The popularity of using 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.
I’ve compiled my experience as well as my favorite rice water for hair growth recipes into this comprehensive article.
Before you read on, be sure to join the expanding free resource library for healthy hair care and growth HERE.
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 used on hair can be obtained by 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 and there are several rice water hair products available in Asia.
Is Rice Water Good for Natural Hair?
Rice water is very good for natural hair growth.
While the most obvious benefits are hair growth, there are some additional benefits that make it an overall good addition to a healthy hair care regimen.
7 Benefits of Rice Water for Hair
1. Essential Vitamins & Minerals
Rice water contains the same vitamins and minerals as rice – B vitamins, eight essential amino acids, and vitamin E which nourishes and softens hair.
2. Repairs & Strengthens Hair
Rice water also contains inositol, a carbohydrate that helps repair and strengthens damaged hair and improves hair elasticity.
3. Protects Hair from Damage
Rice water contains ferulic acid, an antioxidant that can protect the hair from free radical damage.
4. Smoothens Cuticles
Rice after can help smoothen and lay down the hair cuticles which in turn reduces frizz and promotes shine.
5. Natural Cleanser
Rice water is a mild natural cleanser and can be used to remove excess oils and product build-up from hair without drying hair out.
6. Soothes Scalp Issues
Rice wat contains nutrients that can help soothe scalp issues such as dandruff and dryness.
7. Balances Hair & Scalp pH
Due to the slight acidity, rice water can help balance hair and scalp pH and encourage healthier hair growth and a happy scalp.
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 help 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.
- Afterward, 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 fermented rice water for this recipe.
- 1/2 cup of fermented rice water
- 1/2 cup of distilled water
- 1 tablespoon of Castile soap
- 1 teaspoon of shikakai powder (optional). Shikakai powder contains high levels of saponins as well. I recommend Merlion Naturals Shikakai Powder
- 1 applicator bottle
- Mix the fermented rice water with the distilled water. Add in the Castile soap and shikakai powder if using. Pour into the applicator bottle.
- Use the mix to shampoo your hair. Rinse thoroughly then deep condition your hair.
Rice Water Rinse for Curly Hair
- Mix the fermented or plain rice water with the distilled water in a spray bottle.
- After shampooing, spray the rinse into your hair and scalp and massage in thoroughly then twist your hair in sections.
- 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.
- Pour the plain rice water into the spray bottle and fill up the rest of the way with the distilled water or rose water. Add a few drops of any other essential oils you like.
- After shampooing and deep conditioning, spray the mix lightly into your hair and spread through with your fingers 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 severe breakage.
Related Hair Growth Resources
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.
However, 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
Can I Leave Rice Water in My Hair?
Pay attention to your hair while leaving it in. If your hair reacts unfavorably, 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 favorite rice water recipes? Share in the comments section.
Abi is a curly hair expert, researcher, product tester, and author of the highly-rated Healthy Hair Care Series. She is also the founder of Ade Ori Hair Care, Healthy Natural Hair Products, and Natural Oils for Hair & Beauty. HNHP has strict editorial standards and ensures all the information on Healthy Natural Hair Products is the best for natural hair care. Learn more about our Editorial Policies
This post may contain affiliate links which means we will make a small commission if you purchase through those links. Read full disclosure HERE.