I know it can be extremely confusing figuring out weave terminology (some of it being very new) and there is a lot of misleading information out there. Virgin hair is often touted to be the “best” but to be honest, if you purchase your hair from an established reputable company, processed hair may work just as well if not better for you. The key is making an informed decision before purchasing.
I always reference my preference for premium brands, which yes usually means expensive. If I am going to invest in my hair, then I always purchase from older, well established companies who have been providing quality hair extensions for years – long before the “virgin” and “bundle” hair explosion. When I first began purchasing non-beauty supply store hair, I didn’t know celebrities were also wearing the same hair brands. For me, it has never been about having the most expensive, or the newest, hottest hair on the block – honestly it was about having great hair that didn’t shed or tangle, that I could straighten and it would recurl, and hair that could be reused. I’d much rather spend big ONCE on amazing hair then smaller amounts multiple times on substandard hair.
The reason I went into that explanation is that the companies who have been supplying what the industry considers to be the best hair available for over twenty years do not use most of the labels these newer “pop-up” companies use. In fact, if you look at Extensions Plus, Indique, His & Hers, Perfect Locks, Hair Factory….they don’t claim to sell hair from a million different ethnic origins. As far as virgin hair goes, there is Indian and Chinese. That’s it; the rest is processed human hair. Brazilian, Peruvian, Russian, Cambodian – all of it is just hair of varying curl patterns and textures achieved through some level of processing to Chinese hair. Is it beautiful? Sure. Is it good quality? Sometimes. But the names are simply to attract those who are caught up in the whole virgin hair craze. Then by adding those exotic names plus the word virgin, they tack on a few extra hundred bucks to the price and the public goes crazy!
Most of the top companies clearly distinguish their steam processed collections from their virgin hair and both are good options. Steam processing refers to using hot water vapor to create a consistent curl pattern in the hair; no chemicals are used. When done properly, the result should be hair that has the same beautiful curl pattern from root to tip in every single bundle. Great steam processed hair should still have the cuticle intact, should still have all the strands aligned in the same direction and should still have great wefting. Great steam processed hair won’t shed or tangle and it can be colored – all reasons why women buy virgin! The major difference between steam processed and virgin hair lies in its straightening and reversion abilities. If the hair is not of a certain texture or curl pattern naturally then after repeated straightening, you will notice the curl pattern loosens and does not revert to be the exact same. So if you’ve spend a few hundred dollars on hair and after running a flat iron through it a few times are disappointed when the curls don’t pop right back, the hair most likely wasn’t virgin. As we all know virgin, aka natural, hair can be heat damaged so that is not an exact hard and fast rule, but for the most part it holds true.
Steam processed hair serves its purpose as well. Just like with your natural hair, virgin hair extensions can be unpredictable. The curl pattern may not always be the exact same between bundles. So, depending on what you want, steam processed hair may actually be a better fit for your needs.
That is why I review different types of hair and varying price points for the blog. I’ve done $20 beauty supply store protein blend hair, beautiful steam processed hair from a Chinese vendor, and quality virgin hair reviews. There is an option for every budget and just because my personal preference is to spend more, I recognize that everyone has different reasons for wanting to spend more or less on hair. The major lesson here is being informed about what you are buying so you know exactly what to expect and aren’t duped out of your money. There are times that the major players get it wrong – I’ve heard from a trusted source that Indique’s Bounce relaxed is awful, whereas their Pure collection gave me zero troubles. You also can luck up with a “cheap” company and get beautiful hair. With so many companies offering hair and our ability to purchase directly from Chinese suppliers, I’ll be the first to admit some of it is luck of the draw. But where the “premium” companies differ is in their honesty about the hair offered and the consistency and longevity in the quality of their product. For me, that is worth the investment when spending my own money on hair extensions.