Last Updated on February 18, 2021 by Devin Greenfield
For those of you who take pride in your appearance, your hair will no doubt receive a fair amount of attention on a daily basic. Looking after the hair and keeping it healthy and attractive is not an easy thing. For many of us, our hair isn’t just something growing from our heads, it is a part of our identity and is what makes us who we are. Browse the haircare section of any store or salon, and you will be met with hundreds upon hundreds of products to choose from. With everything from shampoos and conditioners, to hair masks and toners, you will be spoilt for choice when choosing products designed to promote healthy hair. It turns out, though, that one of the oldest remedies in existence might be arguably the best when it comes to your hair, and skin for that matter. That remedy in question is none other than rice water for hair, and it is this very solution which we’re going to be looking at today.
Rice is one of the most delicious and most versatile food stuffs in existence. For hundreds of years now, women, and men for that matter, in the East of Asia, have used rice water for their hair. In countries such as China, Japan, and other parts of East/South East Asia, people have been applying rice water to their hair in order to keep it looking and feeling its best, and in order to keep it long, thick, and healthy. But what is this magical solution that we know so little about? Well, rice water for hair is literally just the water left behind when rice has either been cooked in it, or left to soak in it. If you like to cook fresh rice yourself, instead of the nasty stuff you get in a microwavable packet, you’ll know that you have to rinse the rice several times before you can cook it. Each time you rinse it, you’ll notice that the water turns a cloudy colour and becomes thicker. This is because starch from the grains of rice turns the water that colour and consistency. It is the starch that we want when it comes to making rice water for hair, though, as these starches are believed to possess many health and beauty properties. Rice is packed full of goodness, and so it only makes sense, that so too is rice water. Despite people in Asia using rice water in their hair for many centuries, it is only recently, that rice water for hair has become a thing in the Western world.
A quick history of rice water for hair
Before we can start talking to you about the many benefits of using rice water on your head, we’re first going to go back in time several hundred years, and learn about the history of rice water. Our trip back in time takes us to ancient Japan. As you probably know, Japan is a country which is renowned for its consumption of rice. Rice is a staple in the country, and rightly so. If you noticed women living in Japan in the Heian Period from 794 – 1185CE, you’d see that the women had amazingly shiny, thick, and dark hair which almost as long as they were tall. Back then, there were no hair conditioners, salons, curling tongues, straighteners, etc. The women instead washed their hair and kept it so shiny, long, and healthy, in rice water. Now, you might think that this is just an old wives tale and was just a case of making use of what little resources were available at the time, but in fact, many women still do it to this day. In China, Yao Women, who reside in a village known as Huangluo, are well known for having hair which reaches lengths exceeding 6 feet. The women also have strikingly dark hair, despite some of them being fairly elderly. They don’t dye their hair to hide the greys, they simply have fewer greys. You can probably guess what their secret is. Yep, it’s rice water.
What are the benefits of rice water for hair?
So, we now know what rice water for hair is, and we know a little more about where it originated and why women and men to this day, are still using it on their hair and skin. Now, then, we can look at some of the many reported benefits of using rice water on the hair.
Promotes growth – One of the main reported benefits of using rice water on the hair is the fact that it is said to help promote growth. As mentioned, the women in ancient Japan, and the Yao women in China, primarily had incredibly long hair. We aren’t talking shoulder-length hair, we’re talking hair exceeding 6 feet in length for some women. Most of the women actually had/have hair which is longer than they are tall. This is believed to be due to the fact that they bathe their hair in rice water.
Rich in amino acids – It’s easy to sit here and talk about how rice water is so great for the hair, but we need some sort of science to back up these claims, right? Well, one thing that is very apparent when it comes to rice water for the hair, is the fact that it is packed full of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein molecules. Rice water is actually comprised of 16% protein, making it a very impressive protein treatment for the hair. As you may know, the hair itself is made up of protein, so treating it with a protein-rich solution would only make sense, right? The amino acids found in rice water provide numerous benefits for the hair.
Strengthens the hair – Not only is rice water said to promote growth of the hair, but it also shows great promise when used to strengthen the hair as well. Again, this is largely due to the fact that rice water contains amino acids. The amino acids found in rice water help to strengthen the hair and prevent it from becoming weak and brittle. Washing your hair in rice water is therefore a great way to prevent split end and weak and brittle hair in general. Rice water also contains a compound known as inositol. Inositol helps to increase elasticity within the hair, which makes each strand a great deal stronger and more flexible. This makes the hair more manageable, and it also helps to give it a more defined shape and pattern.
