Many women look to the East for all kinds of wisdom, including wisdom for beauty and advice on natural hair products. When they do, inevitably they learn of the wonders of rice water! Women of the East have taken advantage of rice water benefits for ages to help keep their skin soft and supple, and their hair long, smooth, and healthy.
Rice water is a by-product of making rice. It’s the water that’s leftover after boiling or soaking it. So what’s so special about some leftover water? Well, it’s loaded with lots of beneficial things, like B and E vitamins, amino acids which are the building blocks of protein, plus antioxidants and minerals.
All of these are good for the skin and the hair, which is why it’s such a favorite for the naturalistas of the world that want to avoid harsh chemicals and toxic products, but still want to look cute.
The short answer is yes. While it doesn’t look as though there have been many recent scientific studies done on how to use rice water for hair, many people from all over the world have incorporated rice water hair products into their hair care routines successfully for centuries, both to grow their hair out and to keep it strong and healthy.
Though the results have been mixed in terms of meeting or exceeding expectations, the general consensus is that it actually works and for some, may work phenomenally well.
Of course, it’s all anecdotal evidence, which means there will always be conflicting accounts, so do some research before trying anything new and make sure it’s suitable for your hair type and concerns.
It all began in the Huangluo Yao Village—better known as the “Land of Rapunzels.” Most of the women in the village have unusually long, beautiful hair—so many, in fact, that they made it into the Guinness Book of Records.
Centuries ago, many women in Japan had the same beautiful, unusually long hair. The only thing both groups have in common is the use of a rice water rinse for natural hair growth and generally healthy hair. Fancy that!
Rice water contains a multitude of nutrients, with a combination of several important vitamins, minerals, and proteins that are vital for healthy hair growth. With all of these ingredients ending up in the rice water, one can only guess how much nutritional value—besides the starch—is left in the rice itself!
Introducing this unique combination of nutrients to your hair has been proven to not only improve the condition of your hair but also to stimulate natural hair growth. It is most ironic that, after all of the billions of dollars that went into researching hair growth products, the solution lies in a simple, humble item from your pantry.
For most people, there are no notable side effects of rice water on hair. But again, it depends on your hair type, your scalp, and the health condition of both.
For instance, if you have low porosity hair, the protein is likely to attach to the surface of the hair follicles instead of being absorbed. This not only makes it impossible for your hair to absorb any other necessary nutrients, but it also forms a thick, hard coating on top of your hair, making it hard and brittle to the touch. This particular problem is commonly referred to as “protein overload.”
Additionally, depending on the condition of your scalp, if it’s dry and flaky already, then using too much of the rice water hair rinse—or using it too frequently—can make the condition worse. Used in moderation, however, it can help alleviate these symptoms.
There is some debate around this one. Fermented rice water is considered more potent and therefore able to produce better results in terms of hair growth and hair health than plain rice water.
However, fermented rice water, and even rice water that’s just been kept for too long (yep, even in the fridge), can cause some women’s hair to become stiff. Not to mention the pungent, somewhat rancid smell that comes from using fermented rice water.
One potential solution is to try using a plain rice water hair treatment for a month first since that’s how long it usually takes to start seeing results. Remember you have to be both patient and consistent. If during that time you don’t experience any side effects—a good thing—but you’re not happy with the results—a bad thing—then, by all means, give the fermented version a shot! Some women add a few drops of essential oil to their fermented rice water to try to mask the smell. You might want to make sure you don’t plan on going anywhere for the day though!
According to Cosmopolitan Magazine, you can use the method below. It’s the same one used by the women in the Huangluo Yao Village.
First, you may want to dilute your rice water mixture to reduce the chances of protein overload. You also don’t want to leave it on your hair for longer than half an hour at a time. During those 30 minutes, your hair will absorb all of the nutrients it possibly can, so anything after that is a waste.
Plus, leaving it on for too long (especially if you suffer from a dry, flaky scalp) can worsen the condition of your scalp instead of helping it, which kind of defeats the purpose. Scalp problems are usually caused by either irritated skin or the presence of excessive yeast (Malassezia—a yeast-like fungus) in the skin, and keeping a starchy mixture on the scalp for extended periods of time will only feed the organisms causing it.
If you know your hair is of low porosity, don’t use rice water more than once or twice per week. If you don’t actually know your hair type, play it safe and watch out for any unwanted changes in your hair and scalp. If you notice any negative reactions, slow down your usage. To avoid the process of making your own rice water and any potential side effects, opt for a natural rice water hair product instead! Mielle offers products containing rice water for hair with organic ingredients. Whether you’re looking for a rice water styling spray, a hydrating hair mask, or shampoo, we have all our curly girls covered!
So, does rice water grow hair? The women of the East seem to think so! The only way to really find out if a rice water hair treatment will work for you is to try it and see.
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