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How To Use Rice Water for Hair (And the Top 5 Study-Proven Benefits)

An all-natural treatment for healthy hair and scalp.


When it comes to having healthier hair and increasing hair growth, it seems like the hair care options are endless. Between TV ads and TikTok trends, there’s no shortage of suggestions for making your mane thicker, shinier, longer, fuller, curlier — you name it, there’s a treatment for it. Having tried many of them, the hair care hack that’s worked best for me has been the one that’s also the cheapest: rice water. (Apparently, Kim Kardashian swears by it.) There are several benefits to a rice water rinse, no matter your hair type or texture, and zero side effects (e.g., odd smell, goopy roots, etc.) Here’s a closer look at how to make rice water and why a rice water hair treatment is worth adding to your hair care routine. 

What is rice water?

As the name indicates, rice water is the starchy water that’s left after you cook rice. It can refer to the water used to boil the rice, or it can be the actual rice boiled down to a thick liquid. Used in Asian countries for centuries, it has many health and hair care benefits. Rice water and fermented rice water can be made at home with ingredients you likely have on hand, like a few cups of water and uncooked rice. Depending on its thickness, rice water can be applied in one of two ways: either sprayed on with spray bottle, or brushed through the hair with a comb or your fingers. Rice water has a high starch content, which is useful for supporting the overall growth and health of hair, but it is also high in nutrients and vitamins like vitamin B, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc.

How To Use Rice Water as a DIY Hair Mask

One benefit of using a rice water treatment for your hair is that it doesn’t require any adjustments to your existing hair care routine. Depending on your hair type and texture, you’ll want to apply rice water anywhere from every day to once a week (or less). But this can be done alongside shampooing. As with any addition to your hair care routine or skin care routine, begin slowly and adjust the application as your hair requires. 

To apply rice water to your hair, start with your typical shampoo and deep conditioner process first. Once your hair is clean and rinsed of all products, apply your rice water treatment. Spray or pour the rice water home remedy onto your hair and gently distribute using a comb or your fingers. Be sure to massage it all the way into the scalp. Allow the rice water to sit for up to 20 minutes. Using warm water, thoroughly wash the rice water from the hair until it’s removed completely. 

Science-Backed Benefits of Rice Water for Hair Growth and Health

Not only is applying a rice water bath extremely easy, but there are a great many benefits to it. Here are just a few of the reasons you should add a rice water treatment to your regular hair care routine. 

1. Rice Water Supports Hair Volume

If you’re looking to add volume to your hair, rice water is the way to go. That’s because it has a high starch content and amino acids that increase volume and smooth the frizz and dryness that result from use of store-bought volumizing products. The starch in rice water is even useful for reducing breakage caused by split ends.

2. Rice Water Makes Hair Shinier 

When it comes to healthy and hydrating products that don’t have side effects, rice water is unmatched. It has a high vitamin and starch content and contains amino acids and essential vitamins that help support shiny hair and healthy hair follicles. In fact, the vitamins you would find in most hydrating products (like vitamin B and vitamin E) occur naturally in rice water and are a fraction of the price. Vitamins B and E are useful for smoothing out the surface of the hair and giving it a fresh, glossy appearance. Another reason to consider a rice water rinse is that it’s a much lighter alternative to hydrating and smoothing products. You won’t have to sacrifice volume (a common result of the weighty goop in commercial products) to achieve a shiny, healthy look. 

3. Rice Water Supports and Repairs Follicles 

It all comes down to amino acids. The amino acids found in rice water are essential for building protein. One particular amino acid, cysteine, is used by the body to build hair, nails, and even the skin. Rice water helps with the repair process by sending essential nutrients to damaged or weakened hair. It also contains a compound known as inositol, which is found in numerous hair loss prevention products thanks to its support of hair repair and prevention of hair loss. Rice water is a safe and reliable alternative for strengthening thinning hair and making it less vulnerable to loss, low hair elasticity, and breakage. 

4. Rice Water Protects the Scalp

Rice water helps to gently cleanse the scalp. When we use a lot of products in our hair, we accumulate build-up that can cause irritation and itching. Rice water gently breaks down the buildup of products, relieving and relaxing the scalp. This results in less itching and scratching, which allows your scalp to heal. It’s also important to note that when the scalp overproduces sebum, often from excess exposure to oils or dryness, it can lead to dandruff. When we use rice water on the scalp, we are thoroughly washing away build-up from serums and oils, and in turn, we’re reducing dandruff and flaking for a healthier, happier scalp. Lastly, many of the vitamins and nutrients naturally found in rice water, like zinc, are useful for reducing irritation and protecting your scalp against itching.

5. Rice Water Softens and Detangles

Sometimes, a classic condition just isn’t enough. If you notice that your hair is rough or dry, or if you’re struggling to get through it with a comb, consider a rice water treatment. This can be especially useful if you have longer hair and you want to carefully detangle it without the use of excess products that weigh your hair down and cause build-up. Rice water detangles hair with a combination of starch content, vitamins, amino acids, and antioxidants. The starch in rice water coats the outside of the hair, which makes it easier to run a brush or comb through it and remove knots and tangles (even if you have damaged hair). Because rice water is also rich in vitamins and nutrients, your hair will feel softer and look healthier. All you need is a cup of rice.

Rinse Away for Hair Health

You may be wondering if a rice water rinse is really worth all the fuss. After all, the process of creating and using rice water is so simple and easy that there’s no way it could deliver so many benefits. But the truth is that rice water treatments greatly improve hair health, and simply adding a rice water rinse to your hair routine once a week can have an enormous impact. A rice water hair rinse has many benefits for hair, no matter your hair type and length. It can strengthen and repair hair, relax frizz, contribute to healthy hair growth, and even protect the scalp against irritation. And it does all that while maximizing volume and removing the build-up of hair care products on the scalp and tresses.

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