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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

How to Choose the Best Fine Mesh Kitchen Strainers

Fine mesh strainers are used for many different types of cooking, baking and food preparation tasks, from sifting powdered dry ingredients for baking or garnishing baked goods to straining sauces and custards, rinsing uncooked rice, quinoa or beans, and draining pots of cooked pasta. 

When the sieves I inherited from my mom that had served us both for decades eventually needed to be replaced, shopping for replacements turned out to be more challenging than I could have anticipated. 

In this review, I'll share my advice on how to choose the best fine mesh kitchen strainers for your needs as well as my product reviews for the fine mesh sieves I purchased nearly five years ago and recommend highly.

How to Pick the Best Fine Mesh Strainers for Your Needs: 3 Pro Shopping Tips
Learn how to be a savvy consumer when shopping for fine mesh kitchen strainers.

3 Pro Shopping Tips for Choosing the Best Fine Mesh Kitchen Strainers for Your Needs.


Think About How You Will Be Using Them.

When shopping for fine mesh strainers, the best choice will depend on what you want to use them for. The ideal diameter, depth, handle, weight balance, durability, wire mesh size and stiffness will be very different for mesh sieves used primarily for sifting cocoa powder, flour or powdered sugar than for those used mainly for straining fresh raspberry seeds or draining a large quantity of just-cooked pasta. 

So, before you start researching or shopping for new fine mesh sieves, take a few minutes to think about the types of tasks you want, need and expect your new strainers to perform well.

Consider the Most Important Product Features and Characteristics for Your Specific Uses. 

Once you have made a list of the things you want to use your new strainer(s) for, it's time to educate yourself about the different types of materials, construction, mesh fineness, and other options available in models at different price points and think about which ones might be best suited to your needs, priorities and budget. 

For example, if you are shopping for a small strainer for steeping loose tea in a cup or travel mug, an inexpensive model made of a very finely woven nylon mesh material might do the best job of filtering out the tea leaves. On the other hand, if you also want to be able to sift or dust small amounts of cocoa powder or confectioners sugar, you might decide to go with a more expensive, stainless steel model that has a stiffer wire mesh and a slightly looser weave, the tradeoff being that it wouldn't be quite as effective at filtering out the small, powdery bits of tea leaf. 

Similarly, having a comfortable, contoured, riveted handle (and preferably two) may be a priority if you are looking for a large-capacity, heavy-duty strainer, but a thinner, flatter handle attached with spot welding might be fine if you only need a small or medium size strainer for lighter-duty tasks.

Stay Focused on Your Needs As You Compare Fine Mesh Strainers and Read Product Reviews.

Whether a review is positive or negative, consider the author's praise or complaints in the context of your own needs and priorities. Also keep an eye out for negative fine mesh strainer reviews based on inappropriate assumptions or unreasonable expectations. 

Reviews by reputable industry experts can be extremely valuable, but it's important to consider how well the reviewers' evaluation and rating criteria match for your own needs, preferences and intended uses for the product. 

I learned this firsthand at the beginning of 2017. A few weeks after I bought a Cuisinart set of small, medium and large strainers that I wanted just for the two smaller sizes, Cook's Illustrated published a fine mesh strainers equipment review (subscription required) that rated the Cuisinart set as "not recommended." Since I trust and respect the America's Test Kitchen staff's opinions, I was dismayed by the low rating for the set I had just bought. However, when I looked at the reviewers' product selection criteria and the performance tests they had devised, I saw that many of the features, specifications and use cases they had focused on (e.g., approximately 9" diameter, stiff, extremely fine wire mesh baskets, handles that were comfortable to hold over an extended period of time, long, wide hooks that fit easily over both medium and large pots and bowls) weren't relevant to the small and medium Cuisinart strainers or the types of tasks for which I had chosen that set. 

On the other hand, those criteria and tests were extremely relevant to my needs and wants for the much sturdier Kukpo 9-inch strainer I had purchased to complement the small and medium sized Cuisinart sieves. If that Cook's Illustrated equipment review had been published one month sooner, I might have had second thoughts about buying my $14 Kukpo, despite the $45 price tag of the only "highly recommended" model, the Rösle 7.9-inch Stainless Steel Round Handle Kitchen Strainer

So, keep your own needs in mind as you are reading fine mesh strainer reviews and looking at product features and specifications. Also, remember that no strainer can do every job equally well and be open to the possibility that investing in more than one might be your best bet, depending on how many things you want to use them for.  

Recommended Fine Mesh Kitchen Strainer Reviews 

Here are my personal product reviews for the best fine mesh kitchen strainers I purchased to replace the much older ones I had inherited. The ones I am recommending have been in frequent use in my kitchen for at least several years, show minimal signs of wear and continue to meet my quality and performance needs and expectations.

Kukpo Stainless Steel Double Fine Mesh Strainer Review

If you are looking for a large, versatile, affordable sieve that does a good job at a variety of kitchen tasks, the Kukpo Stainless Steel Fine Double Mesh Strainer, 9 Inch Diameter is an excellent choice.

This sturdy, inexpensive Kukpo 9-inch stainless steel fine double mesh strainer can handle most straining, sieving and sifting tasks well.

Key Features and Benefits:

  • Practical size. The basket rim is 9" across and the fine wire mesh basket itself is about 8" wide at the top and 3.25" deep, large enough to easily drain a pound of cooked pasta, but not so large that it's unwieldy.
  • A versatile workhorse. If you're looking for a single, good quality, inexpensive fine mesh food strainer that performs well for most uses, I highly recommend this 9-inch Kukpo model. It's great for straining stock, sauces, yogurt, custard, frying oil and coffee grounds; separating milk solids from melted butter for clarified butter or ghee; rinsing rice, beans, lentils and grains such as quinoa; straining seeds from fresh berry purée; and sifting flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa or powdered sugar.
  • Durable construction, including two riveted handles. Unlike many fine mesh strainers, this one has no gap between the wire mesh screen and the rim/frame where bits of food residue can get stuck and be hard to remove. It also has two handles that distribute the weight more evenly and are riveted to the rim rather than spot-welded, making it more comfortable and well balanced to hold when draining a large volume of heavy food, such as cooked pasta.
  • Two layers of fine wire mesh for better strength, stiffness and filtering ability. Doubling the mesh creates a stronger, sturdier basket that holds its shape better and resists denting, despite its size, even when mashing fresh strawberries, raspberries, or confectioners sugar firmly against the mesh to strain the seeds or break up hard lumps.
  • Dishwasher safe stainless steel. I generally prefer to wash my fine mesh sieves by hand, but it's nice to be able to run them through the dishwasher occasionally to sanitize them more thoroughly. This one has an all stainless steel construction that doesn't rust, not only in my own experience but also in those of many other customers, according to their product reviews. 
  • 100% money back guarantee. Although I couldn't find any details about the terms of this guarantee, quite a few Amazon customers have raved about the company's outstanding customer service in their reviews. 

