Stylists dig into the benefits of rice water for hair
When it comes to hair growth solutions, I’m willing to try anything to get a few inches taller. So when my hairstylist suggested I soak my hair in my rice water — the cloudy stuff left over after washing uncooked rice — I was intrigued.
Rice water for hair has recently become a popular DIY treatment, with celebrities like Cardi B and people on TikTok trying it out for themselves, but it’s not a new phenomenon. Legend has it that Japanese women in the Heian period (794 to 1185 AD) rinsed their traditionally long hair with rice water to keep it healthy, and women from the Yao community in China became known for wash their Rapunzel manes. with the starch solution.
Considering rice water treatments have been around for centuries, it’s clear that this is way more than your standard TikTok trend. But how does it work, and how can you try it yourself? We reached out to industry experts to find out.
Benefits of rice water
1. Strengthens and hydrates strands
According to Neda Mehr, MD, a California-based functional dermatologist specializing in hair, rice water can have a legitimate impact on the health of your hair. The starchy liquid is packed with amino acids, antioxidants, and vitamins B and E. Together, these form a powerful elixir that can naturally help hydrate your hair, increase its strength, and improve its texture, Mehr says.
Specifically, Vitamin B helps smooth your hair, while Vitamin E provides moisture and shine. “Between the B vitamins, E vitamins, amino acids, and minerals, rice water could be great,” says Dr. Mehr.
2. Potentially Stimulates Hair Growth
Rice water can also help hair growth. It contains a mineral called inositol, which Dr. Mehr says can lower your levels of DHT, the hormone believed to be associated with hair loss. So, in theory, reducing DHT levels may help promote growth, but it should be noted that this is still under investigation.
One thing we know for sure? “Inositol can penetrate the hair follicle and repair damage from within,” says Trey Gillen, hairstylist and creative director at Sachajuan. So while it doesn’t make your hair longer (again, we can’t say with 100% certainty that it does), it definitely does make it stronger.
How to prepare rice water:
1. Choose your rice
Although it doesn’t matter what rice you choose (brown and white should work just fine), Gillen suggests using an organic grain for best results.
Toss the rice in a bowl or colander and rinse with water to remove any dirt or unwanted particles from the surface of the grains. Then drain the water.
3. Add water
Once the rice is clean, put some water back in the bowl. For every cup of rice, add one and a half cups of water. Stir until the water becomes cloudy.
5. Filter and store
Strain the rice water into a mason jar or lidded container. Seal it up and leave it on your counter for eight to 10 hours. According to Gillen, this is the most important step because “fermentation brings out all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that make the rice water work.”
How to use rice water for hair
After the fermentation process is complete, you can apply the rice water with a spray bottle or let your hair soak in a bowl of the solution for five to 20 minutes.
Remember to wash your hair before using rice water (it works best on clean hair) and always rinse thoroughly after your treatment.
Best rice water for hair products
If you don’t have the time (or patience) to make rice water yourself, below are some hairstylist-approved products with the benefits of hair-nourishing rice protein.
OUAI Wave Spray — $28.00
For those times when you want to give your hair a bit of volume and a bit more curl definition, this spray is for you. Its formula is 100% salt-free, which makes it “safe on colored or keratin-treated hair,” says Gillen. Plus, the rice protein and coconut water blend increases your hair’s ability to retain moisture while giving it great shine.
Shu Izumi Tonic Hair Treatment — $58.00
If your hair is damaged and could use a little straightening, this Shu Izumi Tonic hair treatment can help. It contains Japanese-origin rice water to help stop breakage and increase body, while ceramides lock in moisture. Overall, the solution is lightweight and won’t weigh your locks down.
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