What to Know About Rice Water for Hair

Medically Reviewed by Mahammad Juber, MD on August 10, 2022
3 min read

Rice water has been used for centuries in Asian cultures as a beauty treatment. Lately, it's been in the spotlight on social media as beauty influencers tout it as a miracle cure for growing long, healthy hair. However, does it really help your hair grow longer, or is that just hype? 

We'll dive into everything you need to know about rice water for hair. 

Rice water is water that rice has been cooked or soaked in. It contains a lot of starch, as well as other nutrients. Rice water is a rich source of: 

  • Inositol
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin B
  • Magnesium
  • Fiber
  • Zinc
  • Manganese

Some of the vitamins and nutrients in rice water play an important role in the promotion of healthy hair, including: 

Vitamin E. Vitamin E is high in a type of antioxidant called tocotrienol. It's been shown to promote hair growth in people who have alopecia, which is a disease that causes hair loss.

Magnesium. Magnesium is a major mineral crucial to many of your body's functions. Studies of women with thinning hair found that supplementing with oral magnesium increased their hair growth after 90 to 180 days.

Vitamin B. Biotin is one of the B vitamins most closely associated with hair growth. A deficiency in biotin is associated with hair loss, as biotin is an important component of keratin production, which is important when growing healthy hair and nails.

Zinc. Hair loss can be a side effect of zinc deficiency. It's essential for hair tissue growth and repair. Zinc supplementation has been effective in reducing hair loss in people with a zinc deficiency.

When it comes to beauty treatments, there aren't many as cheap and easy as rice water. There are several popular methods for making rice water, including: 

Short soak. Rinse one cup of rice. Add two to three cups of water and let the rice soak for 30 minutes to two hours. 

Boiling method. Cook rice as you normally would, but add more water than usual. When the rice finishes cooking, strain it and save the water to use on your hair. 

Fermented method. Some rice water devotees believe that allowing soaked rice water to ferment for two to three days increases the antioxidants and vitamins and minerals. 

If you want to try using rice water, the short soak option is the best because boiling the water may kill some of the vitamins, whereas fermenting it could introduce bacteria. 

To use rice water, shampoo and rinse your hair as usual. Then, pour the rice water over your hair. Leave it in for 20 minutes, then rinse thoroughly with warm water. 

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence that rice water can help your hair grow. The people of Huangluo, China use it as part of their hair care regimen, and they've also won the Guinness Book of World Records title of "World's Longest-Haired Village." However, no scientific evidence supports using rice water for hair growth. 

Although it contains many vitamins and minerals associated with healthy hair, most studies concerning those vitamins and minerals were done on people who were deficient in them, not those with normal levels. Additionally, most studies looked at the results of taking vitamins and minerals by mouth, not applying them to hair.

Rice water doesn't have any significant risks associated with using it, so it should be safe to try. However, some people should talk to their doctor before trying it, including people with: 

Eczema. People with eczema or atopic dermatitis have inflammation and itching because their skin can't maintain an adequate moisture barrier. Although you may not have any problems using rice water if you have eczema, it's best to test a small area first or talk with your dermatologist. 

Hair loss. If you're experiencing hair loss, you shouldn't try rice water as your first treatment. Talk to your doctor first because many causes of hair loss have approved treatments that are effective. 

If you're interested in scientifically proven methods to grow your hair faster, try these instead of (or in addition to) rice water: 

  • Get checked for nutrient deficiencies.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Specifically, make sure you're getting enough B and D vitamins, iron, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.
  • Try biotin and collagen supplements
  • Avoid heat treatments as much as possible. 
  • Minimize chemical treatments. 
  • Avoid brushing wet hair. 
  • Get regular trims.