By: Tamiaya Baker
Jun 11, 2019
Breaking down the benefits of rice water and whether it’s right for you.
When I went natural, I assumed my hair would automatically be thick, healthy and strong. To my unfortunate surprise, this was not the case. I experienced breakage in my crown area, root to tip dryness and very weak strands. The plethora of products I’d tried weren’t helping and my hair desperately needed repair. I stumbled across the rice water method on YouTube and figured it was worth looking into.
During my research, I learned that rice water fermentation is a practice that dates back to the 700s AD. Many Asian cultures used this method to maintain healthy hair and retain length. After all, rice water is full of vitamins (B & E), antioxidants and minerals. Modern day Yao women of Huangluo China, religiously practice rice water bathing and are known for averaging six-foot hair length! This was all the convincing I needed to try it.
My first-time using rice water, I was floored. I noticed that my hair was softer, smoother and a lot less tangled. My 4a/4b curls were popping, with zero product! During my detangling process, I experienced significantly less shedding than usual, and I could feel that my hair was more hydrated than ever.
These key benefits can be attributed to the many properties found in rice water. Inositol is known for increasing elasticity and reducing surface friction. Antioxidants repair damaged strands and moisturize. Amino acids give hair shine and boost volume. The fermentation method specifically, lowers the pH of rice water, making it more in line with pH of natural hair. This is nourishing to hair follicles and is believed to promote hair growth.
If you want to try rice water for yourself, there are several rice water methods out there. Luckily, they’re all pretty simple. My personal favorite is rice soaking, which results in fermentation. The steps below will help you create this method and apply rice water with ease.
- Measure 1 cup of uncooked rice and rinse thoroughly to rid the rice of impurities.
- Place the clean rice in a Mason jar or Tupperware bowl.
- Add 2 – 3 cups of water to the clean rice and let stand at room temperature for at least 24 – 48 hours. The water will have a sour smell, but several essential oils can cover up the odor. My oils of choice are peppermint or lavender.
- The liquid will turn a milky color; this means your water is fermented and ready for application. Strain into a separate bowl or spray bottle when you’re ready to use.
- Shampoo and condition hair as normal. Apply the rice water to hair, saturating and massaging from root to tip.
- Cover hair with a plastic bag or shower cap for 20 minutes up to one hour.
- Remove the shower cap and rinse hair thoroughly with water only.
Despite all of the benefits of rice water, I do have to caveat that too much of anything is never a good thing. Overuse of rice water can result in breakage because it contains protein and some hair types are more sensitive to protein than others. YouTube is full of horror stories about breakage as a result of rice water, but the common theme is that the rinse was applied too often (multiple times a week) or left on the hair too long (overnight up to multiple days). I don’t recommend applying rice water daily due to protein overload. I only use rice water once a month for 45 minutes after washing and shampooing with the Gold Series Collection from Pantene.
“Gold Series Shampoos and Conditioners contain antioxidants which penetrate the hair fiber and targeted conditioning ingredients that can protect the hair right where it needs it the most in the twist, turns and bends of coily hair. Pairing Gold Series shampoo and conditioner with a rice water rinse that is known to be nourishing can provide a good conditioning regimen for hair.” ~ Dr. Rolanda Wilkerson, Principal Scientist P&G Hair.
I stan for rice water and can attest that it’s not just hype! This natural remedy is an easy, inexpensive way to restore damaged strands and improve overall hair health. I started using rice water on New Year’s Day 2019 and have seen consistent results and hair growth ever since. Do your research, be patient with the process and apply responsibly.
Have you tried rice water? Share your experience by tagging @MBIB on IG, Facebook, or Twitter.