Cuisinart Set of 3 Mesh Strainers

I've found that pairing this set of three Cuisinart stainless steel strainers with the larger, sturdier, 9-inch Kukpo double mesh strainer covers all the bases for any use I can think of.

This set of three Cuisinart mesh strainers is excellent for light-duty tasks like dusting desserts with cocoa or confectioners sugar, rinsing berries and juicing lemons.

Key Features and Benefits:

  • Three useful sizes. This set includes 3 1/8”, 5 ½”, and 7 7/8” diameter fine mesh sieves.
  • Great for less strenuous tasks. The two smaller sizes in this set are ideal for things like straining loose tea leaves, dusting powdered sugar or cocoa over desserts, washing a cup of fresh berries or string beans, or straining the seeds while juicing a lemon. The largest one is fine for sifting a couple of cups of dry baking ingredients and similar light-duty tasks, but the spot-welded handles and thinner wire mesh make it too delicate for heavier contents and more demanding applications that require the sturdier Kukpo strainer.
  • Surprisingly inexpensive. At the time of publication, this set of three cost less than $14 on Amazon. Even though I prefer the 9" Kukpo to the 7 7/8" strainer in the Cuisinart set, I consider that a very good value, even for just the small and medium sizes.
  • Dishwasher safe stainless steel. I haven't found a single speck of rust on any of mine after nearly five years of frequent use.
  • Limited lifetime warranty. Cuisinart offers a limited lifetime warranty for its products if you register your purchase with them. I haven't been able to find any information about what it covers for this strainer set. 

Bonus Tip: Use a Stiff, Thin-Bristled Brush to Dislodge Any Food Particles Stuck in the Fine Mesh

Whether you plan to wash your strainers by hand or in the dishwasher, I highly recommend inspecting the fine wire mesh carefully for any bits of food residue that might be stuck. It's best to wash and check the mesh as soon as possible after use, since any clogs will be much harder to dislodge if they are allowed to dry inside those tiny openings. If you need more time, just submerge the strainer in hot water and until you are able to clean and inspect it properly. 

I have found that small, dense brushes with thin, stiff bristles, like the two in the OXO Good Grips Deep Clean Brush Set, are the most effective tools for clearing stubborn food particles from the fine wire mesh. 


How to Choose the Best Fine Mesh Kitchen Strainers by Margaret Schindel


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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware Review

Copper Chef Black Diamond nonstick cookware has a diamond-reinforced, black ceramic coating and textured cooking surface that make these pans the most durable, scratch-resistant, best-performing nonstick cookware I've tried — and I've tried a lot!

Image - title and photo collage for Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware review by Margaret Schindel
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved

Several years ago, I began replacing our large collection of old nonstick cookware. All the pans had visible scratches in the coating after years of use, so they no longer had their nonstick qualities. I also didn't want to risk the possibility of accidentally ingesting a speck (or flake) of loosened Teflon, especially since the older Teflon coatings were manufactured with PFOA.

Since I had a lot of pans to replace (my husband and I both cook a lot!), I research the newest generation of nonstick coating options and cookware. I tried a T-Fal skillet and, later, an OXO Good Grips nonstick frying pan, both recommended by Cook's Illustrated at the time, as well as a highly-rated set of two skillets from Sur La Table, but I found they scratched too easily for my household's needs (my husband tends to be a bit hard on pans!).

Original Copper Chef Nonstick Cookware

A few years ago, my mother-in-law bought us a set of the original Copper Chef pans, after she had bought herself some and loved them. This line is now called the Copper Chef Signature Series.

The set she gave us included a shallow square 9.5" fry pan, a deep square 9.5" pan, a square basket insert for deep frying or draining pasta, a steamer insert, a square tempered glass lid that fit both pans, and a cookbook.  You can learn more about one of the original Copper Chef pans from my fellow Review This Reviews contributor Cynthia (Sylvestermouse), in her review of the original Copper Chef square fry pan.

Admittedly, I was skeptical about the quality of "As Seen on TV" nonstick cookware purchased from an infomercial. I also didn't understand the appeal of a square skillet or pan instead of the traditional round shape. However, I soon discovered how much better and more durable the ceramic nonstick cooking surface was, compared to the others I had tried. I also liked how much more surface area and capacity the square pans provided compared to round ones of the same diameter, and how much easier it was to slide a spatula under the edge of an omelet or crepe, for example.

After six or so months of heavy use, we were pleasantly surprised at how well those two nonstick pans were holding up, so we decided to expand our collection with the Copper Chef Square Fry Pan 5 Piece Set, which included an 9.5-inch square griddle pan with a glass lid, an 11" square griddle pan with a glass lid, and an 8" ridged grill pan.

Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware: Even Better Than the Original Signature Pans!

About a year later, my husband and I were confident enough in the durability of the Cerami-Tech coating and the excellent heat conductivity of the built-in stainless steel induction plates, which worked so well on our glass stovetop, to expand our collection even  more. 

That's when I discovered that the company had introduced a new, improved line: Copper Chef Black Diamond nonstick cookware.

Boxed 5-piece set of stackable space-saving Copper Chef Black Diamond nonstick cookware
My first Copper Chef Black Diamond 5-piece stacking non-stick cookware set
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved

We chose the Copper Chef Stackable Black Diamond 5-piece Non-Stick Fry Pan Set, which comes with a 9.5" square grill pan (with grilling ridges), a 9.5" square griddle pan with the raised diamond pattern interior bottom, a 4.5-quart, 9.5" deep square pan with the same raised texture on the inside bottom, two 9.5" tempered glass square lids (which fit all three pans, as well as most of our other Copper Chef pans), and a recipe book.

View of textured interior bottoms of Copper Chef Black Diamond nonstick pans in 5-piece set
Raised 3D interior texture on Black Diamond pans
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved

Here are the key features that make Copper Chef's Black Diamond nonstick cookware line superior to the company's original Signature line of pots and pans.

Diamond Reinforced Ceramic Coating + 3D Textured Interior Bottom = Even Less Sticking

Not only are these pans extremely attractive, with their copper-colored exteriors and black interiors, they also are more durable, because the Cerami-Tech nonstick coating is reinforced with thousands of tiny diamond particles. In addition, the inside bottoms of the Copper Chef Black Diamond pans (except the ridged grill pans, which don't need it) have a raised, diamond pattern surface, rather than the original, totally flat surface, which enhances their nonstick performance.

