Rice Water Is Your New Hero Ingredient – Here’s Why

By Olivia Emily

5 months ago

Next time you're making rice, you might want to save the water...


Everyone is raving about rice water. But why? Turns out this ubiquitous leftover liquid is a bit of a miracle elixir, with both skin and hair care benefits. Here’s exactly how it helps – plus how to make your own.

Rice Water: TikTok’s Favourite Skin & Hair Care Ingredient

@tamsskyn Replying to @Danijela how to make my grandmothers rice water #koreanskincare #skincare #skincaretip #koreanskincaretips #ricewater #affordableskincare #naturalskincare #fyp ♬ original sound – TAMS

Rice water has been on the rise and rise on TikTok, with users noticing a plethora of benefits spanning hair and skincare. But its use dates back centuries, with the milky liquid popularly used in Asian cultures (especially in Korea) for smooth and shiny hair and to reduce dry skin. In fact, many social media users swear by the ingredient to achieve ‘Korean glass skin’ or just ‘glass skin’: smooth, poreless and blemishless skin that is so clear and luminous, it resembles glass.

Meanwhile, using this starchy water on your hair can result in faster growing, stronger locks with reduced split ends. Here are some of the benefits you might see if you incorporate this unlikely hero ingredient into your hair care routine.

Interested In The Skin Care Benefits? Click Here To Skip Ahead

Benefits Of Using Rice Water For Hair Care

Elena Lavagni, owner and founder of Neville Hair & Beauty, highlights 10 potential benefits you might notice using rice water on your hair.

  • Hair Growth: ‘Rice water contains amino acids that can help in hair regeneration, promoting faster growth.’
  • Hair Strengthening: ‘The inositol in rice water can penetrate damaged hair and repair it from the inside out, making it stronger and healthier.’
  • Improve Hair Elasticity: ‘Rice water improves hair elasticity because it contains a carbohydrate that can boost this attribute.’
  • Adds Shine: ‘Regular use of rice water can help make your hair shinier and smoother.’
  • Helps Detangle: ‘The starch from the rice smooths the cuticle and reduces friction, helping to detangle the hair.’
  • Protects from Damage: ‘The proteins present in rice water can protect hair from damage and prevent further damage.’
  • Reduces Split Ends: ‘The proteins in rice water can help to reduce the occurrence of split ends.’
  • Controls Dandruff: ‘Rice water might also help in getting rid of dandruff and reduce itching.’
  • Soothes Irritated Scalp: ‘Rice water has cooling properties that can soothe an inflamed and irritated scalp.’
  • Adds Volume: ‘Regular use of rice water can add volume to the hair, making it look fuller.’

Before you dive right in, remember: ‘it’s best to do a patch test first to see how your scalp and hair respond, and consult with a professional if you’re unsure,’ says Elena.

@saki.pan If this ACTUALLY works I will gladly be saving my rice water for the rest of my life #ricewater #asianskincare #skincare ♬ original sound – Saki 🍒

Negatives

Sadly, it might not be all good. ‘It is important to note that it may not suit everyone and there could be potential negative effects for some individuals,’ says Elena. These include:

  • Protein Overload: ‘It is rich in protein, and although protein is good for hair, too much of it can make the hair feel stiff, hard and can lead to breakage.’
  • Dryness: ‘Some people have reported that using it makes their hair feel dry and brittle.’
  • Build-up: ‘Overuse can lead to product build-up on the scalp, which may cause irritation or dandruff.’
  • Allergic Reactions: ‘Some people may have allergies to rice or components in the water, leading to scalp inflammation or other allergic reactions.’
  • Limited Scientific Evidence: ‘While there are anecdotal claims about the benefits, there is limited scientific research to support these claims. It’s always important to be cautious when trying new treatments.’
  • Over-reliance: ‘If you’re using it as your only method of hair-care, you might be neglecting other important aspects of hair health, like a balanced diet and use of other necessary hair care products.’

Who Should Try It?

Elena recommends the ingredient for people who have:

  • Damaged or brittle hair: ‘It contains inositol, a type of carbohydrate that can help repair and strengthen hair.’
  • Dull hair: ‘The amino acids it contains can add shine to your hair, making it look healthy and vibrant.’
  • Dry or frizzy hair: ‘It can help to smoothen the hair texture and increase elasticity.’
  • Thin hair: ‘Using it can add volume to your hair and make it look fuller.’
  • Those suffering from hair loss: ‘The amino acids present in rice water, especially in fermented rice water, are believed to stimulate the scalp, promote hair growth, and reduce hair fall.’

