Centuries ago, Chinese and Japanese women were known for their long, luscious, shiny hair. These ladies of ancient dynasties had no access to hair salons, deep conditioners, or extensive keratin treatments. Instead, they had a secret weapon that grew their hair strong and beautiful – rice water.
Fast forward to today. In recent years, hair communities have gone gaga over rice water challenges on blogs and YouTube.
Results vary with each person.
Some women see noticeable hair growth in length and thickness, while others’ hair became extremely dry.
Many dismiss the power of rice water as a hoax, no thanks to mixed reviews and inconclusive anecdotes.
Someone once posed a question on an online platform: Is rice water good for high porosity hair?
What is high porosity hair?
Before we get into the magic rice water has to offer on hair, let’s talk about a specific hair type that may benefit more from it: high porosity hair.
High porosity hair is a delicate hair type that may be caused by damage from chemical treatments and heat styling.
It has cuticles that are more raised than usual, leaving little tiny holes on the hair shaft.
These holes or “pores” make it hard for the hair to lock in moisture, resulting in dry hair.
That said, high porosity hair loves products that help rebuild and fill in the gaps in the cuticles, like protein treatments (spoiler alert: rice is rich in protein).
There are many signs that can help you tell if your hair is high porosity.
It likely absorbs water extremely fast, but dries almost just as quickly.
It’s also often dry, frizzy, and sponge-like, as if thirsty for moisture.
What are the benefits of using rice water on hair?
Rice is a fabulous ingredient for anything beauty-related.
Skincare enthusiasts love it in their cleansers and toners for skin brightening, while people who love long showers enjoy it as a luxurious scrub.
Rice water is also a terrific way to show your hair some love, especially if you want to grow it out thicker and longer.
It’s very accessible – you probably already have it in your pantry.
Strengthens the hair
Homemade rice water has tons of minerals and nutrients that can strengthen and protect your hair.
Brown, black, and red rice are even more nutritious than white rice.
But what exactly is in these grains that is beneficial to the hair?
Rice is rich in vitamins B and E, which help strengthen the hair, allow it to grow longer, and improve the hair’s health overall.
It also contains essential amino acids – the compounds protein is made of – that make the hair more resilient.
These can make the hair strong enough to keep its length without being prone to breakage and brittleness.
Most of the protein molecules found in rice are actually too large to go deep into the cuticle.
Instead, they coat the hair with protein that prevents it from breaking or snapping easily.
This protective layer contributes to giving the hair a fuller, thicker appearance.
Fights free radicals
Rice also has antioxidants that help fight free radicals that can damage and stress out the hair.
With this, rice has the power to protect hair from environmental aggressors as well.
Reverses hair damage
One of the most important components of rice is a carbohydrate called inositol.
Inositol is known to reverse hair damage by penetrating deep into the hair strand to repair it and boost elasticity.
Unsurprisingly, it’s an ingredient commonly found in hair supplements for those who have problems with thinning and balding.
Helps in detangling
Because rice water has a milky consistency and texture, it also helps to detangle knotty and coily hair.
It simultaneously smoothens and softens too.
This helps with hair shine and luster, as well as making sure the hair is silky to the touch.
Promotes hair growth
All of these repairing and revitalizing properties of rice help with the hair’s overall strength and growth.
Many people who incorporate a rice water wash into their hair care routine reap the full benefits of thicker, longer, shinier, and more manageable hair, so long as it’s done consistently.
But is it all too good to be true? Yes and no.
Yes, because rice really is capable of delivering these results if you work with rice water properly.
But it’s not going to happen overnight, and definitely not if you’re using it wrong – or worse, too much of it.
Know that when it comes to rice water, patience is a virtue.
Your hair isn’t going to grow three inches after one rice water rinse.
It’s going to take weeks or even months of commitment to truly see a difference in your hair’s length, thickness, elasticity, and strength.
How to make rice water
There are many ways to make rice water.
Which method to choose depends on how much time you have on your hands.
Let’s talk about three common methods – soaking, fermenting, and boiling.
Soaking is the easiest one.
Put rice into a bowl and rinse to get rid of any dirt or impurities – you don’t want that going in your hair.
Strain the water and put the rice in a lidded jar.
Fill it with water six times the amount of rice.
Let it sit for 30 minutes, strain the rice, and voila!
Your own rice water, ready for the shower.
The best part is you can save the rice for dinnertime!
Next is fermenting, which is just like soaking, but with a longer waiting period.
After placing the rice and water in a lidded jar, store it in a cool, dry place for 24 hours.
Leaving it to sit for long starts the fermenting process, so all the nutritious vitamins and minerals can come out.
Don’t leave it out for more than a day, as it tends to go bad.
Once the 24 hours is up, strain the water and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
Boiling is the last method, and it’s the trickiest because you have to keep a close eye on it.
As you would normally, cook rice with one part rice and two parts water in a pot on the stove.
