June 21, 2021

The Benefits of Using Rice Water on Your Hair

Learn the reason why it’s a part of many beauty routines

jar of rice water and brush for hair

The secret to longer, stronger and shinier hair might be in your kitchen cupboard.

Advertisement

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Using rice water as a hair care product dates back centuries in Asian culture and recently boiled over as a TikTok trend, with #ricewater gathering hundreds of millions of hair-flipping endorsements.

So will a rice water rinse really give you locks that you’ll love? More than a thousand years of beauty parlor chatter says yes, but let’s comb through what’s fact and fiction with dermatologist Shilpi Khetarpal, MD.

What is rice water?

The name of this hair elixir also serves as the ingredient list. Rice water is the starchy liquid created when rice is soaked or cooked in water.

The cloudy concoction holds many of the nutrients that make rice one of the world’s most important food sources, explains Dr. Khetarpal. This includes an antioxidant known as inositol, which is touted as a hair rejuvenator.

Rice water also is rich in:

Benefits of rice water on hair

The list of benefits connected to rice water runs as long as Rapunzel’s fairy tale hair. Fans of rice water say it can make your hair shinier and stronger while also keeping troublesome tangles to a minimum.

Advertisement

The big selling point, though, is hair growth. Legend has it that rice water helped women of the imperial court during Japan’s Heian period grow floor-length hair. The long tresses were called kurokami.

And today in China, rice water is part of a regimen that earned the town of Huangluo a Guinness Book of World Records designation as the “World’s Longest Haired Village.”

But is rice water really that powerful? “Anecdotally, there seems to be a lot of potential benefit to using rice water on your hair,” notes Dr. Khetarpal. “But it’s not something that has been scientifically proven.” (If you’re looking for science-backed ways to boost your hair growth, try these instead.)

Side effects of rice water on hair

Aside from depleting your pantry supplies, there’s little reason to worry about using rice water on your hair. “There are no harmful chemicals or additives to it, so that really limits your risk of damage,” says Dr. Khetarpal.

If you’re dealing with scalp inflammation, however, Dr. Khetarpal cautioned against using rice water to avoid additional irritation.

Ways to make rice water

As far as DIY beauty products go, it doesn’t get much easier. There are three main ways to make rice water, including:

Advertisement
  • A short soak lasting 30 minutes to two hours.
  • Boiling the rice-water combo.
  • A long soak of a day or more to ferment the water.

Dr. Khetarpal says the shorter option offers you the best chance of success. The boiling process may diminish some of the nutrients, she notes, while the long soak could add bacteria into your mix.

Most online instructions for making rice water call for rinsing the rice before starting the process and straining the final product. More detailed steps can be found with a quick internet search.

Can you eat the rice after making rice water?

Multitaskers, rejoice: Dinner and a ‘do is on the table. There’s no reason for you to throw out all that rice after making rice water, says Dr. Khetarpal. Nothing in the process makes the rice inedible.

Plus, eating the rice allows its nutrients to benefit your whole body instead of just your hair. As an added bonus, soaking rice shortens its cooking time, too.

Related Articles

Smiling person holding small container of moisturizer close to face, with product applied to face
February 1, 2024
What Does Vitamin B5 Do for Your Hair and Skin?

Pantothenol is a powerful moisturizer and can help repair damaged skin and hair

woman dyeing her hair
October 24, 2023
Can Hair Dye Increase Cancer Risk?

Research shows some associations and concerns, but no definitive connections

bowl of jojoba oil next to jojoba fruit pods and leaves
July 25, 2023
How Jojoba Oil Benefits Your Hair and Skin

The powerhouse oil fights fine lines and wrinkles, soothes sunburn and a whole lot more

person holding 2 containers of collagen
May 30, 2023
Collagen Won’t Hurt Hair Growth, But It Probably Won’t Help Either

Try limiting heat styling and eating a healthy diet instead

Rosemary oil in an essentials oil vial with rosemary clippings in the background.
March 30, 2023
Growth Market: How Rosemary Oil Can Help Your Hair

Studies show that the herby oil can lead to longer, healthier hair

Person using electric razer to trim mustache and beard on face.
January 10, 2023
Will Shaving Make Your Hair Grow Back Thicker?

Though this is a myth, the ‘stubble stage’ struggle is real, but moisturizing can help

Person applying hair oil to scalp.
August 30, 2022
Hair Oiling: Should You Try It?

Hair type, medical conditions, age and ethnicity all might play a role

Bottle of argan oil with eye dropper for hair.
July 31, 2022
5 Skin and Hair Benefits of Argan Oil

Get a hydration boost from this liquid gold

Trending Topics

White bowls full of pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate and various kinds of nuts
25 Magnesium-Rich Foods You Should Be Eating

A healthy diet can easily meet your body’s important demands for magnesium

Woman feeling for heart rate in neck on run outside, smartwatch and earbuds
Heart Rate Zones Explained

A super high heart rate means you’re burning more than fat

Spoonful of farro salad with tomato
What To Eat If You’ve Been Diagnosed With Prediabetes

Type 2 diabetes isn’t inevitable with these dietary changes

Ad