I first discovered about the potential of incorporating rice water into a hair routine in Facebook. At first I thought the information was vague and poorly-founded. Not to be rude but there are hundreds of home remedies that people hail as the secret to long and healthy hair, but in reality all credit goes to individual genetic composition.

My curiosity was piqued when a dear friend and fellow naturalist shared a YouTube video of a lady explaining practically the amount of growth gained in two weeks after doing a one-time rice water rinse. Amazingly, everything about the results was bright and beautiful.  I started thinking deeply about the idea and developed a twinge of desire for fast results. It seemed so easy for me since the rice I had in the house produced a lot of whitish substance and I was planning do a wash routine in the days to come.

All that was left was some shallow reading to ensure that I could live with any potential side effects. On browsing a few articles, I came across a comment from a woman claiming that rice water had cured her alopecia. She went into details of how she had seen a specialist and undergone a hair replacement procedure after trying several other remedies but things only seemed to take a turn for the worse. She later came across an article explaining about the benefits of rice water for hair and decided to give it a trial. To here amazement, after a short period of every day use, she began to experience new growth in patches that had been bald for years.

A few days later, I socked about a third cup of rice in a cup of water and allowed it to ferment for around 24 hours. I later transferred it into a spritz bottle and added a few drops of ylang ylang and orange essential oils. I used the mixture as a leave-in spray for approximately one and a half months in weekly intervals and noticed significant difference in my hair texture. This was the first time that I truly embraced this idea and embarked on an in-depth research.

The research process was frustrating and time-consuming. The first thing that I noticed was lack of reliable information sources and availability of limited facts. However, after many hours of reading and recipe trials and errors, I was able to gather solid information that can be very useful to any woman that is struggling with length and volume issues.

The History of Rice Water for Hair

The earliest account of using rice water for hair is associated with an ancient Japanese tradition known as Yu-su-ru. This tradition was practiced by court women of the Heian period who were known for long (floor length), dark and healthy hair. It was subjected to a routine of rice water rinsing and later tied into a style known as suberakashi. Friction reduction and increased hair elasticity were the primary benefits associated with this practice.

The second and most detailed account that I found is that of the Red Yao women from Huangluo in Guangxi Zhuang, China. This region has found itself in the Guinness book of record as the World’s Longest Hair Village. The title is not in vain. This is the only place where you can find women with floor length hair. The length is approximately 1.5 to 2 meters for the vast majority and remaining group has over 2 meters length.

rice-water-for-hair

Let’s forget about length for a moment. The hair is also rich in texture, volume and color. Women of up to 70 years have a full head of black hair. Not a single strand of grey hair. For the Yoas, rich hair is both culturally and socially symbolic. The rich cultural heritage of the region and its people attracts tourists from all over the world. Women showcase their hair as they engage in elaborate dances while dressed in colorful traditional attires.

Once a girl is born, she is shaved for the first time after 100 days. The next and last shave is done after she turns 18 to symbolize transition from childhood to adulthood. The shaved hair is preserved until her marriage ceremony where it is presented back to her so that it can be styled together with the new hair. Young unmarried women do not uncover their hair in public to symbolize their unmarried status. The bridegroom becomes the first person to see the hair and from that day forward, it can be seen by members of the public.

Married women without children have a unique hair style that represents their status whereas those with children wear a hairstyle with a protruding bun at the front section to show their status. For all women, hair that is lost during combing is well maintained and styled back into the head. Overall, long healthy hair is important because it represents longevity and prosperity.

Despite having the most beautiful hair worldwide, the Yao women do not part with a dime in the name of exotic hair products. They use fermented rice water for shampooing and maintenance purposes throughout their life. The fermentation process is a DIY concept that brings together ingredients such as glutinous rice, fleaceflower root powder, pomelo skins, tea seeds and ginger root. Although rice is the most critical ingredient, all the products used have individual hair benefits that cannot be ignored.

Why is Rice Water Good for your Hair?

This important question lingers in the minds of many naturalists because rice is used as a staple food by millions of people throughout generations, and the majority have never discovered the knowledge concerning its potential beauty benefits. Furthermore, the grain is primarily a carbohydrate, most of which serve purposes other than beauty.

