Rice water for your hair?! We get to the bottom of this crazy new trend

Okay, we’ve got a question: since when did water stop being, well, plain ol’ water? We’ve got so many types to choose from these days, from coconut water, to cactus water, to the new, latest craze, rice water.

Weirdly, rice water isn’t some fancy bottled thing in the expensive fridge in Tesco. It’s simply the starchy water left over from when you’ve boiled rice in a pan. I’m sure you’ve never looked at the murky, cloudy stuff as your poured it down the sink and thought, “You know what, it’s got some appeal to it.” But apparently someone did, because otherwise, we never would have learnt of its benefits.

Said benefits include moisturizing and anti-inflammatory benefits to the skin, and, of course, hair growth. According to the internet, rice water has been used as a hair treatment for centuries by women in China, Japan and Southeast Asia, while the UK remained oblivious (hardly surprising, as we are usually the last to jump on any trend worth following). And it’s not just a word-of-mouth thing either: there’s scientific research to back up the results.

So why is rice water so beneficial, you ask? Simply because it is said to contain just as many vitamins and minerals as those in rice, including amino acids, B vitamins, antioxidants, vitamin E, and minerals. The high good-stuff content helps detangle and smoothen the hair, increasing shine whilst strengthening follicles and encouraging hair to grow long.

Although a lot more research is needed to prove the benefits of rice water to hair, various studies have been carried out that suggest something in the water is a real do-gooder in the hair department. A research facility in Japan, for example, proved the positive effects of inositol- which just happens to be an ingredient in rice water- on hair.

If you fancy brewing up your own rice water for potential hair benefits, here’s how to do it:

1.       Consider making a curry (waste not, want not, you may as well use the rice if you’re going to boil it).

2.       Boil your rice for the time stated on the packet, then drain the water into a bowl, eat your curry, and return to your rice water when cooled. Alternatively, soaking rice in cold water might make more sense if you’re not bothered about eating it, and will still infuse the water with the same Vs and Ms.

3.       Rice water is most commonly used as a conditioner, so you should wash your hair with shampoo as normal, then pour the rice water onto your hair, massaging it into the scalp.

4.       It’s advised that you leave it on for 20 minutes, before thoroughly rinsing the hair with hot water.

If you’re sceptical, we don’t blame you. There is a whole wealth of supposed “hair growth remedies” all over the internet, and it’s hard to know what to believe. But, considering rice water has such a historical popularity- unlike, say, the recent, far more costly trend of washing your hair with wine- we’re willing to give it a try.

In the name of research, we’ve found two YouTube videos about rice water for hair, one which is a THIS-STUFF-IS-A-MIRACLE-type speech, and the other which is a more general personal review. Judging by the comments, it seems many people have tried rice water for themselves, and are impressed with the outcome.

All of this leads us to the ultimate question: is it worth giving rice water a try? We would answer with, never say never. As is with all home hair remedies, if you’re particularly bored one day and have plenty of time on your hands, why not? Especially if you discover it’s actually a miracle hair-growth instigator after all. And as for whether we’ll be trying it? Just watch this space…

Laura Shallcross