A Guide to Rice Water Hair Treatment

February 23, 2021 4 min read

A Guide to Rice Water Hair Treatment

By Toia Barry

If you’re looking for a little hair miracle in the sea of natural hair products, many beauty bloggers swear by a rice water hair treatment. Though it might seem like it’s a recent trend, using a rice water treatment for your hair, like a rice water hair rinse, is actually an ancient tradition.

The tribe of Yao women in China, in particular, has used rice water on their hair for centuries. We think their healthy, long hair speaks volumes about the benefits of this age-old practice. It’s a hair tradition used in ancient Japan and also by women from South Asia who were reaping rice water benefits long before any social media hype.

Fun Facts About Rice Water Treatments

The Yao women sport shiny, black hair that is so long, it’s almost as tall as they are. They claim that rice water hair products and treatments are the secret to their healthy hair. The Huangluo village where the Yao women live is even called the “Hair Village” because it’s such a well-known phenomenon. 

Not only is their hair long and thick, but it also rarely turns grey. These women have shiny black hair often well into their 80s. These women are even part of the Guinness Book of World Records, simply because their hair boasts a whopping average length of 1.4 meters.

Another fun fact is that the woman that holds the title of having the longest hair in the world also belongs to this tribe. Xie Qiuping has hair that stretches to an astonishing 5.627 meters in length. She made the record back in 2004 after 45 years of retaining her hair.

The Yao women use the rice water leftover after they cook rice, and typically leave it to ferment before use. Sometimes they add other organic ingredients to their rice water recipe to add extra goodies and to give it a more pleasing aroma. When the mixture is ready, they pour it into a bucket and dip their hair into the rice water hair rinse, then use a comb to work the rice water from roots to tips.  

Japanese women used rice water treatments for their hair during the Heian period. Court ladies during this period had long hair that reached the floor. Their secret? Rice water, of course! 

Benefits to Using Rice Water Hair Treatments

Rice water is the water that’s left after cooking, rinsing, or soaking rice. It is starchy and has many nutrients that can help nourish any hair type. While there are some potential side effects of rice water on hair, the rice water treatment has been the secret weapon of real-life Rapunzels for centuries, not just to help hair get longer but to keep it strong and healthy. As long as you understand how to use rice water for hair, and how often, your hair should reap the many benefits. 

Amino Acids

The most important nutrient found in rice water is amino acids, the building blocks of protein. Amino acids may help to replenish the protein in your hair. Rice water has 8 different amino acids, which is why rice water for hair retention is thought to be so effective.


Other important nutrients contained in rice water are vitamin B and vitamin E. These vitamins keep your hair shiny and your scalp moisturized. They can also strengthen hair, which may help reduce annoyances like split ends and leads to healthy hair.

Antioxidants and Minerals

Rice water also contains antioxidants and minerals that are good for various types of curly hair. These nutrients can help reduce frizz and make your hair look sleek and defined.

Dandruff Reduction

If you’re plagued by dandruff, fermented rice water treatments, in particular, may be helpful. The major cause of dandruff is fungi in your hair. Fermented rice water may help fight off these fungi and snuff out dandruff for good. 

Hair Repair 

If you have damaged hair, rice water may be ultra healing. Rice water contains inositol, which helps to reduce friction and improve hair elasticity, according to a study in the Journal of Cosmetic Chemists. Another study showed that inositol can penetrate the hair and stay even after rinsing, leaving hair bouncy and tangle-free.

Fermented or Plain Rice Water?

A rice water rinse is relatively simple to make, although it does require some time. Some people like to soak rice in water and then filter out the rice to make it. Others make it using the leftover water after boiling rice. You can also take it a step further and ferment the rice water by allowing it to sit for a day or two. 

Fermented rice water may have more benefits than a plain rice water hair treatment. Researchers have isolated a form of something called “pitera” in fermented rice water, which may help improve cell regeneration and protect hair against aging.

Fermented rice water is high in antioxidants too, which can help reduce cell damage and strengthen your hair type. It also has a low pH level that matches the natural hair pH, which means it can help keep the pH of your hair balanced and your hair follicles healthy. Though it's easy to make a rice water rinse, we recommend finding an organic rice water product to support your scalp and hair's elasticity.

If you’re looking for a trusted product containing rice water for hair, check out the Mielle collection! Our products are made with natural ingredients to support healthy hair and moisturize hair. 

So, if you're still asking, “is rice water good for your hair?”, the fact is that using rice water treatments for hair is a centuries-old practice that may just be the hair care gift you’ve been looking for all your life. There’s certainly no harm in trying it! Visit the collection by Mielle to start nourishing your curly hair today.



  1. Vogue. Once in a lifetime. https://www.vogue.com/projects/13548460/women-of-huang-luo-china-long-hair-tradition
  2. Hair Buddha. How to Use Rice Water For Gorgeous Hair And Flawless Skinhttps://www.hairbuddha.net/rice-water-for-gorgeous-hair-and-flawless-skin/
  3. Development of Hair-Care Products from Rice Water. http://www.spring8.or.jp/pdf/en/indu_appli/p10-11.pdf
  4. Wiley Online Library. The effect of rinse water obtained from the washing of rice (YU-SU-RU) as a hair treatmenthttps://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1468-2494.2010.00605_3.x
  5. medical News Today. What does rice water do for your hair?.   https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321353#history
  6. Healthline. Can Rice Water Make Your Hair Stronger and Shinier?.   https://www.healthline.com/health/rice-water#How-to-use-rice-water-on-your-hair
  7. The Klog. Why Rice Water, an Age-Old Skin Care Ingredient, Is Having a Moment.  https://theklog.co/rice-water/
  8. International Journal of Science and Research. Extraction, Isolation and Evaluation of Pitera from Fermented Rice water and its Incorporation as Active in Bi-phasic Makeup Removal. https://www.ijsr.net/archive/v7i7/ART20183820.pdf



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