Does Rice Water Help Hair Growth? And How to Use it
Poor hair growth can be a challenge to deal with especially if you don’t have the budget to be testing out a variety of expensive hair treatments or surgical procedures. Rice water is an effective, inexpensive alternative that has a number of beneficial nutrients for hair health and growth including amino acids, vitamins and minerals.
Rice water has long been used as a hair care treatment that works to promote growth, strengthens, and supports overall hair health. But does rice water actually help with hair growth? And if so, how does it work? In this article, we’ll explore the scientific evidence behind the use of rice water for hair growth, and examine the potential ways in which it may promote hair growth and improve hair health.
In a Hurry? Here’s What You Need to Know:
- Rice water can help hair growth as it’s rich in essential amino acids, vitamins and nutrients.
- It can be used in multiple ways within your hair care routine, including as a final rinse and a conditioning treatment.
- There are some side effects that come with excessive use or prolonged exposure, including dryness and discolouration. Using once to twice a week is sufficient to gain the benefits.
What is Rice Water?
Rice water is the starchy liquid-leftover after rice has been cooked or soaked. It’s believed to have various benefits for the skin and hair. These include:
- Moisturising: Rice water is rich in amino acids, and this can aid in the moisturisation of skin. A study in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science found that a gel made from rice water was effective at moisturising skin.
- Soothing: A study by dermatologists in Sweden found that a cream containing rice water extract improved the appearance of irritated, eczema-prone skin. This is because compounds called saponins found in the water can help to soothe the skin.
- Brightening: Rice water contains ferulic acid and allantoin. Studies have shown that antioxidants within rice water work to brighten the skin as well as even out skin tone.
- Strengthening: The amino acids and vitamins in rice water can help to strengthen hair and reduce breakages.
Scientific research into rice water is still ongoing but initial findings have demonstrated some positive results, especially in terms of benefits to the skin and hair.
Does Rice Water Grow Hair?
Whilst studies into the effects of rice water on hair remain somewhat limited, initial research has shown that it’s effective in supporting treatment to thicken hair and encourage growth. The presence of inositol in rice water penetrates damaged hair strands and works to repair them from the inside out.
Rice water is also rich in a multitude of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that are hugely beneficial to hair health. These nutrients work to strengthen the hair, improve its elasticity, and protect it from damage caused by free radicals.
Additionally, it can also improve blood circulation to the scalp, which can bring oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicles, in turn promoting healthy hair growth. Vitamins and nutrients found within rice water include:
This vitamin supports the function of hair follicles and helps in the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen and nutrients to the scalp. Vitamin B is also important in encouraging the growth of new hair cells.
An antioxidant that protects the hair from free radicals, vitamin E also helps with blood circulation to the scalp which improves the strength and elasticity of the hair as well as promoting growth.
The small amounts of magnesium found in rice water activate enzymes which work to produce the new cells required for healthy hair growth.
Potassium keeps the moisture within hair balanced to maintain healthy, hydrated locks that are strong and less prone to breakage.
Essential to produce collagen, a protein that gives hair strength and elasticity. Zinc also helps with cell division that’s an important part of hair growth as it works to create new strands.
The level of vitamins and nutrients found in your rice water solution will depend on the type of rice used and how it has been prepped.
It’s important to note that, although beneficial for hair, rice water isn’t a ‘miracle product’, and there are other lifestyle factors that can also impact the progress of your hair growth such as genetics, health and diet. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, as well as using rice water in moderation, is a great way to promote healthy hair growth.
What are the Side Effects of Rice Water on Hair?
When it comes to adverse reactions and side effects caused by rice water, they’re uncommon, but not unheard of, and rice water doesn’t suit everyone. Side effects are more likely to occur if rice water is used in excess or left on the hair and scalp for too long. Some of the most commonly reported side effects of rice water on hair include:
- Allergic reactions: Some people may be allergic to rice or its by-products. If you experience itching, redness or swelling on the scalp or skin after using rice water, discontinue use and consult a doctor.
- Dryness: Rice water is rich in starch, which can make the hair feel dry if used too frequently. It's important to use a moisturising conditioner, such as the Marula Leave In Conditioner, after using rice water to avoid dry, straw-like hair.
- Build-up: As rice water is high in starch, it can leave a build-up on the hair if not rinsed thoroughly, causing locks to feel heavy and greasy.
- Discoloration: Over time, rice water can cause discoloration of hair as it contains pigments that can change the colour of the hair.
- Inorganic arsenic: Rice water contains high levels of inorganic arsenic which may be harmful if ingested or used topically in large amounts.
Before using rice water, we would recommend performing a patch test, 48 hours prior to application, on the inner part of your arm. Wait until the end of the 48-hour period to see if there is any reaction. If you experience any redness, itching, or other signs of an allergic reaction then it is best to avoid using rice water on your hair. If there’s no reaction, then it is likely to be safe for use.
If you have sensitive skin or any other medical condition, it is always best to consult with a dermatologist or healthcare professional before using any new product on your hair or skin.
How to Make Rice Water for Hair
There are a few ways to prepare rice water for hair growth but here’s the simplest preparation method:
- 1 cup of uncooked rice
- 4 cups of water
- Rinse the rice thoroughly so as to remove any dirt.
