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Your Complete Guide to Using Rice Water for Your Hair

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Kim Kardashian swears by it, and TikTok can’t stop making videos about it. The DIY viral beauty tip that will keep your strands longer, stronger, and shinier is none other than rice water hair treatments.

Kim’s sister Kourtney Kardashian shared on Poosh that Kim has seen noticeable results in the length and thickness of her locks using rice water, and she even posted Kim’s go-to DIY rice water recipe. It’s taking beauty TikTok by storm, too; beauty creator Lily Van Brooklyn has created countless videos detailing her experience with rice water, many of them highlighting that the ingredient was the easiest way to attain healthy hair, hydrate, and promote hair growth.

Still, we wanted to do a little extra research on using rice water before we tried it ourselves. UK-based trichologist Kate Holden and celebrity hair stylist Kee Taylor gave us some much-needed expert advice on the topic.

Kate reveals the benefits of rice water for your hair, along with a quick history on the hair care regimen, while Kee provides how each hair type can use and benefit from using rice water.

About the Experts: 
Kate Holden is a UK-based trichologist and an associate member of the Institute of Trichologists. She is also the owner of the Kate Holden Clinic in Manchester.
Annagjid “Kee” Taylor is a Philadelphia-based celebrity hairstylist and beauty entrepreneur.

How Does Rice Water Benefit Your Hair?

The use of rice water for hair health is quite a common practice in China, Japan, and Southeast Asia. Kate mentions that “Women in Asia have used rice water on their hair for centuries,” with the Yao women being the most well-known for utilizing rice water for both hair and even skincare benefits.

“Advocates claim that rice water can increase hair smoothness, add shine, and reduce breakage,” Kate notes. “The thinking is that rice water contains some beneficial ingredients that are often used in shampoos and conditioners, such as vitamin E, B vitamins, and proteins.”

But while rice water contains these useful vitamins and proteins, Kate is quick to mention that there is no scientific evidence to support the claims of rice water’s hair benefits. “Any effects that are claimed are anecdotal only,” she says. These are the believed benefits of rice water for your hair:

• Strengthens damaged hair strands preventing breakage for overall healthier hair

• Revitalizes dull strands by removing buildup, thus increases hair shine and softness

• Prevents (and can neutralize) “hygral fatigue” or overly moisturized and vitamin-rich hair

• Promotes hair growth and regeneration through vitamin C, B, and E and amino acids

Creates a smoother hair texture and detangles. “Rice water can help to reduce frizziness and it can balance your scalp’s pH levels, which can help to reduce oil buildup,” says Kee.

Your Step-by-Step Guide on How to Use Rice Water for Your Hair

Step 1: Gather your ingredients.

In order to make rice water, you will, of course, need rice. But if you’re wondering which type of rice works best, there isn’t a consensus about which type of rice works better than another. The DIY recipe on Poosh suggests sticking with organic rice, though this can be any type of organic rice. You’ll also need a bowl and a strainer to create the rice water. If you’re lucky enough to already have those ingredients at your disposal, keep scrolling. If you need to head out for a quick trip to the store, bookmark this page and come back to it once you have everything you need.

Step 2: Rinse the rice.

Take a half cup of rice and rinse it thoroughly before draining it. Once the rice has been drained, place it in two to three cups of water in a clean bowl. As an added precaution, Kate suggests boiling your rice water, because “Raw rice can contain harmful bacteria, which can cause food poisoning. Although I haven’t heard of any rice water rinse–related food poisoning, it's better to be safe than sorry.”

Step 3: Soak the rice.

The rice will need to soak in the water between 30 minutes to an hour, though Poosh notes you can let it sit for up to 24 hours. If you’re eager to use the rice rinse as soon as possible, you’ll leave it in for a shorter amount of time. But if you really want to reap the benefits of this hair care hack, you’ll want to make fermented rice water.

Step 4: Ferment the rice water.

Traditionally, the Yao women use fermented rice water. Studies have shown that fermented rice water contains a high amount of antioxidants that can combat hair damage. To ferment your rice water, you’ll follow the same steps above, but instead of letting the rice soak for an hour, leave the rice to soak at room temperature for up to two days. This is what creates the starchy consistency.

Step 5: Strain the rice.

After you’ve allowed your rice to soak in water for your chosen length of time, it’s now time to strain it. Be sure to use a clean, dry bowl as your vessel for your strained rice water. You can even place it into a Mason jar or any reusable container you have lying around to make storage easier.

Step 6: Shampoo your hair.

Before you apply the rice water, you’ll want to shampoo your hair. You can use any shampoo, so long as you make sure to rinse thoroughly.

