Rice Water For Hair Growth + How To Make Rice Water For Hair
There are some hair traditions that have so much lore surrounding them, you can't help but being drawn in: Rice water for hair growth is one of those. It's an old Japanese beauty remedy (actually called yu-su-ru) that has gained popularity in the West—primarily because rice extracts were folded into hair care products and users started to see the appeal. But if you really want to get back to basics, you can just apply rice water straight to your hair.
Here, we explain everything you need to know.
Rice water for hair and hair growth.
First, let's wade through the benefits and claims. The most prominent claim is that it will help spur growth, resulting in long, flowing locks. Unfortunately, we can't confirm that with the evidence available. "Despite decades of use, there is no definitive data proving its effectiveness in increasing hair growth," says board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D. So, anecdotally, many women swear by it, but if you're looking for hard science—it's just not there yet. (It's similar to castor oil or hot oil treatments in that respect.)
But despite the lack of hair growth research, rice water does have certain properties that can make it beneficial for hair health in general. Read: Just because it might not make your hair grow to great lengths doesn't mean it's not a worthwhile treatment to try!
"Rice water is rich in starch, which forms the surface of the hair shaft," says Zeichner. "This adds strength, enhances hydration, and minimizes the appearance of split ends." The starch is the main ingredient in rice water, specifically; however, the water is also thought to contain some of the good-for-hair actives found in rice generally, including antioxidants, minerals, and amino acids. The antioxidants are a vital part of hair health, as they neutralize free radicals, which can do major damage to strands; minerals and amino acids may help strengthen strands. It's also rich in an active called inositol, which studies have shown helps mend and repair damaged hair1.
Not only that, but it's good for the scalp: "Rice water can also benefit the scalp itself, enhancing skin hydration," he says. (There's a reason rice extracts are added to moisturizers.) And with a healthier scalp comes healthier hair at the root.
So even if this doesn't spur growth or regrowth, it does help the hair you already have healthy.
How to make rice water for hair.
"Rice water can be used regularly, just as you would apply a hair conditioner," says Zeichner. "Apply to freshly washed hair, and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing. You can apply a traditional conditioner afterward if necessary."
All you'll need is a bowl or large cup, rice, water, an empty container (like a jar or squeeze bottle with a cap), and something to strain the rice with:
- Mix equal parts rice and room-temperature water in a bowl. Stir until it becomes a milky, foggy cream color.
- Grab your empty container and strain the rice-water concoction into it, so what you are left with is your rice water in the container.
- Take a shower and shampoo as normal.
- Shut off the spray, grab your rice water, and disperse it from scalp to tip. It's not easy, so go slowly. (This is also why we recommend a squeeze bottle with a cap—because you'll have more control.)
- Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Rinse again in the shower, and top it with a conditioner if your strands run on the drier end.
Rice water for hair growth is one of those anecdotal claims that we just can't back up with hard science yet. But it absolutely has healthy hair properties, so if you're curious about trying it, there are reasons to do so. Plus, it's a very simple DIY process.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.