The leftover water after cooking rice could be the secret to great hair

Could the answer to your hair breakage be sitting in your cupboard right now? We look into whether rice water can help you.

We bet you never thought to save the starchy water left over from your rice for beauty purposes. And fair enough, thick, cloudy water doesn’t exactly scream luxe, shiny hair.

However, it’s something women in Japan and Southeast Asia have been doing for centuries. In fact, the Red Yao women in the small village of Huangluo in China are known to use rice water to keep their hair long. Their floor length hair is strong and shiny, and remains black even into older age.

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So – why is rice water seemingly keeping their hair in such strong condition?

Speaking to Byrdie, certified trichologist (expert in hair loss) Dr. Joshua Zeichner explains that rice water contains vitamins, amino acids and other minerals (zinc, magnesium and B and C Vitamins).

He says that the starch from rice water can strengthen the hair, the vitamins can help improve scalp health and its hydrating qualities help to boost shine. These processes can prevent breakage, promote hair growth and keep your locks in good condition.

The Red Yao women’s traditions are slowly making their way onto the internet and have been an inspiration for inquisitive ladies across the world.

Hair-fluencer, and Instagrammer Lilly Van Brooklyn has absolutely amazing hair, and she credits rice water as one of the key changes she made when trying to make her hair stronger.

She explains in this Reel that she snipped off her dead ends, started doing oil masks, switched away from sulfate shampoo and conditioner and added rice water to her routine to get her voluminous blonde locks.

How to make rice water

  1. Grab a handful (or so) of rice and give it a quick rinse.
  2. Strain the rice and then place it in a large mason jar or other mid-size vessel. Pyrex measuring jugs also work well.
  3. Fill with water, cover and allow the rice to sit for up to a day to ferment and let the vitamins and minerals from the rice seep into the water.
  4. You can keep it in the fridge for up to a week.

While there is some debate about whether or not you need to boil the water, and if it’s worth adding other types of fruits/mint for the smell – this is the most basic and affordable way to do it.

How to add rice water to your hair care routine

  • 1st option: Douse your hair in the rice water mixture and leave it sitting on your hair for around 30 minutes similarly to how you would for a mask.
  • 2nd option: Complete your normal shampoo method. Once rinsed out, douse hair in rice water and let to sit for 5-10 minutes while you do other parts of your shower routine. Condition as normal and rinse everything out, giving your scalp a nice massage as you do so!

If you wash your hair frequently, there’s no need to run a rice water treatment every time. It’s best to start off with once or twice a week and just keeping tabs on how your mane is reacting to it.

While it’s still early days, this writer has already begun to use rice water in her hair, and is finding the result to be incredibly smooth, thick and strong strands that have been a lot more manageable and less notty.

Would you give it a try?