Meet the Real-Life Rapunzel: British women with very long hair

Meet the real life Rapunzels! How do they cope with hair so long they can sit on it?

- Most girls grow out of their yearning for tumbling tresses as adults
- But there is now a growing trend for middle-aged women with long hair
- Supermodel Twiggy recently stood up for older women with longer locks  
- Here some of Britain's real-life Rapunzels show off their lengthy tresses

The story of Rapunzel, the girl trapped in a tower who is rescued by a prince climbing up her long locks, has captivated little would-be princesses the world over for centuries.
But while most girls grow out of their yearning for tumbling tresses, not everyone ditches the extra-long look when they hit adulthood.

As hair extensions soar in popularity on the red carpet, the number of middle-aged women with very long natural hair is on the rise, according to beauty experts.
real life Rapunzels
From left to right: Fiona Steane is 50 with 3ft long hair,  Sarah Rihal is also 50 and has 3ft 5in of hair, Melanie Brown is 60 and has 4ft long hair and Vanessa Thorpe is 40 with 2ft 10 inch of hair
And recently, supermodel Twiggy stood up for older women with long locks. ‘It makes me crazy when people say you have to cut your hair short once you hit 50,’ she said. ‘I saw a woman the other day in her late 70s with silver hair down to her waist. I thought, “Good on you, girl.”’
Here, some of Britain’s real-life Rapunzels show off their locks — and explain why they’d never consider going for the chop…

Vanessa Thorpe, 40, is a production editor. She lives in Essex and is divorced with one son.
Vanessa Thorpe very long hair
Vanessa Thorpe, 40, will only use hair products that have not been tested on animals and washes and conditions her hair every morning despite the fact it takes four hours to dry naturally 
  I love having long hair, especially combined with its unusual colour. I don’t understand why some women feel compelled to cut their hair when they reach a certain age.
  I wash and condition it every morning, as it feels so much nicer. I never stick to one brand or product. I find my hair gets used to certain shampoos and conditioners and then they’re not as effective. I never buy expensive products.
  The products I’m using this week are Superdrug’s Pro-V, but before that I used Sainsbury’s own-brand. My only rule is that the products are not tested on animals.
Vanessa Thorpe long hair
Vanessa says she has never been tempted to go for a big hair cut but she has it trimmed every eight months where she has to stand up while they cut it
  Washing it every day takes about ten minutes. Then I squeeze the water out with a towel and comb it through with a Tangle Teezer. It takes four hours to dry naturally, and I don’t use styling products.
  I’ve never been tempted to go for the chop. I had it hacked to shoulder-length when I was 13, but regretted it. I go for a trim about every eight months, and have to stand up so they can cut it.
  I don’t keep it this length to attract men, although I guess they like it. My boyfriend likes it, but I’d like to think he’s attracted to me and not just my mane.

Melanie Brown, 60, is a retired teacher. Divorced, she has two grown-up daughters and lives in North London.
Melanie Brown very long hair
Melanie Brown, 60, says men have always found her hair attractive and that she has been proposed to twice thanks to her long locks
  My hair started really growing when I was five years old and I’ve only been to a professional hairdresser twice as far as I can remember. The first time was when I was 15 and my hair was thick and long. The hairdresser cut it to my shoulders and that put me off for years.
  The second time was when I was in my 20s and I’d got my first teaching job. Headlice are a worry for teachers with long hair, so I marched to a hairdresser in London that specialised in long hair and said: ‘Cut it all off!’ They refused. They said it was so beautiful they wouldn’t dream of cutting it.
  Men have always found my hair attractive. I’ve had two proposals of marriage just because of my hair. One was from a colleague I’d only been working with for two weeks when he said he loved my hair and wanted to marry me. Not surprisingly, my ex-husband didn’t like the attention it got.
Melanie Brown long hair
Melanie says she doesn't do anything special with her hair and washes it about once a week using whichever shampoo is cheapest
  I really don’t do anything special to it. I wash it once a week with whatever shampoo is the cheapest on offer at Boots. I don’t use any special styling products, either. I just dry my hair with a hairdryer or, in the colder months when I have the heating on, I lie watching TV next to the radiator.
  Occasionally, I’ll get annoyed with it. But it’s part of ‘me’ now and I couldn’t imagine having it shorter.

