How To Use Rice Water As A Nutrient-Rich Hair Treatment 

By  Emily Konatella

LAST UPDATED - December 11, 2023

If you enjoy DIY beauty products at home, you have to learn how to prepare rice water and add it to your hair beauty regimen.

In Ancient cultures, nothing was left to waste. With rice being the staple food for over half of the world's population since early civilizations, you can bet they found a few uses for the leftover rice water!

In particular, rice water has been shown to provide incredible benefits as a hair care treatment. There are records of Japanese women with floor-length hair using rice water back in 800 AD. The Yao women from Huangluo, China, earned Guinness Book of World Record for "world's longest haired village." The women in the village have long, healthy and manageable hair. The average hair length in the village was over 6 feet long and kept grey hairs away until 80 years old or longer. They attribute their beautiful long hair to the regular use of fermented rice water. That said, washing one's hair with rice water is one of the most trending ways to get gorgeous hair. Aside from the hair, they are also known for toning, cleansing, and reducing hyperpigmentation, sun, and age spots.

Read below and learn why and how to add rice water into your beauty regimen. Be sure to read how to use rice water properly so you can gain the full benefits it offers.

How Does Rice Water Help My Hair?

Rice water is rich in nutrients and antioxidants. They are rich in vitamin B, vitamin E, fiber, magnesium, manganese, and zinc.

Applying uncooked rice water to your hair can improve hair elasticity, reduce friction between the hair strands. This not only prevents breakage and hair loss but helps in detangling - an important benefit as your hair grows longer! It also contains a carbohydrate called inositol (also called vitamin B8), which repairs damaged hair - initially, but also by staying inside the hair strand, even after rinsing. Inositol provides long-lasting hair protection! It also contains amino acids, which strengthen your roots to encourage stronger, thicker hair growth.

Benefits of Rice Water

Because rice water is so nutritious, there are many ways you can benefit from it:

  • Help make hair stronger, smoother, detangle and grow faster.
  • Keep your skin healthy, toned, glowing, and clear. It is best for acne-prone skin.
  • Reduce and eliminate dandruff.
  • Cooked rice water can help improve digestion and relieve constipation.
  • Drinking rice water can give your body ample energy and stay active throughout the day.

How To Make A Rice Water Hair Treatment

Making rice water is even easier than cooking rice itself! You can use absolutely any type of rice. Brown rice or white rice, organic or not, basmati or jasmine - whatever strikes your fancy. Here's what to do once you've got your rice in hand.

  • Rinse the rice to wash away any dirt and impurities. You may notice the water is slightly cloudy. Don't let the rice soak at this stage yet - simply let the water drain through. (You can use any type of rice: White rice / Brown rice / Wild rice / Basmati / Jasmine organic rice, etc.) 
  • Add Fresh Water to the rice to soak. You'll want to use a ratio of 1 tablespoon of rice to 1 cup of water. Some swear by a 1:3 ratio, where you mix one container of your choosing filled with rice to 3 of that same container filled with water.
  • Cover your water and rice. If possible, use a container that has a sealing lid, but if not, well-applied plastic wrap will work. 
  • Let It Sit for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  • Knead Or Stir the soaked rice until the water turns cloudy. This agitation of the rice helps more vitamins and minerals seep into the water.
  • Strain the rice water into a clean container or clean bowl to store it until you use it. It will keep in the fridge for up to a week. As a bonus, soaking rice shortens its cooking time.
  • Add A Scent, if you'd like. If the smell of starchy water is too strong for your preference, you can add some orange or lemon peels after it's strained. You can also add a few drops of essential oil but remember, too much essential oil may prevent some of the nutrients from being absorbed into your hair follicles.

You can also make rice water by boiling rice and water together, just as you would if you were cooking rice. However, since you want to take some of the water away for hair care, start your cooking by using more water than you usually would to cook rice. You can either skim off the excess water after the boiling has started or wait until the rice is completely cooked and then strain out the excess water. But this is a risky move, as your rice could turn into a porridge if not done correctly. Regardless, hair treatment and freshly cooked rice, all in one go - not a bad deal.

How To Use Rice Water

Rice water is primarily used as a rinse after shampooing. After using a paraben-free, silicon-free, and sulfate-free shampoo, rinse the suds away with a rice water rinse. Gently massage the water into your scalp and leave it on for 5 minutes before rinsing your hair thoroughly with plain water. Some people create a more specialized rice water rinse by combining equal amounts of rice water and plain water with a tablespoon of aloe vera juice and a few drops of lavender or rosemary essential oils. The aloe vera juice will boost the moisturizing aspect of your rinse, while both lavender and rosemary essential oils work to balance the pH of your scalp.

Rice Water FAQ

Is Fermented Rice Water More Effective?

Yes! Fermented rice water retains all of the benefits of regular rice water, but it also contains a much higher level of antioxidants and a small amount of pitera. Pitera is a yeast extract that comes about through controlled, natural fermentation. It promotes cell regeneration and renewal to the point that it's even being touted as an "anti-aging elixir." Fermented rice water is also more acidic than plain ones. This makes it similar to the pH of our hair, which is also slightly acidic. Rinsing with fermented rice water can help restore the pH balance of your hair, nourishing your hair follicles and serving as a deep conditioning treatment.

To make fermented rice water, simply leave your rice soaking in the water for at least 12 hours and up to 2 whole days. The result can be potent, and you may need to dilute it with warm water.

Will Rice Water Encourage Hair Growth?

Not technically. Hair growth is connected to your genes and proper hydration. Nothing you place on the surface of your scalp will necessarily make your hair grow. But, the vitamin B8 and proteins in rice water will notably strengthen your hair and reduce hair fall. Rice water repairs your hair by closing gaps in hair cuticles. Less breakage means that you keep more of the hair on your head and that hair maintains volume. This makes it seem like your hair is growing faster, when in actuality, it's growing at the same rate - you just finally get to enjoy it.

Who Should Not Use Or Restrict Use Of Rice Water?

People with a dry and sensitive scalp or low porosity hair should not overuse rice water or limit it to once a week. Because rice water is loaded with protein, it can do more harm than good in these conditions.

When Will You See Result In Your Hair?

While some people will see the result instantly, others may take weeks or months to see any result. Consistently usage is recommended.

Does Rice Water Contain Arsenic?

This will depend on the rice that you use, as not all rice is created equal. If you are concerned about arsenic, choose to purchase your rice from a trusted brand to make rice water.

About the author

Emily is a fashion consultant, designer and creative director with more than 15 years experience creating, designing and developing clothing & jewelry. From managing pageant shows to turning concepts into actual designs, she has experience with almost all fabric types and jewelry designs and is in touch with the latest fashion trends.


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