Something many of us can identify with, certainly if you've experienced post-natal hair loss, is wishing our hair would grow faster and thicker. One method which many women including YouTubers and influencers swear by is using rice water for hair growth, leaving hair thick, shiny and tangle-free.
We spoke to Trichologist Simone Thomas to find out more.
What is rice water?
Exactly what you think it is! Quite simply, rice water is the liquid that remains after soaking or cooking rice.
How does rice water work?
Hair fibres are largely composed of keratin proteins that contribute to strength and flexibility. This makes proteins and amino acids ideally suited for use in hair care products because of their close match in chemical structure to the hair fibre. The function of proteins in hair care is largely dependent upon the size of the molecules and whether they pass into the hair’s cortex or remain on the surface.
Proteins with low molecular weights (micro-proteins) are small enough to penetrate the hair cuticle to deliver moisturising and protective benefits within the hair itself, while those with higher molecular weights have film-forming attributes that can repair and protect the cuticle. Rice proteins can be used as a vegetal source of keratin to impart strengthening, conditioning, and shining benefits to hair because of the close similarity of their chemical composition to that of the hair.
Where does rice water originate from?
East Asian women have been reaping the cosmetic benefits for centuries. Most notably are the Japanese court ladies during the Heian Period (794-1185). These women were famed for hair that was so long and healthy it reached the floor. Rice water is rich in sugars, proteins, minerals and are considered a multi-active powerful active ingredient.
Rice water can be fermented and in this case, some studies show an increase in activity. Fermentation is a natural process used in the Asian culture where microorganisms like yeast and bacteria usually play a role, cutting the organic compound releasing by-products and metabolites that make the activity more concentrated, active and in certain cases also more bioavailable.
What are the benefits of rice water?
Rice Proteins have multiple benefits - they are mainly used for strength, for shine, for hydration and to reduce breakage. Protein also helps to temporarily repair damaged areas of your hair by filling in gaps in the cuticle.
How to make soaked rice water
You will need:
128g (1 cup) uncooked rice
1 cup of filtered water
1. You need to start by rinsing and straining your rice, by doing this you will be removing any impurities. You don't want any dirt or other elements going onto your hair.
2. Using a medium-size bowl, you need to mix the strained rice with filtered water. Keep mixing until the water becomes rather cloudy - think of making a cake and kneading the dough to the right consistency. Leave to soak for 30 minutes.
3. You will need a large jug or a bowl to then strain the rice as you want to save the water.
4. Do not throw the rice away, use it as part of a dish you are making for dinner or lunch but make sure you save the rice water.
5. The rice water needs to go into an airtight container or glass bottle. Leave the rice water on the side for 24 hours. Over the 24 hours, the rice water will ferment, and all the essential minerals and vitamins will produce.
Do not let the rice water sit any longer than 24hrs; either use it immediately or place it in the fridge till you need to use it on your next hair wash.
You will need an old shampoo bottle or something that is safe to use in the shower (I do not recommend glass bottles at this point), decant some of the rice water into this and use in the shower. You will find you will still have enough in the fridge for your next hair wash in 2-3 days’ time.
How to use rice water
Wash your hair as normal with shampoo and conditioner and then apply the rice water and leave on for at least five minutes.
Once a week after your hair wash apply the rice water with a spray bottle and then wrap it up in a nice warm hair towel for 60 minutes, rinse and style. This is great as a Sunday night treatment.
How long does it take rice water to grow your hair?
You should notice a difference straight away with how thick your hair feels, after a few months you will be amazed by the improvement in the condition of your hair.
What are the side effects to using rice water?
A small percentage of people might have allergies to rice so it would be advised not to use or do this but other than that it is a great treatment and process to do at home.
Kiehl's Rice and Wheat Volumising Shampoo
This lightweight shampoo blends together naturally-derived proteins and sugars in order to help revive and add body to the look of thin, lifeless hair.
Review: "I had been looking for a volumising shampoo for ages and found this! My hair is very fine and heavy shampoo really weighs it down and makes it flat, this gives my hair enough volume without being fly away!"
Mielle Organics Rice Water Shine Mist
Combining rice water and yuzu, this lightweight mist will leave your hair shiny as well as hydrating it and preventing flyaways.
Review: "I really like using this product after every wash and when I want to rejuvenate it in the morning"
Fermented Rice Water Toner
This facial toner is packed with vitamins and enzymes. Mulberry, shiitake mushrooms, liquorice and citrus fruit extracts help to balance your skin tone and reduce the appearance of dark spots and brighten your appearance.
Review: "This toner is fantastic! I have dehydrated acne prone skin, oily too. In winter I have trouble with very dry skin. I recommend it for every skin type definitely. I pump it to my palm and spread allover my face."
Lee Stafford Hair Growth Treatment
This intensive mask works by fertilising follicles to create a healthy environment on the scalp to help amplify your hair growth. It contains a blend of powerful proteins to lengthen and strengthen your hair from within.
Review: "Have been using this product for over a year and I love it. I didn't think much of it initially but wanted to give it a try, why not? Have used many so called 'hair growth products without success but honestly this one does work! My hair has grown so much since using this wonderful product and it also smells amazing. This is definitely one of my favourite products."
Nanogen Serum - Unisex Hair Growth Factor Treatment
Suitable for men and women, the scientifically tested serums improves hair condition and maintains healthy hair. It is designed to minimise hair loss by keeping your scalp in optimum condition for hair growth and strengthening the follicle to reduce hair loss.
Review: "I have been using this product for just over a month and I have begun to see new hair growth along my hairline and my existing hair has most definitely thickened up! Good well researched ingredients and the formulation is non oily so it won't make your hair greasy throughout the day. Highly recommended!"
Umberto Giannini Grow Tonic
This bio-active hair growth tonic is specially formulated with natural ingredients that are proven to accelerate hair growth and hair loss, helping you to grow longer and stronger hair, faster.
Review: "My hair honestly has been transformed since using this range. I love this tonic and miss it if I don’t have it in. My hair feels stronger and has grown so much. The smell is incredible and I’ve now been regularly buying it for years. If you want longer and stronger hair - get it!"
Philip Kingsley Stimulating Daily Scalp Toner
Combining a blend of soothing ingredients, this toner is packed with antibacterial benefits that enhances the scalp function to help sustain growth and promote healthy hair.
Review: "One of my favourite scalp products. If your scalp is dry or oily this toner will fix it completely, I like to use it a day before washing my hair or straight after the washing. Hair looks so much better, grows faster, no dandruff, just the best feeling for my scalp."