Using rice water as a hair treatment may be a trendy, but it’s nothing new. It actually dates back to the Heian period in Japan, where Japanese women used it to keep their hair long and strong. The Yao women who live in Huang Luo in China—aka “world’s longest hair village”—are also known for using rice water rinses.
While this is a longtime tradition in many cultures, the internet is raving about it. It’s hard not to. After seeing all the healthy hair transformations on social media due to rice water, you’ll basically be running to the store for rice. One of the best parts about this trend, though, is that it’s not just benefiting your hair—it also benefits the planet. When making it, nothing goes to waste: You use the water for your hair, and can eat the leftover fermented rice.
So, what exactly does rice water do? According to Annie Gonzalez, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Miami, there’s a lot to be excited about.
“Rice water has gained popularity for its ability to lengthen and strengthen damaged hair. Rice water contains high levels of starch, which acts as a thickening agent when massaged into the scalp and strands of hair. This starch also seals the cuticle of the hair, which makes it much shinier and eliminates dead ends,” she says. “All hair types can benefit from rice water, but thinning, damaged, or brittle hair may see the most improvement.”
Aside from strengthening, it can also help you reach Rapunzel-level lengths. “As for causing hair to grow more quickly, rice water helps remove particle buildup on the scalp,” Dr. Gonzalez says. “This allows healthier hair to grow from the hair roots at a much faster rate.”
Here’s exactly how to make rice water for hair, straight from Dr. Gonzalez.
How to Make Rice Water for Hair
What You Need:
Uncooked rice (whichever type you prefer)
1. When using rice water for hair, first rinse the rice under cold water to remove any dirt or unwanted particles.
2. Add a 1:1 ratio of water to rice in a container, then mix until the water becomes a murky, milky white.
3. Store the container in a room-temperature setting for at least 12 hours before use, but not more than 24 hours.
4. Once it has fermented, shampoo and condition your hair, then pour around four ounces onto your scalp. (The rest can be refrigerated.)
5. Comb the rice water through your hair and allow it to sit for at least five minutes before rinsing with water.