How to Use Rice Water for Healthy Natural Hair: Benefits and Side Effects

You may have heard people discussing the use of rice water for their hair and wondered if they were crazy or just experimenting.

At first, the idea of using rice water on your hair may seem unappealing. Who wants to deal with the stickiness it can leave behind or the time it takes to wash it out? However, if you are curious about why other people use it on their hair, this article is for you.

History of Rice Water

In simple terms, rice water is the starchy liquid obtained after draining boiled, washed, or soaked rice. It is often used as a natural conditioner when washing hair.

According to researchers, the use of rice water for hair care dates back to the Heian period (794 to 1185 CE) in Japan, where women with floor-length hair kept it healthy by bathing it in rice water. A similar story is told of the Yao women in China, who maintain 6-foot-long hair using rice water.

Rice water is known for its ability to nourish hair and promote its growth. Here are some benefits of using rice water as a hair treatment.

5 Benefits of Rice Water Treatment

Rice is rich in essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins B and C, which are beneficial for hair health. These nutrients are released into the water when rice is soaked or boiled.

Using rice water on your hair can provide the following benefits:

1. Detangles the hair

Applying rice water to natural hair can smooth the cuticles and reduce surface friction, conditioning curls to be softer and easier to detangle.

2. Smooths hair and reduces friction between strands

Rice water is rich in nutrients that benefit natural hair. One of these nutrients is carbohydrates, which contain a nutrient called inositol that smooths hair and allows hair strands to glide through combs without friction. This reduces hair damage, as less friction means less breakage.

3. Adds shine to the hair

Rice water's starchiness coats your hair, giving it a shiny appearance and restoring its natural vitality and health.
To use it as a hair mask, simply apply it to your hair, leave it on for about 20 minutes, then rinse it off before applying your shampoo and conditioner.

4. Prevents hair breakage

One of the several benefits of rice water is its ability to increase the elasticity of natural hair. In other words, it makes hair more flexible and less prone to breaking.

5. Natural solution for dandruff and scalp conditions

Fermented rice water has antifungal properties that nourish the scalp and help to cure dandruff. To achieve better results, use it as a hair mask once or twice a week for a few hours.

4 Side Effects of Rice Water Treatment

1. It can dry out the hair 

    While rice water serves as a natural conditioner, it can also have a drying effect on the hair.

    All the benefits of rice water for your hair are absorbed within the first hour of application. Any additional rice water applied can actually become unwanted chemicals for your natural hair and scalp.

    Additionally, if you have a dry scalp, using too much rice water could cause more itchiness and irritation. Therefore, it is recommended that you limit its use to once a week.

    2. It leaves protein build-up on the hair

    The nutrient found in rice water could cause build-up on your scalp, which may lead to dandruff with each use. To prevent this, it is recommended to moisturize and shampoo your hair regularly.

    3. It has an unpleasant smell

    Research has shown that fermented rice water contains a higher amount of antioxidants that can help combat hair damage. However, it has a pungent smell that may be embarrassing to go out with.

    To make it smell better, consider adding sweet-smelling essential oils such as chamomile, peppermint, lavender, or lemongrass. You could also add citrus peels to improve its aroma.

    4. It requires consistent use

    Although some products show progressive signs within the first two weeks of application, it typically takes a month or two of using rice water treatment before any worthwhile results are noticeable.

    As a result, individuals who are typically impatient or find routines challenging may encounter difficulties with this treatment.

    How To Prepare Rice Water Treatment

    The interesting thing about this treatment is that it can be produced at home without stress and in just a couple of minutes. Additionally, there are several methods of preparation.

    Some of the ways in which you can produce this treatment include:

    • No-Boil Method
    • Fermentation Method
    • Boiling Method
    • Soaking Method

    We will now go through each of these methods in detail.

