Saturday, March 30, 2024

Hair Bonding Product List and More

"Hair bonding" products are everywhere in 2024. The name implies you have been paying attention to haircare trends - like the brand Olaplex and their products that claim to repair many kinds of hair damage by patching up broken molecular bonds in the protein in the inner portion of the hair. 

Calling them that is great marketing - and not entirely inaccurate. Most of the products labeled “bonding” contain some ingredients that give hair extra elasticity and strength on the inside. Or prevent hard water minerals from interacting with the product.  The early 2000s bonding products' claims were to rebuild bonds in damaged hair, you can find my post about research investigating those claims here. Now it seems to mean more broadly that a product contains some ingredients designed for hair-health in the presence of chemical treatments, styling stress and wear and tear. 

If an ingredient can find its way into your hair’s cortex, or even under the cuticles - it is likely to interact with the proteins and form temporary bonds that may help stabilize the proteins on a molecular level - if only temporarily. So there you go - bond building.

Not all these ingredients that do the job of bond building are new! Some of them have been in products for years already. Some of those products were already very popular. 😎

Ingredients that can enhance or create internal bonds in hair - that’s not a new thing either. Every time hair gets wet bonds are broken (and re-formed when dry). There are other bonds that happen within the protein structure of hair that can be influenced by products that can soak in.

I know you'll be wondering - can these ingredients work in things you rinse off? Market research and third party testing of products post-market for the ingredients indicates that they do indeed deposit in and on the hair and resist rinsing off. Staying with your hair for greater hydration and less breakage.

 This post contain affiliate links for which I may receive a small commission when clicked, at no cost to you, and revealing none of your personal information to me.

The Ingredients

Notice the letter-code! That is in the lists below for the 5 new-ish ingredients below.
Many of these also include heat-protectants like Hydrolyzed wheat protein PG Silanetriol and other great ingredients. Only the splashy bond-building ingredients are getting a mention here.

New "Bond Repair" Ingredients

Isopentyldiol: (ISOSmooths down damaged cuticles (smoother hair/more slip, less frizz), protects hair color by reducing color-loss during washing, reduces frizz in straightened hair (when used in shampoo and conditioner). This is a small enough molecule to penetrate into the hair shaft. Improves hair-strength (through hydration within hair shaft - this acts as a humectant). 

Hydroxypropylgluconamide, Hydroxypropylammonium Gluconate: (HHG) This is a patented active ingredient that induces bond-formation / “bridges” between damaged areas inside hair, reduces breakage and strengthen hair. This is a small enough molecule to penetrate into the hair shaft. This benefit has been demonstrated in hair of people of European, African American and Asian descent. This  also acts as a humectant.

Itaconic acid + arginine + Panthenol (ITA) This ingredient-combination has been found to increase strength / reduce breakage. This is a small enough molecule to penetrate into the hair shaft. (INCI: Itaconic acid & Arginine & Panthenol & Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Extract & Salvia Hispanica Seed Extract & Polyglyceryl-10 Laurate)

Dimethyl maleate and bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate: (DMB) Olaplex's patented ingredient that is claimed to increase strength and "repair" damage. This is a small enough molecule to penetrate into the hair shaft.

Bis-4-PCA Dimethicone: (BPCAMoisturizing, increases strength, "repairs" damage. PCA is a small enough molecule to penetrate into the hair shaft

The Bond-Builders That Have Been With Us For Years

Lower molecular weight conditioners: Cetrimonium bromide and Cetrimonium chloride can seep into the cuticle layer and underneath. They may not penetrate as deeply as the itty-bitty humectants and amino acids, but they offer strength under pressure (force) to chemically processed or damaged hair.

Proteins and Animo Acids: Especially in damaged hair, proteins and amino acids can penetrate deeply into hair, depending on the amount of damage and the molecular weight (the “size”) of the protein.

- In LOW HUMIDITY, damaged hair receives the most significant benefit in breakage reduction and elasticity from Medium and High molecular weight proteins. This benefit has been tested in Type 4, relaxed hair specifically. If you have a different hair texture and curl pattern but also have chemically damaged hair, your hair is likely to benefit a great deal too. The take-home message is that damaged hair benefits more from proteins than un-damaged hair - in regards to managing elasticity and reducing breakage in a wide range of humidity!

- Amino acids can also penetrate deeply into hair, and have the lowest molecular weight. The specific amino acid matters. Some add strength, some do not.  Arginine, Histidine, Cysteine and Phenylalanine in particular are known to add strength to hair.

Read this table: Start at the top and read down each column. The left-most column tells you what the information in each row refers to. This is a generalization, protein weights can vary.
Click this table to make it more readable.


