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Rice water is the latest beauty trend currently taking over the internet – but what is it actually?
In a nutshell, it’s the cloudy, milky-looking water you get after soaking rice for a few hours (although we should note that most beauty treatments use fermented rice water, which has had the chance to be faulty).
Because rice is high in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6 and amino acids, many cultures believe that it can be beneficial for your skin and hair. But what does research say? Does it really work
Rice water has a long and storied history in beauty practices around the world. Also called KanjiRice water has been used as a traditional ingredient in Ayurvedic medicine in India, often to combat eczema, as a gentle body wash for people with sensitive skin, and to soften the skin.
It was also used by court ladies in the Heian period in Japan for their long hair, possibly to make it more elastic. Rice water also appears in beauty guides from Victorian England, where it was used for eczema relief and as part of a larger complexion improvement routine.
As part of a Korean skin regimen, rice water was used to maintain youthfulness and make hair appear shinier.
As a clean beauty ingredient, rice water is now used around the world to lighten sensitive skin. As a hair conditioner, it̵
While many cultures have used rice water for hair growth in the past, the scientific jury is still largely aware of how effective rice water can be.
That’s not to say that this traditional ingredient isn’t great – it can be great for your hair, and there is probably a reason many different cultures have used this stuff! – but we’d like to see some double-blind studies before we make that claim.
On the plus side, there are some early studies that give us hope – let’s just say we are ready to fill our own bathroom cabinets with rice water-based products.
We are particularly fascinated by the effects of Inositol, a component of rice water that results from its fermentation and has been shown to protect hair from damage.
There was also a study of a natural herbal shampoo from northeast India that uses rice water as its main ingredient. The self-reported effects of this shampoo were anti-aging as well as increased shine and softness. Rice bran has also been shown to stimulate hair growth.
But the truth is that every hair is different and reacts to ingredients in its own way. If you’re curious about using rice water for hair, this is definitely a clean, non-toxic, and inexpensive ingredient to experiment with.
We’d love to see more controlled studies on the skin’s benefits of rice water, but there have been some promising early studies on how useful this time-honored ingredient can be in a clean beauty routine.
It has been shown in clinical studies to be non-irritating and not likely to cause allergic reactions. However, if you know you have a rice allergy then of course avoid it. It’s also been shown to be moisturizing, and it’s been shown to have some antiaging and anti-inflammatory properties as well.
Rice water is about as easy to make as it sounds – it only takes two ingredients! How to make rice water:
- 1 cup of rice
- 1 cup of filtered water
Rinse and strain the rice to remove any impurities. If you are using non-organic rice, you can rinse it 2-3 more times to remove pesticides.
Mix the sieved rice with the water in a bowl until the water becomes cloudy. Strain the rice, keep the water in the bowl and cover. Let the water sit at room temperature for 12 hours to allow it to ferment, then cool it down.
When in doubt, buy it
If a DIY rice water project sounds more chore than a fun project, there are also plenty of great products on the market that have rice water as an ingredient.
It’s the main ingredient in some popular Korean skin care products, including this excellent, affordable Face Shop Duo with double cleaning. Or if you want to learn how to make rice water in a way that is a little less messy than the method outlined above, give it a try this DIY kit.
Rice water can also be used on its own as a hair rinse and can be used either a step before shampooing, between shampooing and conditioning, or as a post-conditioner treatment – just pour it into a squeeze bottle and pour all over your hair and scalp.
If you want to improve hair growth, focus on massaging it into your scalp as stimulation can also be beneficial.
As a facial, rice water can be included in a cleansing routine, but is more often used for post-hydration. Simply wash your face with your favorite soap-free, gentle cleanser, then apply a generous amount of rice water with a cotton swab.
While the benefits of rice water are not yet as well understood in western medicine as we would like, this time-honored ingredient has been used for generations to keep hair long and shiny, and to make skin glow.