Woman applies Arey Mend Leave-in conditioner to her wet hair

Bond-Builder or Leave-in Conditioner? The Best Way to Combat Hair Damage

Damaged Hair? Do You Need a Bond-Builder or a Leave-in Conditioner?

If you are frustrated with the texture, health, or manageability of your hair, you are not alone. A study showed that 68% of women are unhappy with their hair.1 The reason? Hair damage.

My clients often complain that they’re doing everything right but their hair still shows signs of damage. You might already have a silk pillowcase, a top-end heat styler, and a wide-tooth detangling comb. Perhaps you already use a bond-builder or a leave-in conditioner. So why are you still losing the battle against frizz and breakage?

Part of the answer lies in the difference between a bond-builder and a leave-in conditioner. They both address existing hair damage, but only leave-in conditioner can protect your hair against future damage. 

Damaged hair is a hot topic in hair care. As a stylist and co-founder of Arey, I wanted to create a product that both prevents and repairs damaged hair.

At Arey, we believe in proactive hair care that protects your hair from future damage. 

There are many reasons for hair damage, and most are avoidable. With the right products and preventive care, you don’t need to compromise your hair health for your hairstyle.

Here’s what I found on my deep dive into the causes of hair damage and the best ways to repair your hair. 

What Are The Five Signs of Damaged Hair? 

Damaged hair occurs when the outer protective layer (cuticle) of your hair is weakened. Your cuticle acts as a shield for the inner core of your strands (cortex). When the cortex is missing its protective layer, it loses moisture and elasticity and is vulnerable to breakage, frizz, and split ends.

woman holding strands of damaged hair between her fingers
The 5 signs of damage are when your hair is: 

    • Brittle and breaks easily: dry and damaged hair loses its elasticity and is vulnerable to breakage. 

    • Dull and dry: your hair loses its shine when there is damage to the cuticle. 

    • Has noticeable split ends: when the tips of your strands dry out and split in half. 

    • Rough texture: a sign of damage is if your hair feels smoother at your roots than your ends. 

    • Frizzy and flyaway: two signs that your strands have a weakened inner structure.  

Most hair damage is caused by chemical processing and heat styling. Luckily there are ways to protect your hair and keep creating the styles you want.


What’s the Difference Between a Bond-Builder and a Leave-in Conditioner?

You might be wondering what’s the difference between a bond-builder and a leave-in conditioner. Here’s a quick guide.

How Bond-Builders Work:

Bond-building products are intended to strengthen your hair’s chemical makeup. This should leave your hair thicker, shinier, and less prone to breakage.

Things to know about bond-building products:

  • They are applied on wet hair: often after shampooing and instead of conditioner or as a pre-treatment. They are designed to be left on the hair and it is recommended that you apply styling products after use.    

  • They are high in protein: overuse can cause protein to build up over time and cause dry or brittle hair.  

  • They don’t protect your hair from future damage: bond-builders don’t contain leave-in heat-protecting ingredients to prevent ongoing styling damage.

Most bond-builders are designed for occasional or short-term use. This is because the amount and type of protein they deposit on your hair can build up over time, leaving you with stiff, crunchy hair. 

Since bond-builders aren’t formulated with heat protecting ingredients, they don’t leave your hair with any heat-protective coating. If you’re regularly heat-styling with a dryer or curling tools, you need to add a heat protectant to your hair care routine.

Cosmetic Chemist Valerie George says, "Thermal styling, whether done with a blowdryer or curling iron, can be one of the most damaging things for hair. It can lead to the formation of split ends, cause premature breakage, and leave hair looking dull. Since styling tools can heat up pretty hot, look for a product that protects your hair up to 450ºF. It’s a bonus if the product can also help repair any damage that’s already been done."

 blond woman using flat iron to straighten her hair

How Leave-in Conditioner Works:

Shampoo, condition, and rinse. You’ve probably been doing that for years. And it works. But when you’re trying to repair and protect dry, damaged hair, it’s time to start thinking about a leave-in conditioner.

Leave-in conditioner is your last step after washing and conditioning your hair. Because you don’t rinse it off, it can deeply moisturize your hair. It can also effectively coat your strands with heat-protecting ingredients. 

Here are some benefits of leave-in conditioners:

    • They reduce tangling: because they coat each strand, they prevent knots and tangles. 

    • They protect your hair from heat-styling: they strengthen and protect your hair from future damage. 

    • They won’t weigh down fine hair: that’s because they’re often formulated with ingredients that absorb into your hair instead of sitting on the exterior of your strands. When applied to wet hair and combed or brushed they spread evenly throughout your hair. 