Sarah Rihal, 50, is a property manager from South London. She is married to Bob, 58, a pharmacist, and has two children, Alice, 27 and Jasmine, eight.
Sarah Rihal very long hair
Sarah Rihal, 50, says she has had long her all her life and her youngest daughter Jasmine has hair the same length. Sarah says children in the school nursery often call her Rapunzel
  I’m not a very girly girl but I’ve had long hair all my life. I went through phases when I was younger where I had shoulder-length hair, but since my late teens it’s been down to my bust.
  My youngest daughter, Jasmine, has hair the same length as mine.
Jasmine has to wear hers plaited for school. When I pick her up, I often hear children in nursery whispering,     ‘Look, it’s Rapunzel’ when we walk past. That makes me smile. I go to my hairdresser, Neil Ward, at his specialist salon Long Hair in London four times a year for a trim and conditioning treatment. The first time I went, I had my hair up in a metallic clip and Neil whipped it out and threw it in the bin.
  At home, I use a special shampoo and conditioner from the George Michael Long Hair range, as well as a cream rinse, which is like a conditioner that you comb through the ends after washing. I keep a jug of it in the bathroom, so I can just dunk the ends in after a shower.
Sarah Rihal long hair
Sarah uses a special shampoo from the George Michael Long Hair range, but she says there are practical difficulties with having long hair like having to plait it at night to avoid knotting
  I wash my hair once a week — it does get greasy but it doesn’t usually need more than that. What I love about hair this length is that you don’t have to do anything with it. I wear it plaited or on top of my head in a bulldog clip. I just wash it and let it dry which takes about two hours.
  There are practical challenges to having long hair. And, at night, I have to plait it or it would get knotted around my pillow and my poor husband!
  My hair is my favourite part of myself. It is the one thing that makes me feel really feminine.
I don’t think I’ll ever be tempted to cut it. Redheads like me tend to go white, not grey, so hopefully it will still look elegant in years to come.

Fiona Steane, 50, is an artist . She lives in London with her husband of 20 years, Christopher, 48, a banker, and their 17-year-old daughter, Amelia.
Fiona Steane very long hair
Fiona Steane, 50, wanted to cut all her hair off when she was 15 but her mother refused and she's had it long ever since then and gets it trimmed twice a year 
  My mother always kept my hair long. She had very long hair and she liked me to have it that way, too. I was dancing back then, so it was easier to have it long and whip it up into a bun. When I was 15, I wanted to cut it all off and my mother refused — so it’s been this way ever since.
  I don’t like watching people getting their hair cut and I hate hairdressers. I couldn’t even watch my husband getting his hair cut recently — there’s something about it that makes me feel sick.
I get it trimmed, just getting rid of the split ends, twice a year. Then I have a conditioning treatment, which takes up to six hours but feels amazing afterwards.
  I don’t have a hairdryer. I’ve never used one. I don’t colour my hair. I don’t straighten it. I just shampoo, condition and leave. It’s pure laziness. This might look like it takes a lot of work but in reality I don’t have to do anything.
  I do make sure I use specialist hair products for long hair. When it comes to conditioner, I slather loads of it on. This keeps it nice and smooth. My cut-off point — when I know it’s got too long — is when I can sit on it. It gets stuck in car doors and it’s always in the way.
Fiona Steane long hair
Fiona says she uses special clips from Paris to protect her hair when she wants to put it up
  My hair is manageable at this length. When I want to put it up, I use special plastic clips from Paris so as not to damage my hair.
  An Arab man offered to buy my hair once. I
 thought it was hysterical. My daughter has beautiful long, thick hair. Hers is darker than mine but it’s stunning. I don’t like it when people touch my hair. I have to remind them that it’s mine. Daily Mail

Meet the Real-Life Rapunzels