There’s been a growing interest in natural beauty products for some time now, with the likes of honey, olive and coconut oil replacing conventional haircare. As we take a less chemical approach to maintaining the health of our hair and skin, the search for natural alternatives has taken the beauty pack to the Yao women of Asia, where they owe their famously long hair to a very natural method.

Who are the Yao women?

yao women

The ancient Chinese village of Huangluo is actually nicknamed the ‘Long Hair Village’, as the Yao women in this autonomous region of Guangxi are known for their long, grey-less, shiny hair.

Most women in this area have hair longer than 1.4 metres, and have even made an appearance in the Guinness Book of Records.

For the Yao people, their long hair is their most prized possession, believing that long hair symbolises prosperity, longevity, wealth and good fortune. They wear their hair in different styles to represent landmarks in their life, such as marriage.

Yao women only cut their hair once in a lifetime, aged 18. The hair is gifted to a grandmother, and then returned to the girl after she is married to wear alongside her own hair, as a hairpiece – Some may say this was the original hair extension!

So, what’s their secret to Rapunzel-esque long locks?

The secret to growing the longest hair in the world

rice water for hair

Fermented rice water – yes really! Yao women have been using rice water for hair for years. (Rice water is the misty coloured liquid left from boiling rice, and fermenting it makes it even more beneficial for hair).

It’s been the Yoa women’s secret – as well as imperial princesses in the East – to long hair since ancient times.

Benefits of rice water

It turns out that murky, white liquid we pour down the drain after cooking rice is full of beneficial nutrients. Rice water can benefit hair in the following ways:

Encourages hair growth

yao women longest hair in the world

In order for hair to grow, it needs nourishment. Amino acids are extremely important for hair growth as 18 of them are needed for the production of the protein, keratin, which requires 18 different types of amino acids.

Rice water contains an impressive 8 amino acids, so it’s easy to see why it’s so beneficial for hair growth.

Amino acids aside, rice water also contains Vitamins B – needed for strong hair – C – needed to produce sebum which keeps the scalp moisturised – and E – prevents hair loss.

Prevents split endsThe hefty amount of amino acids in rice water give your hair not just the best chance of growth, but also strength. The stronger and healthier your hair, the less likely it is to get split ends – another reason to use rice water for hair!

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