Oven-Safe Coating

The deep square pan also works well as a casserole, since the pans are oven safe. Both the Cerami-Tech diamond-reinforced ceramic nonstick coating on the interior and the regular Cerami-Tech coating (the same as on the original CC pans) on the exterior of this cookware are temperature-resistant up to 850° F. The tempered glass lids, however, are only temperature-resistant up to 350° F, so make sure not to exceed that temperature or let the glass lids get too close to the heating elements. Another option is to cover your casserole with aluminum foil.

Quick and Easy Cleanup After Cooking

I highly recommend hand washing any nonstick cookware, regardless of any marketing claims that the pans are dishwasher safe. Fortunately, if you care for these pans properly, they clean up quickly and easily with just a sponge, mild liquid dish soap and hot water. Check out my helpful cleaning and care tips toward the end of this product review.

Space-Saving, Stackable Design For Convenient Storage

All three pans can be stacked, a space-saving feature we love and took advantage of until my husband finally built us a wall-mounted bar of hanging hooks for storing our growing collection of nonstick pots, pans and lids in our very small galley kitchen.

Image of 3 Copper Chef Black Diamond square nonstick pans, stacked, with lids
The pans stack compactly in this space saving cookware design
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved

When the two frying pans (flat bottom and grill pan) and the deep pan (more like a saucepan or pot) are stacked, the collective dimensions, including the long handles, are 19.5" X 10 X 7.75" — not a lot of space for two frying pans and a pot, each with 25% more cooking area than round equivalents!

Not All Brands of Copper Ceramic Coated Nonstick Cookware Perform Well

As we expanded our collection, we tried pans with copper ceramic nonstick coating from a few other brands and discovered that, while they may all look similar (and, in some cases, nearly identical), the quality of some brands isn't on a par with that of Copper Chef. For example, we bought an 11" square griddle pan for my husband, who wanted it to make French toast, that looked like it matched our collection. However, it didn't have the built-in stainless steel induction plate, so it didn't heat up as quickly or evenly as our Copper Chef pans.

SHINEURI 5-piece set of nonstick saucepans and saute pan on Amazon
We love the SHINEURI 5 piece nonstick
copper cookware set we purchased
on Amazon

The good news is that we also discover some winners among the competitor brands. At the time, Copper Chef wasn't making any round pots or pans, and we wanted a set of small and medium covered nonstick saucepans to replace the ones we threw out, as well as a couple of small to medium size round skillets for making omelets and such.

I was delighted with both the quality and the appearance of the SHINEURI 5-piece nonstick copper ceramic cookware set we purchased, which has the reverse color scheme of our Copper Chef Black Diamond pans and looks terrific with them. The 1.5 quart and 2.5 quart saucepans with glass lids and the open 8" sauté pan look as though they were designed and manufactured by the same designer and factory as the original Copper Chef Signature pans. Even the slightly domed lids and hollow stainless steel handles look exactly like the original CC pans, and they also perform just as well as those, although not as well as the Black Diamond pans.

Fortunately, the Copper Chef Black Diamond line has since expanded and now includes round pots and pans.

Another high performer we purchased from a competing brand was the Home Hero 8" round nonstick skillet with glass lid, which also had the built-in stainless steel induction plate and has performed as well as our original Copper Chef pans, although it doesn't look quite as nice, in my opinion, and doesn't have the textured interior bottom or diamond-reinforced nonstick coating of the Black Diamond pans.

Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware Makes a Great Gift

We loved our 5-piece set of square Black Diamond pans so much that we bought two more sets as Christmas gifts, one for my in-laws and one for my brother. The recipients agree that these are by far the best nonstick pans they have ever owned.

Set of copper cooking utensils with silicone tips for nonstick cookware on Amazon
You can buy this gorgeous set of
copper metal and black silicone
cooking utensils on Amazon

Anyone who cooks would likely be delighted to receive a set of these good-looking, durable, well-designed, nonstick pans. As a bonus, the company's packaging is attractive and perfect for gift-giving.

If you or your gift recipients prefer round pans to square ones, this Copper Chef Black Diamond 10-piece set is another excellent choice. It comes with an 8-inch open fry pan, a 10-inch round skillet with curved sides and a tempered glass lid, a 2-quart saucepan with a glass lid, a 4.5-quart casserole pan with see-through glass lid, a roasting rack, and a nonstick-safe serving spoon and slotted spatula. My husband and I both think we'd get a lot of use out of this set, which would complement our existing pieces nicely. We plan to add these nonstick pans to our collection eventually.

Either of these Copper Chef nonstick cookware sets would make a wonderful gift for someone special — including yourself!

For an even more special gift, consider adding this set of beautiful black silicone nonstick cooking utensils with copper handles. I think they would look absolutely stunning with Copper Chef Black Diamond nonstick cookware, the company's original Signature line of pans,or similar copper ceramic nonstick pans from competing brands.

I confess to being quite tempted to put these on my birthday or holiday wish list, even though I already own plenty of perfectly functional cooking utensils for nonstick pans. They're just so pretty...and they really do look as though they were custom-designed to go with the Black Diamond pans, don't they?

Care and Cleaning Tips

The manufacturer says these pans are dishwasher safe. However, I strongly recommend hand washing them, because dishwasher detergent is abrasive. (That's why drinking glasses that are washed in the dishwasher frequently will become cloudy over time; that cloudiness is caused by the abrasiveness of the detergent gradually etching the surface of the glass!)

Fortunately, hand washing these pans is a breeze if you follow these tips:

  • Don't use these pans over high heat, and don't preheat them completely empty; wipe or spray on at least a thin film of butter or oil before preheating. (This advice goes for any brand or type of nonstick cookware.)
    • Use a regular (not nonstick) pan for searing meat.
  • Use hot, soapy water and a regular cellulose sponge, a nubby silicone sponge or, my personal favorite, a Scrub-It non-scratch sponge, which has a soft microfiber cloth side and a gentle "scrubber" side that is safe for nonstick pans, as long as you don't use it to scrub them aggressively.
    • I learned the hard way that a Scotchbrite or similar scrubby sponge is too abrasive for cleaning the Cerami-Tech nonstick coating, which covers both the inside and outside of the Copper Chef pans (other than the stainless steel induction plate and handle).
  • When the pans have cooled from hot to warm, either wash them before they have fully cooled or just fill the kitchen sink with hot, soapy water and leave them them to soak until you're ready to wash them.
  • Caveat: If you want to use a steel wool pad to scour the built-in stainless steel induction plate on the bottom, take care to keep the steel wool away from the exterior Cerami-Tech nonstick coating. 
    • As you can see in the following side-by-side photo of two of our Copper Chef fry pans, my husband and I learned the hard way that if you aren't careful to keep the steel wool scouring pad only on the bare metal of the induction plate, the steel wool fibers will quickly remove the adjacent nonstick coating. 
Bottoms of original and Black Diamond Copper Chef nonstick fry pans after cleaning correctly and incorrectly
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved

Pan on the left: Original Copper Chef fry pan with repeatedly burned-on food,
cleaned with a scrubber sponge, plus overzealous scouring of the built-in
stainless steel  induction plate with a steel wool scouring pan.

