While there are hundreds of hair care products that claim to boost growth, add shine, and improve the health of your hair “in just one wash,” very few products actually do (Olaplex is one that can)! Fortunately, we know a $2 DIY that really does help strengthen the hair. In fact, this DIY has hundreds of years of experience, science, AND a world record to back it up. Intrigued?
The DIY we’re referring to is a rice water hair rinse that has been used by women in China and Japan for centuries. There’s even a village in China, Huangluo, known as the land of Rapunzels because it holds the Guinness World Record as the ‘world’s longest hair village.’ And guess what they use? Rice water! The ritual of washing the hair with rice water has been passed down from generation to generation and the women in the Huangluo village have the shiniest, healthiest and longest hair thanks to their rice water shampoo.
The great thing is rice water is amazing for all hair types, from thin and fine hair to thick, curly, and afro-textures. We actually heard about it as we were admiring our friend’s super defined 3A/ 3B curls, who told us her trick was to spritz rice water in her hair after washing, which she claimed had amazing detangling and hair strengthening abilities – naturally, we had to look into it. Here’s the science behind why this natural DIY really works…
How Rice Water For Hair Works
Rice water is literally bursting with natural proteins, vitamins, and minerals that help restore and hydrate your hair. Firstly, it contains inositol, a carbohydrate that replenishes dry, damaged hair by strengthening and rebuilding the elasticity of the hair, which prevents it from becoming brittle and split ends from forming.
Even after the rice water is rinsed off, it’ll continue to seal in moisture, shielding your hair from damage. It’s also packed with proteins and amino acids that hydrate and restore the hair strand so that it’s less likely to frizz. Plus, it’s a rich source of vitamins including B, C, and E, which can help boost growth while adding shine.
Fermented Rice Water
If you ferment the rice (by leaving the rice water out for 24 to 48 hours), it’ll further enhance the nutrient levels as, during fermentation, a substance called pitera is produced, which is rich in minerals and amino acids. It’ll also alter the pH levels of the rice water so that it better matches the natural pH of your hair, which is slightly acidic. This will help close the hair cuticle, preventing moisture loss and protecting your hair. The only issue is fermented water can smell a little but you can add a drop of essential oil to the water to improve this – in Huangluo they add ginger slices and orange peel to the fermented rice water.
How To Make A Rice Water Hair Rinse
There are two ways of making rice water; you can either boil rice in plenty of extra water and keep the excess water, or you leave the rice to soak in water and use the strained water. If you do this last method, you can leave it out to ferment, which makes the rice water more potent.
1/2 cup of organic brown or white rice
The rind of an orange or lemon (optional)
Take half a cup of rice, give it a rinse, then soak it in two cups of water. Leave it to soak for at least 30 mins, or even overnight (this will give more time for the water to absorb the nutrients and vitamins from the rice). Once the water is cloudy, squeeze the rice in the water a little, then strain the rice so you’re left with only the water. You can either store this water or let it ferment.
Fermenting rice water: To ferment the rice water, leave it out for a day or two at room temperature (the warmer the room, the quicker it ferments). This will make the formula more potent, so once the rice has fermented, add a cup of water to dilute it slightly, and add the rind of an orange or lemon, and store the mix in the fridge for up to one week.
How to Use Rice Water
You can either use this as a rinse for your hair after shampooing and conditioning, or you can put it into a spray bottle (preferably glass) and store it in the fridge for up to a week, and use it as a ‘leave-in conditioner.’ We find using it as a leave-in treatment post-washing (by spritzing into wet hair) works best for curly and coily hair, and really helps to detangle, define and boost curls. For straight and fine hair, use it as a rinse post-shampoo and conditioner. Let the rice water sit for 10 to 20 minutes depending on the thickness of your hair (the thicker your hair, the longer you can leave it), then rinse the hair. If you have curly or coily hair, you can use it as a rinse and a leave-in treatment.
If you do this regularly (every week), you will soon begin to see a big difference in the health and condition of your hair. For more DIY haircare solutions, check out how to make your own dry shampoo.
Let us know if you’ve ever tried rice water in your hair in the comments below.