In some parts of the world ‘to eat’ means ‘to eat rice’. One of the most important grain, rice is a staple food for almost half of the world’s population, supplying as much as half of the daily calories.
But, rice is also a great beautifying ingredient. For centuries, Asian women have used rice water to enhance their face, body and hair. Traditionally, female rice farmers from China, Japan, and other Southeast Asian countries used to bathe and wash in rice water.
The Yao ethnic women from the village of Huangluo in China is a testament to this tradition. With their average hair length of about 6 feet, these women made it to the Guinness Book of World Records as the “world’s longest hair village”. Plus these women do not have grey hair till the late 80s. The Yao women believe that the fermented rice water, which they use to cleanse their hair, is what helps to keeps their hair long, dark and clean. Rice water enables these women to de-tangle and manage their long hair, which they wrap around their heads in an elaborate high bun that is often described with names such as ‘gazing god’s bun’ or the ‘cloud bun’.
Rice Water For Hair & Skin: Evidence & Benefits
Rice water has amazing hair benefits. A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Chemists found that applying rice water on hair can reduce friction between the hair strands as well as improve hair elasticity. Moreover, rice water has inositol, a carbohydrate, which help can repair damaged hair. And not just that, specialized imaging technique shows that inositol stays inside the hair even after rinsing, offering continuing hair protection.
So, in short rinsing or washing your hair with rice water will decrease breakage and make hair more manageable and healthier. Besides, the amino acids in the rice water strengthen the hair at its root to promote stronger, thicker new growth. These awesome benefits explain the 6 feet healthy, long and beautiful hair of the Yao women.
Not limited to hair, rice water has many skin applications as well. Due to its cooling and soothing effects on the skin, rice water is often prescribed by ayurvedic practitioners as an effective ointment to cool off the inflamed skin.
Rice water also has tons of antioxidants in it, which help to prevent or fade age-spots, ease skin irritations and give you soft, glowing, clear skin. As long as it’s left on the skin, rice water is said to offer mild protection from the sun.
What about Fermented Rice Water: Is it Better?
Yes! The effects of rice water are further enhanced if you ferment it. Fermented rice water is rice water that is left to ferment and has gone slightly sour. It is rich in antioxidants, minerals, B vitamins, vitamin E, and traces of pitera, a substance produced during the fermentation process. ‘Pitera’ has grown in popularity recently, and is touted as the anti-aging elixir due to its ability to promote cell regeneration and renewal.
You can use fermented rice water as a face cleanser or a skin toner. The nutrients in the fermented rice water can help shrink pores, reduce fine lines, and tighten and brighten your skin – this is a perfect recipe to look radiant and youthful.
Also, washing or rinsing your hair with fermented rice water may be better than rinsing with unfermented or plain rice water. Fermentation lowers the pH of the liquid, and this is similar to our hair’s pH, which is also on the lower side (slightly acidic). So, this slightly acidic pH plus the added nutrients from the fermentation process help restore hair’s pH balance, nourish hair follicles and improve the overall condition of hair.
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How to Make Rice Water: Plain & Fermented
To enjoy these wonderful beauty benefits of rice water, all you have to do is just collect the water that you use to rinse your rice. And if you don’t want to cook the rice then grind the left over rice to make a body scrub or face mask.
What you will need:
- 1/2 cup uncooked rice (brown, white, basmati, long grain, short grain, jasmine, or whatever you have)
- 2 to 3 cups water
How to Make:
To make rice water, first rinse the rice with about a cup of water to remove any dirt or impurities.
Then, place the rice in a bowl and cover with water. Let the rice soak for 15 to 30 minutes. Swirl it around or lightly knead it until the water turns cloudy. This will help the vitamins and minerals seep into the water, creating a nourishing rinse for your hair and skin.
Now strain out the rice water into a clean bowl. Your rice water is ready to use. This is a quick method to make rice water.
You can use this water for your hair or face, or let it ferment for enhanced benefit.
Making Fermented Rice Water
Once you have collected your rice water, leave it at room temperature for a day or until it turns slightly sour, implying that it has started to ferment. It can take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours, depending on how warm it is. So warmer the room temperature faster the fermentation process.
To decrease the fermentation time, leave the rice sitting in the water and strain once it has fermented. (Leave it covered for 12 to 24 hours.)
To boil or not to boil: Some traditional recipes suggest to boil the fermented rice water, while some don’t. Everyone’s hair is different, try out both methods to see what works for you.
Note: Fermented rice water is quite potent, so you may need to dilute it with a cup or two of warm water before use. Adjust according to your hair’s needs, use more for dry hair and less for oily hair.
