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Rice Water for Hair Growth: Are There Scientific Benefits?

Rice Water for Hair Growth

How to Use Rice Water for Hair Growth

Rice water is the leftover water from rice that has been cooked or left to soak. The leftover water is a pale, starchy liquid. This fluid can be used to rinse hair.

Related article: What Vitamins are Good for Hair Growth and Thickness?

1. Rinse 1 cup of organic rice with water to remove impurities.

2. Add 2 cups of water to the rice.

3. Let it soak for 15-30 minutes.

4. Stir until the water turns cloudy.

5. Strain the rice water.

6. Transfer it to an airtight container.

What the Science Says About Rice Water for Hair

Reported Benefits of Rice Water for Hair

It has been reported that a rice water hair rinse can:

  • Make hair smoother
  • Remove tangles
  • Improve shine
  • Support stronger hair
  • Promote hair growth

Is rice water good for hair growth? If it seems too good to be true it might be. We searched the scientific literature for the benefits of the individual components of rice water and here’s what we found out.

Looking at 100 grams of cooked rice, the basic components comprise of1:

  • Water (68.44 percent)
  • Carbohydrates (28.1 percent)
  • Protein (2.69 percent)
  • Vitamins and minerals (0.77 percent)

This further confirms that, aside from water, rice mostly comprises starches and protein, but there may be more to that than meets the eye. Let’s see if these components of rice water are helpful for hair growth and/or appearance.

Benefits of Topical Protein for Hair

With only 2.69% of rice comprising of proteins there may be some benefit to applying rice water to hair. Typical hair conditioners contain anywhere from 0.1% protein to 5% protein.

Hair conditioners are an essential product to in overall haircare. Shampooing removes moisture and oils that keep hair moist and healthy. Conditioners are designed to reduce friction, remove tangles, minimize frizz, and encouraging healthier hair.

How deep the conditioner reaches depends on molecular size and weight. Low molecular weight proteins (less than 10 Da) form proteins and can diffuse deeper into hair fibers.2

Conditioners generally act to neutralize the negative electrical charge of hair fibers by providing a more positive charge and moisturizing the hair cuticles, which helps to reduce fiber hydrophilicity and restoring natural hydrophobicity.

Applying rice water to hair may have some benefits due to its protein content. However, a conditioner does much more as it has many other nutrients for hair health. It restores oil, moisture, and neutralizes the charges of hair so that it appears more volumous. Therefore, it may just be more convenient to utilize a conditioner with hydrolyzed protein.

Benefits of Topical Starch for Hair Growth

Is it the starch found in rice water that is responsible for the purported benefits of rice water for hair? Possibly. Historically, starch-based hair powders were popularly used in the 18th century to change improve the appearance of hair. These hair powders were made of various starch flours, most commonly wheat.3

In the 18th century bathing was not commonplace, so people used dry shampoos instead. Use of starch as a dry shampoo was a popular practice, especially amongst the upper class who could afford to.

The starch works by absorbing excess oils and dirt in the hair and scalp. While your hair does need some natural oil, excess oil can cause your hair to clump together and appear less volumous. Using starch to absorb these oils instead of having your hair absorb the oils causes it to appear more volumous.

However, times have changed, and people bathe more often now which negates the necessity of applying starch to hair.

Vitamins found in Rice Water May Support Hair Growth

One of the compounds found in rice is inositol. Some articles on the internet claim that inositol found in rice water is beneficial for hair growth and cite a study done on rats. We had a look at the study and found that the researchers did not apply inositol to the fur of rats but rather put it into their food. Therefore, to be helpful in supporting hair growth, inositol has to be consumed orally and not be put on the hair.

In the aforementioned study, supplementing the food of rats with inositol was found to provide a positive growth response in the fur of rats. The growth rate in these rats improved when inositol was combined with a folic acid preparation and vitamin B6, more so than when the folic acid was omitted.4

This suggests that inositol when consumed orally, may support hair growth. There are not many studies on the topical application of inositol. Hair growth happens at the follicle of the hair. The hair follicle derives its nutrients from blood inside the body and not from the outside. Therefore, it is not likely that rice water will support hair growth when applied to hair, even if it contains inositol.

This is true of most of most vitamins for hair growth. Biotin is often added to shampoos but it needs to be consumed orally to be effective in supporting hair growth. We discussed this in an earlier article.

Side Effects of Using Rice Water on Hair

There do not seem to be any side effects of rice water on hair.

Based on our research the high starch content in rice water may help to remove excess oils in hair and the natural proteins in rice water may help to condition hair, helping to appear less matted and more volumous. These effects may also be obtained by conditioning your hair regularly after each and every time you use shampoo.

The vitamins and nutrients in rice water are unlikely to be effective when applied directly to hair. Vitamins and nutrients for hair growth need to be consumed orally to be effective.

 Read next: How to Avoid the Side Effects of Biotin Overdose