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Rice Water: The Age-Old Beauty Ingredient That Does Wonders For Hair

May 11 All day

Rice water for hair growth isn’t a relatively new beauty practice — it’s been around for centuries and centuries, with the earliest traces of this age-defying trend dating way back to ancient Chinese culture and the Japanese Heian times. And last year, it underwent a modern resurgence of sorts in the West, which was further augmented by the launch of Brigeo’s Don’t Despair, Repair rice water treatment, which many dubbed as the ‘less messy’ alternative to your regular at-home rice water treatment. Quite recently, I dipped my toes in the rice water craze, too, after being introduced to it by my best friend Ubah, and decided to do some extra research behind its science. In an article published in 2010, the Journal of Cosmetic Chemists summarized the many benefits of utilizing rice water for hair growth. It spotlights the presence of inositol in rice water as a key factor. For those who aren’t familiar with inositol, it’s an ingredient that offers some pretty incredible reparative perks — more specifically, increased hair elasticity and decreased surface friction on your strands. Over time, your hair is left with a much healthier, shinier, and tangle-free texture. 

The benefits

Rice water is abundant with a whole lot of hair-loving goodness, including:

  1. Starch. This coats the strands of your hair to give it that instant fullness.
  2. Antioxidants, specifically vitamin B and E — a hair-shielding dynamic duo that helps minimize free radical-induced damage like dullness, breakage, and split ends.
  3. Amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and minerals, which together support overall hair health, strength, and density.
  4. And lastly, as mentioned prior, inositol for peak hair elasticity and reduced hair friction. 

The negatives, however…

Like most aspects of life, indulge in too much of a good thing, and things can go south pretty quickly. With that being said, approach your first rice water rinse with caution, especially if you have low-porosity hair (of any texture), as too much rice water can actually backfire and instigate unwanted breakage. Breakage induced by rice water is usually the result of a ‘protein overload’ or excess protein buildup, which may result in your hair looking and feeling straw-like, stiff, dry, and fragile. So for those with naturally dry, curly, frizzy, and delicate hair, less will go a long way with a rice concoction. It’s all about moderation, balance, and finding your sweet spot. As a generic recommendation, I would suggest doing a DIY rice treatment, at most, once or twice a month to see how your hair reacts. And if your hair can tolerate it, then it should be fine to increase this ritual to once a week.

How do you ferment your rice water?

An easy, foolproof step-by-step guide:

  1. Mix ½ a cup of white long-grain rice like Basmati with 1 ½ cup of water.
  2. A tip: Ensure that you rinse the rice beforehand to get rid of any bacteria and impurities. 
  3. Let the rice sit for 12-24 hours at room temperature to kickstart the fermentation process.
  4. After it has fermented, reduce waste by straining the rice water into a container, and I like to then cook the soaked rice for dinner cause why not?…

After trialing rice water myself, I fully back it and think it’s a treatment that’s totally worth a shot. As mentioned prior, there are a few precautions you should keep in mind, and most importantly, please try not to waste.

If you missed Ubah and I’s rice water hair tutorial, catch our craziness here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-317ZwC2swA 

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