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Using rice water for hair is an age-old Asian practice to solve several problems plaguing your tresses. The process is quite simple! All you need is a glass of rice and some water to soak the grains.

In this article, we take you through the hair benefits of rice water (both plain and fermented) and several ways to prepare it, followed by some tips to use it effectively. Keep scrolling!

What Is Rice Water?

Do you know how to cook rice? Remember how you soak it in water and then strain it? Well, the next time, do not throw the water away because it works wonders on your hair and skin.

Rice water looks like a milky liquid, and that’s because of the starch residue left behind from the rice. It is rich in minerals and vitamins and makes for a healthy drink (1).

Rice water tightens your skin and improves the health of your hair. It also enhances blood circulation in your body, aids skin cell growth, and keeps your skin looking young and rejuvenated.

StyleCraze Trivia
Rice water was first used by women of the Heian period (794 CE to 1185 CE) in Japan to maintain healthy and long hair.

Sounds perfect, right? Curious to know how the usage of rice water came about? Read below to find out.

History Of Using Rice Water For Hair

Image: Shutterstock

There is a tribe called Red Yao in a Chinese village called Huangluo, popularly known as the land of Rapunzels.

And rightly so because since ages, all the women in this village have been using rice water to wash and nourish their hair. It even has a certification from the Guinness Book Of World Records as the ‘world’s longest hair village’ (2).

And back in the day, it was the same case in another country. The noble women of the Japanese Imperial Court in 800 AD were known for their beautiful long hair, and that’s because – you guessed it right – they washed their hair with rice water.

These traditions were passed on to generations through word of mouth. Time passed by, and with the onset of the world wide web, the world came closer, and beneficial cultural practices were exchanged. As part of that attempt, I am here to enlighten you about rice water as an extraordinary ingredient for hair care.

Is Rice Water Good For Hair?

Yes, it is perfect for hair. What’s in it that makes it so? Studies show that rice water contains inositol, a carbohydrate that repairs damaged hair (3).

This inositol stays in the hair even after the rice water is rinsed off, acting as a shield and protecting your hair from damage. Rice water also contains amino acids that strengthen the hair roots, increase hair volume, and make your hair shiny and smooth (4).

In every possible way, rice water is great for your hair. It is safe, natural, and has absolutely no side effects. It improves the condition of your hair in a healthy manner.

Take my word, there’s nothing better than rice water for your hair. Learn more about it in the following sections.

Plain Rice Water Vs. Fermented Rice Water – Which Is More Effective?

Rice water sounds like a seemingly simple entity. But it has a few variations, of which plain rice water and fermented rice water are better known. Let’s figure out which one is better.

Plain rice water’s pH is higher than your hair’s pH (5). Fermentation brings down the pH levels of the rice water to that of your hair and helps close the cuticles, thereby protecting the hair.

Fermenting rice water enhances the existing vitamins and nutrients levels in it, which nourish your hair follicles. It promotes healthy hair growth and improves the overall condition of your hair.

Also, during fermentation, a substance called ‘pitera’ forms in the rice water, and it is rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and organic acids. Pitera is known to promote cell regeneration and keep your skin and hair healthy (6).

Fermented rice water is acidic, and when you rinse your hair with it, it restores and balances the pH of your hair.

Fermented rice water enhances the benefits of plain rice water, and you can use either of them depending on the level of repair and rejuvenation you need.

Now, it’s finally time to learn how to make it, my friend. Excited?

Methods Of Preparing Rice Water

Here we have mentioned two basics and simple methods to prepare rice water for hair at home and how to use it for hair effectively.

1. Boiled Rice Water

I) What Is Boiled Rice Water?

One way of obtaining rice water is by boiling the rice. The excess water left after cooking rice in water is called boiled rice water. It is a concentrated liquid that you can dilute to use as a face wash or a hair rinse.

II) How To Make Boiled Rice Water

III) How To Use Boiled Rice Water For Hair

Boiled rice water is an excellent conditioner, so let’s figure out how to use it as one.

2. Fermented Rice Water

I) What Is Fermented Rice Water?

Fermented rice water is rice water that is left to ferment for a while before use. Fermentation turns the rice water into a potent liquid that needs to be diluted before use.

II) How To Make Fermented Rice Water?

III) How To Use Fermented Rice Water For Hair

How about a rich hair mask to nourish your hair? Sounds like something you need, right? Let’s learn how to make one with fermented rice water and mustard.

As the days pass by, it is recommended to continue diluting the rice water with more water because the older the rice water, the more concentrated solution it becomes.

Now that we know how to make rice water at home easily, let’s learn about its benefits.

Benefits Of Rice Water For Hair

Rice water contains inositol, a carbohydrate that helps strengthen elasticity and reduce surface friction. Check out here what are the best rice water benefits for hair.