Boil until you notice some of the starch coming up to the surface.
Once you see this, strain the water and let it cool in a glass jar before refrigerating.
How exactly do you use rice water on the hair?
There are different ways to use rice water on the hair, but I recommend doing it in the shower just so it doesn’t get too messy in your bedroom or kitchen.
Technically, you can incorporate rice water into any step of your hair care routine.
Nevertheless, you still have to be mindful not to leave it in for too long.
As a pre-poo
Some people use it as a pre-poo (pre-shampoo), soaking their hair in rice water before the shower.
If you want to wash all the rice water out of the hair with shampoo, then this is great.
The fermenting method gives rice water a particularly sour smell, so it’s an effective way to eliminate the odor.
Others use it as a protein treatment post-shampoo and conditioner.
Sometimes, women drench their hair with the rice water and then saturate it with a deep conditioner too.
Do this combo if you want a more moisturizing treatment.
Let everything sit for 15-30 minutes before doing a water rinse.
What to use when applying rice water
Once you decide on how to incorporate rice water into your routine, think about how you’re going to get the stuff in your hair.
There are a couple of ways to do that too.
You can transfer the rice water to a spray bottle, so you can easily spray it onto the parts of your hair you want to target most.
This is particularly convenient if you want to drench your hair in rice water before you even step into the shower.
If you don’t have a spray bottle, you can simply dip hair into the jar of rice water, starting with the ends.
This is great because the ends are the driest part of the hair and will need the most protein anyway.
Whatever you do, don’t leave the rice water in your hair without rinsing.
Doing this runs the risk of giving your hair protein overload.
If this happens, your hair can feel rough, stiff, and hard.
At worst, it can even be crunchy to the touch.
Protein is good for the hair, but too much of anything can be harmful.
Is rice water good for high porosity hair?
Remember when I said high porosity hair loves protein?
So, the answer to the question: “Is rice water good for high porosity hair?” is YES.
Well, rice grains contain a significant amount of protein – sometimes even up to 16% of rice is made of it, depending on what type you’re working with.
High porosity hair cuticles are more porous and need to be filled in to be strong and healthy.
The starch and amino acids found in rice water coat the strand to thicken and fortify the hair shaft.
This is because some of the protein molecules in rice water are too big to penetrate the cuticle, even if your high porosity hair has many holes and “pores.”
By doing so, high porosity hair can be repaired and rebuilt temporarily and can then absorb and lock in moisture and other vitamins and minerals good for the hair.
This protective layer of starch helps protect the hair from any potential damage until your next hair wash day.
This damage can be from pollution or heat styling throughout the week.
Some high porosity hair is caused by too much damage from heat styling and color treatments at the salon.
When you do protein treatments like a rice water wash, you can help restructure and rebuild your thin, dry, brittle to make it strong and sturdy again.
This is also a great way to grow your hair out naturally, without having to succumb to buying hair growth products that are not only expensive, but may have chemicals that damage your hair even more.
Rice is very powerful and potent, but it’s easier to manage than harmful chemicals, so long as you know when enough is enough.
If you have high porosity hair, treat your rice water wash as your weekly protein treatment.
Unless your hair is incredibly damaged and shows signs of thinning out or balding, don’t do it more than twice a week.
Make sure you don’t overdo your rice water washes so you don’t get protein overload, especially in between washes.
If you do, you’ll be stuck with straw-like hair that is rough, crunchy, and difficult to detangle.
I suggest doing your rice water rinse during your wash days, so that you can wash off the protein and starch in your hair strands from the last rice water treatment to avoid unwanted product build-up.
Is rice water good for low porosity hair?
Low porosity hair is characterized by cuticles that are so tightly closed that moisture has a hard time going in and out of it.
If your hair beads up before absorbing water and takes forever to dry after showering, you may have low porosity hair.
While high porosity hair craves for protein, low porosity hair is protein-sensitive.
Add too much into your routine, and your hair can become stiff, hard, and wiry.
This is because protein will just sit on top of your hair without actually penetrating it.
That said, rice water isn’t necessarily bad for low porosity hair.
But it does dry out hair faster, since it doesn’t need protein, to begin with.
Not only will you get minimal hair-strengthening benefits from rice water, but it flirts with the possibility of protein overload too.
If you have low porosity hair but want to try a rice water rinse for longer, thicker hair, make sure you space your rinses out.
Do it only once a month.
Or even every two months.
While it’s tempting to do it more, especially if you’re anxious to get longer hair, it isn’t worth the protein overload.
Another tip is to use a hooded hair steamer during your rice water wash.
Heat can help low porosity cuticles open up and absorb more nutrients.
This is one way to make sure your hair reaps the benefits of rice.
So next time you make some rice to go along with your chicken teriyaki dinner, think twice before pouring that protein-rich rice water down the drain.
It may be just what you need to strengthen your high porosity hair, or get that long, thick, flowing hair you’ve always dreamt of rocking!