What does rice water do for your hair? Is it really all the hype?

What does rice water do for your hair? Is it really all the hype?

Many ask, what does rice water do for your hair? Will it really make my hair hair grow? Rice water is all the rage with youtube influencers showing off their long locks and claims that it was the rice water that helped them to achieve such lengths. Popular hair brands have jumped on the bandwagon by offering rice water in their product lines. But is it really worth all the hype around it? Before you start pouring the cast off water from your cooked rice, let’s take a closer look.

Where did using rice water on hair come from?

Before we go into the nitty gritty of rice water, let’s discuss it’s origins. Using rice water on your hair originated thousands of years ago from the Yao women, an ethnic group in China, whose hair can grow up to 5 feet or more in their lifetimes. They claim that using rice water as part of their haircare routine is what helps their hair to grow.

The Yao women, also known as real life Rapunzels, will make a mixture of fermented rice water blended with herbs, bran tea and pomelo peels. They use this as a rinse on their hair vs using shampoo every 3 days. They claim this helps to keep their hair strong and delays any greying in their hair.

what does rice water do for your hair
What does rice water do for your hair? Photographer: averie woodard | Source: Unsplash

Benefits of using Rice Water on your hair

Rice water contains Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, flavanoids and phenolic compounds which could offer some temporary benefits to your hair. Some users have reported their hair feeling smooth after using rice water as a rinse on their hair. However, it does contain a good amount of protein. So, if your hair is protein sensitive, or if your hair is normal and not damaged, this could cause your hair to become brittle.

What does rice water do for your hair? According to the Yao women and bloggers, they say it makes their hair stronger and increases elasticity. While there isn’t any scientific evidence to these claims, you can find tons of anecdotal information to this.

As I did some more research on the Yao women, I wanted to understand their lives better. What they ate, how they lived. When it comes to growing hair, it’s more than what you put on your hair.

You see, hair is dead the moment it touches the air. But, beneath the surface, or rather, the scalp, it’s alive and that is where all of the magic happens.

Yao women and their lives

What does rice water do for your hair?
What does rice water do for your hair?

1. Their diet is mostly plant-based, consisting of rice and bamboo with very little meat. Diet plays an important role in our hair as discussed at length with Dr. Marissa Rocourt. Eating a well-planned diet that consists mostly of vegetables, beans, legumes and nuts ensures your body will get plenty of vitamins and minerals. And thus, your hair can grow stronger.

2. They are a close-knit community. It is no secret that stress can be a factor in hair loss. Extreme stress, as most people who live in cities tend to be under, can cause excessive shedding. Whereas, the Yao women, live closely together and follow many traditions of their ancestors which helps to build stronger ties to their communities. This means less stress.

They only cut their hair once

3. They only cut their hair once. At a coming-of-age ceremony, around the age of 17, they cut their hair. After that, they do not cut their hair again. This is fine when your hair is straight and not as prone to split ends and single-strand knots. But curly hair, and coily hair are especially susceptible to dryness and thus split ends. Getting regular trims are essential when it comes to curly haircare.

4. They wash their hair 3 times a week in a river! I wish I could go to a pristine river to allow the natural minerals wash over my hair. But, I live in a city with hard water, not the type of minerals you want on your hair. And washing my hair 3 times per week would be time prohibitive.

5. Finally, they live in the mountains with clean air. While micro-plastics are ubiquitous, there are higher amounts in cities where most of us live. Our hair is like sponges and absorb those micro-plastics, as well as the pollution from cars, bbqs etc. All of these factors can have an effect on our hair.

Taking all of this into consideration, I still have to ask myself, what does rice water do for your hair?

Does rice water actually benefit your hair?

There is no scientific research to show this starchy water solution will make your hair grow. People touting it making their hair grow faster is all anecdotal. My thoughts, eat the rice, throw out the rice water.



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Thank you for explaining this. I tried rice water and I did see an improvement in growth however after about six months, my hair began to break like dry spaghetti. I ended up doing a second big chop in December, 2018. Now my hair is flourishing and I will use rice internally.


Excellent Read!!! I was using rice water and saw some benefits but no miracles

Lindsay Joy Blair

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