Until very recently, 18-year-old Nilanshi Patel of Modasa, Gujarat, India, hadn’t cut her hair since experiencing a bad haircut at six years old. Her dedication to growing her locks earned her three Guinness World Record titles, including the most recent record for longest hair on a teenager ever.
Nilanshi, a.k.a. the “real life Rapunzel,” first entered the record books in 2018, when her hair was 170.5 cm (5 ft 7 in) long. She then broke her own record in 2019 after her locks had grown another 19.5 cm (7.7 in) and again days before her eighteenth birthday in August 2020, at a final length of 200 cm (6 ft 6.7 in).
At its longest, Nilanshi’s hair appeared to just reach the ground when dry. However, once wet—as it must be for official record measurements—her natural waves straightened, and it reached the final impressive length.
After 12 years of growing out her hair, and approaching an age making her ineligible to qualify for the longest hair on a teenager record, Nilanshi decided to donate her magnificent mane to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and Guinness World Records. It was her mother, Kaminiben, who helped her come to this decision, as she also considered auctioning off the long locks.
Nilanshi recalls what her mother said to her: “Your hair is made to inspire people.” Indeed, it takes a great deal of perseverance and determination to maintain such a large amount of hair. Once a week, Nilanshi and Kaminiben would work together to wash, comb, and dry the lengthy locks. “My hair gave me a lot,” says Nilanshi, “Because of my hair I am known as the ‘real life Rapunzel’, now it’s time to give back.” Inspired by her daughter, Kaminiben vowed to donate a portion of her own long hair to cancer patients.
Finally, the moment to say goodbye arrived. Anxious and excited, Nilanshi held her hair and thanked it. The tresses were tied into manageable sections and then—with her eyes closed and fingers crossed for good luck—the first snip was made. After much nervous giggling and exclamations of “Oh my god!” after each ponytail was cut, Nilanshi’s stylish new bob was revealed to her.
The verdict? She loves it! “I feel proud that I’m going to send my hair to the U.S. museum—people will see and be inspired by my hair. I’m really, really happy… Today is a new beginning, and I hope I will break many more records in the future,” she commented. She maintains that even though she no longer has Rapunzel-length hair, she is still a princess. And after seeing her giddy dancing, we have to agree!
You can see Nilanshi’s hair for yourself for a limited time at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Hollywood, beginning in May 2021. Following its time at Ripley’s, Nilanshi’s hair will go on permanent exhibit at the Guinness World Records museum in Hollywood!
All photos copyright: Ripley Entertainment and Guinness World Records