Tips on How to Use Rice Water for Hair

February 23, 2021 5 min read

Tips on How to Use Rice Water for Hair

By Tiffany Walker

There are quite a few beauty aficionados in the blogospheres out there, giving mini-lessons on the science and history of rice water. Being that naturalista you are, you may have read and watched a few videos about it yourself, leaving you wondering “is rice water good for your hair?”, and if you should try a rice water treatment. We vote yes! Keep reading for helpful tips. 

Why Use Rice Water for Hair

Using a rice water hair treatment to strengthen damaged hair has been a recent trend, but has actually been happening for ages. This treatment contains all of the nutrients needed to improve healthy hair for every hair type, but especially those with curly hair. Using an organic rice water treatment acts as an amazing therapy for split ends and nourishes hair roots from top to bottom.

Whether you decide to make your own rice water hair mask or use a trusted rice water shampoo, you'll quickly discover how this hair care method works to improve hair elasticity and health. 

Making Rice Water: The Yao Women’s Method

There are many methods on how to use rice water for hair, so it’s important to pick the right one. The oldest is how the Yao women of China make it. These women have extraordinarily long and healthy hair, which means they likely have a lesson or two we could learn from emulating them and their hair rinse. 

How to Do It:

  • Yao women first boil water in a large clay pot over an open fire. 
  • They add other organic ingredients, mainly Pomelo peels. They also add ginger and fleece flower root, and some households also add tea bran. 
  • After the water boils, they remove the rice and other ingredients. 
  • They pour the rice water into sealed containers and leave it to ferment for several days or even as long as a month.
  • After Yao women prepare the rice water, they pour it into a bucket. 
  • They flip their long hair forward and dip it into the bucket. 
  • Using a wooden comb, they work the rice water from the roots all the way down to the tips. Small solid particles in the rice water remove any grease and dirt. Some Yao women say that they have never used shampoo or conditioner because the rice water is such an amazing substitute. 
  • They typically use rice water about twice a week. 

While we’ve mentioned the main ingredients, exact recipes can vary from household to household, and frankly, it’s a long process. Though who are we to discourage you if you want to keep it authentic! If an open fire gets you in the mood, have at it.

Making Rice Water: The Soaking Method

For those who don’t have time to stoke a blazing fire to boil some water, soaking is an excellent alternative and is considered the quickest method for making rice water. This method resembles the ancient practice of Yu-Su-Ru by Japanese women. These women used the rinse water left over from washing rice. 

How to Do It:

  • Start with half a cup of uncooked rice. 
  • Rinse it with water and drain it. 
  • Fill two to three cups of water in a clean bowl and add the rice. You can also knead the rice to release more nutrients. 
  • Leave the rice to soak for thirty minutes. 
  • Use a strainer to pour the rice water into a clean bowl. If you don’t want to use fermented rice water, you should use this solution quickly.

Making Rice Water: The Boiling Method

Arguably the easiest method ever! You can use the water left over after boiling rice with this method. 

How to Do It:

  • Just boil half a cup of rice with one cup of water. 
  • Strain the rice after the water boils. 

Making Rice Water: The Fermentation Method

Fermented rice water has even more benefits than plain rice water. Here is how to use rice water to promote healthy hair. 

How to Do It:

  • Prepare the rice water like how you would for the soaking method. 
  • Then pour the rice water into an airtight container instead of a bowl. 
  • Place the container into a warm, dark place for 12 to 48 hours. 
  • You can place it in a kitchen cabinet that you use the least. 
  • After 12 to 48 hours, the fermented rice water should be ready for use. 

A note of caution, it may be too strong to use directly. You can dilute it with warm water before using, or store the fermented rice water in the refrigerator for up to a week if you aren’t ready to use it yet. 

How to Use Rice Water for Your Hair

Now that you have made rice water using a method you like, below are the steps for applying it to your hair.

  • Step 1: Pour the rice water slowly over your hair. 
  • Step 2: Massage it into your roots and work your way to the tips. 
  • Step 3: Let the rice water soak in your hair for 15 minutes. 
  • Step 4: Rinse it out with plain water. 

Note that you can also pour the rice water into a spray bottle and spray it on your hair, although that may take more time. 

Rice Water Products for Natural Hair

Although rice water is easy to make at home, there are so many natural hair products made to benefit curly hair. No matter your hair type, Mielle has an entire collection of organic rice water hair products meant to promote healthy hair and nourish split ends. Strengthen your hair's elasticity using a rice water hair mask along with our hydrating shampoo to nourish the scalp. Our natural hair products are the best alternative to making your own rice water hair treatment from home. 

Extras to Add to Your Rice Water Recipe

If you do decide to make your own rice water treatment, you can customize it how you want. You can use any kind of organic rice, like jasmine rice, brown rice, or basmati rice. You can add any other organic ingredients you like too.  

If you opt for fermented rice water, keep in mind it has a pungent smell. You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to reduce this effect, like lavender, peppermint, or another favorite scent. Some people like to add herbs like rosemary and citrus peels too, which may offer some added benefits for your hair.

Tips and methods to make a rice water rinse abound on the interwebs. Figure out a method that works best for you and remember to always do a patch test on a small section of hair because there are some potential side effects of rice water on hair. Then put on some tunes and enjoy a bit of self-care while literally soaking in all of the rice water benefits. You deserve every bit of it! 



  1. Vogue. Once in a lifetime
  2. What naturals love. History of Rice Water for Hair - Rapunzel’s Secret?
  3. Medical News Today. What does rice water do for your hair?
  4. Journal of Society of Cosmetic Chemists of Japan. The Effect of Rinse Water Obtained from the Washing of Rice (YU-SU-RU) as a Hair Treatment
  5. Iles Formula. Rice Water For Hair Care & Repair: Expert’s Tips
  6. Cosmopolitan. Does rice water actually benefit your hair?

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