Pan on the right: Copper Chef Black Diamond pan, cleaned with a regular sponge.
The stainless steel induction plate was scoured with steel wool, being extremely
careful around the edges to avoid accidentally removing the adjacent nonstick coating
.

Similarly, if you want the Cerami-Tech coating on your pans to retain its nonstick properties as long as possible, I recommend using only plastic or silicone cooking utensils designed for non-stick cookware with these pans, something Tristar, which manufactures Copper Chef and other cookware brands, also advises.

Closeup view of inside of Copper Chef Black Diamond nonstick grill pan
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved
Close-up shot of the ridged interior bottom  of the nonstick grill pan

As you can see from this close-up of our grill pan, our Copper Chef Black Diamond pans — which have been in heavy, daily use for a long time now — not only still perform beautifully but also hold up remarkably well, as long as you care for them properly!

The Inexpensive, DIY Pot and Lid Storage Rack My Husband Built for Our Copper Ceramic Nonstick Cookware

When our collection of copper ceramic nonstick coated pans continued to expand, my husband — my very own MacGyver — put together an inexpensive, space-saving pot rack next to our stove, using just leftover wood strips and some coat hooks. Sadly, the beautiful, half-round, French-looking wrought iron pot rack I had purchased long ago for my Manhattan apartment doesn't work in our ranch-style home now. (Not only do we have many more pots and pans to store, but we also have only a short, narrow "mini hallway" between the stove and the side entrance to our house, which opens into our kitchen. So, our pot rack needs to be fairly flush to the wall to allow the door to open.)

One of the things I really like about his design it that, because each coat hook has an upper and a lower hook, the lids to our collection of nonstick pots and pans now have a convenient "home" for storage when they're not in use, since the glass lids can't be stacked. As you can see, it even holds our two large stainless steel mesh spatter shields!

It was meant for functionality rather than looks, but you could easily stain and varnish the wood, and even use a router to shape a scalloped edge, if you like.

Homemade wall-mounted rack for storing pots, pans and lids
©2020 Margaret Schindel, all rights reserved
My clever husband's inexpensive DIY pot rack for our nonstick pans,
lids and spatter screens


Happy nonstick cooking!


Copper Chef Black Diamond Nonstick Cookware reviewed by Margaret Schindel

Read more of my product reviews.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2022

The Best Affordable Microfiber Cloths for Cleaning Eyeglasses, Screens & Lenses

Many of us wear prescription eyeglasses, magnifying readers or sunglasses to help us see clearly and protect our precious vision from UV rays. More and more of us rely on our mobile phones, smart phones, tablets, laptops, Kindle or Nook e-readers, smart watches, fitness trackers, digital cameras and other electronics and mobile devices with screens or lenses for working, staying in touch, virtual visits, news, entertainment, hobbies, banking and other important activities. The best and safest way to clean those lenses and screens, especially if they have any type of coating, is with a soft, smooth, tightly-woven, lint-free microfiber cloth, either dry or moistened with water or a good quality cleaning solution designed for that purpose, depending on the type of lens or screen.

This is my product review of the Care Touch microfiber cleaning cloths I purchased recently to replace our older, worn cloths that were no longer cleaning effectively. I highly recommend these excellent, lint-free microfiber cloths for cleaning all types of optic lenses and electronics display screens gently and safely.

Main image: Care Touch Microfiber Cleaning Cloths Safe for Any Lens or Screen!

Both my husband's single-vision glasses and my progressive, no-line bifocals have were expensive, with Transitions lenses and anti-reflective coatings. Each of us also has a pair with single-vision prescription lenses and an anti-glare coating (John's are very dark sunglasses, while mine are for doing close-up work, such as making jewelry, crafting, sewing or pulling out a splinter). We also have a collection of smartphones, tablets and other devices with built-in cameras and displays. Together, they represent a  significant investment that we need to protect with proper care, cleaning and maintenance.

Frequent washing of the cloths you use to clean your optic lenses and display screens is important, since even tiny dust particles or your fingerprints can scratch or smear the delicate surfaces and coatings. So, when I started researching the best microfiber eyeglasses, lens and screen cleaning cloths for our needs, I not only looked for ones that could safely and effectively clean our expensive prescription eyeglasses as well as the camera lenses and display screens on our phones and other devices, I also decided to buy enough so we could swap in clean cloths for dirty ones that needed to be laundered.

As I was comparing products and reading Amazon customer product reviews, the Care Touch microfiber cleaning cloths really stood out. However, since I hadn't heard of this brand before and they don't sell the individually, was a bit hesitant to order a bulk pack of 12 sight unseen. (There was also a pack of six, but the difference in price between the 6-pack and the 12-pack was negligible.) 

I'm very glad I decided to go with my gut and take a chance on them.

Package of 12 Care Touch microfiber cleaning cloths
Inside the bag are 12 microfiber lens and screen cleaning cloths, each folded and individually wrapped in its own cellophane envelope/pouch

What We Love About Care Touch Microfiber Cleaning Cloths

Here are some of the key features, benefits and other considerations that impressed me enough to choose the Care Touch Microfiber Cleaning Cloths 12-pack over other, better known and much more expensive brands, such as Zeiss or Nikon.

