You may have recently heard about Kim Kardashian’s secret to long, healthy, thick hair, shared on sister Kourtney Kardashian’s blog Poosh a couple of months ago. No, it’s not hair extensions (although they are the quickest, easiest way to achieve long, full hair). It’s rice water—a simple DIY concoction that many swear by for its lustrous effects.

Rice water for hair

According to Poosh, many Eastern countries use rice for its “healing and nourishing perks” with rice water even being touted for its beauty benefits on facial skin like more radiance, eliminating acne, soothing irritated skin, and fading ageing spots. But how does the humble grain fare when it comes to hair? 

I decided to test out this hair rinse myself, to reignite my dry, dull hair with Kardashian level shine and glamour. Because I have thick, wavy, coarse hair, it has always been difficult to figure out a hair care routine and specific products that enhance my natural wave while adding softness and shine. It’s a struggle most women with my hair type will understand, so I was eager to try out a rice water rinse and hopefully find the new holy grail to my hair care routine. Let me tell you…the results were surprisingly impressive! 

Rice water for hair

How to make rice water for hair

The process of making and using a rice water rinse is simple and can be done in six steps:

Step 1

Rice water for hair

Gather a bowl, organic uncooked rice, and water. You can use any sort of rice (white, brown, jasmine, basmati etc.) as long as it is organic. I used organic brown rice.

Step 2

Rice water for hair

Rinse the uncooked rice, and drain. Then, add the clean rice to a bowl with 1-1 1/2 cups of water. Let it sit for at least an hour, up to 24 hours. For this experiment, I let the rice sit overnight for about 12 hours.

Step 3

Strain the rice and save the water. You can actually save the rice for cooking as well. In fact, some studies have shown that eating soaked rice is healthier, reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Step 4

Wash your hair with shampoo, and rinse as normal.

Step 5

Take the rice water and massage it into your hair and scalp. Let it sit for at least 20 minutes to an hour. If you have thick hair like me, you may end up using all of it in one go, however, those with thinner hair may be able to get away with using half of the water and saving the rest in the fridge for next time (or for washing your face later). I left the rice water rinse in for about half an hour before washing off.

Rice water for hair

Step 6

Rinse your hair again, and admire!

Rice water for hair

Does rice water for hair work?

After using the rice water to rinse out my hair for one week (two hair washes), I did find that my wave pattern had a lovely, more pronounced flow when air dried that I would usually have to add product to achieve. My hair also felt fuller with more body, with a beautiful, almost fluffy texture. Because I have thick hair, I usually struggle with my hair feeling weighed down, and find it difficult to achieve a light, airy texture. I also work out everyday so while the rice water effects didn’t last post-workout due to me being a sweaty mess, I could see the effects continuing to last until at least a day or two after washing. With long term use, I would hope that my hair would behave this way until the next wash. I did not notice any change in length (it had only been one week after all), however, this is touted as one of the immense benefits of a rice water rinse and I could see how my hair could grow faster upon regular, continued use. All in all, the results are positive, so get stocking up on that rice!

Rice water for hair

So…why does rice water have such great beauty benefits? 

Because rice grains have a high starch content (70-80%) and are packed with amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, this goodness saturates the water when soaked. When massaged into your hair and scalp, these ingredients pack a potent punch of healthy and moisturizing properties seeping into the hair and. The starch from the rice coats hair strands, giving the hair a thickening effect. This starchy coating can also be attributed for the extra body, shine, and de-frizzing effect that your hair will get after using the rice water rinse. 

If you have color treated hair that is dull, dry, and brittle, rice water may be your ticket to healthier hair, as it also reduces friction, promotes elasticity, and closes the outer cuticle, leading to shinier, smoother hair. 

As for hair growth? Any treatment stimulates blood flow to the scalp and clarifies dirt and buildup will eventually lead to longer hair. Whether it’s a rice water rinse or scalp scrub, healthy hair begins at the scalp. 

Rice water for hair

Other tips

Although the magical properties of rice water seem endless, there is one thing to look out for. Be sure to rinse off the rice water thoroughly, and not to overdue it, as the abundance of protein in the water may actually dry out your hair if not enough moisture is provided. Begin by only using the rice water twice a week and monitoring how your hair feels. If it’s still feeling dry, cut down usage to once a week and add conditioner before the rice water for extra moisture. Increase usage slowly, until you find the right balance for your hair. 

Fermenting the rice water may provide even more nutritional benefits to your hair. To do this simply follow the instructions above, then leave the water out for another 24-48 hours to ferment and use as normal.

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