- PCA (pyrrolidone carboxylic acid) - Sodium PCA, Zinc PCA hare also been shown to penetrate into hair to add elasticity / breakage resistance. It can also help with color-retention in dyed hair.

- Panthenol: A low molecular weight humectant that can penetrate skin and hair. Increases shine and elasticity  / breakage resistance.

- Glycerin, Propylene glycol, Sorbitol, Honey: These are low molecular weight humectants that have polarity - so they are likely attracted to hair proteins and small enough to penetrate into hair. They can add flexibility and softness.

Damaged Hair Only? These ingredients make the biggest difference on damaged hair. Chemically treated (relaxed, permed, highlighted, permanent colors), heat-styled (hair dryer, irons/tongs), UV-damaged, swimmers' hair, very long hair.

Now the lists! Folks, figuring out how to organize these list so they're useful is not easy. I would appreciate feedback about what list-organization is most helpful to you. Leave a comment, I check them frequently. This time, I'm indicating pricing (US dollars).

There are good products in nearly all PRICE RANGES!  If you have hair that doesn't respond to a lot of other things you've tried, it might be worth investing in one of these vs. a bunch of styling products.

$0-10: 💲
$10-20: 💲💲
$20-30: 💲💲💲
$30 and up 💲💲💲💲

Product Lists


BondBar Shampoo (HHG💲

BondBar Purple Shampoo for blonde or silver/white hair  (HHG💲

BondBar Blue Shampoo for brunette or blonde, silver or white hair (HHG💲

Verb Bonding Shampoo (HHG, Arginine💲💲

Ouidad Unbreakable Bonds Shampoo - Fragrance free! (HHG💲💲

Not Your Mother's Tough Love Bonding Shampoo 02 (ITA) [Protein-free] 💲💲 

Not Your Mother's Curl Talk Bond Building Shampoo ( HHG) Propylene glycol, Arginine, Rice amino acids💲

Xmondo Recalibrate Shampoo (HHG, ISO💲💲💲

Olaplex #4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo (DMB💲💲💲

Bumble and Bumble Bond-Building Repair Shampoo (HHG💲💲💲💲


BondBar Bonding Conditioner (HHG💲 [Protein-free]

Not your mother’s Bonding Conditioner 03 (ITA) 💲💲

Not Your Mother's Curl Talk Bond Building Conditioner ( HHG) Propylene glycol, Arginine, Rice amino acids💲

GVP Conditioning Balm (Propylene glycol, low molecular weight fatty acids, Cetrimonium chloride) 💲💲 for a LITER bottle. Generic for Matrix.

Matrix Biolage Hydrasource Conditioning Balm  (Propylene glycol, low molecular weight fatty acids, Cetrimonium chloride) 💲💲💲

Ouidad Unbreakable Bonds Conditioner - Fragrance Free!  (HHG💲💲

Shea Moisture Amla Oil Bond Repair Conditioner (Amino acids, HHG💲💲

Olaplex #5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner (DMB💲💲💲

Xmondo Recalibrate Bond Repair Conditioner (HHG, ISO💲💲💲

Bumble and Bumble Bond-Building Repair Conditioner  (HHG💲💲💲💲

Deep Conditioners / Intense treatments / Reconstructors

BondBar Hydration Mask (HHG💲 [Protein-free]

Soapbox Let's Bond (Med. weight proteins, amino acids, HHG💲

ApHogee Keratin 2 Minute Reconstructor  keratin, collagen amino acids (contains Mineral oil) 💲

Creme of Nature Acai Berry and Keratin Strengthening Mask: Keratin amino acids, Panthenol  💲

BondBar Bonding Booster (HHG💲💲 [Protein-free] - Not a deep conditioner - this is mostly the active ingredient and can be added to chemical processes or to products.  Fragrance-free!

Mielle Babassu Mint Deep Conditioner (Sodium PCA, amino acids💲💲

Not Your Mother's Tough Love Intense Bonding Treatment 01 (BPCA💲💲

Not Your Mother's Curl Talk Bond Building Mask ( HHG) Propylene glycol, Arginine, Rice amino acids💲

Shea Moisture Bond Repair Masque (Amino AcidsHHG💲💲

Verb Bonding Mask (HHG, Panthenol💲💲

ApHogee 2-Step Protein Treatment for Damaged hair (Hydrolyzed collagen) - This product is intense💲💲

