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Rice Water For Hair: Everything You Need To Know

Wondering how to use rice water for hair? We’re breaking down everything you need to know about the hair treatment plus testing out both DIY and salon-quality formulas.

For years, we’ve been sharing (and myth-busting) some of the most popular ways to achieve longer hair with our readers. If you’re on a journey to grow your hair longer, you’ve likely tried every ingredient possible, from castor oil to coconut oil. However, there is one ingredient that many women swear by for helping them achieve waist-length strands: rice water. 

Because of Tik Tok, a whole new wave of long hair hopefuls have been testing out the benefits of rice water for hair—but does this ancient hair rinse actually work? We’re breaking down everything you need to know about using rice water for hair growth, including the history, potential benefits, and how I incorporated rice water into my hair routine. We’re even sharing a new rice water-infused luxury hair treatment that promises stronger, silkier hair. 

Good hair day by @helenamatic.

What is rice water?

Rice water is the milky liquid you’re left with after soaking and rinsing grains of rice. While it is customary in many countries to rinse your rice and dispose of the water, people in Japan have been saving the rice water and using it on their hair for centuries. Researchers have found evidence of Japanese women using rice water on their hair as far back as 794 A.D.

The court ladies of the Heian period had floor-length hair and are said to have combed their hair using rice water every day. They credited their great lengths to the rice water, increasing their hair elasticity.

Further research has found that inositol, a compound found in rice water, has the ability to gradually permeate the hair shaft, allowing the beautifying effects of rice water to remain in your hair long after you’ve rinsed the rice water out. Researchers say this can help the hair look and feel healthier for a longer time. 

In addition, rice bran extract contains antioxidants like vitamin E, oryzanol, and ferulic acid, which can protect your mane from free radicals that cause hair damage

Good hair day by @_merakiforhair.

Does rice water really grow hair? 

Now that you know about the potential benefits of rice water for hair, you may be considering trying the historic hair treatment. While there is some research that points to rice water aiding in hair growth or the reduction of hair breakage, there isn’t a ton of evidence yet to prove the benefits of this method. Although all of this research sounds promising, the information is relatively new, and the scientific community is still mostly undecided on whether or not rice water can actually help your hair grow longer. While there is no definitive answer as to whether or not rice water can help your hair grow longer, you can apply it to your mane if you’d like to channel your inner Heian period court lady.

Good hair day by @audriestorme.

Can you leave rice water in your hair?

After your hair is freshly washed, apply rice water throughout your hair from root to rip. Allow it to soak in for five to 20 minutes before thoroughly rinsing. Once it's rinsed, you can apply conditioner. 

Detox Hair Cleansing Cream Shampoo

last chance


Detox Hair Cleansing Cream Shampoo

A must-have clarifying cream shampoo that removes buildup and residue.

Old price New price $22.50

How often can I use rice water on my hair?

If you’re looking to test out the benefits of rice water for hair, you can apply it to your mane right after your shampoo session—whether that’s once or multiple times per week. To avoid build-up on the hair and scalp, however, we recommend using a clarifying shampoo like Redken Detox Hair Cleansing Cream Shampoo once a week. 

Good hair day by @thelma_smit_hairstyling.

Does rice water go bad?

Because rice water is all-natural and contains no preservatives to keep it from going bad, it should be used within five to seven days of making it. Be sure to store it in the refrigerator between uses to keep it from going bad quickly. 

Good hair day by @shelbyweatherholtzhair.

What happens if you leave rice water in your hair overnight?

While letting rice water sit on your hair allows your strands to soak up all of the benefits, you should be sure to rinse it out after no more than 20 minutes. Leaving it on for too long may cause the water to harden on your hair, which can leave strands dry and brittle

Good hair day by @hairby_gloria.

DIY Rice Water Hair Routine

While my hair is already pretty long (it reaches my lower back when dry), I decided to put rice water to the test for its supposed damage-preventing benefits. Since I heat style my hair and touch up my blonde hue every few months, I can use all the damage protection I can get. 

If you’re wondering how to make rice water for hair, this is how I did it. I gathered half a cup of uncooked rice (any kind of rice will work), warm water, and a mixing bowl. I placed the uncooked rice in a bowl and poured in two cups of warm water. While I quickly washed my hair, I allowed the rice to soak in the water for 30 minutes before straining the rice out. Then, I poured the rice into a spray bottle before spraying it throughout my strands and massaging it through my lengths and roots to ensure it was distributed evenly. 

I let the rice water sit in my hair for 10 minutes before rinsing and applying conditioner. While I admittedly didn’t notice a ton of benefits from my first rice water treatment, my hair felt extremely soft and healthy. If you’re looking to test out rice water for hair growth, try following this routine a few days per week. 

Izumi Tonic Strengthening Energizing Water


Shu Uemura

Izumi Tonic Strengthening Energizing Water

A strengthening, anti-breakage hair treatment with rice water

Old price New price $58.00
5 fl oz

How I Use Shu Uemura Art Of Hair Izumi Tonic Strengthening Energizing Water In My Hair Routine

While the DIY projects are fun, you’re never really sure what you’re going to get. If I'm going to dedicate time to something in my already busy routine, I want to be sure that I'm going to get results—which is why I rely on salon-quality products!

So, when I heard about Shu Uemura Art Of Hair’s Izumi Tonic Strengthening Energizing Water, I jumped at the chance to try it. I mean, the benefits of rice water for hair in a salon-quality product? Sign me up. 

Inspired by the Japanese beauty tradition of using rice water to strengthen hair, this hair water treatment claims to leave hair 10 times stronger after one use*. Made with Japanese-sourced rice water and ceramide, this formula provides anti-breakage protection while leaving your strands smooth, silky, and shiny. After 28 days, hair looks and feels noticeably healthier. 

*instrumental test: non conditioning shampoo + izumi tonic vs. non conditioning shampoo only.

As soon as I received this product in the mail, I instantly swapped it with my go-to leave-in treatment so I could put it to the test. After shampooing and conditioning, I stepped out of the shower and used a hair towel to remove any excess water from my hair. Then, it was time to apply Izumi Tonic Strengthening Energizing Water. I applied a few spritzes throughout my hair from root to tip. I gently massaged the formula into my hair and let my hair air dry as I normally would.

After one use, my mane felt touchably thicker (another benefit of this hair treatment is added body and thicker-looking hair) and stronger. I loved the formula so much that I continued to use it throughout the week after every shampoo and conditioner session. I can say with certainty that I'll continue to use the Shu Uemura Art Of Hair Izumi Tonic Strengthening Energizing Water until I reach the 28 day mark. Not only does my color-treated hair feel stronger, but it looks it, too. While I had fun trying the DIY rice water for hair, you can’t beat this easy-to-use, salon-approved formula—and the results it offers!

Searching for more expert hair tips? Use our salon locator to book an appointment at a salon near you.

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