Raw vs. Virgin Hair: What's The Difference and Which is Better?


When it comes to hair extensions, the debate between raw and virgin hair is probably as controversial as the ongoing jollof rice rivalry. Navigating the world of hair extensions can be overwhelming, as terms such as synthetic hair, remy hair, human hair, virgin hair, mixed blends, and raw hair are frequently used interchangeably but inaccurately. We are uncovering the significant differences between Raw Hair and Virgin Hair and explain the impact that they can have on your styling and overall satisfaction. In our below comprehensive guide, we'll delve into the the differences between raw and virgin hair extensions, empowering you to make a more informed decision about which is more suitable for your lifestyle and styling preferences.

Understanding Raw Hair Extensions:

The term “Raw Hair” has been coined by hair specialists to identify authenticity and purity. It’s sourced directly from real human hair donors, often from Southeast Asian countries, and are 100% free from any chemical processing and synthetic additives. Raw hair material is also collected from single hair donors, retaining its natural integrity, texture, and colour. This means that the hair donation is collected and wefted in its growth direction ensuring cuticle alignment. This is also the reason why no two hair extensions are identical, as each bundle boasts of unique characteristics and are almost undetectable to those unaware of the wearers use of extensions. Hence, why it’s so popular amongst celebrities and in the medical field suitability for medical wigs. You may ask yourself why it’s not called “Virgin” instead? Well, to tell you the raw truth, the term “Virgin Hair” is misused globally and does not accurately represent hair that is truly virgin or pure.

Video 1: Explore the essence of raw hair with real-life examples in this video.

Exploring Virgin Hair Extensions:

Virgin hair extensions are often marketed as being made from pristine, untouched human hair, but they frequently lack clear information about their origins, including the source of the hair and the number of donors involved. Despite the name, "virgin" hair undergoes extensive chemical processing to achieve certain styles, like body waves or deep curls. Virgin hair is made from "goli hair", which is hair collected from various sources such as drains, combs, and floors. This type of hair has misaligned cuticles, which makes virgin hair extensions prone to tangling.

To address tangling, manufacturers subject the hair to acid baths, which removes the outermost layer of the cuticle. While this process reduces tangling, it also strips the hair of its natural health and shine, leaving it more vulnerable to breakage. To create a temporary appearance of health and lustre, factories coat the hair with heavy silicones, including industrial-strength dimethicone. These substances provide a superficial gloss and smoothness, but as most chemicals are water-soluble, it washes out after just a few uses, causing the hair to revert to its original, lacklustre and brittle condition.

This cyclic process is precisely why virgin hair extensions have a limited lifespan and are intentionally designed for frequent repurchasing every few months - a cycle that enriches factories and companies at the expense of consumers, who are led to believe they are buying a high-quality, durable product.

Image 1: A pile of goli hair, which is sold for less than $1 per kilo according to BBC. This is hair collected form the floor, drains and combs. The hair is then stretched, hackled and wefted before it undergoes chemical processing.  

Image 2. Examples of typical Virgin Hair - Made in China after chemical processing. 

Comparing Raw and Virgin Hair Extensions:

When evaluating raw and virgin hair extensions, several factors come into play:

  1. Authenticity and Variation: Raw hair extensions offer authenticity and individuality with in-tact, while virgin hair extensions provide a consistent appearance and predictability.
  2. Longevity and Maintenance: Raw hair extensions may require more meticulous care to maintain their integrity and can last several years, whereas virgin hair extensions are generally don’t require washing, but once washed experience severe tangling.
  3. Versatility and Styling Options: Both raw and virgin hair extensions can be styled and customised to suit various preferences and aesthetics. However, virgin hair often don’t hold curls very well due to its silicone content.
  4. Price and Investment: Raw hair extensions typically command a higher price due to their purity and exclusivity and are considered an investment due to its longevity, while virgin hair extensions offer a more cheaper option, but prove expensive due to frequent repurchasing needs.


In the ongoing debate between raw and virgin hair extensions, there surely is a definite answer as to which is superior. However, the choice depends on your personal preferences, styling needs, and budget constraints. If you prioritise authenticity, quality and are committed to maintenance, raw hair extensions offer unparalleled and longevous experience. By understanding the nuances between these two options, you can confidently select the ideal extensions to elevate your natural beauty and express your unique style.