  • Safe to use on all lenses and display screens, even single- or multi-coated prescription eyeglasses, camera lenses and filters!
  • Machine washable and air dry quickly when laid flat (I recommend a clean cotton terrycloth towel).
  • Durable fabric and construction including pinked, heat-treated edges that resist fraying, so they hold up well through frequent machine washing cycles.
  • Smooth, silky, very finely woven, lint-free microfiber that cleans lenses and screens gently and thoroughly without scratching, smearing or leaving any residue, either with or without water or a cleaning solution, as long as the cloths are kept clean and free from any dust.
  • A generous 6" x 7" size, identical to the lens cleaning cloths we get from our optometrist, which is ideal for eyeglasses, camera lenses, mobile devices and other portable electronics. (Although I prefer a larger size for large-screen TVs and monitors, these work great for those, too, in a pinch.)
  • Individually wrapped in cellophane envelope pouches. 
    • Even though these cellophane pouches were designed to be discarded after opening and removing the cloths, I have been refolding and carefully placing the cloths (except the ones I keep inside my hard eyeglasses cases) back inside the pouches to keep them clean and dust-free between uses. When the cellophane pouches tear, as I'm sure they will at some point, I'll probably store the cloths in sandwich-size food storage bags or make some small drawstring bags from scrap fabric.
  • Great for removing fingerprints from other surfaces, such as crystal glassware, watch crystals and smooth or brushed metal surfaces.
  • A terrific value! When I purchased them on Amazon last month, the price was less than nine dollars for a pack of 12 individually wrapped microfiber cleaning cloths. That's less than 75 cents each! And a dozen gives you enough for multiple pairs of eyeglasses, phones, tablets and other devices, with a couple of extras to swap out for laundering, and you'll still have a couple leftover to share with a friend or family member. 
    • Note: Although a few Amazon reviewers have complained that they received only 10 cloths instead of 12 that was not my experience.
  • Excellent reviews from Amazon customers.
  • Responsive customer support including monitoring and responding to many customer questions on Amazon and a 30-day satisfaction guarantee (return the cloths in their original condition within 30 days or for a full refund or replacement).
My Care Touch Microfiber Cleaning Cloths 12-Pack with five of the individually wrapped cloths

Care Touch Lens Care Products Make Affordable, Thoughtful and Practical Gifts

I can't think of anyone who wouldn't appreciate receiving some new, high quality, durable, gentle and effective microfiber cloths, pre-moistened wipes or spray lens cleaner for keeping their eyeglasses, camera lenses and device screens clean and free of fingerprints, smudges or streaks. Here are my top picks for both personal use and gift giving.

  • Care Touch Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
    • Instead of giving the entire 12-pack to someone who may only have use for a few, consider breaking it up into several smaller stocking stuffers for multiple recipients. At less than 75 cents apiece, tucking a few of these individually wrapped, lint-free microfiber cloths into someone's Christmas stocking will only set you back a couple of bucks. It's rare to find such an inexpensive product that is also well made, truly useful and nice enough to be gift worthy.
  • Single-use Care Touch Pre-Moistened Lens Cleaning Wipes
    • Care Touch Pre-Moistened Lens Cleaning Wipes are gentle alcohol prep pads saturated with a 39.5% isopropyl alcohol solution that is milder and safter for cleaning coated or special lenses than the 70% concentration of isopropyl alcohol in the solutions used with typical alsohol prep pads that can damage these types of lenses.
    • Generous 5" x 6" size for cleaning larger as well as smaller lenses and screens.
    • Convenient, compact, and individually sealed so you can easily tuck a couple into your purse or briefcase for quick, streak-free cleaning of fingerprints and smudges on your eyeglasses, phone or tablet screens on the go.
  • Care Touch Lens and Screen Cleaning Set
    • 200 of the pre-moistened lens cleaning wipes
    • 6 of the microfiber cloths
  • Care Touch Eyeglass Cleaner Spray Kit 
    • This kit has everything you or your gift recipient needs for lens and screen care, which makes it a wonderful gift idea for family members and friends, from school-age kids to seniors:
      • Two Care Touch microfiber cleaning cloths
      • Two 8-oz. bottles and one 2-oz. TSA-friendly travel size bottle of Care Touch Eyeglass Cleaner Spray, a gentle yet effective alcohol-free and ammonia-free formula designed to be used with the microfiber cloths for cleaning all lenses, screens, and glass surfaces, even those with anti-reflective, transition, anti-fog or other special coatings.
      • 26 Care Touch Pre-Moistened Lens Cleaning Wipes
    • At publication time, this kit was selling on Amazon for only $9.99—45% off the list price of $17.99. That's a terrific deal!

The Best Affordable Microfiber Cloths for Cleaning Eyeglasses, Screens & Lenses by Margaret Schindel

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Saturday, March 12, 2022

The Best High Security Micro-Cut Shredder for Documents, Media and Credit Cards

To protect yourself against identity theft and identity fraud, including tax identity theft and medical identity theft, the FTC recommends shredding your financial records, Social Security and Medicare cards, and any other documents that have personal information before you throw them out.

In December, I replaced the Amazon Basics 12-Sheet High-Security Micro-Cut Paper, CD, and Credit Card Shredder with Pullout Basket in our home offfice with an Aurora AU1210MA Professional Grade High Security 12-Sheet Micro-Cut Paper/ CD and Credit Card/ 60 Minutes Continuous Run Time Shredder.  

In this product review, I'll share my tips for choosing the best high-security micro-cut shredder for personal and home office use and why my husband and I consider our new Aurora AU1210MA P-4 security level shredder superior to the Amazon Basics unit it replaced, despite their very similar features, specifications and price tags. 

Photo of Aurora AU1210MA shredder - Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft With This High Security Micro-Cut Shredder

Why You Need a High Security Multi-Media Micro-Cut Shredder

Identity theft is a huge, very serious and growing problem in the US. In 2021, the Federal Trade Commission received 1.4 million reports of identity theft from consumers, according to newly published data from the FTC Consumer Sentinel Network.

Unfortunately, our personal information seems to plastered everywhere these days. So, to protect your privacy and security as well as your identity, in addition to storing materials with identifiable personal information safely until you no longer need them, you should destroy or mutilate them beyond recognition before you discard them in your trash or recycling bins. 

In addition to financial documents you no longer need to keep, such as old bank statements and canceled checks—either printed on paper or stored digitally on CDs—you should also be shredding junk mail, duplicate or expired credit cards, photo IDs, travel itineraries, boarding passes, shipping labels and sticky notes with access codes, account numbers, passwords, etc. 

Thieves will stop at nothing to get their hands on your personal information and can easily cobble together bits and pieces of your identity simply by going through your trash or recycling and then searching online to fill in any missing pieces they need. Once they do, they can wreak havoc with your finances and your life!

They can use your stolen identity not only to charge purchases to your credit cards but also to open new credit card accounts in your name, with purchases billed to you, and even obtain a driver’s license in your name with their photo. Depending on how much information they can acquire and how sophisticated they are at this cruel game, these identity thieves can also steal your tax refunds, social security checks and other benefits. 

Worse yet, proving that you (rather than the perpetrator of the identity theft) are who you claim to be and recovering/reestablishing your personal identity is a nightmare that can take years, especially if you are in a profession such as medicine or finance that makes your stolen identity especially valuable. 

Buying a reliable, high security micro-cut document shredder is the best and cheapest insurance you can invest in to protect your privacy, financial security and identity and give you peace of mind. 

Shopping Tips for Choosing a Personal or Home Office Document Shredder

If you don't yet own a shredder, or if yours has a P1, P2 or P3 security level rating, I strongly recommend that you make buying or upgrading to a high-security, micro-cut shredder for your personal or home office use a high priority. 

