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Rice water of many possibilities

Mariia blogs on Sumilayi's blog about curly hair methods, care, products and experiences, sharing her best tips.

Rice in hair care

During my two-year curly journey, I have come across rice water and its effects in hair care several times and in several sources. Strangely enough, I had never tested this before, so when my hair was a little frizzy (more precisely, I was the frizzy one, but let's not get into that now!) I thought it was time to start making rice water and give it a chance.

Rice water and its use in hair and beauty care is an old thing. In many places in Asia, apparently many have sworn by this art for centuries. From what I've read and heard, regular use of rice water could make your hair grow better and in better condition. In a small village in China, the Yao women have reached the Guiness book of records with their two-meter long beautiful black hair, and when asked the reason for their incredible hair growth and still black hair in their old days is very simple: fermented rice water.

Since I myself have seen over the years many natural and very simple tricks do wonders for the body, I don't doubt this at all.

Based on my experiences below, I'm ready to continue getting to know this "Miracle of the Far East" and I feel a great desire to be exactly The Curly Girl who took rice water as a routine and slowly turned into Pocahontas.. Oh yeah!! 😄😄

Rice water is generally referred to as a protein treatment, and even though it contains amino acids, i.e. the building blocks of proteins, the power of the water is not based solely on proteins, but on starch (of which rice water is up to 80%) and on vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, which are abundant in water.

One important ingredient in rice water is inositol, which is similar to a vitamin, but perhaps not quite a vitamin. According to Wikipedia, inositol is "a carbocyclic alcohol synthesized by the body from glucose", so it sounds like some kind of carbohydrate. In any case, that inositol is hair protective, even repairing, and it can also be good for the scalp and its challenges. If I've understood correctly, rice water is all effective and forms a layer on the surface of the hair that is not washed away by rinsing, but also strengthens and repairs the hair from the inside.

If your hair is heavily processed and/or very fragile, I would be careful with rice water experiments and I would first take care of the moisture balance with other products just to be sure. After two years, my own hair already has such a good basic balance that I dare to experiment, knowing that I won't cause real destruction even if something goes differently than planned.

Rice in hair care

Now to the specifics, namely making and using rice water.

My intention was to do two different experiments, with boiled and fermented rice water. I thought I did both but I realized the day after my second rice water wash when I started thinking back that my fermented water wasn't fermented! In this article, my first-hand experiences of fermented water will therefore remain unreported. I will definitely come back to them, it's so fascinating!

In any case, I will now go through two different ways of making and using rice water.

I made the first water by boiling basmati rice in a higher than normal amount of water. You can use any kind of rice (preferably organic, mine wasn't this time) but usually the water is made from white rice, not whole grain, and even though the idea of ​​whole grain sounds healthier, I'm not sure if it works here. Of course, eating whole grains has more fiber and minerals, but does the rice water work against itself - it can. I base my intuition on the fact that the shell in whole grains prevents the desired substances from dissolving in the water, especially when making fermented water that is not boiled.

So it might be that it doesn't hurt so much in the first version, i.e. in boiled water.

You will need:

  • Rice
  • Water
  • I cook
  • I strain
  • Jar/container

I boiled well-rinsed rice in plenty of water until about ⅔, maybe even more, of the water had been absorbed. The rice itself was already ripe at this point and of course I used it in cooking. The water was thick, almost conditioner-like when I squeezed it from the rice through a strainer. At this point, the "water" could be diluted with clean water so that it can be poured into the hair and then it is also gentler even on delicate hair.

I didn't dilute, but mixed conditioner into the mass and used it as a mask, which I let stay in my hair for about 45 minutes after my normal wash (co-wash). In hindsight, the fool immediately lets it sit for about a long time and still in an undiluted mixture. Enthusiasm is often more important than reason!

My hair is very sensitive to protein and all my products are protein-free. However, I read a bit about rice water beforehand, its properties and contents, and therefore I dared to try it as a mask. I felt that the challenge in my frizzy hair was not so much the lack of protein, but something else, and the rice water sounded like it could work by treating and protecting the hair both from the outside and from the inside through the root.

My instinct was right.

Ready rice mask for hair

After applying my rice conditioner mask, my hair immediately felt really nice. "Clumps", i.e. thick curls, formed easily. I put the bag on my head and wrapped it with a t-shirt so that the heat could enhance the effect.

