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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Olaplex, the Southern California-based company known for its "miracle" anti-damage additive to hair bleach, went public Thursday morning after raising $1.5 billion in an initial public offering. It closed its first day of trading at $24.50 per share (up 17%), with a market cap of $15.9 billion.

Why it matters: In an age of unprofitable software and internet-driven companies going public, Olaplex stands out: it had $94.9 million in profit in the first half of 2021, on $270.2 million in sales — and it's a social media sensation.

The pandemic effect: "You were cutting your hair at home, you were bleaching your hair at home," so consumers flocked to purchasing the company's products, Olaplex CFO Eric Tiziani tells Axios.

  • And then when hair salons reopened, there was another wave of demand for Olaplex products as those same consumers needed professional help to fix their at-home mistakes, Tiziani added.

Backstory: Founded in 2014, Olaplex grew out of the creation of a pair of scientists in Santa Barbara, Calif. It uses an ingredient that repairs hair bonds during the bleaching and coloring process.

  • Since then, it's released nine products all derived from this initial ingredient, developing a cult following among hair stylists and customers (head to YouTube and TikTok if you want a glimpse of its popularity).

Go deeper

Breaking Biden's diplomatic logjam

Expand chart
Data: Center for Presidential Transition via Congress.gov; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The logjam for reviewing and confirming President Biden's ambassadorial picks is finally starting to break.

Why it matters: Biden is far behind his predecessors in the rate at which his ambassadorial picks have been confirmed. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a series of high-profile hearings and votes this week to finally begin chipping away at the backlog.

16 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats brace for staredown over paid family medical leave

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Senior House Democrats are braced for battle with the Senate over whether paid family medical leave — a key priority for progressives — will be included in President Biden’s final budget reconciliation bill, lawmakers and aides tell Axios.

Why it matters: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has indicated he wants to cut the program to reduce the bill's price tag. “Paid family and medical leave must be in the final package,” Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told Axios on Monday.

48 mins ago - World

Poland showdown is EU's Jan. 6 moment, top official says

Didier Reynders. Photo: Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

Poland and Hungary have forced a moment of reflection on the European Union — similar to the one in the U.S. after the Jan. 6 insurrection, EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders told Axios.

What he's saying: "During many years, we have had in our minds that it was granted that if you are a member of the EU, of course you apply the rule of law; you have full respect for democracy, fundamental rights and so on — maybe with some concerns but with a real intention to adapt your legislation to be in full compliance [with EU law]," Reynders said.