Asha Mandela has a lock on the record for the longest locks (locs).
The 60-year-old Clermont, Florida, USA resident’s locs measured 5.96 m (19 ft 6.5 in) on 11 November 2009.
Today, Asha’s luxurious locs are even longer and according to her bio on Instagram they now measure up to 33.5 m (110 ft).
Asha first began growing out her lovely locs over 40 years ago, after moving from the island of Trinidad and Tobago to New York, USA.
Her beautifully maintained locs, which weigh an astonishing 19 kg (42 lb), are her crowning glory.
"I don’t like the term dreadlocks because I don’t think there’s anything dread about my locks." – Asha Mandela
"I refer to my own hair as my royal crown of locs or my cobra," she continued.
"When I’m ready to go into my sleep chamber with my cobra baby, I would have them tied up in a little sack and we cuddle and talk to each other."
Asha described the process of growing out her famous tresses as part of a spiritual quest to change her life.
"When I was growing up, I had absolutely no idea of the whole origin of dreadlocks or Rastafari," shared Asha.
"I started having dreams of what others may refer to as visions, where the huge cobra would appear before me and start talking to me; letting me know that I’m the chosen one."
However, not everyone was on board with Asha's decision at first, including her two sisters, who didn't like the "Rasta business or the dreadlock stuff", as Asha put it.
Despite taking a little bit of time to be convinced, they came to accept and embrace Asha's hairstyle and lifestyle.
her husband Emmanuel Chege, a professional loc stylist from Nairobi, Kenya, is arguably the biggest fan of Asha's locs. After they met he became her "cobra trainer", and began dedicating his time to styling her hair.
Asha says curious onlookers will frequently approach her with questions about the cleanliness of her hair.
"As much as they like the way I look with my locs, most others would say there’s no way that could be clean or healthy because how can you really wash locs properly if it’s all knotted hair."
However, Asha insists that maintaining good hygiene for her locs is of utmost priority.
Rather than wearing "chunky" locs, she opted for smaller finger-sized ones so she could wash them thoroughly.
"I wanted to be able to get into my roots when I wash my hair to make sure its clean and not have to walk around with the stigma of other people saying there’s no way it could be clean," she said.
The process of washing her locs includes using up to six bottles of shampoo once a week and two full days for them to dry—a routine that Emmanuel has devoted countless hours to.
Asha says the number one tip to maintaining healthy locs is to keep them clean and show them love.
Although Asha says she is not particularly bothered with fashion, she will sometimes wear her locs up in intricate styles.
However, after two to three hours she lets them back down when they begin to strain her neck.
"People say to me 'girl, you must have a strong neck or strong back!'"
Asha will often carry her locs in a fabric sling to prevent them from trailing along the floor and to alleviate the strain on her neck.
"My advice to people who have made the decision to grow locs is to take care of it and treat it like a plant."
"If you don’t water it or feed it some fertilizer or something, it’s probably going to die or not flourish properly," Asha continued.
Asha is happy her locs are recognized by Guinness World Records as the longest in the world.
"I feel absolutely blessed and fortunate to be recognized by the prestigious Guinness World Records."
After four decades of carefully maintaining her locs, Asha doesn’t have any intention of cutting them off, seeing them as an integral part of her identity.
"I will never see or feel that there’s a time I would want to cut my hair. It's never going to happen."
Other long-haired record holders have made the decision to cut off their tresses - like Nilanshi Patel, the record holder for the longest hair ever on a teenager.
You can find Asha and her record-breaking locs in the Guinness World Records 2023 book, out later this year. Find out where you can get your copy!