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Everything You Need to Know About Rice Water for Hair

April 21, 2022

5 Min read

When a natural ingredient has been a beauty ritual for over a thousand years, that’s how you know it really works—talk about being time tested! “The origin of rice water for hair dates back to ancient times of the Yao women from the Huangluo Village in the province of Guangxi,” says Nicolette Rauchut, Senior stylist at Lrn Beauty. “There are also traces of this technique being used in Japan (dating back to the Heian period) and Korea.” 

Beauty trends have come and gone, but using rice water for hair is still going strong these days. To help you understand the potent ingredient, we turned to the experts to answer all of your burning questions about rice water for hair.

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What is rice water?

“Rice water is the starchy water left over after rice is cooked or left to soak,” explains Gina Rivera, Celebrity Stylist & Founder of Phenix Salon Suites. It’s made by fermenting rice and straining the remains to create a hair potion.

What nutrients does rice water contain?

Fermented rice water for hair is proven to have very beneficial properties. It contains a rich source of antioxidants, including vitamin E and oryzanol. These nutrients, along with vitamin B and amino acids, help build strong and healthy hair, smooth to help control frizz, and promote hair shine. Fermented rice water is also a known source for vitamins A and C.

What are the benefits of rice water for hair? 

There are plenty of perks when it comes to rice water for hair. “For one, it will increase the amount of shine instantly,” Rauchut says. “You will also notice the amount of tangles will diminish. Most of us don’t realize when we lack vitamins A, B, and C, which can really improve your hair quality. Not to mention, a lot of us are deficient in this, which is unfortunately very common. Lastly, rice water helps keep the hair’s strength intact and decreases the amount of breakage.” 

Rice water for hair can also help protect and repair hair. “The amino acids in rice water are thought to aid hair regeneration,” Rivera says. “This combined with the vitamins B and E that are also present may promote hair strength. However, keep in mind that there needs to be additional scientific studies to have conclusive results on the benefits of using rice water.”

What hair types is rice water best for?

“Rice water can be used on all types of hair; however, it may work best for coarse or damaged hair that needs some additional care,” Rivera says. It’s especially beneficial for those who are concerned about breakage and dryness. “I like to introduce this homeopathic tradition to my girls who get highlights every six to eight weeks,” Rauchut says. “When receiving a service that is ‘lifting’ or opening the cuticle, often there is a chance you will need an increase in amino acids, which helps keep the structure of our hair intact.” 

What is the best way to use rice water for hair?

After you shampoo your hair, rinse with cool water and towel dry, suggests Holly Dear, owner House of Dear Hair Salon and House of Dear Clean Beauty collection. “Then apply rice water onto your scalp and hair and leave on for approximately 20 minutes and rinse again with cool water,” she says. “Do not leave on your hair for long and use it once a month.” 

To pay homage to its original use, Rauchut believes the best way to use rice water for hair is by rinsing your hair with rice water daily. “The Yao women would dip their hair into the rice water and use a comb to distribute it evenly,” she says. “Traditionally, rice water was used as a shampoo and then they would rinse in a nearby river. For at home in the modern day, I believe dipping your hair into the rice water and then rinsing with filtered water is the closest to the original intention of this cleansing treatment.”

How can you make your own rice water for hair?

First, be sure to wash the rice properly to remove any dirt or other impurities. Rauchut recommends adding water, then rubbing the rice in between your hands so as to extract the content of the rice. When the water becomes cloudy, sieve it into another pot.

“Rice water can be made by soaking rice and then straining the rice from the water so that you only have rice left,” Rivera says. “It can also be made by boiling rice using additional water so that rice water is left over. Again, strain rice from the water once the rice is cooked and use the remaining water once cooled on the hair.”

Are there any side effects to using rice water in hair?

Keep in mind you can always have too much of a good thing. “Using too much or leaving rice water on for too long can cause dryness and damage,” cautions Dear. 

It’s also important to be mindful of any allergies, particularly a gluten sensitivity. “Also, if not rinsed out properly, you may feel a little itchy or experience scalp buildup,” Rauchut says. “Some may even feel they have a protein buildup. I suggest consulting a stylist familiar with this routine and make sure to rinse very thoroughly.” 

Which Prose products contain rice water?

You’ll find fermented rice water among the possible ingredients in Prose’s custom shampoo, conditioner, and leave-in conditioner. If your formula calls for smoothing, unwanted frizz control, and detangling, then you can bet rice water is included in your personalized products.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Celia Shatzman is a Brooklyn-based writer who has penned stories on topics ranging from beauty to fashion, travel, celebrities, entertainment and more. A graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Forbes, Women’s Health, Marie Claire, New York, Refinery29.com, and NYLON, among others. When she’s not writing, Celia enjoys traveling, learning to play tennis, and playing with her rescue dog, Watson. Check out her site at http://celiashatzman.com/ and follow her on Instagram (@celiashatzman).

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  1. I used cfc rice water and the next day my face, upper arms and neck and ears were broke out with crusty bumps