I don’t expect too much from my hair products. I’m looking for it to pump to shine, soak my hair in moisture, smooth out the straw-like bits, and avoid frizz. If it helps my hair smell great, it’s a nice benefit. Maybe I have to believe in high standards; however, does anyone blame me?
As a beauty journalist who is on the receiving end of hundreds of emails per day, it’s very difficult to effectively cut the fat off and reach the good stuff . However, every now and then, I get a new product in my inbox, and I’m Really I am intrigued by it. One such product is K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask .
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K18 has been dubbed “life-changing” on more than many occasions. The brand has a fan base which has included Selena Gomez, Hailey Bieber and Rihanna. Being someone who suffers from significant FOMO (I’m trying to overcome it), I’m always looking to test a new product and see the test and see if there’s a common thread among celebrities. Therefore I opted to put my investigation pants on to determine if K18 deserves all the attention. It is but with a few important warnings to take note of.
First, a word on how the product is different from other bond-building products on the market. K18 isn’t your typical thick, heavily-scented hair mask that you keep posted up in the shower and let sit on top of your hair for seven minutes while you shave your legs. It still promises many of the same things those rinse-off masks do (shinier, bouncier, and stronger hair) but is actually a leave-in treatment that’s meant to be applied on shampooed unconditioned hair — and it’s formulated totally differently, too.
In contrast to traditional makeup products, which cover the exterior of your hair to make the hair appear like it’s smoother, more shiny, and well-hydrated, this one is designed to treat damage that originates from the hair’s innermost layers. Hairstylist and K18 ambassador Amber Maynard Bolt describes if you dye or bleach your hair, go through any chemical treatment, or use heat, it could cause the keratin chains within the hair to break, which impacts the strength and elasticity of your hair. According to cosmetic chemical expert Ron Robinson, who’s unaffiliated with the brand, he suggests K18’s patent-pending biomimicry technique (which is intended to mimic the natural hair structure) could “reconnect the broken bonds so that it renews your hair’s strength, softness, and smoothness.”
“K18 mimics the natural structure of keratin and [produces] the perfect size and molecular structure to reconnect those chains that are broken as a result of damage,” Bolt says. Bolt. It basically “[brings] the chains back to the state that they were before they got chemically damaged,” K18 co-founder and chief executive Suveen Sahib previously explained to the magazine. In addition, since the formula of the mask is based on Keratin, hair will recognize it as such, which means that the benefits will not wash off after you clean your hair. Have you made it this far? Okay, let’s move on to the test portion.
Personally, I’m not afflicted with damaged hair or color due to chemical damage. My damage is a result of more than two years of hot styling and tight ponytails, along with environmental factors like ultraviolet and air pollution. While I was looking forward to trying K18, just like many others who tried K18, I was hesitant. The thought of having to stop using conditioner for a few weeks was a bit scary, as did the fact that a majority of photos of the before and after pictures I saw on the product were not from people who have my type of hair (my hair is curly, thick and frizzy for reference). But I decided to give the product a try.
Here’s how I integrate K18 into my daily routine. When I shower, I apply shampoo Olaplex No. 4C Clarifying Shampoo for Bond Maintenance. I do not use conditioner. (*Note that it’s extremely essential to make use of the clarifying shampoo and do not then follow it up with conditioner. For the formula to completely penetrate the hair, ensure that your hair isn’t sprayed with buildup or conditioner from previous styling.)
The hair of the author before and after treatment.
After showering, I dry the hair till it’s dry. Then, I apply a pump of the product, starting at my ends and working toward my roots. I apply one pump at one time until I am up three pumps worth (you will need less or more, depending on the amount of hair you’ve).
Once the product has been incorporated well into my hair, I let it rest for 4 minutes before activating and then style it the way I would normally do using hair products like the daily dose of Miracle Moisture Leave-In conditioner and Philip B. Rejuvenating Oil prior to moving on to flat-ironing. It is recommended to apply the treatment at least twice a week for the initial up to four washes (which could take a long time even if you wash your hair once or twice a week as I do). However, after the initial treatment, you’re able to switch to maintenance mode and apply at least every five wash.
There’s certainly a learning curve with this product. In my personal experience, there’s no immediate gratification. Actually, the first time I tried K18, I wasn’t pleased. My hair was as if it had been blown up and was more frizzy and dry than I like and was rough to the touch even after blow-drying (likely because of the fact that there is no conditioner). However, according to the Los California-based hairstylist Matthew Collins (who is not affiliated with K18), it’s normal. “People are used to hair masks, which provide softness but are often just a ‘Band-Aid’ solution that masks the problem of damaged hair,” the stylist claims. “K18 is all about repairing hair on a molecular level — it’s not about giving a cosmetic solution, but rather rebuilding your hair use by use, and this can take time.”
After the second rinse, I noticed the results I’d wanted. My hair was more silky and shiny. Each time I used the product, I began to get a feel of using the product and feeling the lightness in my hair. I was also amazed by the speed at which my hair fell out when I applied the product with my fingers (a benefit I didn’t expect since there’s no conditioner to be found). After five washes, I noticed that my hair was considerably healthier and more attractive. It was smoother, didn’t have less frizz, and my curls were certainly more even. However, the true “wow” factor for me was after having the hair professional blow-dried. My hair was more bouncier shiny, silkier, and shiner than it had ever been before.