Secrets of The Red Yao: The Path to Body-Length Hair

I’m sure at some point you’ve seen the crown of another naturalista and uttered to yourself “#HairGoals”. Whether it be for the length, health, shine, bounce, elasticity, manageability, or whatever it is, I’m sure it must have happened at least once, right? We all get a little bit of Hair Envy every now and then: for some reason, we tend to want what we don’t have. While I strongly believe it’s important to be content with your own hair, there is nothing wrong with trying techniques that can enhance what you’re already working with!

Part of how people become our “Hair Goals” is by finding and sticking with the techniques and ingredients that work for them. Plain and simple. And there’s a group of women located in the Huangluo Yao Village in China who are doing just that! They have found exactly what works for their hair, and in doing so have achieved body-length hair: hair that is longer than life! To learn more about the Red Yao Women, click here.

Red Yao Women: Front Ponytail

Red Yao Women: Styled

Red Yao Women: Styling

The secret to the Red Yao Women’s super-long hair is found within grains of rice, believe it or not! More specifically, the water that is left over from rice that has been cooked or soaked. Rice water, which contains vitamin B, C, and E, is said to add elasticity and shine to the hair, increase its manageability by serving as a conditioner, and also provides protein.

Yes, I do recognize that the Red Yao Women have straight hair- and at first, I myself thought that the effectiveness of this technique was probably specific to people with Asian hair- but after attending a Black hair workshop recently (Hair Inside Out, sponsored by Francine Francis, and hosted by Kym Niles of I Can and I Will), I found out that rice water is actually good for all types of hair, including African hair. So why not give it a shot?
Rice Water Recipe:

  1. 1 Cup of Organic Rice (any kind brown, long grain, short grain etc)
  2. 4 and a 1/2 Cups of cold water

Instructions:

  1. Mix the rice and water in a container.
  2. Let mixture sit for half an hour, stirring occasionally.
  3. After 30 minutes, strain, and transfer the water into a spray bottle.
  4. Store in the fridge for no longer than 2 weeks.

Rice water works as a wash day/pre-poo treatment, so when the time comes, follow these instructions:

  1. Saturate your strands with rice water and oils of your preference.
  2. Cover your head with a plastic shower cap or bag for 30 to 60 minutes.
  3. After the time has elapsed, take the cap/bag off, and continue on with your regular wash day routine.

And there you have it- the secret to length from the Red Yao Women of China is right in your pantry! And the best part is, it doesn’t cost a fortune!

Have you ever used rice water in your healthy hair journey? Tell us how and whether it worked for you in the comments!

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The Natural Hair Movement is here to stay: Afrofest 2015

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For the past 27 years, Afrofest has been bringing the rhythms, flavours, creativity, and vibrancy of the African continent to the heart of Toronto, in a free festival that attracts thousands of people annually.

This Saturday, I headed down to the festival at Woodbine Park, with my hubby and my brother, to not only celebrate Mama Africa but to also ask some of her daughters the following question:

Is the Natural Hair Movement just a trend, or is it here to stay?

First, I met Marilyn.  “It’s about time!” was her response, when asked for her thoughts on the traction of the Natural Hair Movement.  Marilyn started out her natural hair journey “spit-shine bald” two years ago, and now sports an oh-so-perfect asymmetrical ‘fro!

 

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20150704_154305Then I had the privilege of running into YouTube sensation, Samantha Gomez of I’m Samantha Gomez (click here to check out her channel), and fitness, lifestyle and hair blogger, Alaina Gomez-Henry of Shorty with a Curl (click here to visit her blog), who were working the festival as representatives for CURLS™ Hair Products.

They both agreed that the Natural Hair Movement is here to stay.  “People are embracing it more and more,” stated Samantha.

These beautiful curlistas were also kind enough to bless me with some samples of one of my favourite styling products, CURLS™ Crème Brule Whipped Curl Cream (love how it defines my curls!), which made my day!

Perfect travel size too!

Who doesn’t like crème brûlée?

20150704_163536Later, I met the lovely Shaniqua, wearing extension braids with grey highlights, at the Black Experience Project tent.  She was recruiting participants for the BEP Project, an important study about the “‘lived experience’ of individuals across the Greater Toronto Area who self-identify as Black or of African heritage” (if you’re interested in participating in the study, click here).

Shaniqua thinks that the Natural Hair Movement is here to stay, as “people are reconnecting with themselves and are embracing themselves.”  She shared that she decided to go natural about 4 years ago, when her hair had broken off from perming it.  The breaking point for her was when her stylist wanted $125 to perm just a couple of inches of hair…needless to say, she has been natural ever since!

 

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Then I chatted with Sipo, whose glorious twist-out I spotted at the City of Toronto tent.  Sipo believes that the Movement is here to stay:  “Once you go natural, and get used to it, you never go back!”

She shared that earlier on in her hair journey, she would go to Afrofest just to check out the hair—the festival offered a great opportunity to see what kinds of hairstyles other people were trying out!

And I agree with her—what better place to get a snapshot of what’s happening in Toronto’s Black hair scene than a gathering of brothers and sisters from across the African continent and the Diaspora?

Honey Fig, the natural beauty supply store (www.honeyfig.com), also had a tent!

Honey Fig, the natural beauty supply store (www.honeyfig.com) had a tent too!

If my conversations with these naturalistas—along with my personal observations—were any indication, it looks like natural hair is not just a fleeting fashion trend, but rather is developing into a true movement of self-awareness and self-acceptance that is really taking root (pun intended) in the Greater Toronto Area.

 
 

Do you agree? Is the Natural Hair Movement here to stay, or is it just a trend?