Is Rice Water the Secret to Stronger Hair?
If you've watched hair-care videos on TikTok, you've definitely seen influencers swearing by rice water for strong, shiny hair. It's trendy right now, and devotees claim that rice water makes their hair stronger, healthier and shinier.
But can rice water really build stronger hair?
Better Not Younger has the 411 on the rice water craze. Read on to learn more about the science behind rice water's benefits for hair, potential side effects of rice water on your hair and scalp, and why rice bran oil for stronger, healthy hair may be the better option for your delicate, aging tresses!
What Is Rice Water?
Most of us have boiled rice at some point. Remember the starchy water that's left after you drain the rice? That's the rice water everyone is using on their hair—it's really that easy to make!
Using rice water on hair has become the latest hair-care trend for good reason: That leftover water is rich in hydrolyzed rice protein, vitamins and minerals that support healthy, strong hair.
Even though rinsing hair with rice water is a TikTok trend right now, using rice water on our hair isn't new. According to a 2010 article in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, the practice dates at least to the Heian period in Japan, where ladies of the court combed their hair with Yu-Su-Ru, or rice water. (And these ladies had floor-length hair!)
How Does Rice Water Benefit My Hair?
Rice water is simply the starchy, nutrient-rich water left over after boiling rice and it can benefit hair from root to tip. It’s excellent for nourishing the scalp and supporting strong, shiny, healthy hair.
Rice water for the scalp: Rice water is rich in amino acids, which nourish the scalp and support increased follicular activity and hair health.
Rice water for hair: The vitamins and minerals in rice water help with hair regeneration. The starchy water also enriches hair strands with protein, making them stronger and less susceptible to breakage, while also smoothing and detangling. This last benefit also helps in the prevention of excess hair fall since we weaken our hair when we over-brush or brush too vigorously!
Pro tip: Since rice water is high in starch, if you have a dry scalp or hair and decide to try treating your hair with rice water, add a deep conditioning treatment afterward. After soaking your hair in rice water, seal in those nutrients and moisture with our Hair Redemption Restorative Butter Masque, which contains plant-derived oils to give your hair maximum hydration and restore elasticity and shine!
Are There Any Side Effects of Rice Water on Hair?
Rice water as a hair treatment has been around for millennia, so we know that it's a safe, effective option for most of us. But for some hair types, the side effects of rice water on their hair might outweigh its benefits.
One common side effect of rice water on hair is the risk of protein overload. Your hair's porosity comes into play when we’re talking about protein overload and both low porosity and high porosity hair are at risk, but for different reasons.
While low porosity hair repels water and hair-care products (or takes a long time for them to penetrate the hair strand) it is inherently sensitive to protein. High porosity hair, on the other hand, quickly absorbs water and any products applied to it, which means that the hair strands absorb the hydrolyzed rice proteins a little too well. In either case, when too much rice protein is absorbed into the hair strand, the excess protein can lead to brittleness and breakage. Thin or fine hair is especially prone to this side effect of rice water on hair.
Another side effect of rice water on hair is buildup on the scalp, which can cause dryness or flakiness. The most important thing to keep in mind before trying out the trend is to monitor how your hair and scalp react to the treatment and adjust the frequency with which you use rice water accordingly.
Is There a Rice Water Alternative?
Yes! If you’re short on time or preparing your rice water solution feels a little too much like meal prepping for your tresses, rice bran oil for your hair is an increasingly popular ingredient found in many hair-care products—and rice bran oil offers similar strengthening benefits for your hair.
Rice bran oil is made by processing the outer shell of a grain of rice (the chaff). The resulting healthy oil has a high smoke point, and is used in cooking, cosmetics and hair-care products.
Is There a Difference Between Rice Water and Rice Bran Oil?
The terms rice water and rice bran oil are sometimes used interchangeably—they’re both rich in antioxidants and strengthen the hair shaft, after all. But their difference lies in their ability to hydrate the hair shaft. Rice bran oil offers superior hydrating benefits for our hair.
Rice water for hair: Rice water is excellent for supporting strong hair, boosting shine, increasing manageability and promoting healthy hair. While rice water may enhance hydration by helping to seal in moisture, it doesn’t necessarily add hydration. In fact, if you are prone to a dry scalp or hair, the high concentration of starch may only make matters worse.
Rice bran oil for hair: Because it's rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, rice bran oil is a deeply moisturizing option. It hydrates, strengthens and smooths the hair strand while promoting healthy growth and protection from environmental stress.
How Does Rice Bran Oil Benefit My Hair?
For hair care, rice bran oil is used to smooth and moisturize hair due to its abundance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, inositol and vitamins E and K. It helps hydrating products like conditioners penetrate the hair cuticle to add and seal in moisture and repair damaged strands, smoothing frizz and flyaways, too. These nutrients also nourish the scalp making rice bran oil great for hair health. All hair types can benefit from rice bran oil!
If you're dealing with dry, damaged tresses that are prone to breakage, adding a repairing product with rice bran oil to your hair-care routine can help!
Better Not Younger Products with Rice Bran Oil
To repair even the driest locks, we recommend our rice bran oil-infused Second Chance Repairing Shampoo for Dry or Damaged Hair. Packed with plant oils and our proprietary vitamin blend, Second Chance hydrates and smooths the hair cuticle, giving you shiny, healthy hair. And since rice bran oil is rich in amino acids and protein, this sulfate-free shampoo also helps strengthen the hair shaft against environmental stress while providing body to the hair!
Tell Us: Have you tried using rice water or a product with rice bran oil for your hair-care routine? Share your tips in the comments below.
Like what you read and want more hair-care content delivered directly to your inbox? Sign up to receive our weekly newsletters for the latest hair intel and exclusive promotions for your aging hair needs!