China’s Village of Real-Life Rapunzels

Hair gets everywhere. And that’s no different for the Yao women in the tiny village of Huangluo, China. In fact, folks come from miles around to see and learn about the women of Huangluo and their incredible ’dos.

For 3,000 years, the Yao women have built an entire tradition around their hair in a way few others can claim. It starts with the length. For the 200 or so women in Huangluo, long hair isn’t just grown to mid-back or past the shoulders. We’re talking feet, like over 5 feet long.

Most Yao women in Huangluo only cut their hair once, in a coming-of-age ceremony at 17. Even then, they save the hair they cut to use later, adding bundles back into a bun when they become mothers. It’s part of a proud tradition the Yao carry on into the modern day, passed from mother to daughter as an inheritance of their unique cultural history.

With over five feet (and two pounds!) of hair, how do the women take care of it? You don’t hone a tradition for over 3,000 years without also honing a perfect beauty regimen, so we’ll leave you with the Yao pro-tips for long, luscious locks.

1. Make your own shampoo. For the Yao, that means boiling fermented rice water with herbs, pomelo peels and tea bran. It’ll prevent graying well into your 80s, and it keeps your hair strong and lustrous.

2. Wash with this rice water mixture every three days. No need to overdo it—plus, washing 5 feet of hair is commitment enough.

3. Gently comb every day, and save any hair that gets combed out. You can use this in bundles for buns to show your status as a wife or mother.

Huangluo, Longsheng, Guilin, Guangxi, China

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