When I rinsed after the exposure time, my hair felt wonderfully soft and easy to handle. I still applied the conditioner as usual, and after washing the hair, leave-in conditioner and gel. I dried with a diffuser and marveled at the end result. My curls are mostly shiny and beautiful on wash days, but lately the challenge has been that the result is not sustainable. (A big factor here was my gel, which has now changed. More on that later.)

Now it was! In the following days, the shine, suppleness and softness were all maintained without any extra kicks. Those who know me and my routine already know that frizzing is not part of my curls repertoire. If the result doesn't please me, I tie my hair up and move on with life. Now it felt wonderful when the hair could be open and it felt just as good all the time.

Wearing a mask - it feels good


My second experiment really had to be fermented rice water, the effects of which, for example, Yao women base their results on. Boiled water is probably born as an easier and faster version alongside, but I wouldn't talk about them as the same product.

Fermentation, i.e. souring, means a process that takes place with the help of lactic acid bacteria. The acidity of fermented rice water itself is considered to be good for hair in the long run, and when you add the other good things in rice water, such as B vitamins, inositol and antioxidants, we're pretty much at the heart of it.

Fermentation takes place in a warm place, room temperature is enough, but additional heat speeds up and makes the process more efficient. To make this rice water, you need almost the same supplies as for boiled water
  • Rice
  • Water
  • Bowl
  • Strainer
  • Jar/bottle
The rice is rinsed well again in a colander. This removes impurities from the surface of the rice. After that, the rice is put in a bowl and water is poured over it. I used just under a dl of rice and about triple the amount of water. Let the rice soak in water for at least 20 minutes, but you can soak it for closer to an hour. During the soaking, you should squeeze the rice so that as much of the good substances as possible are released into the water. After that, the water is poured through a strainer into the bottle and the LID/CAP is left open in a dark place. This is where I made a mistake! I closed the cap, so no air got into the bottle and the fermentation didn't start. I knew that the soured rice water would smell, well - sour, so I anticipated the situation and put rosemary and lavender essential oil in the water. (Next time, I was thinking of putting the oils in freshly prepared water.)

I let the water sit at room temperature for approx. 30 hours, after which I carefully sniffed the bottle. The bottle only smelled of essential oils, and even though common sense told me that something was wrong, I just grabbed the bottle and went to the wash without giving it much thought. Why is it that people still ignore their instincts and intuitive feelings so easily even though I am constantly being reminded to listen carefully, haha!

So I got rice water that was neither boiled nor fermented.

I washed the same as last time with my conditioner (co-wash) and after that I poured water from the bottle well into the roots and the entire length of the hair. I squeezed out most of the water and put the hair in the package again. I left it on for approx. 10 minutes and rinsed. At this point, the hair felt so soft and good that I didn't put any conditioner at all, but only the leave-in wrap and the gel.

This backfired because it really wasn't the fermented water of the original plan, but lean rice water, so the lovely result didn't become sustainable. I believe that the conditioner would have made more moisture stay in the hair in this case.

IF it had been the fermented water, it would definitely have been worth diluting the water and not pouring the bottle from the mouth directly to the head like I did now. After all, water is a mood! Probably even the smell would have automatically directed me to add water….

Well, but, we went with these and it felt good for one reason or another.

Rice water fermenting

Conclusions from these experiments:

I'm super happy that I finally decided to test rice water and I'm going to continue my experiments by making real fermented water. In some article, rice water was compared in terms of its properties to Olaplex 0 and 3 products, which are also not protein treatments but structure-repairing products. Whether the challenges come from other products, processing methods or, for example, hard water.

If I can get good care for my hair and scalp in an affordable way that can always be found at home, I'll do it with pleasure. Being sensitive to protein, I am however moderate in my further experiments because, as I said, there is protein (amino acids) in rice water.

In the picture below, the final result after the "co-fermented" water on the evening of washing, but that (I believe due to the lack of conditioners) result was really not that durable.

The result after the rice mask

I will list below the benefits of using rice water

(I'm not commenting on their "science") :

  • Promotes hair growth
  • Relieves scalp rashes
  • Helps to get rid of flaking
  • Protects hair from damage
  • Balances the pH of the hair
  • Strengthens hair roots
  • Prevents diphtheria
  • Adds shine and richness
  • Smooths the hair and makes it easier to handle
  • Nourishes the scalp
  • Reduces hair shedding
  • Reduces electrification

The shelf life of boiled water/mass is a few days in the refrigerator and fermented water for a week in the refrigerator.

Are you going to try?

Next time I will write about hair dyeing with vegetable dyes. Stay tuned!

Lovely spring day,

Maria ☀️

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