Stories Feature
Fact or fiction - Is rice water the secret to hair growth?

On a night out at Family Bar on Auckland’s Karangahape Road, I dropped my phone in the toilet. In order to carry on having fun without the anxiety of waking up the next day with a drowned phone and no alarm for work - I quickly turned my focus to saving it; my friend and I toddled over to the convenience store to pick up a bag of rice. We tipped half of it in the bin, chucked my in my phone and secured it with sellotape (no idea where this came from TBH) next minute I was back in the club dancing to bangers with a bag of uncooked rice in my bag, lol. And yes, it did survive the peril of a nightclub toilet. Rice - our absorbent saviour.

Here’s another thing that rice is good for - GETTING THE LUSCIOUS RAPUNZEL LENGTH LOCKS OF YOUR DREAMS!

Rice water - literally the starchy water you cooked or soaked your rice in – contains an abundance of nutrients such as carbohydrates, amino acids, B vitamins, vitamin E, minerals and antioxidants - all the usual suspects you would see in healthy foods, skincare, and haircare. So, before you tip that rice water down the drain, keep scrolling.


Using rice water for beauty practices isn’t new, it came about when female farmers from South East Asian countries would bathe in the water used for cleaning rice. As stated in 2010 study from the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, it traces back to Japanese women of the Heian Period (794 – 1185AD) who combed their floor-length hair with ‘Yu-Su-Ru’ or rinse water from rice.

It’s probably more widely known as the secret behind growing the longest, ‘grey-less’ hair in the world as showcased by Guinness World Record holders; the Yao Women from the village of Huang Luo in China’s Guangxi Region aka ‘The Long Hair Village’. Who traditionally washed their hair with fermented rice water, proving major results with lengths coming in at over 1.4metres!

"Women of quality wore their hair long and unbound in the Heian period. A greater quantity of hair intensified spiritual energy and earthly beauty as well as being a mark of elevated rank." Image via The Kimono Gallery.

THE not so secret SECRET?

All of the nutrients in rice water; selenium, magnesium, folic acids, vitamins B1 through B6, niacin, and vitamin K are just what you need for a balanced environment in the scalp to promote optimum hair health. A key player is the presence of a carbohydrate called Inositol, this has the ability to strengthen, maintain elasticity and reduce surface friction.


Rice water becomes even more effective and nutritional when it’s left to ferment for a few days. When your hair is rinsed with fermented rice water, it helps to restore and balance the pH of your hair – great for successful hair growth, as well as preventing split ends. The fermented rice water contains a higher amount of amino acids than fresh rice water, which are great for strengthening the hair roots, and antioxidants which aid in protecting against free radicals and environmental damage.

During the fermentation process, a substance called Pitera is produced, it’s known to promote cell regeneration to keep hair and skin healthy and is often the ‘miracle ingredient’ found in many Korean and Japanese skincare products.


While there is no specific scientific evidence supporting rice water actually helps with growing your hair any quicker, it does have benefits to your hair health. When it’s applied to the hair and scalp, rice water is quickly absorbed resulting in multiple benefits that have been proven; shiner, healthier and fuller hair, detangling, smoothing, strengthening, treating dandruff and repairing damage caused by heated tools. Sounds good to us :)


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