‘However, it’s important to note that its effectiveness can vary from person to person,’ says Elena. ‘It is a good idea to test it on a small portion of your hair first to see how your hair reacts.’

How To Make Rice Water For Your Hair

According to Elena Lavagni, owner and founder of Neville Hair & Beauty.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup any type of rice
  • Water

Method

  1. Rinse ½ cup of any type of rice to remove the dirt.
  2. Next, in a bowl, soak the rice in two to three cups of water and leave it for about 30 minutes.
  3. After 30 minutes, strain the water into a clean bowl. Your rice water is ready for use. For additional nutrients, you can leave this mixture for up to 48 hours at room temperature to ferment before straining.

Washing hair

How To Incorporate Rice Water Into Your Hair Care Routine

Elena recommends four ways to incorporate this ingredient into your hair care routine:

Use As A Rinse

‘After shampooing your hair, pour the rice water onto your scalp and hair,’ says Elena. ‘Gently massage it into your scalp and hair for a few minutes. Then, rinse your hair thoroughly with regular water. Do this at least once a week for better results.’

Hair Mask

‘You can also use it as a hair mask,’ says Elena. ‘After shampooing your hair, apply the rice water to your hair. Cover your hair with a shower cap and leave it on for 20–30 minutes. Rinse off the mask thoroughly with warm water. This method will provide deep conditioning to your hair.’

Vitamin Hair Spray

‘Fill a small spray bottle with rice water and use it to spritz your hair,’ says Elena. ‘Leave it in for 30 minutes to an hour before rinsing out. This is a great way to give your hair a quick boost of vitamins and minerals.’

Hair Oil

‘Boil your rice water until it reduces to half, then mix it with your favourite hair oil,’ recommends Elena. ‘Use this mixture to massage your scalp and hair. This will enhance the benefits of your regular hair oil.’

Best Rice Water Hair Care Products

According to Elena Lavagni, owner and founder of Neville Hair & Beauty.

A product containing rice water

Benefits Of Using Rice Water For Skin Care

‘Using rice water on your skin has been a traditional beauty practice in some cultures, and many people claim various benefits,’ says Dr Joney De Souza. ‘Here are some potential benefits, results, considerations, and tips for incorporating it into your skincare routine:

  • Skin Brightening: Rice water is believed to have skin-brightening properties, potentially reducing dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
  • Anti-Inflammatory: It may help soothe and reduce inflammation on the skin, making it suitable for those with sensitive or irritated skin.
  • Moisturising: It can act as a natural moisturiser, helping to hydrate and soften the skin.
  • Anti-Aging: Some suggest that the antioxidants in rice water could have anti-aging effects, promoting a youthful appearance.

‘Results can vary from person to person, but some users report improved skin texture, reduced redness, and a more radiant complexion,’ says Dr Joney De Souza. ‘While rice water is generally considered safe for most skin types, it’s essential to patch test before incorporating it into your routine to ensure you don’t have an adverse reaction. Some people may experience irritation or allergies.’

Who Should Try It?

‘Rice water can be suitable for various skin types, including normal, oily, dry, and sensitive skin,’ says Dr Joney De Souza. ‘However, individuals with allergies or sensitivities to rice or fermented products should exercise caution.’

How To Incorporate Rice Water Into Your Skin Care Routine

‘You can use rice water as a toner, cleanser, or in face masks,’ says Dr Joney De Souza. ‘To make it, soak rice in water for 15–30 minutes, strain, and use the water. Apply it to your face using a cotton ball or by splashing it on your skin. You can also mix it with other natural ingredients like honey or aloe vera for added benefits.’

Skincare

Is It Worth Making Your Own?

‘Making rice water at home is simple and cost-effective,’ says Dr Joney De Souza. ‘It allows you to control the ingredients and ensures that there are no added preservatives or chemicals. If you enjoy DIY skincare and want to incorporate a natural element into your routine, making it at home can be worth it.’

Rice Water Skin Care Products

‘Some skincare brands incorporate rice water into their products,’ says Dr Joney De Souza. ‘It’s a good idea to check the ingredient list and read reviews to find a product that suits your skin type and concerns. Some popular products may include rice water-based toners or cleansers from brands specialising in natural or Asian-inspired skincare. Other brands include: Pai Skincare Living Water Rice Plant and Rosemary Purifying Tonic, and Chantecaille Rice & Geranium Foaming Cleanser.’