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What is Virgin Hair?

By G. Melanson
Updated May 21, 2024
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The term virgin hair usually refers to hair that’s been untouched by chemical processes such as perms, relaxers, and dyes. It may also refer to hair that’s never had extensions, weaves, or other treatment which can cause damage to the cuticles. Virgin hair is sometimes considered to be hair that’s of an ideal quality, as it’s less likely to have split ends and a dull appearance caused by dryness. Virgin hair can also have a unique set of styling obstacles because it can be too soft or fine to control with styling products and secure in up-dos.

There are various alternatives to permanent dyes which can alter the color of the hair while still retaining its quality. For example, temporary dyes are much kinder to the hair than permanent and semi-permanent dyes, and sometimes also include conditioners that actually improve the condition of the hair. Unlike permanent and semi-permanent dyes, however, temporary dyes are only capable of producing a color that is darker than the hair’s natural color. In order to achieve a shade lighter than the hair’s natural color, it must first be bleached, and would then no longer be considered virgin hair.

Someone who wishes to achieve curly or full-bodied hair but still wants to maintain virgin hair has alternatives to chemical perms. Curling irons and hot rollers are some of the most popular tools used to achieve temporary curls, and there are also shampoos for sale that claim to add curl to hair. Simply braiding the hair or twirling it around the fingers while it’s damp and then securing it with pins can also create temporary curls or waves. The process of straightening hair, or “relaxing” it with chemicals, is not as easily re-created by temporary means. Although a hair straightener can have a temporary straightening effect on already straight or wavy hair, it has little effect on naturally curly or kinky hair.

The typically soft and fine quality of virgin hair is not conducive to all hairstyles. For example, “punk” hairstyles which are typically short and spiky are easier to achieve with hair that’s coarser or has been damaged. For this reason, hairstylists will sometimes advise their clients to bleach or permanently dye their hair in order to achieve volume. Virgin hair is also a valuable commodity which is grown, cut and sold in some countries to hair product manufacturers. These manufacturers then use the hair to make extensions and wigs which are exported all over the world.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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