    • You’ll notice smoother and shinier hair: because they nourish each strand, you will notice more shine and a softer texture. 

    • You can use them after every wash: leave-in conditioner contains peptides that are lower in amino acids than those in bond-builders. They don’t build up on your hair or cause stiffness. 

    • They work on all hair types: a balanced leave-in will deliver moisture where your hair needs it most. 

Your dry, broken, damaged, or chemically treated hair needs a product that absorbs easily, perfects texture, and protects you from heat-styling damage. That’s why we developed Mend, Arey’s leave-in conditioner. 

woman squeezing conditioner into the palm of her hand from white bottle


Does Leave-In-Conditioner Leave Your Hair Greasy?

Some leading bond-building brands use ingredients that are mainly derived from heavy oils. When these ingredients are not rinsed off they can leave your hair feeling weighed down and greasy rather than nourished. Certain silicones like dimethicone can also be too heavy for your fine hair and leave it limp and lifeless.

The ingredients in Mend are light and easily absorbed by all hair types. We use a lightweight silicone – Amodimethicone – because it won’t weigh down even the finest hair. Amodimethicone is different from other silicones. It is a positively charged ion which means it doesn’t build up on your hair over time. 

The Best Ingredients to Heal Hair Breakage

At Arey, all our products are about improving the health and strength of your hair for the long term, not just until your next wash. That’s why we came up with Mend.

Mend leave-in conditioner is a rich, nourishing leave-in conditioner that helps your hair look and feel healthier. Mend protects from heat-styling with a lightweight barrier to seal your cuticle. It also delivers collagen to repair your split ends and maintain hydration.

Mend is easily absorbed by all hair densities and textures and leaves no visible residue. 

These key ingredients in Mend are carefully selected to repair and protect your hair:   

Sr Hydrozoan Polypeptide 1: this vegan collagen improves hair density and elasticity.

Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil: moisturizes and strengthens hair.

Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter): protects your hair from weather damage and dryness.

Polyquaternium-37: creates shine and volume in fine hair.

Salvia Hispanica Seed Oil: hydrates, conditions, and boosts hair growth.

Behenyl and Stearyl Aminopropanediol Esters: prevents breakages and repairs split ends. 

Our research has shown the best way to heal and repair damaged hair is by protecting it from future damage. Mend increases shine and softness and protects your hair from heat-styling up to 450ºF (232° C). Tests show that it also reduces hair breakage by 45%.

before and after of woman's hair after using arey product


How to Use Mend Leave-in Conditioner in Four Easy Steps

Mend can be used every time you shampoo and condition. For best results, we recommend using a gentle, balanced, sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner like Arey Wash and SmoothYou want to avoid sulfates because they are harsh cleansers that can dry out your hair.

woman applies Arey Mend heat protectant to her damp hair

Here’s how to use Mend in your hair care routine:

Step 1 – Apply to damp hair: towel dry your hair before applying a dollop of Mend. Your hair should be damp but not wet. You can also apply Mend before bed so it absorbs while you sleep.

Step 2 – Concentrate on your ends: focus on the shafts and ends of your hair. You never want to slather conditioner all over your scalp. Work Mend carefully through the mid-length of your hair to the ends.

Step 3 – Comb it through: use a wide-tooth comb to detangle and disperse the conditioner throughout your hair. Part your hair and blow dry or allow it to air dry. 

Step 4 – style as usual: your hair is protected from heat damage, even at high temperatures.

If your hair is curly you can use your fingers for a tousled look or scrunch your hair for texture. If your hair is thick, then you may spend longer working Mend through your hair. For very fine hair, you might want to apply less product and focus on the ends of your hair. 


Mend Is Part of a Science-Backed Haircare System

The Arey haircare system is designed to protect and repair all hair types.

We use clean, effective ingredients that are always free from chemicals that cause hair damage. Arey products contain no gluten, phthalates, parabens, artificial colors or fragrances. We are also vegan and cruelty-free.

Your hair health is important to us – that’s why we offer 25% off on all subscriptions to help keep you on track with your hair health goals. Because we believe that science + consistency = results.

We are Arey.

We want you to feel happy and confident with your hair. Have questions? Say hey@areygrey.com or check out our FAQ page.


Jay Small, Stylist and co-founder of Arey, cuts a client’s hair

AuthorJay SmallJay Small is a sought-after hair stylist and Trichologist in Los Angeles with over 22 years of experience. His clients consist of high-profile business and creative leaders. He trained as an apprentice to the owner of Paul Mitchell and worked in education and product development for Paul Mitchell Systems. Jay is incredibly passionate about the creative process both in terms of styling hair and developing effective products.


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