There are many document and credit card shredder models and brands, and trying to compare them can be confusing and time-consuming. To make it easier, here are the key features to look to help you choose the best shredder for your personal or professional needs. 

Micro-Cut

The first step in choosing the best shredder for your needs is to decide whether you want a strip-cut, cross-cut or micro-cut type. Your choice of cut type depends on different speed, security and cost trade-offs and priorities.  

As their name suggests, strip-cut shredders cut paper and other materials into long, thin strips. Although they are the fastest and, usually, the least expensive of these three types, they also provide the least security, since the long strips are fairly easy for a thief to piece back together to view your personal information. 

Cross-cut shredders cut paper and other materials into thinner, shorter strips that require more time and effort for a thief to reassemble. They also are somewhat slower and tend to be more expensive than strip-cut units.

Micro-cut shredders cut paper and other materials into tiny diamond- or confetti-shaped bits that make recovery of shredded paper documents and other media nearly impossible to reassemble manually. They also are quite a bit slower and usually cost more than strip-cut and cross-cut models. However, those tradeoffs in speed and price are far outweighed by the much higher level of protection that micro-cut shredders provide.against identity theft and other types of impersonation fraud.

DIN P-4 Security Level / Protection Class 2

Many document shredder manufacturers and retailers include the DIN 66399 security level (P-1 through P-7) in the product information for most or all of the models they offer. These security levels are part of the DIN 66399 standard for secure destruction of physical confidential material stored on paper, film or digital storage devices, which was developed by the Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN) or (English translation) German Institute for Standardization

DIN P-1 security level shredders are suitable for destroying physical materials containing general information that is not personal or confidential, such as junk mail. Security levels P-2 through P-7 are standards suitable for destroying physical materials with increasingly sensitive information, with level P-6 and P-7 shredders reserved for destroying highly confidential, classified and top-secret information, such as national security and military documents.

The seven security levels fall under three categories called protection classes, with protection classes 1-3 indicating low, high and very high levels of security, respectively. Protection class 2 represents a high level of security and includes DIN P-3, P-4 and P-5 security levels. Some security levels fall under two protection classes: a shredder with a P-3 security level could fall into either protection class 1 or protection class, and a P-4 or P-5 shredder may fall under protection classes 2 or 3. 

Different shredder models that share the same DIN "P" security level don't necessarily provide the same level of protection, and product information for shredders designed for home and home office use rarely includes the model's protection class. So, if you need to destroy documents with confidential or sensitive information on a regular basis, you may want to contact the manufacturers, if necessary, to find out the DIN protection class (and security level, if it's not on the product page) for each model you are seriously considering.

A shredder with a protection class 2, P-4 security level rating is an excellent choice for most personal or home office use, providing a good balance of identity theft protection, speed and price. 

Note: If you are an accountant, tax preparer or someone who handles other confidential or sensitive information (such as HIPAA-protected health information) and work in a home office, you may want or need to consider a shredder with a P-5 security level shredder.

A Higher Sheet Capacity Than Your Anticipated Needs

Sheet capacity means how many sheets of paper can be fed through the shredder in a single pass. Consider the volume and thickness of the documents and data storage media you need to shred on a regular basis. Here again, you will need to weigh the convenience and efficiency of a model with a higher sheet capacity against its higher cost. 

That said, based on both my product research and personal experience, micro-cut shredders rarely live up to their manufacturer's sheet capacity claims in the less-than-optimal conditions of real-life, day-to-day use, so I recommend choosing a model with a higher sheet capacity than you think you will need. 

Also, sheet capacities are dependent on a variety of factors including Paper Type and Weight.  Most offices typically use 20 Lb Bond Letter size sheets. Consider a higher volume shredder if you need to shred glossy or heavier paper.

Ability to Shred Credit Cards, Paper With Staples/Small Paper Clips, and CDs/DVDs Used for Data Storage (If You Use Them)

Many years ago, simply cutting up expired or unwanted credit cards with scissors before throwing them in the trash was common practice. Now that credit cards have built-in magnetic strips that store valuable data digitally, scissors no longer "cut it" as a way to protect yourself against identity theft and other types of impersonation fraud. 

I highly recommend choosing a model that can shred plastic credit cards, as well as papers held together with metal staples or small paper clips, without jamming. If you use CDs or DVDs to store or back up personal or professional data, look for one designed to destroy those optical storage media as well.

Close-up photo showing where to insert plastic credit cards, CDs and DVDs into the Aurora AU1210MA high security micro-cut shredder
This clearly-marked section of the Aurora AU1210MA high security micro-cut shredder's feed slot shows where to insert plastic credit cards, CDs or DVDs.

Always Follow the Manufacturer's Guidelines and Restrictions on Shredding Materials

For example, most models should not be used to shred window envelopes or insulated envelopes, large paper clips, bound materials, such as checkbooks or magazines, transparency film, laminated documents, cardboard, or materials with adhesives, such as self-stick labels.

Never Use a Shredder to Destroy a Metal Credit Card!

Increasingly, financial institutions are issuing premium credit cards being made from titanium and other metals. Metal credit cards are considered status symbols and frequently have high credit limits, so they are especially sought after by people who commit identity theft.

Unfortunately, even document shredders designed to work as credit card shredders cannot process these sturdy metal cards. If you try to feed a metal credit card into your document shredder, you are much more likely to destroy your equipment than your card! 

Instead, check out Experian's excellent post on "How to Destroy a Metal Credit Card."

Lightweight Bin With a Window and Wheels or Casters

Paper is heavy, so it's a good idea to choose a shredder with a lightweight bin or wastebasket that allows you to easily monitor the volume of shredded paper and other materials and empty it when it is no more than three-quarters full. 

If you allow your bin to fill up to the top, some of the shreds can be pulled back up into the shredder and cause it to jam. In addition, the fuller the bin, the heavier and more difficult it will be to maneuver, lift and upend when you empty it and the greater the volume of escaped shredded paper "confetti" you will likely have to sweep up afterward. 

Also look for models with a bin that slides in and out easily and has wheels or casters, which also will make it easier to move to another location and back, if necessary, when you need to empty it. 

5- To 10-Gallon Bin Capacity (For Personal or Home Office Use)

Unless you do a lot of shredding, a bin with a 5-gallon capacity should be fine. It's also likely to be able to fit under a work table or desk for storage when you are not working. If you typically need to destroy a larger volume of information, a bin with a 10-gallon capacity may be more suitable for your home office.

Acceptable Throughput Speed

Manufacturers often do not include the throughput speed in the product information, and feeding more sheets into the shredder per pass can slow down the speed considerably. Reading product reviews from customers who have owned multiple document shredder models can be helpful when comparing the throughput speeds of models with similar features and specifications.

