The mestiza muse

Rice Water Rinse

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Verna Meachum

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Disclaimer: I want to make myself clear by saying this is all about options. There are many ways to grow your hair, many DIY recipes, treatments, etc. Again, this is all about options and one that you can add to your hair library if you wish.

I took this post right from my IG page so for those who are new to the rice rinse craze, I hope you find this helpful.

Most people will wash their rice before cooking and will discard the milky water. However, now people are taking this and putting it to work on their skin and hair.

The scientific research on this topic is quite limited but women in Asia have been using this method for centuries and we all know that modern technology is only just catching up to what Africans and Asians have known since the beginning of time.

Key Component: Inositol

There has only been one study conducted on this method. It focused solely on a very small sample size and found a casual relationship between beauty methods (Yu-Su-Ru) and hair length. It was a retrospective study and did not account for genetic/ regional disparity. It also commented on the difficulty and side effects of using rice water alone, as it tends to promote flaking (possible from the high starch content). However, it did note that extracts from the rice water may be useful when combined with other products and techniques. According to the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, a research study was done on the effectiveness of rice water rinse. They have come to the conclusion that extracts from rice water were EFFECTIVE in maintaining hair health.

The key component of rice water, Inositol, is found in almost all plant and animal foods. Inositol is a carbohydrate that repairs damaged hair. It is able to stay in the hair shaft even after rinsing and shampooing your hair (See photo slide). This means that it will continue to act as a shield and protect your hair after the hair has been washed. It has been proven to improve the elasticity of hair and reduce friction. There is no set daily requirement and it is used supplementally to treat conditions such as PCOS and Neurological disorders. In these cases a surge of hair growth is often secondary to the treatment of the initial condition and restoration of health.

Make sure to use organic white rice. It’s also best to rinse the rice before adding water to remove any dust or dirt. Brown rice has a protein content of about 2.6/100g. Of these proteins it contains the highest amount of the Amino Acid Cystine which is a crucial part of hair, when compared to other tubers. However this molecule is too large to penetrate the hair shaft.


  • Strengthened hair roots

  • Amino acids improved

  • Manageability

  • Shine

  • Volume

  • Penetrates damaged hair to repair it from the inside improved elasticity

  • Decreased surface tension

  • Growth

  • Improves overall condition of hair

  • Protects hair from future damage

  • Stimulates blood flow to the scalp, nourishing hair follicles

There are 3 Popular Ways to Prepare:

All three preparation methods are beneficial. It’s best to use after shampooing your hair and before applying conditioner or deep conditioner.

1. The soak method: This method’s pH is around 5.5 which is slightly higher than your hair’s pH. To begin, place rice in a jar, cover completely with water and let it soak for approx. 30 to 40 minutes. To help release the nutrients, swirl it around a few times. What you want to look for is cloudy water. After allowing it to set awhile, swirl it around to check for the cloudiness. Then strain the water out into a separate bowl.

2. Fermented goods have been shown to have a beneficial effect on the body such as Kefir and Kombucha. Making fermented products at home can be tricky as it is very easy for them to become contaminated with other harmful bacteria and there is no real way to tell. Rich in antioxidants, pitera (promotes cell regeneration & keeps hair healthy & occurs during the fermentation process), minerals and vitamins. It helps to lower the pH, which is similar to our hair’s pH and is slightly acidic, which means it restores the pH balance of your hair. A lower pH will help smooth down the hair’s cuticles. I love this method for all the reasons given.

⚠️Caution: I would not recommend this particular method for immunocompromised patients, lactating mothers and people with scalp conditions such as yeast or fungal infections. Fermented rice can be very potent so you may need to dilute it with water until it’s slightly cloudy. You can store it in a jar/container at room temperature for approx. 24-48 hrs, depending on how warm it is. If the room is a bit warm, it will speed up the fermentation process. To decrease the fermentation time, leave the rice sitting in the water and strain once it has fermented.

3. If you are not keen to the sour smell of fermented rice, then try the boil method. I found this method to be my “go to” because it’s quick and easy. Due to the high temperature of boiling, it helps to extract the high concentration of nutrients from the rice.

Side note: If your hair is more on the protein sensitive side I would suggest diluting it with plain water before applying it to your hair because it’s very concentrated or use the soak method with added diluted water as well. I make sure I use more than enough water to cover the rice so the water doesn’t boil all out. Once done, the rice water will be concentrated and it’ll have a slight creamy texture to it. Once cooled this can be combined with essential oils such as tea tree, eucalyptus, peppermint (love this one), and lavender which have antifungal and antibacterial properties.

You can store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to a week. Make sure to shake it well before each use. This can be left on the hair for up to an hour but then should be washed/rinsed out thoroughly to prevent any adverse effects from the high sugar content. For beginners, start with 5-10 mins. then increase time as needed.

Conclusion: I wouldn’t suggest using the rinse for more than once a week. What I love about the rice water rinse is that it works, it’s affordable, it’s pretty darn easy, and I haven’t had to use any separate protein treatment. I used Olaplex once while trying it, but it didn’t make any noticeable difference.

