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Does Rice Water for Hair Work Miracles? Benefits & Uses

Studies in the past have suggested that rice water may reduce surface friction and enhance hair elasticity. However, these studies draw from historical evidence, and their results remain largely unsupported.

6 min read
Does Rice Water for Hair Work Miracles? Benefits & Uses

A History of Rice Water for Hair

Do you know where the usage of rice water is most prevalent in the world? In Japan, China and Southeast Asian countries. It is not a recent trend in these parts but an age-old hair treatment technique used for centuries. The world is in awe of the Yao women of China who have an average beautiful hair length of 6 feet! Moreover, some of their hair does not lose its colour even when they reach 80 years of age!

Scientific Studies on Rice Water for Hair

Examples of the Yao women border on tradition. But what does science say? Studies in the past have suggested that rice water may reduce surface friction and enhance hair elasticity. However, these studies draw from historical evidence, and their results remain largely unsupported.

To date, research regarding rice water benefits for hair depend upon anecdotal evidence.

Rice Water Benefits

There are several benefits of boiled rice water for hair & skin, the digestive system, and your clothes. Most claims have been proven via studies, while some still lack hard evidence to prove their reliability.

  • Rice water, or Oryza Sativa, can lessen inflammation and skin irritation caused by sodium lauryl sulfate(SLS), a compound found in personal care products.
  • The use of rice water for hair also increases the shine of hair and strengthens the hair roots.
  • As per a study, rinsing your face with fermented rice water helps with sun damage and prevents visible effects of ageing such as wrinkles due to its antioxidant properties.
  • Drinking rice water can be a remedy for food poisoning and stomach bugs. A study suggests rice water consumption is an effective remedy for patients with diarrhoea. It hydrates the body with sufficient amounts of water.
  • It is also a good stiffener for clothes. Just dip washed clothes in rice water and dry them in the sun to make them stiff.

Rice Water Benefits For Hair

A good number of studies supports the claim that rice water is good for hair, and their presence as ingredients in hair care products suggest the same. Discussed below are some benefits of rice water for hair fall issues

Improves Hair Strength

Long hair requires nutrients to nourish scalp health and improve hair thickness. Rice water contains starch, which performs this role by coating hair strands with proteins. It reduces hair surface friction caused by rubbing during combing, styling, and washing and increases hair elasticity and smoothness. Furthermore, it also improves hair strength by decreasing the dryness of hair.

Nourishes Hair Scalp

Using boiled rice water for hair helps improve hair root strength by nourishing the scalp. Rice water consists of several macro and micronutrients, such as vitamins, carbohydrates, and minerals, which improve scalp health.

Also read: 7 best natural home hair spa solutions

Encourages Hair Growth

The use of rice water for hair benefits the scalp by repairing the damage. Antioxidants present in rice water nourish hair follicles. Furthermore, vitamins B, C, and E help maintain a suitable environment for hair growth.

Increases Hair Shine

Rice water is a natural conditioner that makes hair bouncy. It adds a layer of protection, especially against air pollution, electric hair appliances, chemicals in hair care products, etc.

Eliminates Dandruff and Flakes

Fermented rice water, mainly made from red rice, inhibits the growth of Malassezia, a fungus that causes dandruff. According to a study, one-day-old rice water has the bacterium Bacillus cereus, which produces antibiotics zwittermicin A and kanosamine. These prevent Malassezia growth.

A Chemical-Free Hair Cleanser

You can use rice water as a conditioner, hair mask, or shampoo. The multiple benefits of rice water allow you to make any hair product with it.

How To Use Rice Water Benefits for Hair

The best practices for reaping the benefits of rice water include the following:


The practice of soaking is the quickest way to obtain rice water. Soak about half a cup of rice in 2-3 cups of water once you have rinsed it thoroughly. Then, the water is put into a clean bowl. This method is helpful for easier and quick preparation and could be used to boil rice water.


The practice of boiling involves submerging uncooked rice in double the amount of water. Cook the rice in boiling water, and then separate the water from the rice.

