The popularity of rice water for hair growth has been blowing up in recent months.
When I started using it years ago, it was because I liked the way it made my hair feel. The growth was an after effect of using it as a rinse.
As with all bandwagons, it’s important to be properly informed about the treatment before you try it out on your hair. You should also set expectations accordingly.
I’ve compiled my experience as well as my favourite rice water for hair growth recipes into this comprehensive article.
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What is Rice Water?
Rice water is the milky liquid that rises to the top of the bowl when rinsing rice or the top of the pot when cooking rice. The water can be obtained after draining the rice via a sieve.
It is believed that rice water can help strengthen hair, promote shiny hair and lead to faster hair growth.
Yao women from the Huangluo region in China attribute their phenomenal hair growth to washing their hair with fermented rice water (Yu-su-ru). Women in Japan also use rice water for hair treatments.
Is Rice Water Good for Natural Hair?
Benefits of Rice Water
- Rice water contains the same vitamins and minerals as rice – B vitamins, eight essential amino acids and vitamin E.
- Rice water also contains inositol, a carbohydrate that helps repair and strengthen damaged hair and boost hair elasticity.
- Additionally, rice water helps with detangling hair and promoting manageability.
Can Rice Water Make Hair Grow Faster?
While there are no definitive scientific studies proving that rice water can promote hair growth, the evidence from trying it out suggests otherwise.
Rice water contains eight essential amino acids, which helps with the regeneration of hair and stronger hair leading to better retention.
Your hair is less dry, less prone to breakage and easier to detangle with this regimen. It does take time to see results though.
You’re not going to experience magical hair growth within a few weeks. However, you should see impressive results over 6 months of consistent use minus any unhealthy hair care practices.
Plain Rice Water vs Fermented Rice Water
I started out with fermented rice water, which is much stronger than plain rice water. However, the smell can be a tad annoying.
Nowadays, I use plain rice water most but feel free to use both and see which one your hair likes best.
How to Make Plain Rice Water
There are two methods for making plain rice water – boiling and no boiling method.
Rice Water No Boiling Water
Below is my bowl prior to and after 30 minutes of soaking the rice. The color isn’t clear because I use brown rice for my rice water recipes.
Rice Water Boiling Method
- Rinse and pour 1 cup of rice into 2 cups of distilled water.
- Place on the stove and boil until the starch starts to rise to the top of the water.
- Remove the rice from the stove and strain the water. Pour into a glass container once cool.
How to Make Fermented Rice Water
- Rinse 1 cup of any type of rice.
- Afterwards, pour the rinsed rice into a clean jar and add in 2 cups of distilled water or bottled water.
- Set aside for 20 minutes but stir every 5 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, pour into a clean jar and set aside overnight.
- The mixture should have started fermenting by the next day.
- Pour into a pan and heat until it reaches boiling pot then remove from the stove and allow to cool.
- Once cool, pour into a clean jar or glass bottle.
Additional Rice Water Elements
You can also add 5 drops of vitamin E oil and 5 drops of star anise seed oil for light preservation.
Rice Water Recipes for Hair
Rice Water Shampoo for Curly Hair
Rice water works as a shampoo because it also contains saponins, a gentle and natural cleanser. In addition to cleansing hair, this recipe will also promote shine, eliminate dandruff and an itchy scalp. Use the fermented rice water for this recipe.
- Mix 1/2 cup of fermented rice water with the same amount of distilled water. Add 1 tablespoon of Castile soap.
- Use the mix to shampoo your hair.
- Rinse thoroughly then deep condition your hair.
- You can also add 1 teaspoon of shikakai powder to the recipe. Shikakai powder contains high levels of saponins as well. I recommend Merlion Naturals Shikakai Powder.
Rice Water Rinse for Curly Hair
- You can use either the fermented rice water or plain rice water for this recipe. Mix 1/2 cup of fermented or plain rice water with the same amount of distilled water.
- After shampooing, apply to hair and scalp and massage in thoroughly then twist your hair in sections. Use a spray bottle like this one so its spread evenly.
- Cover with a disposable cap and wait for 30 minutes then rinse out thoroughly with lukewarm water followed by deep conditioning.
- You can also leave the rinse in overnight and wash out the next morning before deep conditioning.
Rice Water Leave-In Conditioner
- If you want to use rice water as a leave-in conditioner, use the plain rice water version instead.
- In a small spray bottle like this one, add 2 tablespoons of plain rice water then fill the bottle the rest of the way with distilled water or rose water. Add a few drops of any other essential oils you like.
- After shampooing and deep conditioning, spray the mix into your hair before styling your hair.
- If it’s too strong or dries out your hair, you can reduce the rice water and increase the distilled water.
- If your hair doesn’t respond as expected to the rice water leave-in, your hair may not like it and you should use it as a shampoo or rinse instead.
- Note, rice water has some protein in it so exercise caution when using it as a leave-in conditioner. Overuse can cause breakage.
Rice Water for Low Porosity Hair
Low porosity hair has a tendency to keep out moisture so regimens that allow the hair cuticles to open up is best.
For low porosity hair, the rice water hair rinse would work well but you can also try the shampoo. Use pH strips to test the rinse before application.
I do not recommend leaving the rice water in your hair until you’ve observed how your hair reacts to it over a few sessions.
Rice Water for High Porosity Hair
High porosity hair has highly raised cuticles which allows moisture to escape the hair quickly. It’s difficult to keep moisture within high porosity hair.
The rice water hair rinse, shampoo and leave-in conditioner would be ideal for high porosity hair but start with small amounts of rice water and see how your hair reacts to it then adjust accordingly.
Also, use only one of the recipes at a time. Do not rinse, shampoo and leave-in rice water all at the same time. This is too much.
Related Content on Hair Porosity
- What is Hair Porosity and How Can You Tell Your Porosity Level?
- 57 Best Hair Care Products for Low Porosity Hair
- 50 Best Hair Care Products for High Porosity Hair
Can I Leave Rice Water in My Hair?
Pay attention to your hair while leaving it in. If your hair reacts unfavourably, discontinue use.
Does Rice Water Thicken Hair?
Some people claim it does. However, from personal experience, I didn’t experience any thickening effects.
Does Rice Water Need to Be Refrigerated?
Yes. It can be refrigerated for up to a week with the mild preservatives recommended in the recipes.
Have you tried rice water on your hair yet? Do you have any favourite rice water recipes? Share in the comments section.
Abi delved into the world of hair care after suffering from a bout of severe hair loss. She is the founder of Healthy Natural Hair Products & Natural Oils for Hair and Health, as well as the writer of the Healthy Hair Care Series. She is also the creator of the The Self-Empowerment Network Portal. Read more…