Product ingredient analysis

Was checking out a product at work which is basically wellas answer to olaplex called, wait for it....'Wellaplex" and was curious about the ingredient list.

Water, Malic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Propylene Glycol, Quaternium-80, Centrimonium Chloride, Coceth-10, Sodium Sulfite, PEG-35 Castor Oil, Sodium Carbonate, Ethylhexlglygerin, Disodium EDTA, Tocopherol.

To me there does seem to really be anything special here, olaplex have their patented ingredient Bis-Aminopropyl Diglycol Dimaleate but it seems to me wella have just put a bunch of conditioning agents together that would somewhat protect the hair but isn't anything special or re-bonding like the Olaplex, what do you guys think? 

There is also one of those "Brazilian blowout" type smoothing treatments that i had a look at thats meant to have long lasting (up to 3 months) smoothing effects similar to a blowdry and the second ingredient on this one after water is Glyoxylic Aci, is it something about these acids maybe that are creating a good enough effect that people are buying into them or is it all just smoke and mirrors?


  • chemistry8303chemistry8303 Member
    edited December 2020
    You're right, To me there are just bunch of conditioning agents .
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @qwerty - the assumption you're making here is that the Olaplex product does anything noticeable to consumers beyond hair conditioning or even that the Brazillian Blowout actually lasts longer than if someone just straightened their hair and didn't wash it as often.

    The Wella strategy may be taking advantage of the fact that these products don't actually work in any meaningful way that consumers can tell.   

    Just because brands have patents or treatments are done at salons doesn't mean they are providing real benefits. They could just be part of the marketing story.
  • @Perry

    I thought the olaplex at least had some kind of ability to temporarily re-link broken disulfide bonds in the hair as long a you were using the product continuously? 

    With the brazilian blowout treatments etc it seems like they all use formaldehyde in them, seeing as all the other ingredients seem to just be various types of conditioning agents etc i assuming the formaldehyde is the ingredient that is making the difference here? What exactly does this stuff do the the hair?
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist

    The active ingredient in the Brazilian Blowout is Glyoxilic Acid ... it funcitons to break disulfide bonds to aid in straightening the hair.

    Similarly, the Olaplex active ingredient breaks disulfide bonds and insert a long "bridge" between newly formed disulfide bonds giving the hair a softer appearance.

    It does not appear that the Wellaplex product would do much of anything at all.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details
  • chemicalmattchemicalmatt Member, Professional Chemist
    @qwerty ; Actually @MarkBroussard is half-correct. The sodium sulfite in there will reduce cystine disulfide links in keratin, like thiols but slower. That is Old School hair straightening. The presence of sulfite and malic acid is curious but can't say how or why. I generally trust those German chemists, so this is a crude hack of Olaplex. BTW, malic acid is a chief constituent in apple cider vinegar that many people swear strengthens and glossifies their hair. 

  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    @qwerty - This is the story that Olaplex tells and they were convincing enough to the people at the patent office to be granted a patent on the technology. Of course, getting a patent is not the same as proving something scientifically correct. Patents aren't science. Getting one is more about convincing a non-subject expert patent clerk of the value of your invention than it is about proving the science.

    Anyway, I'm not actually making any judgement on whether the product does what it says it does or not. I have no reason to think that it doesn't but I remain highly skeptical about whether what it does actually has a noticeable impact. The fact that they so heavily market the product suggests that it doesn't work quite as miraculously as they portend.

    But what I said was these products do not do "anything noticeable to consumers beyond hair conditioning..."

    Unless there are dramatic changes, consumers just aren't very good at noticing. A consumer can't actually tell a difference between their hair treated with a good conditioner or one treated with Olaplex. So, Wella could just be making a good conditioner and dressing it with some plausible science story. If it works for Olaplex, it will probably work for them too.

  • @Perry Mmm very interesting stuff, I know a lot of the success of olaplex is the marketing, i think once i can get my hand on some again I might try and rig up some crude experiments and see if i can put it to the test. 

    @MarkBroussard Do you know if Glyoxilic Acid is something you could put in a regular condition or treatment or something like that at a lower level to help with smoothing without having an expensive in salon treatment like the Brazilian blowouts etc

    @chemicalmatt what does reducing cystine disulfide links do exactly? Wouldnt that make the hair more fragile rather than conditioning or "strengthening" it? 
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