No stranger to the beauty industry and the seemingly never-ending carousel of 'next big things', Virtue’s Founder and CEO - Melisse Shaban - thought nothing could surprise her... until she heard of Alpha Keratin 60ku, a transformative protein set to transform the hair care world (one strand at a time). Discovered by Dr. Luke Burnett, a retired US army colonel using keratin to heal wounds and regrow tissue, Alpha Keratin 60ku is ethically sourced from human hair, so our bodies recognise it instantly and use it as if it were our own. Binding directly to areas of damage and filling them (without weighing strands down) this incredible range promises to restore your hair to its former glory.

More than qualifying as an authority in the realm of hair repair, we spoke to Melisse Shaban to discover everything you need to know about this tress-transforming range.

{Cult Beauty} First things first, can you tell us about the brand’s beginnings and ethos? What’s Virtue’s story so far?

It all started with this breakthrough technology that was never even intended for use in hair care. Alpha Keratin 60ku® is a patented form of keratin that was developed in the study of regenerative medicine to help severely wounded military soldiers. Unlike other keratins - which are highly processed animal by-products - this unique protein is derived from human hair and carefully extracted to remain whole and fully functional. As it is essentially hair, it ‘sees’ the cracks of damage, and goes where it’s needed to repave and heal, to give you your healthiest, most beautiful hair possible.

{CB} Can you describe Virtue in just three words?

Unlike anything else.

{CB} What sets Virtue apart from the rest of the industry?

Our difference is that we have technology that really does something. It’s clinically proven to improve the health and quality of hair in as little as five uses. We’re extraordinarily fortunate to have it exclusively at Virtue.

{CB} And for those unfamiliar with Virtue, which product is certain to kick-start an addiction?

For me, it’s the {Restorative Treatment Mask}. This amazing product can be used on a weekly basis for intensive repair and conditioning, without adding any weight to the hair. Plus, it works in only 3 minutes in the shower in the place of your regular conditioner. It’s perfect for any hair type or texture, and - like all Virtue products - it's safe for colour-treated hair. If you only try one of our products, this should be it, but be warned – it's a gateway product to the whole range.

{CB} When we think of Virtue, we think of the Alpha Keratin 60ku protein used in each of the formulas. Can you tell us more about this transformative ingredient? 

We did a lot of clinical studies with the ingredient and we were blown away by the results. After just five uses, Virtue products with Alpha Keratin 60ku deliver up to 67% reduction in frizz; 95% split end reparation; 22% increase in thickness; 138% increase in colour vibrancy. (Sources: AMA Labs and MRL)

{CB} What were the main objectives when creating Virtue?

We like to say that the world didn’t need another hair care company, so we created a biotech company to repair damaged hair. Seriously, the only reason for bringing these products to market is the Alpha Keratin 60ku technology - it's unlike anything I have seen in my 30 years in the industry. It's gratifying to know that with this technology we've created products that actually do what they say.

{CB} What kind of hair type(s) do the Recovery, Full and Smooth lines suit?

All of them contain the Alpha Keratin 60ku technology, but it’s the other partner ingredients that make them more suited to different hair types or textures. {Recovery} is our most universal in the Care category – pretty much anyone, no matter what hair type, will see benefits from using the Recovery line. {Full} is aimed towards finer hair types that want more volume, while {Smooth} is for thicker, highly textured hair that may be more prone to frizz.

{CB} Can you talk to us about your decision to join our Cult Conscious initiative? Why was it important for you to create cruelty-free formulas?

At the most basic level, we’re animal lovers. But really, there’s absolutely no reason in this day and age, to have cosmetic formulas that are not cruelty-free.  

{CB} We’ve never seen anything like the ColorKick release. Can you tell us what makes it so unique and who would benefit from using it the most?

Our ColorKick™ is the first-ever hair filler made from 100% pure human keratin, Alpha Keratin 60ku Reactive™. We launched it in January 2019, and until recently it's only been available as a professional salon treatment. Mixed with your colour, it promotes the integrity of hair by refilling the keratin protein that is typically eroded through the colouring process and repaving and sealing the cuticle for improved health, flexibility, and shine. It’s so effective and revolutionary that it was named one of the 100 greatest technology breakthroughs of the year by Popular Science magazine. Adding ColorKick into our Restorative Treatment Mask is also a great way to revive your colour and help reduce fading in between visits to the salon – something that's more relevant than ever! So we are very pleased now to offer ColorKick technology in our {Color Revival Kit™}, available to consumers for the very first time.  

{CB} How have you seen the hair industry change in the last five years? In which ways would you like the industry to change and evolve?

Whereas it used to be all about the appearance of hair, the last few years have seen a rise of consumers being just as concerned about their {hair health}. They’re putting more value on the quality of ingredients – what they’re putting on their bodies as well as in their bodies. They want easy, grab-and-go hair that looks good and that means healthy hair.

As for what I would like to see… I would like the industry to continue to build on innovation, with an eye towards sustainability and clean ingredients. I would like to see the industry being more diverse in its offerings and celebrating diversity. And I would really like to be a part of solving the problem of {hair loss} for women – it’s a significant and growing issue, and there hasn’t been much progress made. Rest assured, at Virtue, we are trying.

{CB} Who is Virtue aimed at? Do you have a ‘poster’ person in mind when developing your products?

Really, with {Virtue}, it all starts with the technology and the technology doesn’t see hair type or texture - it just sees damage, which can manifest in different ways. It’s the other ingredients that we partner with the Alpha Keratin 60ku protein that make them more suited to individual hair needs. So really, Virtue is for anyone who wants to experience their healthiest hair possible.

{CB} Are there any hair trends that you’re seeing more and more of?

I think we’re seeing more women embracing and perfecting their natural texture. The overall health and wellness movement is extending across more and more categories, including how we think about our hair.

{CB} What are your all-time favourite skin care products? 

For skin care, I love the Eve Lom {Cleanser}, Dr. Barbara Sturm {Hyaluronic Ampoules}, or Chantecaille {Gold Energizing Eye Recovery Mask}. When it comes to make up, I swear by the Hourglass {Veil Fluid} foundation.

{CB} Do you have any beauty staples that have pride of place on your nightstand?

Fragrances and candles from {Le Labo}. My vanity table could pass as one of their stores.

{CB} Finally, what’s next for Virtue?

I honestly believe we've only scratched the surface of what this protein can do - we’re learning more about it every day. As we continue to develop the brand, we will only go where this technology leads us. As for the future, I can say that we’re seeing promising results in our exploration of hair growth, and maybe even nail care. Stay tuned!