Rice Water Nourishes & Strengthens Hair

by Blake Herzog

The “rice water” that an increasing number of beauty influencers and everyday people are dousing their hair with is exactly what it sounds like; the starchy fluid left behind after you soak or cook rice.

The practice began centuries ago in Asia, where Japanese ladies of the royal court and women of the village of Huangluo in China grew hair until it reached the floor, and many still do in the latter.

Both used the nutrient-rich water left behind after the everyday staple of rice had been prepared, allowing it to cool down before rinsing their hair with it. The result? Longer, stronger, more lustrous locks that allowed them to carry on the tradition and grab the attention of everyone they met.

The amino acids and vitamins contained in the water are believed to strengthen hair and promote its growth, including for those with thinning hair. It’s also said to make it softer and easier to detangle, improve shine and soak up excess moisture from overly hydrated hair.

How to DIY

Today there are lots of hair products available that include rice water or some component of it, but lots of people prefer to do it themselves at home. Any type of rice will work, but it’s a good idea to investigate the nutrient profile of each to see which one will best meet your needs.

For example, long-grain brown, black and wild rice have more protein than other varieties. After cooking or soaking it save the cloudy water, cool if necessary, and use it within a week.

Most people wash and towel dry their hair first before pouring or spraying the rice water onto it, massaging it into their scalp before covering their hair with a shower cap or plastic bag and leaving it on for 20 minutes before giving their hair a thorough rinse with warm water and then styling.

Rice water is good for all hair types, but some people, especially those whose hair is less absorbent, may experience breakage due to protein overload. Use the rice water no more than once a week, or less if you experience any issues.