How to Use Rice Water for Your Hair

You can use rice water for hair that's smoother and stronger. Here's how!

File this one under “waste not, want not.” Using rice water for hair is gaining traction in beauty DIY circles, and for good reason. Who would have thought that the cloudy-looking liquid left in the rice cooker could have fortifying hair properties?

Scoop it up from the stovetop (after you’ve made a rice dish for dinner, of course) and store it for the shower—we’re not even kidding. Here’s why it’s worth a try!

How does rice water help your hair?

The vitamins and minerals in rice include amino acids, Vitamins B and E, and other minerals and antioxidants. No research has proven that rice water is the miracle hair milk some have claimed, but it is believed that the vitamin-rich grains infuse the water with replenishing nutrients that can help revitalize ho-hum hair. It seems rice water can help promote faster hair growth, a smoother, shinier texture and stronger elasticity, meaning less breakage.

Be sure you’re also working these 10 foods into your diet; they’re loaded with benefits to promote healthy hair.

What is the best rice water treatment?

It depends. There are rice water devotees who swear by the soaking method (uncooked rice), those who claim that boiled rice water is the most nutrient-rich and those who say they see better long-term benefits from rice water that has begun to ferment. I had neither the time nor the willingness to wait for rice water to sour on my kitchen counter, so I opted for boiled rice water.

Psst! If your curiosity is piqued but you don’t have the time to make rice water yourself, check out this Rice Water Leave-In Conditioner.

How to Make a Rice Water Hair Treatment

What you will need:

  • Uncooked rice (for testing purposes, we used Uncle Ben’s)
  • Dispenser bottle (or a lidded food storage container) to hold rice water for later use

Step 1: Cook rice

Prepare two servings of rice according to package directions, except you’ll want to double the amount of water required. (Skip any added ingredients like salt or oil, too.) Once the water is boiling, add the appropriate measurement of rice.

Step 2: Collect and store rice water

Place a small bowl underneath your strainer. Drain cooked rice into a strainer. Remove and set aside. Pour reserved rice water liquid into a separate container.

Step 3: Wash hair with rice water

Use your normal shampoo. Then, you can either use your normal conditioner and finish with rice water, or try the rice water in lieu of conditioner. (Start by using it once a week to see how your hair responds.) Pour a generous amount of rice water onto your hair and massage it into the scalp.

How long do I leave rice water in my hair?

You can leave it in your hair for up to 20 minutes, though this length of time is not required to receive rice water benefits. Let’s be honest—when you’re in a hurry to rush out the door, 4 or 5 minutes is more realistic. (That’s how I tested it!)

While I didn’t notice any detangling benefits, my hair was noticeably smoother and shinier after a post-rice-water blowout. Not bad for a nearly free DIY beauty treatment!

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Rebecca Walden
Rebecca C. Walden is a freelance writer with Deep South roots - an Alabama native now living in north Texas. Her writing has appeared in Reader's Digest, the Huffington Post, Southern Living, and many other regional publications, focusing on everything from health and wellness to parenting, family, and women's interests. Walden also provides freelance writing to corporate clients in finance, government, healthcare, and higher education. Check out her latest work @rebeccacwalden.com.