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I'm not sure how widespread the following practice is, since, as a man - and even since I was a young boy - I have always taken little notice of other women and girls outside my immediate family as I (usually hurriedly) leave my home and go to Shul on Friday afternoons and 'Erev Yom Tov. But I have observed, here and there, women who don't constantly cover their hair, as well as unmarried women and young girls, who specifically wear some sort of head covering when they light candles.

How widespread is this practice, and is it required (at least by some)?

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Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/29438/5 –  Seth J Jun 24 '13 at 15:51
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Similarly, related: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/29441/2091 –  Lee Jun 24 '13 at 16:46
    
I might guess it's a simple inconsistency (many if not most opinions say they should cover their hair inside their own homes), much like some men cover their head with a Yarmulke when they go to Synagogue even though they're supposed to wear one at all times. –  A L Jun 29 '13 at 0:06

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The issue would seem to be covering one's head during prayer or blessings (in this case the blessing on the candles).

Rabbi Adir Hakohen of Yeshivat Kisse Rahamim quotes Rav Ovadiah z"l (Yabia Omer vol. 6 ch. 15) here as holding that the custom today is for unmarried girls to not cover their heads during blessings, and they have halachic backing for this, but they should at least cover their heads during Shemoneh Esreh and Birkat Hamazon:

שאף שהמנהג כיום שהבנות הרווקות אינם מכסות שערות ראשן בשעת הלימוד או שמברכות ויש להן על מה שיסמוכו, מ"מ לכל הפחות שישימו כיסוי על ראשן בתפלת שמונה עשרה ובברכת המזון.

(Note that the questioner there was asking specifically about girls above the age of 12.)

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Do the OP's women cover their heads for Shemone Esrei as well? –  Double AA Aug 12 at 5:04
    
@DoubleAA Even if they do not, the OP's question is answered, for rather than engaging in mysterious activity, they are merely selectively following a halacha. –  mevaqesh Aug 12 at 5:10
    
That's still a pretty mysterious thing to do, no? –  Double AA Aug 12 at 5:12
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@DoubleAA this is a machlockes in semantics. I provided the halachic basis. Why people keep a specific halacha only in certain contexts should be addressed to cogsci.stackexchange.com –  mevaqesh Aug 12 at 5:16

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