Rice water hair benefits are linked to a substance known as inositol, vitamins B, E and C and minerals. Inositol is excellent for damaged hair and it also improves hair elasticity. Overall, effective use of rice water can result to:

  • Improved hair growth
  • Increased shine and thickness
  • Improved elasticity
  • Reduced shedding and breakage
  • Delayed graying
  • Stronger hair

How to Make Fermented Rice Water for Hair

There are two ways to make fermented rice water. The first method details an approach by the Red Yao women whereas the second is the general recipe that naturalists follow. I would recommended the Yao women recipe first because there is enough and credible evidence to support its effectiveness.

1. Yao Women Rice Water Recipe

Yao rice water is primarily used as a shampoo. It cleans hair thoroughly just like store bought shampoos or any other form of hair cleaning products. After shampooing, the hair is rinsed with water and styled according to cultural expectations as explained earlier in the article. The Yao women use this water several times a week and it does not dry out their hair or cause flaking. The ingredients used provide all the necessary nutrients for healthy hair.

However, as much as this natural shampoo is good, it might not work for some people. All the same, it is worth trying especially for individuals that desire long and thick hair. Since new products can lead to undesirable side effects, it is important to start by using the mixture once a week and increasing the sessions gradually depending on the results.

If the results turn out as expected, I recommend making a lot of this shampoo at once because it can stay for more than a month without going bad.

Pomelo peels are substituted with grapefruit skins because the two fruits are almost similar in terms of vitamin C content. It is also important to note that grapefruit is a hybrid product of pomelo and sweet orange. In a situation where it is completely impossible to access both fruits, use peels from other citrus fruits.

Tea bran and Camellia tea seeds essential oil are the best tea seeds substitutes because they are all derived from the same plant and have many similarities in terms of chemical composition.

Lack of some of the required ingredients should not deter you from preparing this shampoo. Omit the ones that you do not have proceed with the rest. Yao rice water recipes vary slightly from one household to another and it is possible that your hair will not be at a big loss.

2. Ordinary Fermented Recipe

This is a simpler version of Yao fermented rice water. The ingredients are readily available and the procedure is much simpler and less time consuming. This is the recipe that I started out with and I am glad to say that I witnessed some good results. Unlike plain rice water, this solution contains pitera. This is component that is formed during the fermentation process and its primary benefit is to promote cell regeneration.

Fermented rice water can be smelly and harsh. The most effective way for eliminating the unwanted smell is using essential oils. Personally, I add lavender, ylang ylang, and orange essential oils to this mixture. For those that do not have essential oils, citrus peels are a decent substitute.

This water is good for most naturalists but it is deemed as harsh if it dries out hair or causes flakiness. One way of dealing with these side effects is cutting out the number of times that you use it. For example, if you have been using it once a week, you can adjust the frequency to once in two weeks.

The second approach is leaving the product on hair for a very short time before rinsing out with warm water. Lastly, you can dilute the water to reduce protein overload. If all these remedies turn out as ineffective, then it is time to discontinue the use of the product.

Personally, I mostly use the water as a leave-in conditioner at intervals of one week and it does cause any side effects on my hair. I believe there is no standard way for using it and that explains the need for experimenting and adjusting the routine according personal hair needs.

Plain Rice Recipe

If you are not in a position to make Yao or ordinary fermented rice water, you can go ahead and make plain rice water for your hair and skin. With the presence of inositol and some other nutrients, your hair stands a chance to benefit to some extent.

Boiled Rice Recipe

After rinsing rice several times, it stops to produce the milky liquid. However, the whitish substance begins to form again once the same rice is boiled for a few minutes. This happens because starch is quickly released into the water. This water can be drained out, left to cool and applied on hair.

Do not worry if you cannot make rice water at home. Today there are several companies that are selling the product and you have the option to choose between fermented and plain water. Your choice can also be based on the type of rice (white or black). Here are two fermented products that we recommend. Well’s and Uhuru Naturals

References

Inamasu, S., Ikuyama, R., Fujisaki, Y., & Sugimoto, K.-I. (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, 32(5), 392–393. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2494.2010.00605_3.x