Anyone with frizzy hair (hello, hi) has most likely already tried every product that boasts the word ‘keratin’ in its name, ingredients list, or near vicinity.
So when new kids on the block Virtue landed – with a splash – in Sephora recently, as a card-carrying frizzy myself, I was intrigued. Founded by former The Body Shop COO Melisse Shaban, the brand offers a 16-product range that Allure described as “a defibrillator for fried hair” and “a miracle worker”.
So what exactly is the Virtue range’s breakthrough? Yes, it’s keratin, but no – not the keratin you know.
As Virtue themselves say, “the world didn’t need another hair care company. So we created a biotech company to repair hair.”
That’s no exaggeration. Virtue uses a patented technology called Alpha Keratin 60ku®, which was discovered somewhat by chance. Developed in the study of regenerative medicine to help severely wounded military soldiers, researchers realised that it was enormously beneficial to human hair. It makes sense, considering that it is made, quite literally, of human hair – as opposed to traditional keratin which is usually a highly processed animal by-product.
The result is not just another empty promise on a half-full bottle – it’s a truly revolutionary line that counts Oprah, Jennifer Garner, Reese Witherspoon, and Rooney Mara as fans.
We spoke with founder Melisse about Virtue, health, and motherhood. Time to put down the hair straightener.
As a frizzy hair owner, I've tried just about every de-frizz treatment under the sun. What makes Virtue Labs different?
Our difference is that we have technology with clinically proven results unlike anything else on the market. Virtue started with a technology that was never intended for use in hair care at all. Alpha Keratin 60ku® is a patented form of the human protein keratin that was developed in the study of regenerative medicine to help severely wounded military soldiers – with beneficial applications for bone, tissue, and nerve regeneration. By chance, it was also found to have enormous benefit for repairing hair. Contrary to other “keratins” you might have heard of, which are highly processed animal by-product, this is a unique protein that is derived from human hair, and carefully extracted to remain whole and fully functional. Because it is essentially hair, it “sees” cracks of damage, and goes where it’s needed to repave and heal the damage, giving you your best hair possible. And, lucky for us, it’s exclusive to Virtue.
After 5 uses, Virtue with Alpha Keratin 60ku® is proven to deliver up to:
138% increase in color vibrancy
95% split end repair
86% reduction in breakage
67% reduction in frizz
For frizz in particular, this technology fills cracks of damage, keeping more moisture inside the hair shaft, and smooths the surface of the cuticle so that it is less prone to the appearance of frizz.
You haven't always been in the haircare industry - how did that come about?
Actually, I’ve had a lot of experience with hair care, starting with Aveda, then later, Frederic Fekkai. Of course I have done other things in between, but the reason I’ve returned to the hair industry now is this exclusive technology that yields results like nothing I have ever seen before. At a time when hair has never been more unwell or more damaged, we were lucky to find what we believe is a disruptive technology with at least a 10-year pipeline of product innovation. It’s truly transformative – a real solution to real problems – and it’s the whole reason for being for the Virtue line.
How does Virtue Labs technology differ from a salon Keratin treatment?
It’s apples and oranges, really – not at all the same. Typical keratin treatments use protein fragments and polymers, or glues, to bind them to the hair shaft to mimic a smoothing effect. Virtue products with Alpha Keratin 60ku® actually transform the health of the hair by filling in the cracks of damage with a human-identical protein that is recognised by the hair and binds naturally to the hair. Rather than temporarily filling a “pothole” in the hair with bits of gravel that will wash away, with Virtue you are repaving that pothole to return your hair to its healthiest state.
What hair trends do you think we'll be seeing more of in 2020?
What I do see happening is more of a focus on the underlying health of the hair. I think maybe in the past it was all about achieving a particular look, a particular style; now I think women are more focused on health and wellness in every aspect of their lives, and that extends to the health and wellness of their hair. And in the process they are rediscovering that healthy hair is beautiful hair. The technology in our products has been clinically proven to improve the health and quality of your hair, to give you your healthiest, most beautiful hair possible.
You're a mother and a CEO. What do you hope your kids will learn from your example?
For both my daughter and my son, I hope that they will be inspired to find something that they are passionate about and give it their all. And hopefully be kind to people along the way.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
I think the life of any entrepreneur is one of controlled chaos. You’re dealing with every aspect of growing a business on a daily basis, from product development to marketing, to sales and servicing accounts, to doing press interviews, and on and on down to the nuts and bolts of running a small but rapidly growing company. And then of course there is the job of fundraising and working to ensure the financial health and stability of the business. I touch on every single one of these things on a daily basis.
What's your number one beauty tip?
Look in the mirror every day and see the best of yourself, the good things. Don’t concentrate on what you’re not.
Best remedy for a bad hair day?