Woman washing hair
Hair

Rice water for hair growth: does it actually work?

Can rice water make your hair grow faster? A trichologist explains everything you need to know.

From raw egg and olive oil to a number of different supplements, you may have tried numerous methods in the quest for stronger, healthier hair. But what if we told you the secret could’ve been lying in something you threw down the sink while cooking dinner?

Rice water is being praised for its ability to strengthen hair and aid hair growth. While it only recently came into the spotlight on social media, the ingredient has been a hair care staple for one ancient Chinese village for decades.

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Yao women wash their hair at Longji Huangluo Yao Village
Yao women wash their hair at Longji Huangluo Yao Village.

Huangluo, situated in Longsheng’s rice terraces in the autonomous region of Guangxi, China, is known as “Long Hair Village”. Here, the Yao women have been using fermented rice water – yep, the milky-coloured liquid left over from rinsing or boiling rice – on their hair for generations.

The ingredient is said to be rich in antioxidants, minerals and vitamin E, and has restorative properties that improves hair’s elasticity – and now, numerous people are singing its praises on TikTok, too.

Here, we spoke to trichologist and hair loss specialist Hannah Gaboardi to find out whether this ingredient lives up to its reputation.

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What are the benefits of rice water?

“As rice water is high in starch, it can help the hair feel thicker and more voluminous. Rich in many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, the hair’s follicles will be supported from the root and the scalp will have a nice environment for hair to grow. You should therefore see less breakage, shedding and a boost in shine.”

How do you use rice water for your hair?

“I recommend leaving it on for 20 minutes after you’ve shampooed your hair, then rinsing out.”

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Can rice water help your hair grow?

“In the sense that the cocktails of minerals, nutrients and antioxidants help support the hair’s follicles and scalp, yes.

“Hair growth depends on so many other factors and your hair type, but if you have a healthy diet, lifestyle and care for your hair, rice water will help you have less breakage and shedding.”

How often should you use rice water?

“If you have really fine, oily hair, I’d say once every 10 days. For thicker, coarser hair, once every five days.

“If you are concerned about your hair type, it’s best to do a patch test but I’d say avoid over washing, as your hair has natural oils.

“Also, don’t use a rice rinse too often as it can overload the hair with protein, making it more dry and brittle.”

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What ingredients can you use as an alternative to rice water?

“Egg yolk is rich in protein if you’d like stronger hair with less breakage and shedding, as well as a beautiful shine like you get with a rice water rinse.

“Mashing up an avocado – rich in vitamin E and fatty acids – and using it as a mask can also be great if you want to deeply hydrate your hair.

“For those with really dry and frizz-prone hair, coconut oil on the lengths can help to moisturise.”

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Main image: Getty