Longer Continuous Run Time / Shorter Cool-Down Time

If you typically need to destroy only a handful of documents, junk mail, etc., at a time and can feed them all through your machine in just a few minutes, then comparing the continuous run times and cool-down times of different models isn't that important. However, if frequently need to destroy a large volume of paper documents, plastic credit cards or data stored on CDs or DVDs, look for models with a longer continuous run time and a shorter cool-down time, so you can shred materials for longer stretches without having to stop for an overheated motor and wait for it to cool down before you can resume. 

Note: When looking at any model's continuous run time, keep in mind that the continuous run time claimed by the manufacturer is probably based on feeding single pages of 20-lb. or lighter weight (i.e., thinner) paper without staples or paper clips. When you shred thicker or harder material (such as cardboard, plastic credit cards, CDs or DVDs), the continuous run time will likely be considerably shorter than what is stated in the product description or specifications.

Reliable Performance Over Time

A shredder that works great for a year and then has a significant malfunction can cost much more in the long run than one with a higher price tag that continues to perform well and reliably for many years. When comparing different paper shredder models, take the time to read product reviews, especially the negative or critical reviews, to get a feel for how often the products customers received turned out to be short-lived "lemons."

Highly Recommended: The Aurora AU1210MA Professional Grade High Security 12-Sheet Micro-Cut Paper, CD and Credit Card Shredder

Before I replaced it with an Aurora AU1210MA, my husband and I were using an Amazon Basics 12-Sheet High-Security Micro-Cut Paper, CD, and Credit Card Shredder with Pullout Basket in our home office. We may have gotten a lemon, but our 12-sheet unit routinely jammed if we fed it more than four sheets of paper at a time. The one we received also was fairly loud. Other than those two issues, it performed pretty well for a year or so. Unfortunately, despite our light usage, additional problems developed over time. The biggest issue was that both the power/function switch and the auto on/off sensors that detect the presence or absence of paper malfunctioned, causing the motor to remain on continuously. This meant the only way to turn the unit off was to plug it in whenever we wanted to shred something and then unplug it again until the next time we needed it, which was inconvenient and annoying. When I read some of the more recent product reviews while shopping for a replacement, I discovered that quite a few other customers who purchased this Amazon Basics micro-cut shredder also experienced sensor malfunction issues after a relatively short time. 

Close-up photo of the Aurora AU1210MA shredder's 4-mode switch
The 4-mode switch on our Aurora high security micro-cut shredder 

The Aurora AU1210MA Professional Grade High Security 12-Sheet Micro-Cut Paper, CD and Credit Card Shredder has comparable features and specification to those of its Amazon Basics counterpart:

  • Both are P-4 security level micro-cut shredders that their respective manufacturers claim can shred 12 sheets of 20-pound-thickness paper in a single pass into confetti-like particles measuring just 5/32" x 15/32" (4 mm x 11.9 mm) and destroy plastic credit cards, CDs and DVDs, staples and small paper clips. 
  • Both have switches with 4 modes: Auto, Off, Reverse, and Forward (for unclogging or removing jams).
  • They have very similar dimensions and weights. 

However, our Aurota AU1210MA has delivered superior performance during the three months we have owned it so far. 

  • Although we haven't yet tried to feed 12 sheets at a time, our Aurora AU1210MA has successfully shredded stacks of 10 sheets without jamming, compared to the 4-sheet maximum we could feed through our Amazon Basics unit in one pass. 
  • Our Aurora is also noticeably quieter than its Amazon Basics predecessor, which we definitely appreciate.
  • The Aurora AU1210MA's 5-gallon capacity bin is much easier to remove and put back than our Amazon Basics' slightly larger, 5.7-gallon capacity bin.
  • The Aurora shredder claims a 60-minute continuous run time, compared to the 10-minute continuous run time for its Amazon Basics counterpart.

Time will tell whether it continues to perform reliably for the next several years. 

Photo of the author's Aurora AU1210MA high security micro-cut shredder
We have put our Aurora AU1210MA P-4 security level micro-cut document shredder through its paces for three months so far. It has delivered reliable performance and is much quieter than its predecessor.

Key Features and Benefits

Here are some of the reasons I recommend the Aurora AU1210MA Professional Grade High Security 12-Sheet Micro-Cut Paper, CD and Credit Card Shredder for personal and home office use (and prefer it to the Amazon Basics 12-Sheet High-Security Micro-Cut Paper, CD, and Credit Card Shredder with Pullout Basket):

  • P-4 security level micro-cuts documents and other media into 5/32" x 15/32" (4 mm x 11.9 mm) pieces, rendering confidential personal information or business data printed at its original size nearly impossible to recover in a readable form.
  • Can shred 12 sheets of 20-lb. paper in a single pass.
  • Can destroy CDs, DVDs, plastic credit cards, staples and small paper clips.
  • Long, 60-minute continuous run time (6x longer than the comparable Amazon Basics model).
  • 6 feet per minute shred speed (slower when feeding multiple sheets per pass).
  • Quiet operation.
  • Lightweight yet sturdy 5-gallon capacity bin with wheeled casters is easy to move and maneuver.
  • Large viewing window.
  • Bright LED status indicators: Bin Full, Door Open, Overload, Overheat, Power On
LED status indicators on the Aurora AU1210MA
These LED status indicators on our Aurora AU1210MA micro-cut shredder are brightly lit and clearly visible when they're on.

Protect Your Loved Ones With the Gift of a High Security Micro-Cut Shredder

A high-security micro-cut document shredder may not be the most obvious choice for gift giving, but it can be a thoughtful and valuable present, especially for young adults, seniors, and people who work from home or run a home-based business. 

Giving a friend or loved one an Aurora AU1210MA Professional Grade High Security 12-Sheet Micro-Cut Paper, CD and Credit Card Shredder can help you protect the recipient against identity theft and other types of impersonation fraud. It can also mean giving the gift of greater peace of mind.


The Best High Security Micro-Cut Shredder For Documents, Media and Credit Cards by Margaret Schindel


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Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Olaplex No.0 Intensive Bond Building Hair Treatment + No.3 Hair Perfector Product Review

I have tried dozens of top-rated hair care products over the years, including pricy salon and luxury brands, that have promised to restore the appearance of my aging, dry, dull, breakage-prone hair. While many have helped to some degree, the only ones so far that have truly delivered on that promise are Olaplex N°0 Intensive Bond Building Hair Treatment paired with Olaplex N°3 Hair Perfector. Thanks to the company’s patented bond building technology that repairs and strengthens damaged hair and improves their elasticity, using this dynamic duo just once a week prior to shampooing, conditioning, drying, and styling with my usual products has helped my tresses look nearly as smooth, shiny, soft, and frizz-free as they do after a salon visit.

