplex up front, but when you break it down and take into account how much product you get per bottle and how much product you use per go (in the case of Olaplex that’s a lot more) there are mere pennies between them when it comes to price.
The verdict: Living Proof triple bond complex
All hair types will see the benefit from using this bond complex, but especially those with dry, damaged styles that need TLC. It’s as good as Olaplex and K18 when it comes to leaving hair feeling softer, smoother and more manageable, and over time hair feels stronger too, with our tester benefiting from less fall-out.
It does differ from other products, in that it’s the easiest to use bond-builder we’ve tried. It’s as simple to slot into a hair routine as a leave-in conditioner, you only need to apply it once a week, as the product keeps working until you re-apply. The ideal bond repair for busy people or those looking for a fuss-free, low-maintenance hair-and-beauty routine that works.