Step 7: Apply the rice water to your hair.

You’ll then use the rice water as a sort of hair rinse after you’re done shampooing. Be sure to massage the rice water into your strands and potentially your scalp. Kate cautions that “It’s sensible to steer clear of home remedies in case of irritation” for those with “sensitive skin, an itchy scalp, or scalp problems, such as dermatitis or psoriasis.”

Step 8: Leave the rice water on your hair for 20 minutes.

Kate suggests “not leaving rice water on the hair for longer than 20 minutes,” so as not to cause additional irritation. Though the steps for using rice water aren’t all agreed upon, many people suggest leaving it on your hair for only 20 minutes. Once your 20 minutes are up, you can rinse out the rice water.

Step 9: Finish with conditioner.

When you rinse out all the rice water, complete your hair-washing routine with your choice of conditioner and bask in the glow of your new and improved natural hair.

Our Fave Hair Treatments With Rice-Based Ingredients

Following the DIY rice water recipe above doesn’t work for everyone, nor is it beneficial for all hair types. Sometimes, you need some more targeted products to ensure you get the most out of your chosen rice water. Below, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite products with rice ingredients to help improve your hair’s overall wellness.

1. The Best Rice Water Treatment:

BRIOGEO HAIR CARE Don't Despair, Repair!™ MegaStrength+ Rice Water Protein and Strengthening Treatment

BRIOGEO HAIR CARE Don't Despair, Repair!™ MegaStrength+ Rice Water Protein and Strengthening Treatment
Courtesy of BRIOGEO HAIR

This new BRIOGEO HAIR CARE treatment is one of the best hair treatments there is. It can help you achieve healthier hair in just 10 minutes, bringing life back to tired strands and completely repairing any damage. It’s ideal for hair prone to dryness, frizz, and color-treated hair—a total must-have in any hair care arsenal.

2. The Best Rice Water Shampoo:

SHEAMOISTURE Purple Rice Water Strength & Color Care Shampoo

SHEAMOISTURE Purple Rice Water Strength & Color Care Shampoo

SHEAMOISTURE’s sulfate-free moisturizing shampoo combines rice extract, wild orchid, and sweet violet extract, which work to gently rid your strands of impurities and strengthen your hair’s protein. Plus, it adds brightness to your color-treated hair without stripping it of its luster.

3. The Best Rice Water Deep Conditioner:

KIEHL’S Rice and Wheat Volumizing Conditioning Rinse

KIEHL’S Rice and Wheat Volumizing Conditioning Rinse
Courtesy of KIEHL’S

Give your thin, flat strands the volume and body they deserve with the KIEHL’S volumizing conditioner. The amino acids in the formula’s hydrolyzed rice protein also work to improve your hair’s strength and shine.

4. The Best Rice Water Curl Créme:

BRIOGEO HAIR CARE Curl Charisma™ Rice Amino + Avocado Leave-In Defining Crème

BRIOGEO HAIR CARE Curl Charisma™ Rice Amino + Avocado Leave-In Defining Crème

For those with curly hair, BRIOGEO HAIR CARE’s leave-in crème uses rice amino acids, avocado oil, quinoa extract, and tomato fruit ferment to boost the moisture, bounce, definition, and vibrancy of your curls. Bonus: Unlike most curl crèmes, BRIOGEO HAIR CARE’s formula maintains the movement and touchability of your curls while it defines them.

5. The Best Rice Water Hair Oil:

OUAI Hair Oil

OUAI Hair Oil
Courtesy of OUAI

OUAI’s multitasking hair oil gets rid of frizz and split ends, and doubles as a heat protectant. Did we mention it works for all hair types? Whether you’re a 2A or a 4C, this hair oil will help your hair shine the way it was meant to.

6. The Best Rice Water Leave-In Product:

PACIFICA Vegan Silk Rice Water Leave-in Milk

PACIFICA Vegan Silk Rice Water Leave-in Milk
Courtesy of PACIFICA

It is so easy to use PACIFICA’s leave-in rice water milk. If you don’t want to commit to making your own rice water or spending money on a pricy treatment, no worries—this product takes no more than five seconds to use and costs only $13. PACIFICA uses vegan silk, a plant-sourced fermented peptide that has moisture-binding capabilities for hair. Just spray on wet hair and go about your day.

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About the author
Olivia Cefalu
Olivia Cefalu
Olivia is a freelance beauty writer. With experience in influencer marketing at Tata Harper Skincare and editorial at Very Good Light, she loves covering Gen Z beauty, wellness, and nail trends. Read her work on Very Good Light and Well + Good.
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Article Last Updated April 2, 2023 12:00 AM