Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve all heard all about the news hair growth trend. Rice water is the most recent up and coming treatment that has naturals buzzing in anticipation. Does it work? Is it the end all cure for problems such as split ends, elasticity and most importantly, growth? Since there has been little to no scientific studies on the subject, you have to really look at the basics and you’ll see why, in theory, this treatment can be beneficial.
As we all know, our hair needs nutrients and vitamins to thrive and prosper. What’s good for the inside of your body can only do wonders for the external. White rice is jam packed with the nourishment that our bodies crave and our hair is absolutely no different. Qualities such as shine, elasticity and strength come from properties such as proteins, vitamins and minerals. So why wouldn’t we want to extract all of that nourishing greatness for our hair? Especially when it's so cheap, easily accessible and it’s present in 99% of all of our homes.
Making the decision to add a rice water treatment to your routine can be intimidating but it really is just like any other choice you make about your hair. It comes with trial and error. Only your personal experience will make this extra step worth while. With this blog, we hope to provide you with all of the necessary information so you can make an educated decision!
The tradition of using rice water for hair growth and manageability can date all the way back to the Heian Period in Japan (794 to 1185 AD). The women of this period would use a rice water mixture referred to as “Yu-Su-Ru” which can be translated to “rinse water” The women of this period would use water from rinsed rice and dip their floor-length hair into the bowls of rinsed rice water.
Today the tradition is still kept alive within the Huangluo Village, in Guangxi Province, in southern China. The Yao women from this province continue to use rice water as a way to maintain their healthy, thick manes. These women use slightly fermented rice water (fermentation is the natural process of breaking down sugars to create ethyl alcohol) and dip their hair into bowls full of the rice water. As tradition states, a citrus- like fruits called pomelo (similar to grapefruit). Many of the women choose to protect their hair from wind and other harsh conditions by braiding or twisting their hair. The Yao women also use these styles so they do not have to manipulate it for longer periods of time. Many who have researched the Yao women find the similarities in hair care as the natural hair community. This is another reason why natural textured people have gravitated towards this ancient, natural routine.
Since the western discovery of this ancient secret process, everyone has been trying to get their hands on what could be the ultimate key to unlocking the mysterious door of hair growth. Just like any other hair care routine step, you have to know if it works for you. While all hair needs the same amount of nourishment, the way in which your hair absorbs it and uses it, is completely different from the Yao women, your mother or even your children. So just like everything else, you’ll have to see for yourself!
How to Make Rice Water for Natural Hair
So let's get down to the nitty gritty. Most likely you’re ready to take the plunge and try it out. Here are some basic steps to get your rice water treatment ready. Since this treatment has been adapted, there have been many ways that people have prepared and applied the treatment that vary from how the traditional methods are done.
Step 1: Prepare Rice (Rinsing Method)
- The first thing you want to do is get 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of water.
- First rinse: Rinse rice in water, rubbing together in between your hands for about 5-10 minutes.
- Discard first rinse water and add a fresh 2 cups to your rice.
- Transfer mixture into an airtight container (mason jar, tupperware bowl, etc.)
- Before closing, add an essential oil such as lavender, lemongrass or sweet orange.
- You can also add fresh citrus peel from lemons, oranges or grapefruit
- Let rice slightly ferment for 12-48 hours. You will know it is ready when you see small bubbles forming at the top
Pro-Tip: Try to only use long-grain white rice. Brown rice is incredibly rich in protein and can aid in protein overload.
Step 1: Prepare Rice (Boiling Method)
- Boil 1 cup of rice in 2 cups of water, along with orange or lemon peels.
- Let boil for about 10-15 minutes
- Let cool to room temperature.
- Transfer to an airtight container and let sit for 12-48 hours
- Rice will slightly ferment.
Letting rice sit over night is the key to releasing the plethora of benefits. While rice is sitting, it is beginning to ferment. During this process, rice begins to produce ‘pitera’ which is known to be rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and organic acids.
Along with this concentration of these healthy byproducts, fermented rice water becomes acidic which helps restore and balance the pH of your hair. Plain rice water is high in pH but once it’s fermented, it balances the pH levels, which also keeps your hair protected against damage. Rice water combats against those annoying split ends. Split ends usually happen when the hair’s structure is weakened and it begins to split from itself. The vitamins in rice water help the proteins rebuild a stronger structured hair strand.
Step 2: Applying to the hair (Wash Day)
- Transfer rice water to a spray bottle
- Divide hair into sections
- Fully saturate each section with rice water, focusing on your roots and ends.
