Females in China, Japan & Southeast Asia have been using rice water for hair treatment since ancient times. But is rice water really good for hair?
Read on here to find out the benefits of using rice water as hair treatment and whether there is any scientific research to substantiate the claimed results.
Benefits Of Rice Water For Hair
Rice grains are rich source of starch – 75 to 80% and also contain the following vitamins & minerals:
(i) Amino acids
(ii) B vitamins
(iii) Vitamin E
The starchy water that is left behind after soaking or cooking rice is known as rice water. When the soaked or boiled rice water is strained, many of the above minerals & vitamins that are contained in rice remain in the starchy water left behind after straining.
Using Rice Water For Hair
As per the abstracts of the papers published in the Journal of Cosmetic Chemists (SCCJ), women in the Heian period (794 to 1185 CE) in Japan had long hair up to floor-length because they used rice water to wash their hair. (Source)
An other example to support the above anecdote is that of Yao females living in a village known as Huangluo in South-West China. They are famous for having hair that averages 1.4 meters long. They wash their hair with rice water.
Besides its hard to believe length, the Yao women’s hair is also well known for retaining its color longer, because their hair do not start to turn gray hair until they reach 80s. The reason for long & stronger hair is again due to bathing their hair with rice water.
Rice Water Hair Benefits
The users of rice water for hair claim that it
(i) helps hair become stronger
(ii) makes hair grow long
(iii) provides shine to hair
(iv) detangles the hair
(iv) makes hair look smoother
And What Does Research Says?
As the people’s awareness about benefits of using rice water for hair is increasing, the anecdotal evidences are also growing. But are the benefits scientifically validated?
If we study the abstracts of papers published in the Journal of Cosmetic Chemists (SCCJ), it seems so. The researchers reported that the rice water could lessen surface friction & improve hair elasticity. However, the study’s results were derived empirically based on historical instances. (Source)
Elsewhere, a study named “Development of Hair-Care Products from Rice Water” was conducted by a Japanese research facility. A special imaging technique was used to visualize the strengthening power of inositol (inositol is an element contained in rice water) on hair. It was observed that signals emanating from chemical bonds pertaining to inositol were stronger nearer to the hair surface, but diminished toward the hair center – proving that inositol go through into the hair slowly. Moreover, it was shown that inositol remains inside the hair, letting its beautifying & protective properties to stay even after rinsing.
But, a point to be noted here is that this research was carried on & published directly by a private facility that possibly could have commercial interests.
Further research is required to validate the anecdotal evidences about the rice water benefits for hair.
How To Make Rice Water?
Read on here for some easy ways to make rice water:
Soaking is the fastest method to make rice water.
(i) Take half a cup of uncooked rice. Rinse thoroughly & then put the rice in a glass bowl.
(ii) Pour two – 3 cups of water over the rice, leaving it to soak for about thirty minutes.
(iii) Strain the rice water into a clean glass bowl.
(ii) Fermented Rice Water vs. Plain Rice Water
Is fermented rice water more beneficial for hair than more plain rice water?
A 2012 study reported that fermented substances contain a greater amount of antioxidants. Antioxidants can prevent hair & skin cell damage, which explains why the fermented substances are a common ingredients in many beauty products. (Source)
How To Make Fermented Rice Water For Hair?
The step numbers 1 to 2 are same as that of the soaking method given above. After following these 2 steps, allow the rice water to stand at room temperature for two days, letting it ferment. Strain the rice water into a clean glass bowl – what you get is fermented rice water.
This is the 3rd way to prepare rice water by boiling the rice.
Cover half a cup of rice with twice the amount of water that is typically used for cooking. Cook the rice as usual in boiling water & then strain the rice water into a clean glass bowl.
How To Use Rice Water For Hair?
You can use rice water as a hair conditioner:
(i) Wash your hair as usual with shampoo.
(ii) Rinse your hair completely with water.
(iii) Pour rice water onto your hair.
(iv) Massage your hair & scalp gently with rice water.
(v) Wait for about 20 minutes & then rinse your hair once more using plain water.
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