Hair-Care Tips

Can Rice Water *Really* Make Your Hair Grow? Here’s What Stylists Have To Say

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As far as hair growth solutions go, I'm willing to try anything to get a few more inches. So when my hairstylist suggested I douse my hair in my rice water—the cloudy substance that gets left behind after you wash uncooked rice—I was intrigued.

Rice water for hair has recently become a popular DIY treatment, with celebs like Cardi B and folks on TikTok trying it out for themselves, but it's hardly a new phenomenon. As the story goes, Japanese women in the Heian Period (794 to 1185 AD) would rinse their traditionally floor-length hair with rice water to help keep it healthy, and the women in  China's Yao community have become known for washing their Rapunzel-length manes with the starchy solution.

Considering rice water treatments have been used for centuries, it's clear that this is far more than just your standard TikTok trend. But how does it work, and how can you try it yourself? We tapped experts in the industry to find out.

Rice water benefits

1. Strengthens and hydrates strands

According to Neda Mehr, MD, a California-based functional dermatologist specializing in hair, rice water can have a legitimate impact on your hair health. The starchy liquid is chock-full of amino acids, antioxidants, and B and E vitamins. Together, these form a potent elixir that can naturally help hydrate your hair, increase its strength and improve its texture, says Mehr.

Specifically, vitamin B helps smooth out your hair, while vitamin E provides hydration and shine. "Between B vitamins, E vitamins, amino acids, and minerals, rice water could be great," says Dr. Mehr.

2. Potentially stimulate hair growth

Rice water may also be able to help with hair growth. It contains a mineral called inositol, which Dr. Mehr says can lower your levels of DHT, the hormone believed to be associated with hair loss. So, in theory, reducing DHT levels can help promote growth, but it's worth noting that this is still being studied.

One thing we know for sure? "Inositol can penetrate the hair follicle and repair damage from the inside out," says Trey Gillen, hairstylist and artistic director for Sachajuan. So even if it may not be making your hair longer (again, we can't say with 100 percent certainty that that's the case), it's certainly making it stronger.

How to prepare rice water:

1. Choose your rice

While it doesn't matter what rice you select (both brown and white should work just fine), Gillen suggests using an organic grain to get the best results.

2. Rinse

Toss the rice into a bowl or colander, and rinse it with water to remove any dirt or unwanted particles on the surface of the grains. Then, drain out the water.

3. Add water

Once the rice is clean, add water back into the bowl. For every one cup of rice, add one and a half cups of water. Stir until the water becomes cloudy.

5. Strain and store

Strain the rice water into a mason jar or lidded container. Seal it shut and leave it on your counter for eight to 10 hours. According to Gillen, this is the most important step because "the fermentation brings out all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that make the rice water work."

How to use rice water for hair 

After the fermentation process is complete, you can apply the rice water with a spray bottle or let your hair soak in a bowl of the solution for five to 20 minutes.

Remember to wash your hair before using rice water (it works best on clean hair), and always rinse thoroughly after your treatment.

Best rice water for hair products

If you don't have the time (or the patience) to make rice water yourself, below are some hairstylist-approved products with hair-nourishing rice protein benefits.

Ouai spray
OUAI Wave Spray — $28.00

For the times when you want to give your hair some volume and a bit more curl definition, this spray has got you covered. Its formula is 100 percent salt-free, making it “safe against color-treated or keratin-treated hair,” says Gillen. Plus, the mix of rice protein and coconut water ups your hair’s ability to retain moisture while giving it a high shine.

shu uemura
Shu Izumi Tonic Hair Treatment — $58.00

If your hair is damaged and could use a bit of smoothing, this Shu Izumi Tonic Hair Treatment can help. It contains Japanese-sourced rice water to help halt breakage and increase body, while ceramides lock in your moisture. All in all, the solution is lightweight and won’t weigh down your strands.

Kitsch Pro Rice Water Protein Strengthening Shampoo Bar — $14.00

This shampoo saves you the hassle of creating your own rice water concoction by packing several of the benefits into one bar. Made with a combo of ingredients including rice water, green tea and lavender, it balances your hair’s pH and keeps it soft.

Briogeo rice water treatment
Briogeo Rice Water protein + Moisture Strengthening Treatment — $42.00

Part of what makes this treatment stand out is its high dose of rice protein mixed with several other natural ingredients that nourish and strengthen your hair from root to tip. This includes rosehip oil (for hydration), algae extract (for added protection), and B-vitamins (for extra strength and thickness). After shampooing, apply treatment and let sit for 10 minutes before rinsing to get max results.

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Experts Referenced
Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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