What is Rice Water?
Trends come and go when it comes to skincare and health care. Few go viral and catch attention but have been debunked since then. Very few have established a solid scientific reason, and rice water is one among them. Used by the Yao women for centuries, the rice water process of cleaning the hair has been touted to be the reason for their Rapunzel-like hair.
The rice water is an ancient secret of the Yao ethnic group from China. The court ladies from the Heian period in Japan also had long hair for which the rice water is said to be the reason. It is nothing but fermented water left over from washing the rice. The starch extracted from the rice gives your hair a shine and strengthens it.
Unlike other beauty treatments, this has been scientifically tested(not in a controlled environment and based on historical facts) and proved beneficial for the hair and skin. Rice water contains inositol, a carbohydrate that has protective effects on the hair. It has the ability to stay even after rinsing off acting like a shield, penetrate the hair and restore it from inside. Additionally, the amino acids present in it promotes new growth, making the hair thicker and more robust.
Benefits of Rice Water
Rice water is rich in antioxidants, minerals vitamin B, vitamin E and as mentioned above, amino acids. It also contains ferulic acid and allantoin, both of which are super ingredients used in skincare products.
Improves Quality of the Hair
There’s nothing more devastating than a hair fall. If a natural, chemical-free method is what you seek, look no further than rice water. The amino acids and carbohydrates help curb hair fall and strengthen it from within, thereby repairing damaged hair. It also allows for faster regeneration and imparts a shine to your hair.
Not just hair fall, rice water can help with your split end problem too. While you cannot magically cure it, you can prevent them from reappearing. Split ends are the result of pollution and not maintaining the hair properly. The protein present in the rice water helps in preventing split ends.
Another added advantage is for those suffering from dandruff. With regular use of rice water, you can get rid of dandruff even permanently.
Rice water is rich in vitamins A, B, C and E. Besides they contain 75%-80% starch and amino acids which help in hair regeneration. Hair grows back faster and more robust. The starch content coats the hair giving it bulk and makes it appear thicker. This coating also accounts for a smoother detangling effect. The ability of inositol to remain in the hair even after rinsing allows for more protection.
Enhance Your Skin
The vitamins and minerals present in rice water also work magic on your skin. They multitask as a cleanser and toner. It also works on hyperpigmentation and sunspots and lightens the complexion, thanks to vitamin E and ferulic acid. It also helps to smooth out textured skin paving the way for baby-soft skin without resorting to AHAs and BHAs. Few claim that you can even achieve porcelain skin when used regularly, which seems to be the dream of many.
The vitamins present in the rice water tightens the skin and reduces the pore size while illuminating it from within. It also works on your acne, helping to reduce the inflammation. The presence of antioxidants and flavonoids help to minimise the free radical damage.
Condition Your Hair
The starch content present in rice water conditions the hair profoundly making your hair look, shiny and healthy. Dry and brittle hair can benefit from a rice water rinse for more manageable hair since it reduces surface friction and improves hair elasticity. You can also add a few drops of essential oils like rosemary and lavender to mask the smell and provide hydration.
Use the mixture of essential oils and rice water to your hair after your bath. Leave it on for 10 minutes and rinse it off. Alternatively, you can also do a rice water rinse after conditioning. This process improves hair texture, smoothes and tames it for healthy and silky hair.
Soothes Eczema and Inflamed Skin
Eczema is not to be taken lightly. It can lead to extreme discomfort and irritations when not handled appropriately. Many suffer with it for decades, before finding a solution that works for them. However, when it comes to natural methods, rice water seems to be the solution for many. The starch content present in it helps to soothe the discomfort. Just dip a washcloth in rice water and place it over the area for a couple of minutes.
People with atopic dermatitis can also reap the benefits of rice water by bathing in it. Add a couple of cups of rice water to your bath and settle down for a nice long soak. Regular usage can have up to 20% increase in clearing up of inflammation.
Fermented Rice Water vs Plain Rice Water: Which One is Better?
There are three variations of rice water: boiled rice water, soaked rice water and fermented rice water. Of these, the fermented rice water is closer to the traditional process used by the Yao women. You can find more on the process in the next section. In short, fermented rice water is plain rice water left to ferment for 12 - 24 hours. It takes a sour nature and might smell a bit unless you add essential oils.
Fermented rice water offers more benefits than plain soaked rice water. The process enhances the nutrient levels in the rice water, thereby promoting healthy hair. It also reduces the pH level of the rice water, bringing it closer to that of your hair, serving to restore the balance. This helps in effective penetration of the nutrients and nourishes your hair better than the plain rice water.
Fermented rice water is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Moreover, the fermentation process leads to the creation of Pitera, which has gained popularity in recent times as an anti-ageing elixir. Pitera promotes cell renewal and regeneration, keeping your skin and hair healthy.
The search for incredible hair has been going on for ages. But the women from the Huangluo Yao Village in China discovered one such process centuries ago, which has them in the Guinness book of records. Their long hair is their pride and joy and grows longer than 1.4m. According to them, long hair symbolises good fortune, prosperity and wealth. They cut their hair only once in their life when they are 18 years old. That lock of hair is saved and later used in elaborate hairdos.