- Add the rice to a saucepan with 4 cups of water and bring it to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and let the rice simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the water becomes cloudy.
- Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
- Strain the rice, collecting the water in a clean, sealable container.
- Allow the rice water to cool completely before using it on your hair.
We’d always recommend using rice water that’s been freshly prepared as it can spoil quickly. Similarly, it isn’t something you should keep for too long.
Other methods to prepare rice water include fermenting the rice, however, this does leave an unpleasant odour in the home. You can overcome this by using essential oils to gently scent the water. Alternatively, you could purchase a pre-made rice water treatment, such as the Rice Water and Green Tea Detangler, which is packed with hydrating botanicals and can be applied to wet or dry hair.
How to Use Rice Water on Hair
Rice water is a versatile hair product that can be used in various ways to encourage hair growth. When it comes to how often you should use rice water on your hair, we would recommend a maximum of one or two times a week. Popular methods of applying the water to your hair include:
1. Final Rinse
Start with shampoo and conditioner as usual, rinsing each product out. After this, perform a final rinse with rice water. Simply pour the rice water over your hair, then rinse it out with clean water.
2. Leave-in Treatment
Apply the rice water to your hair as a leave-in treatment, then leave it on for 15-20 minutes before rinsing it out. This is a particularly great way to use rice water if you suffer with dry or damaged hair.
3. Deep Conditioner
Mix equal parts of rice water and your favourite conditioner to create a deep conditioning treatment. Apply it to your hair, then leave it on for 30 minutes before rinsing it out.
4. Steam Treatment
Apply the rice water to your hair, then cover it with a plastic cap. Sit under a hooded dryer, or apply heat using a hair dryer, for 20-30 minutes, to allow the heat to open the cuticles and allow the rice water to penetrate the hair shaft.
5. Rice Water Spray
You can also put rice water in a spray bottle and use it as a leave-in treatment throughout the day to refresh and hydrate your hair.
It won’t take long to see how rice water grows hair, but you shouldn’t expect to wake up the following morning with a miracle transformation. Within four to six weeks, though, you can expect to see some positive progress in your hair growth journey. Remember, patience and a consistent routine are the key to hair growth success!
Using Rice Water With Other Hair Care Products
Rice water can be used in conjunction with other hair care products. One of the most popular ways to use it is as a final rinse after shampoo and conditioner but it can also be mixed into your existing hair care products.
Create a deep conditioning treatment by taking your rice water and mixing it with a hydrating treatment such as the Black Seed Hair Oil Elixir. Apply and leave for a few hours, or even overnight, for an intensely nourishing treatment that will help to prevent hair loss and stimulate regrowth.
It’s important not to leave a treatment like this on for any longer than 18 hours as it can cause a bacterial overgrowth on your scalp after prolonged exposure.
When using as a final rinse, you’ll want to use a moisturising formulation of shampoo that will help to support the work of the rise water. The Baobab Detangler & Cleanser is ideal for this as the formulation works to detangle hair and soothe the scalp without stripping your locks of their natural oils.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Long Should I Leave Rice Water in My Hair?
The amount of time you should leave rice water in your hair will depend on the method of application.
If you're using rice water as a final rinse, you should leave it in your hair for a few minutes before rinsing it out with clean water. If you're using rice water as a leave-in treatment, you should leave it in your hair for 15-20 minutes before rinsing it out.
If using rice water as a conditioning treatment, you can leave it in your hair overnight but for no more than 18 hours in total as rice water can damage your hair if left on for prolonged periods of time.
Is Rice Water Good for Low Porosity Hair?
Used in moderation, low porosity hair can benefit from rice water. If you use it too much, it can overload the locks with protein and leave hair dry and brittle. Using rice water once a week on low porosity hair will help to boost elasticity, strengthen and repair damaged strands, and promote growth.
Can I Use Rice Water Every Day?
When it comes to how often you should use rice water for hair growth, we would recommend using one or two times a week when applied as a final rinse or conditioning treatment. If you overuse rice water you can find that hair becomes dry, the excess starch causes build up, hair becomes discoloured, and hair strands become weaker.
One way to use, and benefit, from rice water more frequently, would be to use a rice water spray. Mist it over hair when you want to reduce frizz, detangle locks, and to encourage hair growth.
Can I Use Shampoo After Rice Water?
Yes, you can use shampoo after but for the most effective rice water hair results, it would be best to shampoo first and use the rice water as a rinse after. Whichever way round you choose to use the rice water, it’s always best to use a hydrating shampoo to maintain the hair’s overall health and hydration. Ensure you rinse hair thoroughly after using shampoo to remove any residue.
Evidence for the benefits of rice water for hair growth is still ongoing but it is already clear that it does thicken and grow hair. There are some great reasons to use it on your locks, whether that’s as a final rinse, a deep-conditioning treatment or as a daily spritz.
Whilst the benefits are there, it is important not to get carried away. We all know that you can have too much of a good thing and overusing rice water can negatively impact hair with dryness and discoloration being encountered by some users. Don’t forget to perform a patch test prior to use if you’re new to rice water!