Benefits Of Rice Water For Hair Explained

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It feels like you blink and there’s a new trend hitting the beauty scene. Men and women all over the world are constantly looking for ways to keep their skin and hair looking healthy. This means that ancient rituals keep being recycled and new trends repeatedly hit the market. So, today we’re going to take a look at the current trend for your hair: rice water. Yes really, it’s a thing – and it works! It’s actually been used for centuries by the Japanese as a sort of natural hair treatment to smooth, strengthen, and revive your lackluster locks.

If you know how to cook rice, you’re well on your way for better hair. Let’s dive into exactly what’s so great about rice water and why those who use it on their scalp have beautifully strong and shiny tresses.

What Is Rice Water?

Rice in a black bowl.

Rice in a bowl.

This hair strengthening practice has been part of the Japanese beauty regime for years. It’s known as ‘Yu-Su-Ru’ The traditional treatment helps to reduce frizz and enhance your hair follicles elasticity. Seeing as these are both essential aspects of healthy, thriving hair you can sign me up!

In a nutshell, rice water is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the starchy remnants left over from cooking a pot of rice. You also get this starchy mixture if you just leave rice to soak in water for a while. The fact that you want the watery remnants over the rice itself means that you’ll want to use much more liquid than the regular rice-making process requires. You can use any rice you have lying around. Jasmine, basmati, round, sushi, brown – whatever you’ve got, your hair will take. Don’t include any added ingredients to your rice (like salt or other flavorings). You want this to be as natural and pure as possible to get the maximum effects. If you don’t want the hassle of making rice, you can just soak it in a bowl with water for half an hour. I warn you though that some people might argue that this doesn’t draw out as much starch as the boiling process. The starches are what work to close your hair cuticle and create the smooth, shiny surface on healthy hair. I guess just try it and see for yourself what method works best for your hair!

Benefits Of Rice Water For Hair Explained

Woman smiling while holding up her hair

Woman with healthy hair.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Okay, sure, eating some rice packs a punch in terms of nutrients but what does putting the starchy leftovers in my hair have to do with anything? The soaking process leaves behind important nutrients in the water. When you apply it to your hair it can have a multitude of benefits. Rice water is brimming with amino acids, B vitamins, vitamin E, and minerals. That’s not to mention the powerful antioxidant properties found in this concoction. Vitamin E is known for its ability to fortify your hair strands and increase collagen production. Now you might associate collagen with skin elasticity and regeneration but it’s also crucial for hair health. It increases the elasticity and renewal of each hair follicle to ensure that your hair bounces right back and is protected from damage.

The amino acids found in rice water literally build the proteins in your hair strand to leave your locks strong from root to tip. Strong hair is healthy hair, and rice water gets you there! (I think I’ve found my new rice water motto.) The rich nutrient content softens hair and increases shine so that your luscious locks are just that – luscious. Having oh-so-shiny hair is the epitome of hair health. If you want your hair to look as healthy as it is, shine is what you go for. Or should I say gloss, to avoid any association with a greasy shine.

How To Use Rice Water For Hair Growth

We’ve all been there. The hairdresser cut off a little more than you asked for, or you fully regret that lob your friends convinced you would make you look “at least ten years younger!”. If you want to encourage hair growth the natural way rice water might be the way forward. This is largely due to the fact that, as mentioned above, rice water is bursting with hair strengthening properties that leave each follicle healthy and enriched. This encourages your hair to grow because healthy hair and scalp leads to healthy hair growth! It’s as simple as that.

If you’re not sure how to use rice water for hair growth, you can start by replacing it with your usual conditioner. Wash your hair as normal with (hopefully a plant-powered) shampoo. Rinse your hair before pouring the rice water onto your scalp. Massage thoroughly into the hair and leave on for 20 minutes to let the nutrients work their magic. Rinse the rice water from your hair and you’re done! Shiny, healthy, soft hair coming right up. 

Rice Water For Hair Growth Explained

Back of blonde woman's hair on lake.

Healthy, blonde hair.

As we briefly mentioned earlier, rice water is packed with nutrients to improve your hair health. It should come as no surprise that healthy hair grows more efficiently. This is partly due to the fact that rice water plays a role in balancing your scalp’s pH. When your scalp is balanced, nutrients are better able to reach the scalp and be used efficiently in each hair strand. This encourages hair growth and enhances your hairs texture and shine.