The Yao process of preparing rice water involves fermenting for over two weeks. Surprisingly, the resulting concoction doesn’t stink as with regular fermented rice water. The best part is that you can store it for more than a month without any refrigeration, unlike the latter.
- Rice - 1 cup
- Tea Seed Cake/Powder - 3 tbsp
- Pomelo Peels - 1
- Wash the rice to remove dirt and grime.
- Soak it in 3 cups of water for about 30 minutes. Then, rub the rice between your hands for about 5 minutes. The water should have a milky white colour by now.
- Drain the water and collect it separately for use in the recipe.
- The traditional process requires pomelo peels, but you can also go for any citrus peels, namely sweet lemon and grapefruit if it is not available.
- Add 3 tbsp of tea seed powder to the preparation. Alternatively, you can use any hair cleanser powders like shikakai powder, soap nut powder or hibiscus powder.
- Boil the mixture for 5 minutes and cool it down. Transfer to a glass bottle. Make sure this is not covered tightly to allow for fermentation.
- Leave it undisturbed for two weeks. You can leave it outside without refrigeration for up to 2 months.
- Use twice a week after shampoo and conditioner.
Rice Water for Hair: Preparation and Usage
Rice water is relatively easy to prepare with the ingredients readily available in your pantry. As for rice, you can go for organic white rice or basmati. The other varieties of rice like red rice and brown rice may be too starchy for your hair. So better avoid other types.
Soaking is by far the easiest method and quickest too when you are running short of time. You can also customise it to suit your needs by adding essential oils and hair cleansers for added nutrients.
How to Make:
- Wash ½ cup of rice in a bowl to remove dust and dirt.
- Soak the washed rice in 2 cups of warm water for about 30 minutes.
- Rub the rice between your palms after it is soaked and strain the rice.
- Transfer the rice water to a container and refrigerate.
How to Use:
- Wash your hair as usual.
- Apply the rice water to your hair and let it sit for 10 minutes.
- Rinse it out and condition as usual.
The fermentation method requires time and patience. So you might want to plan your hair wash accordingly. Fermented rice water also acts as a conditioner, so you may not need to condition it again. But the smell is not pleasant and may be off-putting for many. If that’s you, add essential oils to mask the smell.
How to Make:
- Wash 1 cup of rice a couple of times to remove the dirt.
- Soak the rice in 2 cups of distilled water. Stir it in between at least once every 5 minutes.
- Rub the rice between your palms to extract all the starch.
- Strain the water and collect it in a bottle. Set it aside to ferment.
- After about 8 - 10 hours the water starts to ferment. You can leave it aside for 12 - 24 hours for the fermentation process to complete. Beyond that, the smell may not be tolerable.
- The process depends on the temperature: The warmer it is, quicker the fermentation.
- Move the contents to the fridge and use within three days.
How to Use:
- Shampoo your hair as usual.
- Dilute the rice water with equal amounts of normal water.
- Rinse your hair with the mixture and massage it for a few minutes. Let it sit for 5 - 10 minutes.
- Rinse your hair thoroughly.
- Repeat this process once a week for better results.
Completely different from the above two processes, this one involves heat. The boiled rice water is the concentrated water that you get after cooking rice. It is very effective as a conditioner so you may not need a different one.
How to Make:
- Take a cup of rice. Wash it well and strain it.
- Add it to a pot with excess water. Boil it until the rice is cooked.
- Strain the excess water; the resultant solution is highly concentrated.
How to Use:
- Dilute the boiled rice water until it is slightly cloudy.
- Add essential oils as per your need. You can also skip this step.
- Wash your hair with shampoo as usual and saturate your hair with the rice water.
- Let it sit for 20 minutes and massage the scalp in the meanwhile.
- Repeat this once a week for a few months to see improvements.
- Alternatively, you can also soak hair cleansers like shikakai in boiled rice water and use it instead of shampoo.
Side Effects of Rice Water for Hair
Rice water is the latest trend that is taking the hair care world by a storm. Even though it is a natural preparation, it is not without any side effects. So, use caution and use it sparingly at first until your hair takes to it. Here are the common side effects observed when using rice water.
- People with dry scalp should use rice water once or twice a week. In extreme cases, once a week is more than enough.
- Rice water has a high starch content. This particularly can lead to brittle hair prone to breakage in people with fine hair.
- For people with low-porous hair, rice water can create a protein buildup that can lead to dry and damaged hair unless appropriately cleansed.
- Rice water can turn to be drying for the hair. Hence you might want to make sure that your hair is hydrated via any leave-in conditioners or serums.
The Final Take Away
Rice water is the biggest boon for hair and skin. It's a simple, inexpensive beauty treatment that may offer improved skin and hair. For a change, forget the expensive beauty products and apply rice water 15 minutes before going to the bed at night. Try it for a week and see if you love what it does for your complexion and hair.