The Art of Rice Rinsing Your Hair

Jennifer McDaniel - April 24, 2020
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Using rice water to strengthen and beautify hair isn’t new. It’s been used since ancient times in many Asian cultures as a beauty ritual to soften the skin and nourish the hair. The tradition of using unpolished rice water as a weekly hair rinse can be a low cost and high yield beauty treatment for anyone who wants healthier, shinier hair.  Rice water is surprisingly beneficial to hair because it contains an impressive array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids – the building blocks of proteins. Science shows that the proteins in rice water strengthen and thicken hair, increase hair elasticity and bounce, add volume, increase softness, support curl definition and promote and stimulates hair growth due to a key nutrient found in rice water called Inositol. 

Inositol is a carbohydrate that is found naturally in your body and certain foods. It plays many roles in your body, including affecting levels of neurotransmitters and the way your body handles glucose. Studies have found that inositol is able to penetrate damaged hair and repair it from the inside out. It even protects hair from future damage because It is able to stay in the hair shaft even after rinsing and shampooing your hair. This means that it will continue to act as a shield and protect your hair after the hair has been washed. Rice water can be used in many ways, as a conditioner, as a shampoo, as a treatment for curly and kinky hair. 

What I love about rice water is that it’s easy to make and we usually have the ingredients. I’m going to share with you three methods that you can make the rice water right in your kitchen. The cool thing is for each recipe, you only need two ingredients, rice and water. Make sure to use organic white rice not brown rice. The protein in brown rice is too large to penetrate the hair shaft.

Recipe # 1: Soaked Rice Water

Take 1 cup of uncooked rice; rinse it thoroughly; add 2-3 glasses of water; leave for 30 minutes; strain the rice water into a clean bowl. This method is for you if you have a time constraint and you need a fast hair hack. 

Recipe # 2: Boiled Rice Water

Take ½ cup of rice; add 1 glass of water; cook the rice in boiling water; strain the rice water into a clean bowl before use. When you boil the water, the water becomes cloudy with the reside from the rice. This residue is full of nutrients, but it needs to be diluted before using. The dilution ration will depend on how long your hair is and how oily your scalp is. I would aim for 1 cup of the rice water to 10 cups of water. 

Recipe # 3: Fermented Rice Water

Take 2 cups of rice; rinse it well to remove any dirt or impurities that you don’t want to apply to your hair and add 2 times more water to it; leave the rice to soak for 20-30 minutes; pour the water into a glass bottle, seal it and leave in a dark place at room temperature for 2 days; when a sour smell appears, stop fermentation and put it in a fridge to preserve all the beneficial properties obtained during fermentation. If the room is a bit warm, it will speed up the fermentation process. To decrease the fermentation time, leave the rice sitting in the water and strain once it has fermented.

Fermentation reduces the pH level of rice water to the pH level of the hair and nourishes it better due to the effective penetration of vitamins into the scalp and hair structure. If you are someone who is an  immunocompromised person, a lactating mother or someone with scalp condition such as yeast or fungal infections, I would not recommend this method. 

Fermented rice can be very potent so you may need to dilute it with water until it's slightly cloudy.  When applying the rice water, try to really focus in on your scalp, gently massaging it in and work your way out towards the ends of your hair. Let it sit for 20 minutes, and then rinse.  For additional nourishment, you can add a few drops of essential oil, such as rosemary, lavender, tea tree, geranium or lemon, which are all great oils to stimulate the hair follicle and purify the scalp. 

Rice water rinsing is ritual that goes well beyond promoting hair growth. No matter what shape your hair is in, rice water will help to restore your hair to its natural luster.


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Jennifer McDaniel

Jennifer McDaniel is a well being strategist, ICF accredited professional coach. She has 25+ years of experience as a professional speaker, corporate trainer and a learning development leader in the beauty, health and wellness space.

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