Rice water is a hot item right now in the natural hair world. I see it EVERYWEHRE on boards, groups and on YouTube. Despite the popularity, I wanted to wait a bit to share to ensure it was a lasting treatment and learn a tad bit more about it as well. There are a lot of misinformation out here and I didn’t want to just jump on the bandwagon and not give vital and accurate information. Let’s delve into what it is, what it does and why its so popular.
What is rice water
If you learned to cook rice the old fashioned way like I did, then you are already aware of what this is. It is the starchy water left over after cooking the grain or if you soak it. When I learned to cook the grain, we simply discarded this starchy water but now, women are using it for their hair. The water is full of nutrients like Amino acids, B vitamins, vitamin E, minerals and antioxidants.
This grain water has been used by women during the Heian period (794 to 1185 CE) in Japan and had floor-length hair by bathing in rice water. Also in China, women in the Huangluo village have long hair that average 6 feet long from bathing in the water. These stories have been circulating the blogs lately and many women are eager to give rice water a try on natural hair.
Does it work?
This history of its use is impressive, but does it work as so many naturals are touting? I wanted to get you cold hard facts.
“The use of rice water is an anecdotal but long-living beauty ritual in ancient Asian culture,” says trichologist Bridgette Hill with Paul Labrecque Salon and Skincare Spa. “Rice water enthusiasts believe rice water detangles their hair, makes hair smoother and shinier, and grows the hair longer.” cosmopolitan.com
At first glance, a 2010 paper suggests they may be. The authors note that rice water may reduce surface friction and increase hair elasticity. However, the study relies on historical examples to draw unsupported conclusions.
Elsewhere, a research facility in Japan has developed an imaging technique that visualizes the strengthening effect of inositol on hair. Inositol is contained in rice water.
It is important to note that this research is published directly by a facility that may have commercial interests.
The women who use it swear it makes hair smoother, increases shine, detangles, makes it stronger and helps for the hair to grow longer. Honestly, it’s the new go to for hair growth and might be something you wanna give a try.
How to make it and use it
Here are some options if you want to go the DIY route and soaking the grain is the quickest way to do it. Take ½ cup of uncooked rice and rinse thoroughly. Place the grain in a bowl with 2–3 cups of water and allow to soak for 30 minutes. Now strain the drippings into a clean bowl.
Another method is to boil the grain. Cover ½ cup of rice with double the water typically used for cooking. Cook the grain in boiling water and strain the leftover water into a clean bowl before using.
Some use this instead of a traditional conditioner or instead of using a hair tea rinse on washday. Simply wash hair as normal with shampoo or cowash and rinse hair well. Pour grain water onto your hair and massage it well into your hair and scalp. Leave on for 20 minutes before rinsing thoroughly with warm water. I haven’t tried this personally, but wanted to also share a recipe from a popular Youtuber who took it a step further and using a more detailed method of grain water.
If you are not big on doing a DIY hair recipe, there are a lot of products that create it for you in shampoos, conditioners, and other products. Here are a few of them: