Tribal Hair Lessons

Secrets of the Long Black Hair of Yao Women

January 16, 2018
long black hair of Yao women

If you are like me who is always curious to know the secrets of anyone with long hair, you will be interested in what makes the hair of the Chinese people of the Red Yao ethnic group so long & shiny. By long, I mean that the length of their hair reaches all the way down to their ankles. Sounds like your hair goals, right? So then, let’s find out the secrets of the long black hair of Yao women.



For these women, hair means a lot to them. For them, it is also a symbol of long life, wealth & prosperity. Also, their hair is considered sacred until recently when no one was allowed to look at a woman’s hair except her husband & children. Anyone aside her family caught looking at her hair will be forced to spend three years with her family as a son-in-law, but all these have changed probably because of the increase of tourism in their area.

According to, the Red Yao tribe as they are called dates back some 2,000 years.  They currently have 600 members of the tribe in the total made up of 78 families. Most of the long black hair of Yao women is as long as 6 feet.  Some of the Yao women live in the mountains of southern China’s Guangxi province.

They only cut their hair in their lifetime & that is when they are 18 years old in preparation for their entry to adulthood. The cut hair is then preserved by the girl’s grandmother & gifted to the girl’s husband when she gets married. She uses as an extension in styling her hair later on.
The secret to the long black hair of Yao women the luscious strands of these women is that they wash their hair with fermented rice water. Their hair is jet black & quite difficult to see any grey hair if even when they are well into their old age. They also use a wooden comb to comb their hair carefully. I’m guessing this reminds you already to always detangle your hair properly.
Aside from having a hair regimen with fermented rice water, they wrap their hair in a protective style using three bunches of hair: her own hair, the hair that was cut when she was 18 & also a bunch made from her fallen strings of hair.
But then, what makes fermented rice water so special? According to this source, it contains vitamin B, C & E. Rice water also contains inositol, a carbohydrate that helps repair and strengthens damaged hair. This carbohydrate also helps boost hair elasticity. It has saponins, a natural cleanser for hair thus making it suitable for washing hair.
According to Dr Margaret Trey who used rice water on her hair:

Since I began washing my hair with the fermented rice water, I notice that my hair feels softer, stronger, and more manageable.

I find that the fermented rice water hair treatment cleans my hair well without drying it out. My hair has gotten used to it, and I found that when I occasionally use a commercial-brand shampoo, my hair is stripped of its natural oils and becomes wispy and almost too fragile to brush. Then I have to use a hair-repairing product to moisturize it.

How to Make Fermented Rice Water

By now, you might be anxious to know how to make fermented rice water.

  • Rinse a cup of rice then throw away the water you use to wash it the first time.
  • Steep the rice in 2 cups of water for about 20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes or so.
  • Afterwards, strain the water into a bottle and set aside for a day until it turns slightly sour & starts to ferment
  • Boil it & allow it to cool
  • Add a few drops of your preferred essential oils such as lavender essential oil & store it in your fridge.

long black hair of Yao women

How to Use Rice Water for Stronger & Longer Hair

You can use fermented rice water like a shampoo or use it as a final rinse. Fermented rice water is acidic, and when you rinse your hair with it, it restores and balances the pH of your hair. Note that rice water is concentrated so you need to dilute every cup of rice water with about 2 cups of water. 

So, next time you clean or boil rice, think twice before throwing away the leftover water.



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  • Reply babs January 16, 2018 at 7:40 pm

    wow!!!!!! we Africans have the shortest hair length. really do admire these people. thanx for this post babe.

    • Reply JOIE January 17, 2018 at 7:30 am

      You are welcomed, Babs! Good thing for us is that with the knowledge of how to care for African hair, we can now grow our hair long too.

  • Reply Trecia February 17, 2018 at 11:02 pm

    sounds so good ,sounds so possible, sounds so helpful, thank God I saw this beautiful site of yours! Thanks a million 😁

    • Reply JOIE February 19, 2018 at 6:45 am

      I’m happy you found it helpful. You are welcomed. Cheers!

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