1. Improves Hair Growth

Nothing better than rice water to decrease hair fall and aid hair growth. The amino acids present in rice water, in particular, help in the regeneration of hair and aid faster growth of your hair.

Also, rice water contains vitamins B, C, and E, which further help in hair growth (7). The best way to use rice water to grow hair is to rinse your hair with it after a wash. Follow the process at least twice a week, and you will surely see the results.

2. Reduces Split Ends

Split ends make you look like a mess, don’t they? Your hair needs protein to avoid split ends, and rice water has plenty of it.

The primary causes of split ends are inadequate maintenance and pollution, which lead to an overall degeneration in the health of your hair. The amino acids present in rice water come to your rescue and repair the damage.

Soak your split ends in rice water for 15 to 20 minutes and then wash your hair. You will gradually see improvement in the condition of your hair.

4. Protects Hair From Damage

Rice water decreases surface friction and improves hair elasticity. It contains a carbohydrate called inositol that repairs damaged hair and protects hair in general (8).

What makes rice water stand apart from other ingredients is the fact that the inositol remains in your hair even after rinsing off the rice water and shields your hair from further damage.

5. Strengthens The Hair Roots And Smoothens Hair

Rice water is rich in amino acids – this is something you already know. You’d be amazed to know that apart from the many benefits that they impart to your hair, they also strengthen your hair roots, add shine to hair, and make it smooth and silky.

6. Cures Dandruff

Dandruff is a menace. It is like a plague attacking your head, leaving a shower of white mist on your clothing. It is utterly embarrassing and a cause of itching and irritation.

Rice water gives you respite from dandruff and, with regular use, helps you combat the problem altogether (9). For that to happen, you must rinse your hair with rice water regularly.

7. Makes Hair Silky And Shiny

Who doesn’t want silky and shiny hair? It is what we all dream about. And rice water can make it happen. All you have to do is use rice water as a hair mask, leave it on for 20 minutes, and then wash it off.

Follow it up with shampoo and conditioner, and voila! It works even better if you add some rose water to your rice water solution.

8. Removes Lice

Ah, lice! Those tiny creatures are ruining your peace and sucking the blood out of you. Don’t worry because rice water can easily tackle them. The starch in rice water kills the lice and nits instantly.

Rice water nips the problem before it can spread too much and make it worse for you.

9. As A Hair Conditioner

Rice water makes for a good and cost-effective hair conditioner. Add a wee bit of rosemary, lavender, or geranium essential oil to it, and you are good to go.

Apply the solution to the entire length of your hair. Leave it on for anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes and then wash it off with cold water.

Try it because it is an excellent conditioner. I am not simply saying it. Rice water, as a conditioner, repairs your hair, strengthens it, and enhances its elasticity (10).

Tips To Wash Hair With Rice Water

There are some tips to keep in mind to make your hair wash routine with rice water a fulfilling experience.

Rice water contains natural saponins and can be used as a mild cleanser. But to avoid and remove the build-up of rice water in your hair over time due to hard water, you must add a teaspoon of a natural clarifier like lime, amla, or shikakai to it.

Green tea is also an excellent addition to rice water as it imparts additional shine and strength to your hair. It also reduces hair loss.

Eager to try rice water and check out its benefits, aren’t you? Well, before you go ahead with that, I must tell you rice water is not a great smelling liquid, especially fermented rice water.

Infographic: Main Difference Between Plain Rice Water And Fermented Rice Water

Rice water is great for hair as it has amino acids that strengthens the hair and makes it stronger from the roots. It also imparts a smooth and shiny texture to hair without any unwanted side effects.

Plain rice water and fermented rice water both work wonders for your hair, so check out the infographic given below to know the major differences between them.

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Rice water benefits your hair in many ways. In Asian cultures, rice water is traditionally used to nourish hair and promote its growth. It is packed with many phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals that make it a great supplement for your hair. It may promote hair growth, enhance its shine, reduce split ends, and protect it from damage. Rice water may also help deal with dandruff and lice. Thus, it is a beautiful natural hair conditioner that makes the hair silky and shiny. Use boiled or fermented rice water to wash your hair to reap these benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I leave rice water in my hair overnight?

That won’t be necessary. A duration of 15-30 minutes would do as the carbohydrate in the rice water remains in the hair even after you wash it off to protect your hair.

Can I consume rice water?

Definitely! Rice water has as many benefits for your body as it does for your hair.

Comment below and tell us what you think of this article. We would love to hear from you.

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Swathi holds a master’s degree in biotechnology from Osmania University and has worked in places where actual science and research… more

Dr. K. Harish Kumar


Dr Harish did his MD (DVL) from Osmania Medical College in 2007. He worked as a consultant for Kaya Skin… more