Next time you boil rice, think twice before throwing the water. Rice water is rich in beauty minerals and vitamins that make it fantastic for both skin and hair. Asian women have used rice water for centuries to beautify their hair, face and skin. Read on to find out how to make rice water and how to use it for gorgeous hair and skin.
What is Rice Water?
Rice water, in its simplest form, is the water that is leftover after washing off rice in preparation for eating. It can be concentrated or diluted and even fermented to bring out most of its benefits.
Rice water contains nutrients that can fortify hair and renew skin when used as a facial wash or hair rinse, and unlike many products for skin or hair care on the commercial market, it is an easy and natural way to care for your skin and hair.
Rice Water is Asia’s Best Kept Secret
Rice water has been used in eastern medicine to keep skin pliable and youthful-looking and to make hair grow strong and shiny since ancient times, in places ranging across the Asian continent. You won’t find any sulfates or silicates in a bowl of rice water, and the best part is that you can whip it up quickly in the comfort of your own home for a price that can’t be beaten.
Traditionally, female rice farmers in Japan used to bathe and wash in the water used for cleaning white rice.
In the Heian period, as early as the 9th century, women at the Japanese imperial court used fermented rice water to keep their hair long, healthy, and beautiful. Their beautiful long hair reached to the floor. These court ladies were said to have combed their hair each day using Yu-Su-Ru, which is the rinse water obtained from the washing of rice.
The Yao ethnic women from the village of Huangluo in China is a testament to this tradition. Where the women of the Yao ethnic minority reside, a haircut is something that is not only infrequent, but often never done at all—and their hair is extremely long (often more than 6 feet in length!), thick, dark and shiny well into their later years. What’s their secret?
According to an article published in China Daily, the secret for keeping their hair dark and clean is to wash it with rice water. It’s a natural shampoo and hair conditioner.3
Rice water is prescribed by Ayurvedic practitioners as an effective ointment to cool off inflamed skin surfaces.6
Rice Water for Hair and Skin – the Research
In one research proposal detailing a project aimed at creating more effective hair care products at Japan’s SPring-8 facility, one specific substance found in rice water, called inositol, proved useful in improving elasticity of hair and reducing friction in damaged hair.4 This led to marked improvements in the overall health of the hair.
Another research study, published in November 2010 in the International Journal of Cosmetic Chemists, noted that the longstanding traditional hair care method of the Heian period—rinsing hair with rice water—could prove beneficial to people in the modern era, as well. These researchers found that extracts created from rice water were effective in maintaining hair health and would make an ideal addition to commercial hair care products.2
How to Make Rice Water for Skin and Hair
If you want to see if using rice water as part of your own hair and skincare routine can be beneficial for you, here are a few quick and easy recipes for preparing a batch of rice water:
Which rice to use
Brown, white long grain, white short grain, jasmine, or whatever you have.
Method 1: Boiled rice water
To make a concentrate of rice water to use all week long in its diluted form as a facial wash or hair rinse, prepare rice as you normally would, but use two to three times the amount of water you usually would.
After the rice has cooked, strain it out. The leftover water will be a vivid white color, and will contain a high concentration of nutrients. However, don’t use it at full strength. Instead, dilute a few tablespoons of this concentrated rice water into a cup of clean water, making a barely milky-looking mixture.
Use this diluted solution to wash your face or to treat your hair, and store the leftover concentrate in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to one week.
Method 2: No-boil quick method
If you want to extract rice water quickly and don’t want to go through the hassle of diluting and storing, simply take two cups of water and put a half cup of rice into it for 15 minutes. Strain the rice from the water and use this rice water to wash your face, hair, or both.
Method 3: Fermented rice water
Fermented rice water is thought to be especially good for hair because of the pH change that occurs to the water during the fermentation process (the process brings the rice water’s pH more closely in line with hair’s natural pH, and causes the release of a chemical called pitera that may promote the regeneration of cells). The method for making it calls for a few extra steps, but the results are well worth the trouble.
To make fermented rice water, prepare rice water according to the no-boil quick method listed above and allow it to sit in a jar at room temperature for one or two days (in warmer climates, the fermentation process will take less time). When a slightly sour smell arises from the rice water, stop the fermentation process by keeping the solution in the fridge and use this rice water for skin toning or as a hair rinse.
Fermented rice water is very potent, so it’s best to dilute it with 1-2 cups of warm water before using it.
Wash your face with rice water daily before bedtime, and use it in your hair as a finishing rinse no more than once or twice per week—think of it as being like a deep conditioner, where a little goes a long way.
The benefits remain even after it has been rinsed away, so you can wash and rinse as you normally would without any fear of unsightly build-up occurring.
How to Use Rice Water for Skin and Hair
You can use rice water every day as part of your cleansing skin care routine, morning or evening. For your hair it is recommended to use it once or twice a week either as hair wash or last rinse.