Are They Dupes?: Kérastase Elixir Ultime VS L’Oréal Oleo Therapy Perfecting Oil-Essence

by Gio

a dupe for kerastase elixir ultime

Every woman should use hair oils every now and then. They have so many benefits and are very versatile. They condition hair, combat frizz, seal split ends, provide shine and can be used both on just-washed hair and before, as a pre-shampoo treatment.

But this little luxury doesn’t have to be expensive. If you don’t feel like splurging on the much raved about Kérastase Elixir Ultime, you can try its dupe L’Oréal Oleo Therapy Perfecting Oil-Essence. That’s my favourite, actually. Here’s why:

Ingredient Analysis



Although the marketing departments prefer to focus on the natural benefits the oils in these hair treatments provide, a couple of silicones almost always manages to sneak its slippery way into them. And they do a lot of the heavy work.

Both Kerastase Elixir Ultime and L’Oréal Oleo Therapy Perfecting Oil-Essence contain the same combination of silicones: cyclopentasiloxane and dimethiconol. Cyclopentasiloxane is a volatile silicone and quickly evaporates once applied on the hair. So why is it there in the first place? Two reasons. One: it helps the product glide more easily and spread more evenly.

Two: it helps deliver heavier silicones also contained in a product. In this case, dimethiconol. Heavier than cyclopentasiloxane but less than dimethicone, it provides the same lubricating properties as the latter but without weighting hair down.

Dimethiconol is able to condition hair, make it feel soft and silky smooth to the touch, provide shine, create a water-repellent protective barrier that helps prevent frizz, and seal up slip ends thus temporarily “repairing” them (nothing can, unfortunately, repair them permanently).

Argania Spinosa Oil

Argania spinosa oil, or argan oil, is derived from the kernels of the argan tree fruit, which grows only in a few regions (Morocco is the most famous). It’s this scarcity that makes argan oil very coveted, and very expensive.

Argan oil is high in fatty acids. In fact, oleic and linolic acid make up over 70% of its composition! These fatty acids give argan oil its emollient properties, allowing it to condition hair, making it soft and shiny.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any specific study about argan oil use on hair. We do know, however, that because of its composition, it can’t penetrate hair as well as other oils, such as coconut oil. Instead, it works by sealing moisture in, preventing dryness and helping to fight frizz.


Zea Mays (Corn) Oil vs Coconut Oil

Kérastase Elixir Ultime also contains zea mays (corn) germ oil. That’s another sealing oil. It has conditioning properties, so it too can make hair soft, help with frizz and split ends, and give hair shine. But it is more stable when it is crude, rather than refined, and quickly becomes rancid when exposed to hair.

L’Oréal has made a much better choice: coconut oil. It’s actually my favourite oil for hair because it can penetrate it very well. This allows it to strengthen and condition hair from within, not just from without, like most other oils do.

Further considerations on the formulas

Kérastase Elixir Ultime contains a higher number of oils, all of which have conditioning properties, but can’t really penetrate hair that well. L’Oréal Oleo Therapy Perfecting Oil-Essence, instead, contains fewer, but more effective, oils, and a bunch of natural extracts that are, however, unlikely to do anything for your hair.

Kérastase Elixir Ultime Ingredients

Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethiconol, Zea Mays / Corn Germ Oil, Argania Spinosa Oil / Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Camellia Kissi / Camellia Kissi Seed Oil, Pentaclethra Macroloba Oil / Pentaclethra Macroloba Seed Oil, Linalool, Alpha-Isomethyl Ionone, Limonene, Coumarine, Benzyl Alcohol, Parfum / Fragrance

L’Oréal Oleo Therapy Perfecting Oil-Essence Ingredients

Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethiconol, Parfum/Fragrance, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Argania Spinosa Oil/Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil, Cocos Nucifera Oil/Coconut Oil, Hexyl Cinnamal, Hydroxycitronellal, Chamomilla Recutita Extract/Matricaria Flower Extract, Isoeugenol, Gardenia Tahitensis Flower Extract, Rosa Canina Flower Extract, Linalool, Nelumbium Speciosum Extract/Nelumbium Speciosum Flower Extract, Linum Usitatissimum Flower Extract, Carrot Oil/Beta-carotene

The Bottom Line

Although Kérastase Elixir Ultime contains more natural oils, it’s L’Oreal Oleo Therapy Perfecting Oil-Essence that features the only one who can penetrate hair well. So, that’s my pick.

Which oil treatment is your favourite?

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Cristina A. April 25, 2015 - 6:20 am

Very good review – moast usef. Thank you

Gio April 25, 2015 - 7:34 pm

Cristina, you’re welcome. Glad you enjoyed it.

Kiss & Make-up April 25, 2015 - 10:57 am

Oh wow, who’d have thought! Cool 😀

Gio April 25, 2015 - 7:31 pm

Melissa, it’s great to find dupes for expensive products, isn’t it?

tirurit April 27, 2015 - 8:07 pm

Oooooh I might have to go and have a look at my orofluido oil and see what I can discover!

Gio April 27, 2015 - 8:11 pm

Tirurit, let me know what you find out!

Anonymous December 17, 2015 - 9:27 am

Very useful review. I used both and prefer oleo therapy. FYI Kerastas is made by L’oreal too.

Gio December 21, 2015 - 4:34 pm

Anonymous, that’s why the formulas are almost identical. They can safely copy from each other. 😉 But how ironic (and lucky for us), Oleo is the better one. You’d expect something so pricey as Kerastase to do a better job, but nope. L’Oreal wins.

Erica January 28, 2016 - 5:49 pm

Wow, I found this post through a Google search and it totally just made me a new fan of your site!! I’ve been using kerastase for years and just recently discovered l’oreal oleo. Although I prefer kerastase’s scent, for all the money saved I think I’ll go with l’oreal. Thank you so much for this post. It’s exactly what I was looking for and saved me a lot of time trying to figure everything out myself.

Gio January 28, 2016 - 6:03 pm

Erica, I’m so glad this post has helped you, and I hope to see you here often. 🙂

Anti-Ageing Hair - a woman of a certain age April 12, 2016 - 7:58 am

[…] The production of natural hair oils slows down as we age, making the hair dry, brittle, and prone to breakage. Oils replenish moisture loss and add glorious shine and silky softness. Here is a great drugstore dupe. […]

Mary July 15, 2016 - 12:40 pm

Just found this review now. Thank you. I use Kerastase elixir ultime but am now going to chance to L’Oreal . Any comments about the kerastase ultime shampoo and fondant versus the loreal equivalent?

Gio July 31, 2016 - 7:41 pm

Mary, glad this post helped you save some money. I haven’t found an exact dupe for the shampoo yet, but it doesn’t contain any special ingredients. Shampoos end up down the drain though so anything bar the cleansing agents in them won’t do anything for your tresses.

Gina June 30, 2018 - 5:32 pm

I’ve used the Kerastase line for at least ten years. Thanks for opening my eyes, as I am no longer able to afford the luxury. Have you ever compared the two lines of shampoo? K makes my hair so soft, I’m curious how it will do on the L brand.

Gio July 5, 2018 - 7:52 pm

Gina, I haven’t yet but I’d guess they are pretty similar. But I’ve been using L’Oreal shampoos for years and they make my hair very soft.


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