- During this time, detangle the hair with a wide toothed comb or a detangling brush.
- Cover the hair with a plastic cap and let sit for about 20-40 minutes.
- Do not let rice water sit on the hair unnecessarily long! You can experience protein overload!
- Rinse rice water form your hair and continue with your regular wash day routine
When you are going to wash out your treatment, you want to use a shampoo and conditioner that will fully eliminate the smell of the fermented rice water. Along with a fresh smell, you need a shampoo and conditioner that is going to introduce intense moisture to the hair. Being that rice has lots of needed protein, you want to be sure you are not overloading. A moisturizing shampoo and conditioner will ensure that the protein does not dry out the hair and leave it brittle. Our Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner are great options to follow up your rice treatment. The fresh fruity scent will eliminate any smelly residue and the kiwi extract present in both products help smooth and hydrate the hair shaft.
The first piece of advice is that, no matter what you are doing to accelerate hair growth, low manipulation is key! The best way to know if your rice water treatment worked is to let it work! We advise that the styling you do after this treatment is something that is quick, low manipulation and moisture retaining. Meaning a protective style such as cornrows, box braids or a crochet style. This will allow you to really measure the results. You can measure how much breakage has actually been reduced, how much growth was retained and how easy the hair is to detangle afterwards. Our AvoKiwi Protective Styling 6-Step Recipe can help you with this step! Not only does it already contain our Hydrating Shampoo and Hydrating conditioner, it also includes our Hydrating Moisturizer. This aids in manageability which will help decrease breakage even more!
An added benefit to doing this before a protective style is that most people who have tried this treatment recommend doing this treatment every two to four weeks. Most times, this is the length that most naturals keep their protective styles installed.
Another word of advice is to pay attention to your hair. Before you apply the treatment to your hair, assess whether your hair will have an adverse reaction to it. Be sure that you test a section of your hair to see if you are a protein sensitive individual. In fermented rice water, there's plenty of selenium, magnesium, folic acids, vitamins B1 through B6, niacins, and vitamin K. Along with all of these goodies, protein is present in high levels so you want to be careful that you do not add any damage you’ll have to reverse.
What Results Should I See Using Rice Water?
The real question is, after all of this work, will you actually see any results? Well that answer will vary depending on a couple of factors. How much did you manipulate your hair in between treatments? How did you maintain your moisture level? Did you properly detangle your hair when you took it down?
Many people who have tried this treatment see results within a four week period. Natural hair generally grows, given a strong hair care regimen, 1/2 inch per month. We usually have difficulty seeing this progress because length retention becomes more difficult, the kinkier your curl texture. However, rice treatments promote easier manageability, so taking down a style or detangling will produce less breakage. Less breakage leads to more length retention and this will be a more accurate measure of if your hair grew significantly. This is why it is important to know your hair before trying any treatments. Knowing how your hair grows generally will give you a number to compare the aftermath to.
Now, the biggest result we’re all striving for is elasticity! Yes, you may think that growth is the key result but the real star of the show is elasticity. This refers to how your hair bounces back when manipulated. We always like to preach that growth is not the number one determining factor for healthy hair. It is a byproduct of it. Hair that is structurally strong will give your hair the foundation it needs to do everything you ask it to. Many naturals that have tried rice water say the number one result they notice is their hair feels stronger. An indicator of elasticity is shrinkage! Natural hair that is healthy and strong will spring back into its natural form when stretched. The key knowing healthy shrinkage is when you stretch the lock and there is no breakage left in your hand. Elasticity also shows in your amount of split ends. They will reduce when your hair becomes stronger down the length of itself.
Just Try It!
All naturals lift an eyebrow when we hear there is another “magic” growth treatment. We spend so much time, money and frustration on trying products that just don’t help our hair journeys. The best thing about a new trend like rice water is it’s natural! Rice is a part of the majority of our diets and is jam packed with properties our bodies crave. So naturally, our hair will crave it too!
Being that rice water has no chemicals or toxic ingredients, it is virtually harmless to add to the hair. If you do not see the result you’d like, there is not a repairing process (unless you experienced any protein overload) because of heat or chemical damage. This can be washed out the hair as soon as it is applied if you end up hating the smell or the feeling. The best thing you can do is add a natural step to your hair care routine that will eliminate any toxic ingredients. NaturAll encourages all of our Naturallistas to try, with caution, to find any natural remedy to enhance their crown.