This post may contain affiliate links and we will earn a small commission if you make a purchase through these links.
This post may contain affiliate links and we will earn a small commission if you make a purchase through these links.
Rice water is thought to have some amazing properties that help keep your hair healthy and grow faster.
It has been used for centuries, but only became popular in the last few years in the Western world. Using rice water is a really simple and straightforward thing, but can be so beneficial to your hair when you use it.
Not only is it so easy to use and made of completely natural ingredients, but it is also super easy to make yourself at home.
Chances are, you have everything you need sitting in your cupboard as you read this.
In this post we are going to take a look at what rice water actually is, the history of its use and even the different things it can be used for (it isn’t only hair!).
What is Rice Water?
It’s simple – rice water is the starchy water that is left over when rice is either left to soak or cooked.
If you have ever made rice, you will know exactly what it looks like. It is water, but it’s thicker because of the starch that’s left in it from the cooked rice.
Rice water is thought to have a load of vitamins and minerals that come from the rice. These vitamins and minerals include things like vitamin E, B vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids.
All of these things help keep your hair healthy and are thought to help your hair grow faster. So if you want to grow your hair out, rice water could be the perfect option for you to try out!
The History of Using Rice Water
Rice water isn’t a new invention, even if it has only become popular in the West recently. In Asia, specifically places like Japan, rice water has been used for centuries.
Researchers have concluded that even between 794 and 1185 CE during the Heian Period in Japan, women bathed in rice water. These women were known to have hair that reached the floor.
Similarly, there are women in China who use rice water on their hair and have hair with an average length of six feet.
Their hair doesn’t only grow long, though, it also keeps its color! Apparently, the Yao women don’t even start to go gray until they reach their 80s. No promises that it’s the rice water keeping their locks full of color, but it sure doesn’t hurt!
What Can Rice Water Be Used For and What Are the Benefits?
So, rice water can be great for your hair. It can make your hair look shinier, smoother and stronger.
It will also help your hair grow longer and keep it detangled, so brushing will not be such a pain. (note to self: use this on my daughter’s hair!)
Rice water is not only great for hair, it can also be a great natural product to use on skin.
Rice water has been known to have anti-aging benefits because of the amino acids, antioxidants and minerals it contains. It also potentially inhibits elastane activity in your skin, which is the enzyme that is responsible for making your skin age.
Using rice water can also soothe sunburns and other irritations. Whether you are having sunburn problems, itchiness, inflammation or redness, rice water can help with it all.
The starchy water will have a cooling effect and can even reduce tanning after a sunburn if that is something you are worried about.
You thought that was all? Nope, Rice water is great for boosting the health of your skin barrier (the top layer of skin).
It will help prevent things like eczema and atopic dermatitis by preventing your skin from becoming too dry. The starch in the rice water will create a natural barrier so that the skin becomes protected.
Intrigued?? Try out some fermented rice water skin care products.
Oily skin is something that most of us have battled with at some point in our lives. Rice water can help with this problem, too.
If you have oily skin and are battling with acne because of it, try rinsing with rice water. Doing this will reduce the oiliness because of the astringent effects.
Last, but definitely not least – rice water can help brighten your skin. Using rice water will help your skin even out and brighten itself, so you will look super healthy (who doesn’t want that?).
Also try a homemade honey face mask for skin brightening effects.
While I haven’t tried it yet, I think rice water would make a wonderful addition to a homemade facial toner. I’ll keep you posted on results 😉
To recap, rice water can:
- Help your hair grow strong
- Make your hair shiny
- Detangle your hair
- Make your hair smoother
- Make your skin look younger for longer
- Soothe skin irritations and sunburns
- Boost skin health
- Reduce skin oiliness
How to Make Rice Water
There are two different ways you can make rice water that is ideal for hair or your face, so just pick the option that suits you best.
For both of these methods, you will need two base ingredients: rice and water. I know, it’s obvious, but it has to be pointed out.
There are other popular methods of making rice water that are ideal for ingestion (usually as a drink), so in this post I will be talking about the two methods that are best for beauty use.
Boiling Your Rice
Boiling your rice is super easy, and you are making food at the same time, so I don’t see any downsides at all. As always, you will want to use organic rice if possible.
To make your rice water by boiling, use 1/2 cup of rinsed rice with 2 cups of water and cook the rice as directed.
Do NOT add any salt, oil or any other ingredients you may typically add while cooking rice! Since the water is going to be used on your hair, you want nothing else added.
