It is embarrassing to admit how many different hair products and routines that I have tried out in order to make my hair thick and luscious. I’ve tried everything from hot oil treatments, protein masks, to high-end shampoos and conditioners. After much trial and error, I stumbled upon the rice water method. Rice water is packed with amino acids like inositol that help to straighten hair and create fuller and thicker hair. The growth in popularity of the rice water method has caused an influx of different versions of the recipe. However, the origin and culture of this incredible method are often left out.
The Red Yao women live in a small village called Huangluo. They are notorious for their Rapunzel hair, so much so that this village is often nicknamed “Long Hair Village’’. Their relationship with hair dates back to their ancestors. These women cut their hair one time in their life at the age of 18 to symbolize the rite of passage into adulthood. Once a woman is married, she will take her hair and wrap it around her head. At last, when she has kids she will change her hairstyle into a large bun on top of her head with the hair that was cut off at 18.
These women solely use rice water to wash their hair. They will ferment the rice water with a citrus fruit called Pomelo and tree seed oil for weeks. Afterward, they will go down to their freshwater river to wash their hair with this solution.
Not only does this help with maintaining the strength in hair, but It also helps the aging process. These women are able to maintain their long and thick hair their whole lives. Even the elderly women will go their whole life without a single strand of white hair!
These Yao women have even been able to gain economic revenue by the increasing popularity of their hair. They have gained tourists and even created a theatre to showcase their traditions and history of their community. They rely heavily on the economic value of tourism due to their hair, so it is only fair to give credit where it is due.