Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Rithi Choudhary (Journalist)  on 08th Dec 2020

Rice Water For Hair Growth & Healthy Hair

Rice Water For Hair Growth

When Korean Beauty rage took the world by storm, their well-kept secret skincare regime and beauty ingredients, ranging from kitchen ingredients like rice water to bizarre elements like snail mucus, came into the picture. Rice Water is a simple ingredient that can revolutionize your beauty game - say hello to shiny hair and glowing skin!

But how to make rice water? How to use it? Is it effective, or is it just a myth? Don't worry. We have got you covered. Generally speaking, your skin is a living and breathing organ. Therefore always educate yourself thoroughly about an ingredient before experimenting or using it for the first time. Because if you are not gentle with your skin, it can result in irritation and inflammations. 

Rice Water 101

Rice Water, like the name suggests, is the water obtained after soaking rice in it. Another way of securing rice water is through cooking the rice and then straining the leftover water. This water should be ideally allowed to ferment overnight to increase its efficiency. But the first method is to thoroughly soak some rice in a bowl/tumbler of water for up to an hour and then strain the water. 

How Does Rice Water Work?

Rice water is a rich source of amino acids, carbohydrates that act as humectants. Humectants are water drawing magnets. Rice water also contains vitamins like Vitamin A, B3 (niacin) from which niacinamide is derived, Vitamin B1 (thiamin), Vitamin E, antioxidants, and minerals like manganese, selenium, magnesium. Therefore it is believed theoretically that these properties of rice water can help soothe and nourish irritated skin. Similarly, it is thought that rinsing the hair with rice water imparts nutrition to the hair strands. But there is no strong evidence or study to prove these claims. But since rice water is a safe ingredient with no side effects, it is entirely alright to try it easy to do DIY at home and see for yourself if it delivers the results it is believed to offer. After all, it had been a secret of Japan's Geishas, who were known for their smooth porcelain skin

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Benefits Of Rice Water For Skin 

  • Calms Skin Inflammations: Rice water is believed to soothe and relieve inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis, rosacea, acne inflammation, eczema, etc. The fatty acids in rice water moisturize the skin and keep dryness at bay, which one must avoid when inflicted with inflammatory skin conditions. 
  • Hydrates And Rejuvenates The Skin: Rice water is also believed to repair the damaged skin barrier and bring moisture to the skin. This could be because the compounds in rice water are, in fact, the building blocks of the skin barrier. 
  • Boosts Collagen: Rice water is also said to increase collagen production in the skin. Collagen is the structural protein responsible for the firmness, plumpness, and elasticity of the skin. But this is true precisely for fermented rice water, that is, rice wine, according to a study
  • Anti-aging: Rice water is also believed to repair the skin from environmental damage and protects it from developing premature lines and wrinkles. As rice water has antioxidants, it is thought that it can scavenge the free radical damage from everyday pollution. Free radicals are responsible for hyperpigmentation and premature aging. 
  • Fades Blemishes: Interestingly, fermented rice water (rice wine or sake) also contains Kojic Acid. Kojic Acid is an excellent yet mild skin bleach that helps get rid of hyperpigmentation and spots. But the concentration of kojic acid might not be enough to be effective in fading pigmentation. This is why a lab-formulated kojic acid formulation is needed to reap the full benefits of Kojic Acid. 

What's Special About It:

The Minimalist Kojic Acid serum has the most stable derivative of Kojic Acid - kojic dipalmitate in its formulation. Raw Kojic Acid can be irritating to the skin and is also quite unstable. That is why it is essential to have stable yet effective derivatives in formulations.

Kojic Acid inhibits the activity of tyrosinase, which is the enzyme that is responsible for activating melanin. Melanin is the pigment that gives the human skin its color. Darker skin has more melanin, and lighter skin has less melanin. When your skin is exposed to harsh sunlight, the copper ions present in tyrosinase become activated and increase melanin production. This is a natural skin defense mechanism to protect the skin from sunburn. But an increase in melanin production ends up with tanning and hyperpigmentation (sunspots). Kojic acid molecules bind themselves to the copper ions and inhibit the activation of tyrosinase. Thus it can directly stop the production of melanin, thereby reducing hyperpigmentation and tanning.    

Benefits Of Rice Water For Hair

If you search for ancient beauty secrets of South-East Asian women, you will not come across many articles that omit rice water. From Japan to China to Korea, rice water had been a staple in the ancient women's vanity. Even today, cosmetic companies for both the skin and hair in these countries use rice water as a critical ingredient in their formulations.

  • Makes Hair Glossy: Vitamin E is a beautiful ingredient for hair health, and it keeps the scalp in an optimal state. A healthy scalp yields healthy hair. Since rice water contains Vitamin E in it, it is believed to make the hair glossy and full of life. Also, the starch in rice water coats the hair shaft making it lustrous. 
  • Smooth And Frizz-Free Hair: Fermented rice water has a lower pH. That is, it is slightly acidic. The hair strand comprises three layers - the outermost layer of keratin scales called a cuticle, the soft center layer called the medulla, and the cortex, which surrounds the medulla. Now the hair cuticles ideally thrive in an acidic ambiance. When the hair pH is on the acidic side, the cuticles lay perfectly flat and stay closed. This gives a smooth and frizz-free overall mane. But shampoos often disrupt the hair pH, that is, increases the pH from the ideal 4.5 - 5.5, and as a result, the cuticles stay open, leading to loss of moisture from the cortex. This is where a fermented rice water rinse comes to the rescue with its pH balancing properties. 
  • Promotes Hair Growth: Rice water being rich in several essential vitamins and minerals necessary for hair growth, is also believed to stimulate hair growth. 
  • Healthier Hair: Because amino acids are present in rice water, rice water is also believed to reduce breakage and make the hair stronger. Amino acids are frequently a key ingredient in hair strengthening products.

What Kind Of Rice Should You Use For Making Rice Water?

Rice water obtained from whether brown or white rice won't make any difference. It'll work the same. However, you would do better if you use unpolished rice as you'd be getting much of the starch and also the benefits of the essential fatty acids released from the rice bran.  

Is Rice Water Good For Sensitive Skin?  

Yes, rice water is a gentle ingredient that can be used for all skin types. Sensitive-skinned people will immensely benefit from rice water because of its soothing and healing properties. Rice water is a natural ingredient free of any artificial fragrance or additives and therefore is a harmless element to use on sensitive skin.  

For How Long Should I Ferment Rice Water?  

Ideally, overnight soaking or allowing strained water from cooked rice to stand overnight at room temperature or ideally 24 hours is sufficient to ferment the rice water. Store the fermented rice water in the fridge/refrigerator and use it up within three days.  

Bottom Line 

Rice water has been used for years and centuries, and South-East Asian culture swear by it. It is a crucial ingredient in several cosmetic formulations. Although there is no substantial evidence to establish rice water's efficacy, small studies on rice wine (fermented rice) water are promising for delivering beneficial results for the skin and hair. Rice water is rich in several vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids.