Why Everyone on Social Media Is Washing Their Hair with Rice Water

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Rice water hair masks are the latest social media trend promising longer, shiner, video-worthy strands.

While scrolling Insta or TikTok lately, you may have noticed a flood of videos of women dousing their hair in gloopy-looking water before showing off shampoo-commercial-style rolling, glossy waves. Turns out, that murky-looking substance is rice water, and the centre of the latest viral beauty trend which influencers and celebs alike are claiming gives them ad-worthy hair.

Online hair influencers such as Anisa Sojka, Bhawana Mehra and Audrey Victoria are driving the rice water hair mask trend, which Sojka, who also sells her hair bows, scrunchies and other accessories highly sought-after by her 530,000 followers, even claimed caused her hair to grow faster. Even Cardi B says she sprays her freshly washed hair with a rice water tonic she makes herself by soaking rice outdoors for 24 hours. The supposed secret to Kim Kardashian’s extra-long strands? According to Kourtney Kardashian’s lifestyle site Poosh, it’s a DIY rice water rinse she says Kim uses on the regular for extra length and thickness.

Soaking and rinsing rice to remove excess starch, and also putting that vitamin and mineral-rich water to use as a beauty treatment, especially on the skin and hair, has been documented in Japan for thousands of years. “Water either from cooking rice or from soaking rice contains starch, amino acids, B vitamins, vitamin E, minerals and antioxidants, which all help with hair regrowth, in theory,” says Dr. Anastasia Therianou, a dermatologist who specializes in hair disorders and is based out of London, England. While Dr. Therianou notes there is no scientific evidence that shows if and how rice water treatments help hair growth, she says your hair will likely benefit from being smoother and shinier, especially if your strands are particularly damaged.

How to make your own rice water

If you’re game for a little DIY, you can prepare your own rice water. According to Poosh, start by rinsing one cup of uncooked organic rice, then place the washed rice in a large bowl and pour one to one and a half cups of water over it. Let it sit covered at room temperature for up to 24 hours. Next, stir up the cloudy mixture, and drain the rice while saving the rice water in a separate bowl. You can now use it to pour over your hair after shampooing and conditioning. Let is sit on your hair for twenty minutes to an hour and rinse out. Dr. Therianou suggests only applying the water to your hair, versus all-over your scalp, no more than once a week, since it can be drying if overused. “I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with specific hair loss or shedding,” adds Dr. Therianou. She also suggests those with a particularly oily or dry scalp should likely steer clear of rice water as well, and stick to medically-recommended treatments.

Rise Water Shampoo Bar

If you’re looking for ready-made rice water products that are specifically formulated for hair, there are plenty of options. For one, these new, easy-to-use rice water shampoo and conditioner bars from Kitsch are designed for weak and brittle hair.  For those with curls, Briogeo’s weekly hair mask uses rice amino acids to specifically help seal the curly hair cuticle for more definition and a more even curl pattern. Once out of the shower, you can spray on the benefits like Cardi B, with Shea Moisture’s Purple Rice Water styling spray that gives hair extra moisture and manageability, and is especially good for colour-treated hair.