Main image: Olaplex No.0 and No.3 hair repair treatment products on faux fur throw with text OLAPLEX N°0+ N°3 The Perfect Pair for Damaged Hair
This dynamic duo from Olaplex is an at-home version of the famous salon treatment

Olaplex N°0 and N°3 Have Transformed My Damaged Hair

I have always worn my hair long. In my teens and twenties, my locks were smooth, silky, and frizz-free, even in hot and humid weather. After four decades of being color treated, bleached blonde for highlights, and styled with heated styling tools, however, the cumulative damage has left my tresses dull, dry, frizzy, and prone to breakage. I also have more and more gray hair, which is coarser, drier, more brittle, and more fragile, since the scalp’s sebaceous glands slow down their production of sebum (oil) that helps keep strands from drying out around the same time the number of cells producing melanin (pigment) diminishes. 

The Olaplex N°0 Intensive Bond Building Hair Treatment primer with Olaplex N°3 Hair Perfector made a remarkable difference in the appearance and texture of my mane after just one use, and I’m seeing even greater improvement with consistent weekly use, thanks to the cumulative repair and strengthening benefits of Olaplex’s bestselling product duo. My hair feels softer and silkier, and looks smoother and less frizzy, than it has in many years. It’s also stronger and less prone to breakage, and I’m quite happy to see fewer and fewer strands relocating from my head to my hairbrush!

The Patented, Bond-Building Molecule That Revolutionized Professional Hair Care Products and Services

Olaplex was born when the company’s founder teamed up with two UC Santa Barbara scientists, who discovered a new, single molecule, bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate, that works from inside hair strands. Thanks to this groundbreaking active ingredient, their proprietary, patented active chemistry allows the Olaplex professional salon treatments and companion products for at-home maintenance to work at a molecular level from within the damaged strands. Unlike traditional salon treatments and products that temporarily mask the damage, Olaplex finds and repairs broken disulphide bonds to strengthen the hair and improve elasticity. 

The Olaplex standalone treatment is a salon service that pairs the company’s two flagship, professional-use-only products (Olaplex N°1 Bond Multiplier and N°2 Bond Perfector) to repair existing damage and improve the hair’s strength and elasticity. This proprietary, patented bond building treatment repairs all types of hair damage, whether caused by chemical factors (e.g., coloring, bleaching, perms, chemical relaxers, keratin treatments), thermal factors (e.g., blow dryers, curling irons, flat irons, hot rollers), mechanical factors (e.g., brushing, friction, tugging, pulling on wet hair), or environmental factors (e.g., sunlight/UV exposure, humidity, extremely hot or cold weather conditions, pollution). 

Salons can also add Olaplex to any type of lightening, bleaching, or coloring services (or use it as a perm prep) to mitigate their damaging effects and decrease the hair’s porosity. 

Top hair salons and celebrity stylists, as well as their famous clients (including Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lawrence, Drew Barrymore, Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner, and Julianne Hough, to name just a handful) have raved about Olaplex, fueling a social media buzz that turned the once-small startup from a dark horse into one of the global professional hair care market’s key players

The brand's innovative technology was so disruptive to the industry that L'Oréal, the world's largest beauty company, went so far as to essentially steal the formula for Olaplex N°1 (which contains the largest proportion of bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate) and use the stolen intellectual property to develop competing products for three of its own professional hair care brands, L'Oréal Professionnel, Redken, and Matrix! L'Oréal was found guilty of misappropriation of trade secrets and patent infringement, and Olaplex was awarded $91 million in damages. The damages awarded were later amended to $53.5 million

Close-up photo of Olaplex No.0 and Olaplex No.3 hair treatment products
Olaplex's "perfect pair" for repairing damaged hair!

N°0 + N°3: A "Lite" Consumer Version of the Professional Olaplex Standalone Treatment?

The professional products used in the Olaplex salon treatments, the N°1 Bond Multiplier and N°2 Bond Perfector, contain the highest concentrations of bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate and deliver the maximum repair and strengthening benefits. 

The products I have been using, Olaplex N°0 Intensive Bond Building Hair Treatment and Olaplex N°3 Hair Perfector, are considered the "hero products" for at-home maintenance between salon treatments. They are sold individually and as an Olaplex N°0 and N°3 treatment kit. Both products contain significantly more bis-aminopropyl diglycol dimaleate than any of the other consumer products (N°4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo, N°5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner, N°6 Bond Smoother, and N°7 Bonding Oil), which are more nice-to-haves rather than must-haves.

Olaplex introduced N°0, which it calls "a professional-inspired treatment that primes hair for deeper repair," has the highest dose of patented Olaplex technology in any of the take-home products. Designed to be used as "the first step in a two-part system with N°3 Hair Perfector," it rebuilds hair bonds, strengthens, and protects hair integrity. The N°0 "acts as an intensive repair booster, working in tandem [with N°3] to receive your most intense repair" and delivering "68% more repair & 3x stronger hair" after a single use when used together as a two-part system. According to the consumer website FAQ, "OLAPLEX technology works best when the product is wet in the hair. No.0 is a watery liquid that will dry quickly. Using No.3 over it keeps the hair damp, so both products can continue to work during the [at-home treatment] process."

Given the similarity of the product names and the characterization of N°0 as "a professional-inspired treatment that primes hair for deeper repair," I think this new primer was created to work with N°3 as a "lite" consumer version of the professional treatment, with N°0 and N°3 being used at home very similarly to the way N°1 Bond Multiplier and N°2 Bond Perfector, respectively, are used at the salon. 

Even Without a Professional Olaplex Salon Treatment, a Weekly at-Home N°0 + N°3 Two-Part Treatment Can Deliver Impressive Results

The primary purpose of doing a weekly Olaplex N°0 + N°3 two-step treatment at home may be to maintain the benefits of the professional treatments between salon visits. However, I and many others have found that even without having had an Olaplex salon treatment with the full-strength, professional products, the weekly at-home, two-step treatment can still produce unprecedented improvements in the smoothness, strength, and elasticity of our tresses. 

I would love to get the full, professional Olaplex salon treatment experience someday. In the meantime, however, I'm thrilled with how well these two consumer products perform together synergistically to repair, strengthen, de-frizz, and restore elasticity to my brittle, overstressed locks.

Note: Amazon Luxury Beauty is one of the authorized online retailer for Olaplex N°0, Olaplex N°3, and the rest of the brand's consumer products, which are also good for keeping healthy hair strong and resilient.


Olaplex No.0 Intensive Bond Building Hair Treatment + No.3 Hair Perfector Product Review written by Margaret Schindel


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