Rice water could be used as a replacement for commercial conditioners. After washing hair with shampoo, rice water should be poured and massaged on the hair and scalp. Following this, leave the rice water on for over 20 minutes and rinse it off with warm water.

Yao Women Rice Water Recipe

Who Are Yao Women?

The women of Halguon, a remote region in China, are known as Yao Women. They are said to have hair that is over 2 metres in length. They credit the length to the use of rice water. However, the method of preparation of Yao rice water isn't an easy one.

How Do Yao Women Use Rice Water For Hair?

As per Yao women, the time-consuming process of making rice water requires boiling rice submerged in water inside a big clay pot on an open fire. This water is then used to wash hair at least twice a week. Several additional ingredients are added to it, such as citrus peels, pomelo peels, ginger, and fleece flower root. The water is then separated and kept aside for fermentation. It can take over a few days to a few months for the fermentation process to be completed.

Boiled Rice Water for Hair

How does it work? Boiled rice water provides nourishment to the hair scalp by strengthening hair follicles.

Why does it help? The presence of amino acids and inositol in rice water strengthens roots and increases hair volume.

Best Practices: Massage rice water on shampooed hair, and leave for about 5-20 minutes. Rinse it off with water.

Boiled rice water vs Fermented rice water for hair

Boiled rice water has a PH of 5, which is too high to be used on the scalp. On the other hand, fermented rice water has lower PH levels. It closes cuticles and prevents hair damage.

Furthermore, the process of fermentation increases nutrient levels in plain rice water. This promotes healthy hair growth. Properly fermented rice water nourishes hair follicles and improves hair health more than cooked rice water for hair does.

Also, a substance called 'pitera', which results from fermentation, improves hair cell regeneration.

Fermented Rice Water for Hair

According to a recent study, fermented substances have a higher amount of antioxidants known to fight skin and hair cell damage. Fermented rice water is said to work wonders for hair length, breakage and softness.  

How to make fermented rice water for your hair?

  • Measure half a cup of uncooked rice
  • Rinse it thoroughly and then add 2-3 cups of water
  • Make sure you leave it to soak for about two days, letting it ferment
  • Strain the water into a clean bowl and apply it onto your hair with the help of a spray or just by pouring it over
  • Massage your scalp for about 3-5 minutes
  • You can leave fermented rice water in your hair for up to 12 hours and then wash it off with a mild shampoo.

Rice Starch For Hair

Rice starch is known to improve hair growth and keeps it shiny and smooth. It is rich in amino acids, which strengthens hair roots. Rice starch also contains inositol, a carbohydrate that repairs and protects damaged hair.

Rice Water for Hair Before and After


Does Rice Water Help with 2x Hair Growth? Is it Nature's Miracle Potion?

Yes! Even though rice water does not have scientific evidence backing it, when used correctly, it can be an absolute miracle worker for dry, brittle and unmanageable hair. Make sure to give it a try! However, also remember that if you have a genetic condition, a remedy will not help you. Every woman's hair concerns and hair cycle is unique. Make sure to consult your doctor before trying anything new because your hair is not an experiment.

Also read: Amla for hair


S. Inamasu, R. Ikuyama (2010) Abstracts: The effect of rinse water obtained from the washing of rice (YU-SU-RU) as a hair treatment (International Journal of Cosmetic Science)

Dase Hunaefi, N. Akumo (2012) The Effect of Lactobacillus plantarum ATCC 8014 and Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM Fermentation on Antioxidant Properties of Selected in Vitro Sprout Culture of Orthosiphon aristatus (Java Tea) as a Model Study (MDPI)

Saneesh Kumar (2013) Analysis on the Natural Remedies to Cure Dandruff/Skin Disease-causing Fungus - Malassezia furfur (Advanced Biotech)

Ivana Binic, Viktor Lazarevic (2013) Skin Ageing: Natural Weapons and Strategies (U.S. National Library of Medicine)


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