Is Rice Water Good for Your Hair?

Reviewed on 10/6/2021
rice water for hair
People have used rice water as a natural hair care secret for centuries since the water contains many vitamins and minerals.

Rice water has been and is still commonly used as a hair treatment by women in China, Japan, and Southeast Asia for generations. Rice grains have a starch content of 75 to 80 percent, which leaves behind a starchy liquid, called rice water, after the rice has been cooked or soaked. Many of the vitamins and minerals found in rice are thought to be present in rice water, such as amino acids, B vitamins, vitamin E, minerals, and antioxidants.

How does rice water help hair?

Rice water is thought to make hair smoother and more lustrous, as well as speed up hair growth. Additionally, it may provide the following benefits on hair:

  • Detangles hair
  • Makes hair smoother
  • Adds shine
  • Strengthens hair
  • Promotes healthy hair growth

However, these claims are not backed by any scientific study.

How is rice water used?

Rice water can serve as a substitute for a conditioner, although it can be mixed with shampoo or conditioner. The rice water is applied directly to the hair and scalp and is left on for 20 to 30 minutes before being rinsed off. It can also be added to homemade hair masks. 

Rice water is also commonly used on the skin. It can be directly applied to the skin and rinsed off after 20 to 30 minutes or added to face masks, face washes, etc.

Does rice water work?

Researchers in Japan created an imaging technology that visualizes inositol's hair-strengthening effect since rice water is high in inositol. However, most of the benefits of rice water are based on anecdotal experience. More research is needed for its benefits regarding hair advantages. Besides hair, rice water is commonly used on the skin, but sufficient scientific evidence is lacking to back these claims as well.

Is it safe to use rice water?

Rice water is safe, completely natural, and easy to make, hence there is no harm in using it on the hair and skin. Those who have underlying scalp and skin conditions (such as inflammatory conditions) or are undergoing hair and skin treatments should consult their doctor before using any products, including natural products such as rice water. Make sure the rice is cleaned of any pesticides or chemicals before making the water from the grains.

3 ways to make rice water

Rice water can be made at home in three of the following DIY techniques:

  1. Soaking rice method: The quickest technique to produce rice water is to soak it.
    • Rinse half a cup of uncooked rice thoroughly
    • Pour the cleaned rice into a bowl with two to three cups of water and soak it for 30 minutes
    • Drain the water into a clean bowl and use it
  2. Making rice water from fermented rice: Some researchers believe that fermented rice water offers greater advantages than plain rice water because fermented foods, in general, have more antioxidants than non-fermented foods. Antioxidants can help protect hair and skin cells from damage, hence they are commonly used in cosmetic products.
    • Soak the rice after cleaning it in two to three cups of water
    • Allow the rice water to ferment by letting it sit at room temperature for up to two days before filtering
    • Before using, strain the rice water into a clean bowl
  3. Boiling rice method: Boiling rice is another approach to generate rice water.
    • Cover half cup of rice with two times the amount of water normally used to cook it
    • Then, cook the rice in boiling water and pour the water into a clean bowl, and use

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References
Development of Hair-Care Products from Rice Water. spring8.or.jp/pdf/en/indu_appli/p10-11.pdf

Cleveland Clinic. The Benefits of Using Rice Water on Your Hair. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/the-benefits-of-using-rice-water-on-your-hair/

Marto J, Neves A, Gonçalves L, Pinto PC, Almeida CMM, Simões S. Rice Water: A Traditional Ingredient with Anti-Aging Efficacy. Cosmetics. April 2018; 5(2):26 DOI:10.3390/cosmetics5020026

Inamasu S, Ikuyama R, Fujisaki Y, Sugimoto K-I. Abstracts: The Effect of Rinse Water Obtained From The Washing of Rice (YU-SU-RU) as a Hair Treatment. J Soc Cosmet Chem. September 2010; 44 (1): 29-33. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2494.2010.00605_3.x

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