How to tell whether your hair is virgin, synthetic or raw - 5 simple tests you can try at home

Wondering if the hair you’ve purchased is virgin? Not sure what the difference is between virgin hair and raw hair? Maybe you’re concerned the hair you’re buying is synthetic hair. We’ve got you. 

Read on for handy tips on buying human hair. 

Why is it so hard to spot human hair? 

There is a lot of mislabelled hair for sale, which makes makes it hard to decipher what’s real and what’s not. Worse still, understanding the various labels can be a tough feat. What is ‘mink hair’? What is ‘velvet hair’? Is it better than virgin hair? 

Our hair guide explains what the types of hair are and how you can spot them. 

When it comes to labelling, you'll need to be wary as there are labelling inconsistencies from vendor to vendor. What one supplier labels as “Cambodian curly” could very be Indian Curly by another, but they both originate in India.  

It can honestly feel like you’re shooting in the dark but worry not, this post is here to stop you from falling for fake Brazilian hair or worse yet, low grade synthetic hair extensions being mislabelled as Brazilian hair.   

By the way, most human hair on the market is collected in India.  A few years ago, the terms “Peruvian”, “Brazilian”, “Malaysian” etc. were coined as a way of describing the textures of steamed virgin hairs but these days, very little of the hair described that way is actually from Brazil, Peru etc. 

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If you’re after quality assured human hair, then shop our collection of virgin hair bundles and wigs. No need to test, we only stock real virgin hair. 

Now let’s delve into the various hair tests you can try yourself at home to see whether you have synthetic, virgin or raw hair (you don’t need to be a hair expert or a scientist, they’re all super easy).

1. Burn Test 

This test is an easy one but do proceed with caution. Simply take a small section of hair and burn it with a lighter preferably in a metal sink (please be careful and keep away from flammable items). 

True human hair will burn (actually catch flames) turn in to a grey ash colour and gives off a white smoke when burnt. Synthetic hair will not burn and will instead curl up into a ball and turn into a sticky black texture that will quickly harden as it cools down just like plastic.  

Now that you have a better insight into testing the quality of your hair, go out there and find yourself the best quality hair that you can get your hands on.

2. How to tell if your hair is raw hair or virgin hair – texture test 

This one is also super easy.   

Raw hair is unprocessed – no chemicals, no steaming. It’s just been cut from a human head and washed in conditioner.  

As most raw human hair is sourced from South-East Asia or India, raw human hair is usually straight or wavy in texture, with natural imperfections in the wave pattern, as you’d expect with human hair.   

If your hair has a perfectly formed body wave, deep wave or is kinky straight, it is very likely that perfect texture has been achieved by steaming and the hair is virgin hair, not raw hair. 

3. How to tell if your hair is virgin - Wash Test 

The third method is a virgin hair test you can use to test whether your hair is virgin – simply by washing it. This is a good test to perform on your hair because not only does it show if your hair has been chemically processed or dyed, it will also show what the natural texture of your hair extensions are.  

When washing your hair, watch out for any variations in the colour that runs off your hair.  

Virgin hair shouldn’t have any chemical processing outside water and heat (steam processed hair is considered unprocessed). If the water changes colour, it could indicate that your hair has been chemically processed or dyed prior to you receiving it.  

Some chemicals used in your hair may not show in the water, but the changes would be visible after properly washing through the extensions. You might notice that your hair lacks lustre and sheen after it is washed.  If this happens, it’s likely that your hair was treated with a chemical (like silicone) to make it shiny to first glance.  This often disguises the fact that the cuticles are not aligned and the hair is not healthy or virgin. 

4. Patch Test 

A patch test is the procedure normally used by hair stylists and other technicians to test if it is safe to apply hair dye to the scalp. In the case of hair extensions and wigs, patch tests are used to see how well your extensions take to bleach and colour. These are great ways of testing if your hair is true Remy or virgin hair. 

Step one: Taking a small section of hair and apply hair bleach. 

Step two: Leave for 45 minutes to an hour to see what results you will get from this.  

If your section of hair lightens to different shades of blonde, brown and black it means your hair extensions are mixed with synthetic fibres and is not 100% human hair.

5. Price 

Finally, a simple price check can let you know what type of hair you’re dealing with.  

Synthetic hair is the least expensive, then virgin hair then raw hair.  If you’re buying a “human hair lace frontal wig” that costs less than £50 for 12 inches, it is highly likely that hair is synthetic or is at least partly synthetic.  If you’re buying a “raw hair” lace frontal wig that costs less than £150 for 12 inches, you’re probably  buying virgin hair and not raw hair.  

Purchase hair you can trust  

It can be disheartening to spend money on hair that misses the mark - especially if the returns policy is non-existent. We recommend only purchasing from a retailer you can trust and always test the hair to ensure you’re getting what you paid for.  

If you want to purchase without the worry, shop our collection of virgin hair extensions and lace frontal wigs for hair you can trust.