Cook the rice until it is done (up to 25 minutes for white rice and 45 minutes for brown rice).
When the rice has finished cooking, strain it and collect all of the water that the rice cooked in into a clean bowl.
Cool your rice water before using, as to not burn yourself. You may use it warm if you prefer, just use caution since it was recently boiling water!
REMEMBER: If you plan to use the rice water for your hair or skin, do not add anything else to the water.
Soaking Your Rice
Soaking your rice to make rice water is another super easy method. It can take longer than the boiling method to obtain a potent rice water, but this method is heat-free.
To do this, all you need is ½ a cup of uncooked rice, rinsed thoroughly. Add your rice to a large bowl with 3 cups of room temperature water.
Leave the rice to soak in the water for at least 30 minutes, however longer is better. You can leave your rice to soak for up to 24 hours to ensure all of the nutrients are removed from the rice and into the water.
I find soaking for a couple of hours does the trick nicely.
Once your rice is thoroughly soaked, your water will look a little cloudy. Strain the rice from the water and your rice water is ready to use.
It’s really that simple!
Common Questions About Making Rice Water
Still unsure about making your own rice water? I’ve got you.
Can Any Type of Rice Be Used to Make Rice Water?
Yes, any type of rice can be used to make rice water. This includes white rice, brown rice, basmati rice, Jasmin rice, or anything else. And make sure you choose an organic rice.
Is White or Brown Rice Better for Making Rice Water?
Although you can use any kind of (organic) rice, the professionals in the field suggest that using long grain white rice is the best option. This is because it has protein, but not too much. Brown rice has a lot of protein, and it may cause a protein overload on your hair.
You can dilute your rice water if you choose to use brown rice, but I personally think it’s just easier to use a white rice instead. I haven’t personally tried it with brown rice, only white, so I can’t speak to how different it feels on hair.
Do You Always Have to Rinse Your Rice Before Using it to Make Rice Water?
It is always best to rinse your rice before making rice water or cooking it to eat. There will always be impurities on rice, so if you want it to be clear, you need to rinse it with water first.
Rinsing your rice before you make rice water won’t remove any of the rice goodness that’s destined to go in your rice water!
Can You Ferment the Rice to Make Rice Water?
Many people say that using fermented rice actually makes the rice water better for your hair, so you absolutely can ferment the rice. Fermenting your rice will increase the benefits because it will enhance the nutrients and vitamins that already exist in the rice.
If you want to ferment your rice, you will need to follow the steps for soaking rice but leave the rice to sit in the water for two days before straining it. The rice must be left at room temperature in order to ferment properly.
Once the two days are up, strain the rice water into another bowl to use it. This fermented rice water can take the place of the regular rice water.
How to Use Rice Water
People use rice water differently, so you will need to figure out what works perfectly for you.
Usually, though, you will wash your hair like you regularly do (using a regular natural shampoo) and either use the rice water after a conditioner or as a conditioner replacement.
A lot of people ditch conditioner altogether when they start using rice water, so this choice is up to you.
I also love using apple cider vinegar as a conditioner replacement.
You will find people who leave their rice water in the hair for as little as two minutes, and people who will let the rice water soak in there for up to 20 minutes before rinsing it out.
I recommend starting with a 5 minute soak and go from there. See how your hair feels after, and decide if you’d like to try if for longer next time.
Just make sure to rinse the rice water out of your hair.
Some people like to use rice water as a hair mask, but I don’t think it’s necessary. 30 minutes is more than enough time for your hair to absorb the rice water goodness, and leaving it on longer than that can actually cause unnecessary scalp dryness.
Some people like to use rice water as a type of leave in conditioner. If you want to do this, you should avoid getting the rice water on your roots and scalp and focus it on the ends to avoid any dryness.
The most common and easy way to do this is to use a spray bottle and spritz lightly on the ends of your hair.
To recap, to use rice water you should:
- Wash your hair with a neutral shampoo and rinse it
- Use your regular natural conditional (optional) and rinse it
- Apply the rice water
- Leave the rice water in your hair for anywhere between 2-20 minutes, depending on your preference
- Rinse your hair thoroughly, but don’t overdo it
When to Use Rice Water on Your Hair
The answer to this question depends on your hair type. Some people like to use rice water every day, or every time they wash their hair, but this might not be the case for everyone.
If your hair is porous, you can probably get away with using rice water more often than people with low porosity hair can. This is because if your hair is not porous, the protein on the water will attach itself to the hair rather than being absorbed into it.
