Rice Water

Rice water for hair care
Photo: Pixelshot/Canva
Q: A South Korean friend once told me that in her country, they use rice water for hair care. It seems strange to me, but what is your opinion on using rice water as a hair product? Is it true that rice water is good for your hair? What does it do and how do you use it?
A: For many people, it seems like a new concept, but rice water has been used for a long time to care for hair. The use of rice water on the hair has gained popularity in many countries because of the numerous potential benefits. The concept revolves around utilizing the liquid leftover after soaking or boiling rice because this liquid is believed to be rich in nutrients that are beneficial for the hair and scalp.
This age-old practice is based on the belief that rice water strengthens the hair, makes it shinier, softer, and smoother, reduces frizz, and improves overall hair health. It is a beauty remedy originating from traditional Asian cultures, especially from China, Japan, and Korea. Rice water is a good example of a completely natural, sustainable, and affordable hair care product.
One of the key components in rice water is inositol, a carbohydrate that can penetrate the hair shaft, strengthening it from within and protecting it from future hair damage. It also contributes to better elasticity, resulting in an overall improvement in hair health. In addition to vitamins and minerals, rice water is also believed to contain amino acids that are essential for the formation of proteins crucial for the structure of the hair.
Applying rice water to the hair is a relatively simple process. To make rice water, start by thoroughly rinsing the rice to remove any impurities. Then, soak the rice in water for a certain period, usually a few hours or overnight. Stir the rice in the water, allowing the nutrients to be absorbed by the liquid. Use a sieve to remove the rice, and you're left with the enriched rice water. An alternative method is to boil the rice water instead of letting it soak.
Photo: Dapa Images/Canva
Some people choose to use fermented rice water. The fermentation process is thought to increase the nutrient content and make the rice water even better. To make fermented rice water, you can soak rice in water and let it sit at room temperature for at least two days, giving the water ample time to absorb the nutrients from the rice. When you see small bubbles and detect a sour smell, it means that fermentation is taking place.
Once your rice water is ready, you can use it as a hair rinse or a hair mask. As a rinse, it involves washing your hair with shampoo as usual. Then, pour the rice water over your hair and massage your scalp. After letting it sit for a few minutes, thoroughly rinse it out. As a mask, which is a more concentrated approach, you can apply the rice water directly to your hair and scalp, leaving it on for an extended period, up to 30 minutes, before washing it out.
While anecdotal evidence confirms the positive effects of rice water on hair, it's important to note that scientific research on this beauty remedy is limited. Results may vary from person to person, and factors such as hair type, texture, and pre-existing hair damage can influence the outcome. Regular use is recommended, but the optimal frequency will vary depending on individual needs and preferences.
It's crucial to approach the use of rice water with caution. Overuse or leaving rice water on the hair for extended periods can have adverse effects. Like with any home remedy, it is advisable to first do a strand test and see how your hair reacts.
See also:
Does hair absorb water?
How strong is human hair?