Making Rice Water Using Boiling Method
You can also boil the rice to extract rice water. For this, boil the rice using more water than you would normally do. Once it starts boiling, take out the excess water and use. Or you can also let the rice cook completely, strain, and use that excess water. This rice water will be concentrated, so make sure to dilute it with plain water until it is just slightly cloudy.
Storage: You can store the rice water in the fridge and it will keep for up to a week. Shake well before use.
How To Use Rice Water For Gorgeous Hair and Skin
Use every day as part of your cleansing and toning skin care routine, morning or evening. For your hair I would recommend you use it once or twice a week either as hair mask or hair rinse, I prefer the latter.
- Use rice water as part of your face and body cleanser.
- It is a great substitute for your regular toner and helps in reducing the size of the pores on your skin.
- You can also use it as a part of a moisturising face mask to fade age spot and relieve acne.
- Rinsing your hair with rice water repairs and strengthens hair while providing elasticity, shine and smoothness.
- Make a rice bath soak along with your favorite herb and treat your skin to a fabulous DIY spa.
- For smooth and baby soft skin, grind the left over rice and use as body scrub.
Rice Water for a Hair Rinse
Rice water – plain or fermented – makes a great conditioner for the hair. You can also add some aloe vera juice for sleek, defined look.
You will need:
- 1 cup rice water
- 1 cup plain water
- 1 tablespoon aloe vera juice (optional, moisturises and gives hair a sleek, defined look)
- 5 drops of lavender essential oil (optional, balances scalp and adds scent)
Place all the ingredients in a mug or squeeze bottle and shake well.
How to use: After shampooing, pour the rice water on your hair. Gently massage your scalp and hair and leave it on for 4 to 5 minutes. Then rinse your hair thoroughly with water. Use it once or twice a week as a last rinse.
My experience: I have tried using both — plain and fermented —rice water as the final rinse and found that fermented water gives better results for my hair. After 3 – 4 weeks of using fermented rice water, my hair felt softer, stronger, and more manageable. Also, I noticed that I shed less hair than I normally do – rice water really works. But for my face both plain and fermented rice water work equally well.
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Rice Water as a Facial Cleanser or Toner
This is one of the cheapest ways to pamper your skin.
You will need:
- 1-2 tablespoon rice water
- 2 tablespoons fullers earth (or any other clay of your choice)
Combine the two to form a smooth paste.
Massage the mixture onto your face. You can leave it on 5 minutes or wash it out with cool water, see what feels better for your skin. With regular use, you will notice your skin feeling soft, smooth, and glowing.
You can also use rice water as a toner. Use like any other toner – apply to face after cleansing to minimize the appearance of pores and tighten skin.
Rice Water for Age Spots
Rice water contains tons of vitamin E and ferulic acid – a very effective antioxidant. Studies are showing ferulic acid can prevent skin aging and reduce age spots.
To use, mix 1 teaspoon rice water with 5 drops of almond oil and massage into your face and neck and leave it on.
Rice Water to Soothe Eczema and Skin Irritation
You can also use rice water to calm eczema, skin irritations and rashes.
A study conducted at Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Brussels, Belgium found that taking rice water bath – twice a day for 15 minutes – could improve the healing of atopic dermatitis patients.
To use, mix a cup of plain rice water with a teaspoon of borage seed oil. Dip a cotton cloth in water and pat all over the affected skin. You can leave it on or wash out after 15-20 minutes.
Rice Water Bath Soak
Treat your skin to a fabulous DIY spa with rice bath and lavender soak. Take a small muslin bag and fill the bag with 1/2 cup rice and 2 tsp lavender flowers. Place the muslin bag into the water. Soak in the tub and relax fully.
DIY Ground Rice Body scrub
Do not throw away the leftover rice, simply grind it to make a nourishing body scrub. You can also add other ingredients to this scrub based on your skin’s need.
For soft, smooth, and blemish-free skin, add a couple of teaspoons of olive or coconut oil, 1 tablespoon orange peel powder and/or few drops of essential oils (lavender, chamomile, myrtle) to the ground rice and combine thoroughly. Use this once a week or once every 15 days.
Which Rice To Buy?
Every type of rice has its own benefits to your hair and skin. Plus, the way rice water is obtained – rinsing, boiling, fermenting – will also change the nutrient content and pH of this water. So experiment freely and see what works best for your hair and skin.
Enjoy your beautiful, radiant skin and hair.
Have you ever used rice water on your hair or skin? We would love to hear your experience ...
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