Some months back, my sister, Koko, in the US, told me about rice hair therapy as in the use of rice water to groom and grow hair. It seems strange but she said it worked for her so I gave it a try, using it to steam my hair once a month for fear if I use it regularly my hair will break but even at that, my hair grew stronger and fuller.

This got me goggling and finding out why ‘rice water’. Now, this is what I found;

Somewhere in China, there is a tribe called Red Yao in a Chinese village called Huangluo, popularly known as the land of Rapunzels. The Yao people have been known to be farmers for over a thousand years. They mostly cultivate rice through ploughing, although a few practise slash-and-burn agriculture.

For the women of this village, hair is their most prized possession and this has had their name imprinted in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the ‘World’s Longest Hair Village.’ It is common for girls from Huangluo to have silky black hair that is up to 5-feet long, while a handful has hair over six feet. In 2004, the longest hair recorded in the village was seven feet.

All the women in this village have been using rice water to wash and nourish their hair. It is said that every day, they wash their hair in the river water but on the third or fourth day, they use a special concoction to rinse their hair and this “concoction” is made of fermented rice water boiled with pomelo skins and tea plant seed oil.

Now isn’t that something!

You may ask, what’s in it that makes it perfect for hair? Well, studies show that rice water contains inositol, a carbohydrate that repairs damaged hair. The great part, inositol stays in the hair even after the rice water is rinsed off, acting as a shield and protecting your hair from damage. Rice water also contains amino acids that strengthen the hair roots, increase hair volume, and make your hair shiny and smooth.

Let’s look at the various ways to use rice water for our hair:

  1. Boiled Rice Water

One way of obtaining rice water is by boiling the rice. This is obtained from the excess water left after cooking rice. It is a concentrated liquid that you can dilute to use as a face wash or a hair rinse. Boil the rice for some time. You can either take the excess water that comes onto the top layer or wait till the rice is cooked and then strain the excess water in the tumbler.

You can use any kind of rice like white, brown, basmati, or jasmine rice.

The boiled rice water is an excellent conditioner and can be mixed by adding a few drops of rosemary, lavender, or chamomile essential oil to it. I use it straight without mixing.

To use, shampoo your hair and then pour the rice water over it then leave it on for 5 to 20 minutes.

Gently massage your hair and scalp during this period before rinsing. Ensure you rinse your hair thoroughly with regular water. Use it at least once a week to see improvement in the health and texture of your hair.

2. Fermented Rice Water

Fermented rice water is rice water that is left to ferment for a while before use. Fermentation turns the rice water into a potent liquid that needs to be diluted before use. To make, take half a cup of rice and soak it in two cups of water for as long as 15 to 30 minutes then extract the water by straining the rice.

Transfer the fermented rice water into a jar and leave it there for another day or two at room temperature. When you notice a sour smell, stop the fermentation process and transfer the jar to the fridge.

When you are ready to use, add a cup or two of warm water because, at this stage, it is highly potent and direct use is not recommended.

To use, take an adequate amount of mustard powder and mix it in the fermented rice water until it forms a smooth paste. Add some olive oil to the paste and mix thoroughly then apply the paste to your scalp. Do not let it spread onto your hair.

Leave the mask on for 20 minutes and then wash it off with a mild shampoo.


  • Reduces split ends
  • Improves hair growth
  • Protects hair from damage
  • Cost-effective as you won’t spend on conditioner
  • Cures dandruff
  • Strengthens hair roots
  • Smoothens hair
  • Makes hair strong and shiny

Rice water though have not been proven by research but I can say it has been good for my hair so please watch your hair as you use it to ensure it is also good for your hair. For one, if you cannot get the added ingredients, you can use straight like I do or add a little lime or green tea to it.

Let us know in the comments below how your experience has been