My hair feels stronger, has shine after every use, and my hair has grown…has it grown faster than any other method like scalp massages? Not really. I think it’s about the same amount of time.

Why is rice water a game changer?

If you search the Internet for rice water, you will find many blogs and videos detailing how this treatment has strengthened and promoted hair growth however, the reasons for this phenomena are still widely unexplained.

In terms of nutritional value, rice is considered a high source of carbohydrates, mainly starch and is the staple for many countries in Asia and Africa. Due to its abundance and availability, it has also found many alternative uses apart from the nutrition and sustenance.

Even though there are many varieties of rice, is thought that wild rice is the most nutritionally beneficial because the germ or the outermost casing of the rice grain has not been removed and thus contains most of the vitamins and minerals that make it a great food source.

In America, the most commonly bought rice is Long grain rice and will be using this to base our study on throughout this blog.

When parboiled the rice releases most of it carbohydrates in the form of starch which is what turns the water white and is often dispelled with any other dust or debris which may have coated the rice during transport and production. This is not what should be used for a rice water treatment.

When this water with the extra starch has been rinsed as part of the first clean, the water that is then used to boil the rice is what is used for the treatment.

However, in most cases, people will only add the required amount of water which will evaporate during the cooking process, leaving no water left behind. If you plan on using a rice water treatment it is best to add more water than necessary to your cooking pot and drain off the excess before allowing the rice to cook as usual. Always allow it to cool thoroughly before use!

Some people go the extra step by fermenting this water however as stated in a previous blog this can come with a whole host of unknowns so for those who don’t want to risk anything it’s best to just use the water fresh.

What does it contain?

The most important component is Inositol which is actually a carbohydrate, and rice as a whole contains very little protein. So then how can it be used as a protein treatment?

Well the inositol works to aid the body and transport other key nutrients while also reducing fat stores in the liver. In regards to the hair it will prevent or reverse an dry, itchy scalp and reduce hair fall.

Even though only a small amount of rice is protein (around 2-3%) most of these proteins are used in the metabolic and cell structure processes, so you will get some benefit although it can be questionable.

Protein in hair

The hair is made up of a protein called keratin which is largely made up of the amino acids cystine and cysteine which have a sulfur double bond and is responsible for the tensile strength of the hair.

Healthy hair is very elastic and can be reshaped when wet to dry without any damage. It also has a natural luster and shine to it as the cuticle is smooth so nutrients can be locked inside.

Overtime the cuticle can become damaged through normal wear and tear, coloring, heat damage and excessive mechanical damage from brushing and combing.

The aim of the protein treatment is to repair gaps in the hair structure however if these chemical bonds are broken there is no way to reverse this damage. A protein treatment is a filler and is only temporary so the results are short lived and the treatment has to be repeated several times for that effect to be maintained.

Companies usually used a hydrolyzed protein of vegetable origin as the basis of these treatments. Proteins are large compounds which are too big to penetrate the hair’s cuticle in its natural state. So by boiling the protein in a strong acid it is broken down into smaller amino acids which are able to be freely travel into the hair shaft and plug in any gaps where damage has occurred.

This is why protein treatments at home using substances such as egg and mayonnaise are not as useful because the proteins will not be able to penetrate your hair but rather form a bond around the outside giving a similar but shorter lived effect. (Natural Haven Bloom)

Adjusting for low porosity hair

Low porosity hair means that the cuticle of the hair does not easily lift or lay flat, thus making it difficult for nutrients to penetrate the hair shaft. You can tell if your hair is low porosity by using your fingers and thumb to rub a strand of hair going from the tip up to the roots, if it feels rough the cuticles are raised and your hair is more likely to be high porosity, meaning that the cuticles are lifted and will allow transmission in and out. If water beads sit on top of your hair when wet, that’s a big indicator that your hair more than likely has low porosity hair.

If your hair is LP you will need to try and lift the cuticle, this can be done using a shampoo as the aim is to clean the hair and that opens the cuticle due to the pH of the product or you could also use heat. You can do the treatment and use a shower cap covered with a towel to help open the cuticle of your hair or a steamer.

Replacing water in your steamer with the rice treatment may cause blockages due to the high starch content so it’s best to apply the treatment to your hair first and then steam separately using pure water (trust me, I’ve tried this).

Check out my IGTV to see how the Yao women make fermented rice water. It’s absolutely fascinating to see that they still make the rinse til this day.


1. Inamasu, S., Ikuyama, R., Fujisaki, Y. and Sugimoto, K.-I. (2010), Abstracts: The effect of rinse water obtained from the washing of rice (YU-SU-RU) as a hair treatment. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 32: 392–393

Comments +

  1. Ashley Teuscher says:

    I did a rice water rinse for my first time and my hair felt super straw-like afterwards. Is that normal? I did a deep conditioning treatment after and it helped bring back a softer feel but I’m nervous to try again because of the feeling my hair had after

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