How To Make Rice Water For Your Hair | CoolJapan

The concept of rice water for hair won’t be as strange as it sounds when you consider that rice is the ultimate multi-hyphenate. It’s a delectable inexpensive food that goes well with many dishes. You can also make a refreshing alcoholic beverage from it. Aside from that, its extracts are also used in skincare to promote even complexion. Not to mention that putting your wet iPhone in a bag of uncooked rice is a popular way to fix water damage. Now if you’re interested to learn more about how to use it for your hair, keep reading.

Does rice water help hair growth?

Back in Japan’s Heian Period (794-1185), an era marked by cultural prosperity, ladies of the imperial court maintained long, luscious locks that reached the floor. Their secret for keeping it that way? Indulging in a hair routine using Yu-Su-Ru which is the rice water. After washing rice, instead of throwing away the water used, the women would set it aside and apply it to their hair to keep it strong.

Today, this age-old hair tip is being rediscovered. Some claim that it’s effective in keeping hair shiny and smooth. Others say that it helps to make your hair grow longer. Consequently, questions have arisen on whether it’s truly effective.

Benefits and potential side effects of rice water

There’s been a study that supports the claim that rice water is good for hair and that it reduces friction and increases its elasticity, making hair less prone to damage and allows it to grow long with a “healthy” appearance. Another research from Japan found that a particular substance called inositol, which is found in rice water, helps to strengthen hair strands. However, overall, there’s still no strong conclusive evidence for the benefits of rice water as of now.

Woman with long hair smiling

(Photo from: Jernej Graj via Unsplash)

There’s no specific hair texture, length and type that would benefit most from rice water. Its use in a haircare routine can be tried by anyone. However, if you have a sensitive scalp or have allergies from rice or anything fermented, it’s best to consult with a dermatologist first before trying it. Some also caution against “protein overload” which can cause the hair to go limp and have split ends.

How to make rice water

Rice grains

(Photo from: Pierre Bamin via Unsplash)

Most types of rice — be it white, sticky, jasmine — can produce rice water for hair. However, some brown and red rice can have too much tint and may stain your towel and bathroom floor. Once you’ve chosen your rice, the next consideration is the water. Depending on where you live, you may have hard or soft tap water supply. Hard water contains calcium and magnesium while soft water has less or none of these. It’s been reported that hard water could contribute to making hair dry, so if you already have dry hair, it’s best to use water softening systems or shower filters. Some opt to buy mineral water for washing hair that’s sensitive to hard water.

Now that you have two of the ingredients to make rice water, just follow these steps:

Step 1: Wash the rice thoroughly.

Put one cup of rice in a pot and pour three cups of water then wash the rice thoroughly. By thoroughly, we mean you really have to soak your fingers and scrunch the rice. Don’t just lightly caress and rinse the rice, you have to scrunch a few times until the water becomes white and milk-like. Drain and set aside the rice.

Some people do a two-part rinse where you do an initial rinse and then do another one again to make sure that it’s clean. However, some say that this method may lessen the “good ingredients” for your hair.

Step 2: Store in a jar or boil and add ingredients

You have two options for step two. The first is to store the rice water in a jar overnight for fermentation. This is the most popular method to preserve the rice water.

However, there’s another way to do it which is to boil the rice for less than 10 minutes and add pomelo peels and herbs, a method used by the Yao women in Huangluo Village who are famed for their very long hair. Afterwards, store it in a jar overnight.

Step 3: Apply to hair

There are several ways to apply rice water to your hair. Many apply it after shampoo and conditioner in the shower. But if you want to do it the way the women in the Heian period did (and the Yao women, too), you have to put the rice water in a bowl and wash your hair in it. This way works easier if you have longer hair but, if not, going the shower route is more comfortable. Then leave the rice water for 20-30 minutes and wash with filtered or soft water.

How often should you use rice water?

Rice water is not like shampoo or conditioner that you can use regularly. It’s best to look at it as a special treatment and use it only once a week. However, if you notice that your hair is going limp, try to space out its use to bi-weekly or once a month only. It takes trial and error to get the right frequency so be patient.