In April 2020, Kourtney Kardashian took to her lifestyle blog Poosh to share the secret to Kim Kardashian’s thick, shiny hair: rice water treatments. From there, the practice—an ancient beauty ritual that dates back to the Heian Period in Japan—went viral on social media. “Rice water for hair growth” currently has 106.2 million views on TikTok, while an Instagram search for the #ricewater hashtag brings up nearly 60,000 posts filled with luscious locks.
And though the treatment is still just gaining traction in the U.S., many parts of the world, including China and Southeast Asia, have long been reaping the benefits of rice water for hair.
Featured image of Iskra Lawrence by Michelle Nash.
A Few Rice Water Basics
- When rice is cooked or left to soak, the leftover water becomes a starchy substance that may be able to soothe hair, make it shinier, and help it grow faster.
- The starchiness of the treatment coats your locks with protein to strengthen strands and add shine.
- Rice is rich with folate (a powerful B vitamin), amino acids, antioxidants, and trace minerals like zinc and magnesium, all of which can help treat the scalp and give thirsty, brittle hair a healthy boost.
- Rice water may help smooth and detangle hair.
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With such simple ingredients—the recipe is, quite literally, rice and water—even the DIY averse may want to try their hand at making the treatment at home.
Anisa Sojka’s Rice Water Hair Treatment Recipe
*Sojka recommends using the treatment once a week
- 1 cup basmati rice x 3 cups water
Making the Treatment
- Wash the rice, then combine fresh water and rice.
- For five to 10 minutes, rub the rice to ensure all the nutrients seep into the water.
- Sift rice water into a pot. Add an orange peel for a more pleasant smell.
- On low heat, warm up the rice water over the stove for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (Don’t let it boil.)
- Pour water (with peels) into a container to cool, then place it in a dark space for two to three days to ferment.
How to Use Rice Water on Hair
- After fermenting, shake the starchy mixture and add it to a spray bottle. (Any remaining rice water can be refrigerated in the fridge for up to one week.)
- Apply generously all over the scalp and hair.
- Gently but thoroughly massage for about one minute. Sojka recommends avoiding using your nails.
- Leave in the treatment for one to three hours. (Leave it in for at least 20 minutes if you’re pressed for time.)
- In the shower, pour the remaining rice water over your hair and massage for about one minute.
- Shampoo and condition as normal.
One note: While it is a super simple recipe, the treatment does require a bit of planning. Fortunately, several great beauty brands (including Kiehl’s, OUAI, and Mielle Organics) have incorporated a healthy dose of rice water into their products if you prefer to cut out the measuring and mess.
Have you tried rice water for hair growth? Share your results and thoughts with us below.
This post was originally published on September 27, 2021, and has since been updated.
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