    1. No-Boil Method

    To prepare the no-boil rice water treatment, you don't have to boil the rice to extract the rice water. Instead, simply wash the rice and drain out the water. Here are the steps to follow:

    What you need

    • 1 cup of raw rice
    • 2-3 cups of water
    • 3-7 drops of essential oil
    • A bowl to sieve the mixture.
    • A sieve
    • Orange or lemon peels
    • A bottle to store the rice water treatment

    How to make the no-boil rice water treatment

    • Pour your rice into a bowl.
    • Add water to the bowl.
    • Rinse the rice (optional).
    • Wash the rice and add your desired amount of water for shampooing. Use both hands to wash to release the nutrients.
    • Sieve the water from the rice, add orange or lemon peels, and mix everything thoroughly.
    • Boil the mixture.
    • After it cools, pour the mixture into a bottle and let it sit for at least 1 week before using.

    2. Fermentation Method.

    Many people prefer this method because of a substance called 'Pitera' that is produced during the fermentation process.

    Pitera is rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and organic acids, and promotes cell regeneration, keeping your natural hair healthy.

    What you need

    • 1 cup of raw rice
    • 2-3 cups of water

    How to make the fermented rice water treatment

    • Rinse a cup of raw rice, and add it to water.
    • Soak the rice in two cups of distilled water for 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes.
    • After 15 minutes, sieve out the water and pour it into a clean bottle.
    • Leave the mixture overnight, and by the next morning, it should have turned sour and begun to ferment.
    • You can speed up the fermentation process by increasing the room temperature. The warmer the temperature, the quicker the fermentation process
    • The rice water is ready for use when it has a sour smell.

    If you still need more tutorial on how to make fermented rice water, you can watch this video by Cali Curls

    3. Boiling Method

    This method involves boiling rice to extract its water. Here's how to prepare the rice water treatment using the boiling method.

    What you need

    • 1/2 cup of rice
    • 2 cups of water
    • Strainer or sieve
    • 2 bowls
    • 1 container with a lid
    • A spray bottle

    How to make the boiling rice water treatment

    • Place uncooked rice in a strainer and rinse thoroughly.
    • Boil 2 cups of water. Once boiling, add the rice and continue boiling until the water becomes cloudy.
    • Allow the water to cool and then strain out the rice.
    • Pour the extracted rice water into a spray bottle using a funnel and refrigerate until ready to use.

    To learn more about making rice water using the boiling method, watch this tutorial by Ashley Brianca.

    4. Soaking Method

    This method involves soaking rice in water for a couple of hours before extracting the rice water. Here is how you can prepare the soaking method for rice water treatment.

    What you need

    • 1/2 cup of rice
    • 2 cups of Water
    • Sieve or strainer
    • 2 bowls
    • 1 container with a lid
    • A spray bottle
    • A funnel

    How to make the soaking method rice water treatment

    • Pour the rice into a bowl and rinse it well.
    • Place the rice in a bowl with 2 cups of water and soak it for up to 24 hours at room temperature.
    • Sieve the rice water into a clean bowl and transfer it into a spray bottle using a funnel.
    • Refrigerate the rice water until you're ready to use it.

    How to use rice water on Natural Hair

    After shampooing and conditioning your hair, you can massage rice water into your hair and scalp. Leave it on for 20 minutes before rinsing it off. This method can also be used to cure dandruff or other scalp issues.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Using Rice Water on Natural Hair

    1. How long should I leave rice water in my hair?

    Although your hair needs time to absorb the rice water into your strands and scalp, we recommend washing it off after 20 minutes to avoid any scalp irritation.

    2. Can I leave rice water in my hair overnight?

    Yes, you can leave the rice water treatment on your hair overnight.
    However, we recommend not exceeding 18 hours, as there is a risk of bacteria growth in the rice that could lead to scalp problems.

    3. Can I still use conditioner on my hair after using rice water?

    Your washing schedule doesn't have to change with the introduction of rice water. Simply add it to your hair after shampooing and conditioning.

    4. Can rice water help grow natural hair?

    Yes, it can! As stated earlier, rice water contains several nutrients that are beneficial to the hair. For example, it contains amino acids that aid in hair regeneration, as well as vitamins that promote hair growth.