Not only does the rice water balance the scalp but it also helps you to avoid stripping any of your hair’s natural oils. This prevents breakage and protects each and every hair follicle from further damage. If this doesn’t sound like the easiest, most natural way to protect your hair, I want to hear what tips and tricks you’ve got – because rice water is about as simple and effective as it gets for natural hair growth. There are, of course, plenty of other methods for encouraging healthy hair growth. That said, as far as natural treatments go, you might want to start with some rice water and go from there. 

How To Make Rice Water For Your Hair

Pot of boiling water on the stove.

Pot of boiling water.

 Honestly, I just love any DIY that doesn’t require a multitude of ingredients that can only be purchased in health stores. You can get rice literally anywhere. This means that there’s absolutely no excuse to not give this rinse at least one shot. With this in mind, to make your very own rice water you’re going to need two ingredients: rice and water. (Don’t look too surprised). Just let the rice soak in water before sieving out the starchy remnants or boil some rice for a two-in-one meal prep and rice water rinse.

If you want to get fancy and professional with your rice water, go ahead and add some essential oils into the mixture to maximize the effects of the rinse. Not sure where to start with essential oils? You can’t go wrong with lavender oil. It balances your scalp’s pH to the max, or some rosemary oil to enhance this rinse’s clarifying properties. Those are just starting points though. There are many DIY rice water treatments you can concoct for your hair with a multitude of essential oils or carrier oils to enrich the fortifying properties of rice water.

Fermented Vs. Plain Rice Water

How should you choose fermented vs. plain rice water? The fermentation process extracts a lot of the vitamins and nutrients which rice harbors, and it pulls them to the surface. The time which the rice spends in the water is crucial, which is why fermented rice water is considered to be better than the other methods of prep.

Fermented rice water is richer in antioxidants and is more concentrated by nature, which is why it may produce better and quicker results than other methods. Furthermore, because it is more concentrated, it will take up less room. Sure, this is more of a logistical benefit, but I feel it counts nonetheless. 

The fermentation process doesn’t have to continue for 2 straight days, but it should be going on for at least 12 hours before use. There are women in Asia who ferment the rice water for an entire month, and the resulting mixture is exceedingly potent. So potent, in fact, that it must be diluted before use.

Once refrigerated, fermented rice water can last for several days. Which reminds me, once you have the water, don’t let the rice go to waste! Go ahead and cook it, eat it, and take pleasure in that feeling of knowing you took advantage of every ingredient in that process. Spicy rice with dark lentils and crispy fried onion remains one of the best suppers in the world, in my humble opinion, and I think it is safe to say I enjoy eating it pretty much whenever it is set on the table.

Side Effects Of Rice Water On Hair

Technically speaking nothing bad is going to happen to your hair when you use rice water. Like many natural treatments there’s something to be said for the fact that no matter how effective they are, they’re nearly always gentle enough to not cause any noticeable damage. Unless you’re allergic to the ingredient, of course. But generally speaking, rice water is a mild remedy that has powerful effects on your hair. The only thing to consider is whether you go for plain rice water or fermented rice water. In this debate, your biggest consideration is the pH levels of the rice compared with your scalp’s natural pH levels.

When you use plain rice water the pH is usually higher than that of your tresses. The fermentation process reduces the pH levels of the water and enhances the existing nutrient levels in the starchy water. Moreover, during fermentation pitera forms in the rice water. Pitera is a substance which is rich in vitamins and amino acids to strengthen and fortify the hair strands. This means that depending on the degree of repair that your hair needs, you can use either fermented or plain rice water. Personally, I’d try them both and see which one works best! 


It should come as no surprise that the Japanese know what they’re talking about when it comes to beauty techniques. Healthy, ageless skin and hair has been perfected by this ancient culture for centuries. And now we can add rice water to the steadily growing list of Asian beauty hacks. Imbued with vitamins and minerals that benefit the scalp and hair follicle, there’s no surprises why this ancient hair ritual is making a comeback.

I’m a sucker for a quick and easy fix for my hair strands. I’m not one for complicated, hassle-filled techniques, so rice water is the solution for my locks whenever they need a little extra attention. Whatever method you choose to use to create some rice water (and each one is as easy as the next), your hair could use the extra nutrients. Whether it’s plain rice water or some fermented starchy liquid your hair will thank you for the nutrient infusion. You can use it as a one-off hair mask or use it religiously to encourage hair growth. As far as natural hair saviors go this might sound too good to be true, but I guess you’ll just have to use it for yourself to find out! 

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