The Red Yao’s Secrets to Healthy Hair
In the rice-terraced mountains of Longsheng, the Red Yao tribe has lived for centuries. Hair is at the heart of the tribe’s culture, and the Red Yao women are known for their exceptionally long, dark, healthy locks. It is not uncommon for women to reach the age of eighty without a single gray hair.
The inspiration for Viori and our premium line of hair care products was born out of our very first experience meeting these incredible, beautiful people.
A Brief History of Red Yao Hair Culture
The Red Yao tribe has lived in the Huangluo village in the mountains of China for 2,000 years, taking their name from the traditional red clothing they wear. Their small tribe is made up of about 300 members and 78 families.
Until the 1980s, no one outside of a woman’s immediate family was allowed to see her hair, that’s how sacred it was considered. If a man happened to come across an unmarried woman while her hair was down, he would be required to live with her family as a son-in-law and serve them for three years.
Their secret to healthy, vibrant hair lies in the special, simple way they wash it - a tradition that has been passed from mother to daughter for centuries (we’ll share that secret in just a minute).
According to legend, thousands of years ago, a young Yao woman used her long hair to whip an unwanted suitor. Since that time, the women have upheld a long tradition of growing their hair out. A Red Yao woman cuts her hair only once when she turns 18. At that time, her hair is cut to her ears to signify that she is ready to marry.
Women also wear their hair in distinctive ways to signify their social status. Before marriage, women keep their hair under a black scarf. A married woman who has no children wears her hair in a circle wrapped around her head, while a married woman who has children wears a bun at the front of her head.
The Red Yao Tribe’s Secrets for Healthy Hair
Red Yao women maintain their beautiful hair and keep it healthy using a simple traditional method of washing it in the river and making a special shampoo from Longsheng Rice. Each family has its recipe, but the formula always uses tribe-grown Longsheng Rice.
Traditions, Tourism, and the Changing Times
Sadly, poverty has hit the Red Yao tribe. Many women perform for tourists, showing off their hair to earn money. These earnings are rarely enough, so, many young women leave the village to work and live elsewhere.
With many young people choosing to leave the village, the future of the tribe’s culture is uncertain.
And we wanted to help.
Viori And The Red Yao
Meeting the Red Yao women motivated us to create a business dedicated to preserving their culture. We also wanted to find a way to sustainably increase the Red Yao economy so their kids would have greater opportunities on the mountain.
The tribe welcomed us, and the women shared their unique beauty rituals. They showed us how they prepare the Longsheng Rice to make their special shampoo. Then, we trekked through the rainforest to a hidden waterfall where the women used that shampoo in a communal hair care ritual that’s been performed for generations.
It was, to say the very least, a life-changing moment. It was also the inspiration for Viori.
Viori is committed to offering premium hair care products that use the Longsheng rice and help support the Red Yao tribe. We want to do everything we can to help preserve their culture for generations to come. We only use Longsheng Rice bought directly from the tribe at a 2X markup on their original price. We also currently take 5% of our profits and donate it back to the Red Yao to help increase educational opportunities for the kids, clean up the mountains, and support the elderly.
Now, the whole world can benefit from the hair care rituals that have given the Red Yao their legendary hair. (Have you tried our Hidden Waterfall Shampoo yet? Let us know what you think.)
We believe you can feel good and look good while doing good.