How to make your own rice water to help hydrate your hair and promote faster growth

On the search for healthier, stronger hair and longer lengths, the internet has declared that rice water is the latest viral DIY haircare secret. 

Adopted from the women of the Chinese Yao tribe and Asian beauty rituals, it's said to hydrate hair and promote faster growth. 

Make your own:  

  1. In a bowl, rinse half a cup of plain white rice with water to get rid of any dirt or impurities. Add 2-3 cups of water to the rice and rub rice between your palms to bring its nutrients into the water.
  2. Strain the water from the rice, then boil the milky water for 10-15 minutes.
  3. When cool, pour the water into a jar and store it in a cool place to ferment. It is important to ferment the rice water overnight but the more traditional method is to let it ferment for at least one week. Fermentation produces pitera, which promotes cell regeneration and healthy hair. It also brings the PH of the rice water down, which helps to properly close off the shaft cuticle and protect hair.
  4. Use the rice water it as a hair rinse after shampooing or apply it from a spray bottle. Leave in hair for up to 10 minutes as a detangling conditioner.
  5. It’s important to rinse hair thoroughly after applying rice water. Leaving rice water in the hair too long can cause brittleness.

TIP: Fermented rice water has a pungent smell, so adding orange peel or rose water and a few drops of essential oil while boiling can help to eliminate its “off smell”.


  1. The best way to hydrate hair is a spritz of water, while the addition of rice nutrients provides extra benefits such as amino acids, inositol (said to be a hair-repair agent), vitamins B and E, and antioxidants.
  2. The texture of rice water on the hair is similar to that of a light conditioner, so it makes detangling easy after use.


  1. The high starch content in the rice can cause a protein overload in the hair, causing hair breakage and brittleness. This is a risk in fine hair or hair with a low porosity.

This article first appeared in the May/June 2021 print edition of S Mag.