Curl Junkie "Repair me" keratin, keratin amino acids

CurlSmith Curl Bond Rehab Salve (HHG)💲💲💲

Xmondo Recalibrate Bond Repair Treatment (ISO, HHG, Cetrimonium bromide💲💲💲

Bumble and Bumble Bond-Building Repair Treatment (HHG)[Protein-free] 💲💲💲💲

L'Anza Rapid Bond Reconstructor (ITA)💲💲💲💲

Pre-Wash treatments

BondBar Pre Shampoo Treatment  (HHG💲 [Protein-free]

Not Your Mother's Bonding Leave-In Protector (ITA💲💲

Olaplex #3 Hair Perfector (DMB💲💲💲

Olaplex #0 Intensive Bond Building Treatment (DMB 💲💲💲

Leave-On Products

BondBar Styling Cream (HHG💲 [Protein-free]

BondBar Bonding Concentrate / Heat protectant (HHG💲 [Protein-free]

Marc Anthony Repair Bond Resculpt Leave-in Treatment (BPCA💲

Shea Moisture Bond Repair Leave-In Conditioner (Amino Acids, HHG💲💲

Inkey List PCA Bond Repair Hair treatment (BPCA💲💲

K-18 Biomimetic Leave-In Hair Mask  (Medium molecular weight peptides and proteins, Propylene glycol💲💲

Ouidad Unbreakable Bonds Mixing Drops (HHG💲💲💲 (Use this to customize other products)

Xmondo Recalibrate Bond Repair Leave-In (HHG💲💲💲

Living Proof Triple Bond Complex Leave-in Treatment / heat protectant (ISO)💲💲💲💲

Bumble and Bumble Bond-Building Repair Oil Serum (HHG💲💲💲💲

Bumble and Bumble Bond-Building Repair Styling Cream  (HHG)💲💲💲💲


Strengthening the Hair Fiber from Within: Repairing the Cortex of Damaged Hair

 Emmanuel PJM Everaert, Sheldon Zhang, Diem Tran, Bert Kroon, Guojin Zhang, Bill Thompson and Roger L. McMullen. 2015  Paper Presented at the International Federation of Societies of Cosmetic Chemists.

Chambers LI, Yufit DS, Musa OM, Steed JW. Understanding the Interaction of Gluconamides and Gluconates with Amino Acids in Hair Care. Cryst Growth Des. 2022 Oct 5;22(10):6190-6200. doi: 10.1021/acs.cgd.2c00753. Epub 2022 Sep 20. PMID: 36217417; PMCID: PMC9542698.

Harper DL, Kamath YK. The effect of treatments on the shear modulus of human hair measured by the single fiber torsion pendulum. J Cosmet Sci. 2007 Jul-Aug;58(4):329-37. PMID: 17728933.

Malinauskyte, E., Shrestha, R., Cornwell, P.A., Gourion-Arsiquaud, S. and Hindley, M. (2021), Penetration of different molecular weight hydrolysed keratins into hair fibres and their effects on the physical properties of textured hair. Int. J. Cosmet. Sci., 43: 26-37.

Oshimura E, Abe H, Oota R. Hair and amino acids: the interactions and the effects. J Cosmet Sci. 2007 Jul-Aug;58(4):347-57. PMID: 17728935.

Chemical and Physical Behavior of Human Hair, Robbins, 1994. 3rd Ed. Springer-Verlag, New York


  1. Thanks for the rundown. Not Your Mother's Curl Talk Bond Building is a wonderful and widely available line not listed above. A shampoo, conditioner & mask, all of which contain HHG as well as arginine & rice amino acids.

    1. Hello Galaria - Thank you for bringing that to my attention! I'll add it to the list. Much appreciated! -W

  2. I'm no help with ordering the list, but I wanted to thank you for all the extremely helpful information on this blog. I can tell you put in a lot of work to make this easier to understand and it is much appreciated.

    1. Hello Lorrwill, Thank you for reading the blog! I'm happy the information here is helpful to you. Best wishes -W

  3. Thank you Wendy, this is great information! If you have hard and high pH water, would it help to use a shampoo with EDTA before administering a bond treatment?

    1. Hello Texasleahgirl - that's a good question! I don't think most of these products will be negatively affected by hard water. But you've got a good point - if you have mineral residue in your hair, you may not get the absolute optimal result. --- Some shampoos with EDTA contain only enough to prevent hard-water-minerals from interfering with the product. Or just enough to stabilize the product. Still with hard, high pH water, those products are always a good choice so the shampoo cleans and rinses out well. --- If you wanted to use a chelating shampoo like a swimmer's shampoo or hard water shampoo before a bond treatment, you'd reduce the effects of mineral residue in your hair, it might be 1) easier to assess the effects of the product. 2) You might get a better result because you did 2 things that can make hair more flexible and elastic. Best wishes - W