Promotes shiny hair – Having long and strong hair is one thing, but if your hair looks dull and lifeless, you certainly won’t feel happy or content with what you currently have. Would you rather have dull and lifeless hair, or long, healthy, shiny, bright, and glossy hair that gleams? The amino acids and nutrients found in rice water help to give the hair a glossy and shiny finish, by smoothing the cuticle.
Helps prevent dandruff – Dandruff is not a serious condition when it comes to your hair, but for the hair, it is not pleasant, nor is it pleasant for your self-confidence. Rice water is also rich in the mineral selenium. Selenium is very useful when it comes to dandruff prevention, as it kills off a yeast known as Malassezia. This yeast plays a key role in the formation of dandruff. Dandruff can suppress hair growth so by killing this yeast, not only do you prevent dandruff, you also ensure that the scalp is able to breathe, and that the hair is able to grow.
Rich in magnesium – Magnesium is a mineral which plays a number of key roles in our health and well-being. If the water that you bathe in regularly is especially hard, hard water can promote a build up of calcium on the scalp and on the hair. Overtime, as calcium accumulates, it can smother your hair follicles and leave them brittle and hard. This means that the hair won’t grow as well as it should, nor will it be as soft, or as healthy as it should be. Rice water, however, is rich in magnesium. The magnesium will help to dissolve the calcium and strip it away from the scalp and hair follicles. This in turn means that your hair will be softer, stronger, and healthier. As an added bonus, magnesium also promotes rest, relaxation, and sleep so you’ll find it easier to sleep and relax after a long day.
Great stress relief – As we mentioned above, rice water is packed full of magnesium, which helps to relieve stress and promote sleep in many ways. It turns out, though, that rice water can actually help to prevent stress in many other ways as well. Stress is one of the leading causes of hair loss, and it can also result in weak hair, premature greys, and many more detrimental effects on your hair, your appearance, and your health in general. Rice water is rich in thiamine, which is a B vitamin, B1 in fact, which has been found to help alleviate stress in a number of different ways. This in turn will help to improve your quality of life, and the health and appearance of your hair in general.
Packed full of goodness – In truth, rice water is loaded full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, and other nutrients which promote healthy hair, and a healthy body, in many different ways.
Great for the skin – It turns out, that washing your hair with rice water isn’t the only way to benefit from this awesome liquid. Those that bathe their skin with rice water also find that the solution gives the skin a healthy glow, it helps to prevent lines and wrinkles, and it softens and moisturizes the skin. If you want to look healthy and youthful, rice water is the solution that is perfect for precisely that, and a whole lot more besides.
How to make rice water
As you can see, rice water is serious stuff, and in truth there are even more benefits associated with using it, than what we listed above. If you’re now thinking of using rice water yourself, you can purchase it from various outlets, although in reality it is far easier, and cheaper, to make your own. Making your own rice water couldn’t be easier. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 cups of raw uncooked white rice
- 4 cups of water
First, begin by taking your rice, and giving it a very quick rinse under cold running water. This first rinse isn’t to put on your head. It is instead designed to help wash away any dirt and impurities clinging to the rice. After all, you wouldn’t want to be washing your hair in water full of dirt and dust.
Now, take your rinsed and clean rice, and place it into a bowl. Cover it with your 4 cups of water and give it a gentle stir. You should notice that, the more you stir and agitate the rice, the cloudier the water becomes. This is the starch being released from the grains, and it is this that you want.
Leave the rice to soak in the water for around 30 minutes.
Now, strain the rice away from the water and set it aside. Ideally you should now cook the rice to prevent it going to waste, so why not look up some delicious rice recipes?
Pour the rice water carefully into an air-tight bottle/container and store it in the fridge until you are ready to use it. The solution will last for one week.
How to use rice water for hair
We’re going to finish up today by talking about how to use rice water. You can use rice water on the face, as a cleanser, toner, or moisturizer. It can also be used to treat spots, sunburn, and skin complaints. To use rice water on the hair, after shampooing and conditioning the hair, pour a very generous amount onto the hair, and leave to soak in for several minutes. Massage it fully into the hair and scalp, and then rinse with warm water when finished.