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Historically, in China, Japan, and other southeast Asian countries, rice water has been used for skincare (e.g., to bathe in) as well as in various hair care routines (i.e., in lieu of shampoo). The Yao women of the Huangluo village in China are a testament to the wonders of this simple liquid. They have been entered into the Guinness Book of World Records as “the world’s longest hair village.” The average hair length of the women in this village spans 6 ft. long! What do these women have in common? They all use fermented rice water to rinse their hair. According to them, this practice keeps their hair black, silky, shiny, and long. A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Chemists found that the use of rice water as a hair care regimen aided in the reduction of surface friction on hair follicles and helped to improve the overall elasticity of hair. This means that those lengthy detangling sessions could be a thing of the past … Goodbye, breakage!
So, how do we obtain gorgeous locks from rice water? Rice contains inositol, a carbohydrate. Thanks to a specialized imaging technique, we know that inositol can help repair damaged hair. This is because inositol not only remains on the exterior shaft of the hair but has the ability to gradually penetrate into each strand’s cortex (the middle), even after rinsing, offering continued hair protection. As a result, rinsing or washing your hair with rice water can improve manageability and, as a bonus, prevent any future damage. Besides, the amino acids, B vitamins, minerals, and vitamin E found in rice is thought to help strengthen the hair’s roots, add volume and lustre to the hair, and make hair silky smooth. With such amazing hair benefits as these, it’s no wonder the Yao women can obtain 6 feet of healthy, long, beautiful hair.
In addition, rice water is also believed to create flawless skin due to its cooling and soothing effect. Thanks to its moisturizing, antioxidant, and healing properties, it is also believed to improve overall circulation, prevent signs of aging (i.e., age spots and discoloration), soften and smooth skin, and ease inflammation. A study conducted at Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium found that taking rice water bath increased damaged skin’s ability to heal by as much as 20%.
There are two ways to make rice water, with heat (via boiling water) or without heat (sans boiling). My sister likes to boil her rice water, but I prefer the no-boil method (to keep as many of the rice’s nutrients in tact).
To make rice water, you will need:
- ½ cup uncooked rice (brown rice, white rice, basmati rice, long grain rice, short grain rice, jasmine rice, or whatever you have)
- I used organic brown rice.
- 2 to 3 cups water
- I used about 2 cups of water.
2. Place the rice in a container and cover with (distilled) water. I used a glass bottle with a flip-top lid to create a vaccum seal and to prevent contamination (i.e., from something inadvertently falling into the vessel). Let the rice soak for 1 to 2 days at room temperature. (The warmer the room, the faster the fermentation process will be). Occasionally swirl the water around to help the vitamins and minerals seep into the water. Over time, the water should slowly become cloudy, creating a nourishing rinse for your hair and skin.
3. Once 1 or 2 days have passed, strain the rice water out into a clean bowl and then transfer it into a spray bottle (for ease of use). Your rice water is now ready to use. It will smell slightly sour (i.e., reminiscent of yeast when making bread).
NOTE: You can always use unfermented rice water, however fermenting the rice water provides enhanced benefits. (i.e., traces of pitera, a substance produced during the fermentation process that is believed to promote cell regeneration and help skin stay young and beautiful). Also, keep in mind that fermented rice water is very potent. As a result, you may need to dilute it with a cup or two of water prior to use. I didn’t need to, but everyone’s hair is different. So, simply adjust the ratio according to your hair’s needs (e.g., dilute with more water if you find the rinse too drying for your hair).
How to Use Fermented Rice Water
After shampooing your mane, use a spray bottle to saturate your hair with rice water. Make sure your strands are coated from root to tip. Then, gently massage the rice water into your scalp, and cover your hair with a processing cap. Leave the rinse in for 20 to 30 minutes. Next, rinse your hair thoroughly with (distilled) water. Use this fermented rice treatment once a week as a final rinse. It should be the last step in your hair routine prior to moisturizing and styling your hair.
What I Noticed
- condition my hair
- soften my hair
- balance my scalp’s pH
- increase the shine of my hair
- strengthen my hair
- help my hair grow faster (and retain the length I grew)
After 4 weeks of using fermented rice water, my hair felt softer, stronger, and super silky. Also, I noticed that my strands seemed much smoother. Rice water really works! Want more detailed information about my experience? Watch the video below …