Generally, rice water is great for all hair types. Rice water can be an especially good option for anyone who has curly, dry or brittle hair (or all three) since the protein in the water will improve its condition when the hair absorbs it.
If your hair is looking dull or brittle, consider trying out a rice water treatment to help strengthen it and get it looking its best again.
If your hair is already super shiny and healthy looking, chances are using rice water won’t provide extreme benefits.
Can You Use Rice Water Too Often?
There are a lot of arguments for and against this. A lot of people will argue that you can use rice water in your routine very day, while others say you should only use it once a week.
I think that this decision is up to you to figure out what is best for your hair. I would always recommend starting by using rice water once a week and working your way up if you feel like you need to.
If your hair absorbs too much protein from the rice water, there can be negative side effects, so always be very careful when you use the product, especially if you are new to it. Everyone’s hair will react differently when it comes to this.
Are There Any Side Effects of Using Rice Water?
There can be side effects of using rice water too often, that goes without saying. I know it’s a super popular trend right now, but you still need to be careful and be aware of the things that could happen if you don’t pay attention.
There are a few main side effects you can experience from rice water, as well as a few things you should consider before starting to use rice water:
If you choose to go down the path of fermented rice water, you will notice it has that fermented smell. And it isn’t exactly pleasant.
You could always add a couple of drops of essential oil to enhance the smell, but don’t overdo it! For 2 cups of rice water you only need 3-4 drops.
If you’re not a fan of fermented smells, I’d skip the fermented rice water and go with the regular.
Rice Water Might Make Your Dry Scalp Even Worse
While rice water is often used to treat dry scalp, it can sometimes make it worse. This happens when people apply the rice water more often than they should or leave it in for longer than needed.
This is why rinsing the rice water from your hair is an important step not to skip! Leaving rice water in your hair for longer than 30 minutes can cause irritation and dryness, which is the opposite of what it’s intention is.
By the half an hour mark, your hair will have absorbed as much as it can, so leaving it on for longer is really not necessary. For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend leaving rice water in your hair overnight as a mask.
If you do have a dry scalp or dandruff, try to only use rice water once or twice a week, and leave on for no more than 20 minutes at a time. You always need to monitor how your hair and scalp reacts to it before trying to use it more often.
Your hair needs protein in order to be healthy, but too much of it will only damage your luscious locks. As we mentioned before, if your hair is not porous (won’t absorb the protein), the protein in the rice water will just attach itself to the hair follicle.
If your hair is covered in protein, it will form a border that other products cannot get through, so any other hair products will be useless.
Your hair will also probably become brittle and dry over time because the protein that has attached itself to the hair will dry out and harden.
This can lead to even more hair disasters, so be patient from the beginning and start slow. Monitor how your hair reacts, because when it comes to rice water for your hair, you CAN have too much of a good thing!
Rice Water Needs Consistent Use to See Results
Some people might see results after just one wash, but for others it could take months. Depending on your level of patience when it comes to hair products and results, consider trying other options if you don’t think you can stick it out.
If you can wait a few weeks or months to see results, though, I assure you it will be totally worth it.
Rice Water Can Contain Arsenic
All rice (organic or not) contains some level of arsenic, it’s unfortunately unavoidable. This is because for many years arsenic heavy pesticides where used, and the arsenic still exists in the soil today. Even in organic fields, if it was ever exposed to pesticides with arsenic in them, you can still find arsenic in the soil.
Your best bet is to pick an organic rice grown in India, Pakistan or California, as these places have less arsenic in the soil than other parts of the world.
Also note that brown rice absorbs twice as much arsenic as white, so if arsenic in your rice water is a concern, white rice will be your better choice.
Personally I think the trace amount of arsenic in the rice water is nothing to worry about, especially if only using rice water on your hair ever so often.
There is Little to No Scientific Research that Backs up the Benefits of Rice Water
This is the case with a lot of beauty trends, so don’t worry too much. There has been scientific evidence to support the use of rice water on atopic dermatitis, but beyond that there hasn’t been proof to suggest that rice water helps hair stay healthy and grow longer.
With that being said, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t help hair stay healthy or grow longer.
Rice water could help someone’s hair instantaneously, while it might never do anything for someone else.
It all comes down to individual differences. So don’t knock it until you try it because you never know if it really could help you.
Final Thoughts on Rice Water For Your Hair
Rice water can be a great option for you if you fit the typical criteria – porous, brittle hair. No matter your hair type, though, rice water is always worth trying out, as long as you start slow and work your way up.