In some parts of the world ‘eat’ means ‘eat rice’ . One of the most important grains, rice is a staple food for nearly half of the world’s population, providing up to half of the daily calories.
But, rice is also a great beautifying ingredient. For centuries, Asian women have used rice water to improve their face, body and hair. Traditionally, rice farmers from China, Japan and other Southeast Asian countries used to bathe and wash in rice water.
The Yao women of the village of Huangluo, China, bear witness to this tradition. With their average hair length of around 6 feet, these women made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the “Longest Haired Village in the World”. Also, these women didn’t have gray hair until the late 1980s. The Yao women believe that the fermented rice water, which they use to clean their hair, is what helps keep their hair long, dark, and clean. Rice water allows these women to detangle and manage their long hair, which they wrap around their heads in an elaborate high bun that is often described with names such as ‘god gazing bun’ or ‘cloud bun’.
Rice water for hair and skin: evidence and benefits
Rice water has incredible benefits for hair. One study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Chemists found that applying rice water to hair can reduce friction between hair strands as well as improve hair elasticity. In addition, rice water has inositol, a carbohydrate, which helps repair damaged hair. And not just that, the specialized imaging technique shows that inositol remains inside the hair even after rinsing, offering continuous hair protection.
So, in a short rinse or washing your hair with rice water, it will decrease breakage and make your hair more manageable and healthy. Additionally, the amino acids in rice water strengthen the hair at the root to promote stronger, thicker new growth. These impressive benefits explain the Yao women’s healthy, long and beautiful 6-foot hair.
Rice water also has tons of antioxidants, which help prevent or diminish age spots, soothe skin irritations, and give you smooth, glowing, and clear skin. As long as it is left on the skin, rice water is said to offer light protection from the sun.
What about fermented rice water: is it better?
Yea! 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 turned slightly sour. It is rich in antioxidants, minerals, B vitamins, vitamin E and traces of pythera, 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 skin tonic. The nutrients in fermented rice water can help to shrink pores, reduce fine lines, and tighten and brighten the skin – this is a perfect recipe for looking 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 the pH of our hair, which is also on the lower side (slightly acidic). Thus, this slightly acidic pH plus the nutrients added from the fermentation process help restore the hair’s pH balance, nourish the hair follicles and improve the hair’s overall condition.
To enjoy these wonderful beauty benefits of rice water, all you need to do is collect the water you use to rinse your rice. And if you don’t want to cook the rice, grind the leftover rice to make a body scrub or face mask.
What will you need:
- 1/2 cup raw rice (brown, white, basmati, long-grain, short-grain, jasmine, or whatever you have)
- 2 to 3 cups of water
How to make:
To make rice water, first wash the rice with about a cup of water to remove any dirt or impurities.
Then put the rice in a bowl and cover with water. Let the rice soak for 15 to 30 minutes. Shake it or knead it lightly until the water becomes cloudy. This will help the vitamins and minerals penetrate the water, creating a nourishing rinse for hair and skin.
Now strain 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 added benefit.
Making fermented rice water
After collecting your rice water, leave it at room temperature for a day or until it turns slightly sour, indicating it has started to ferment. It can take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours, depending on how hot it is. Thus, the hotter the room temperature the faster the fermentation process.
To shorten the fermentation time, leave the rice in the water and strain it after it has fermented. (Leave it covered for 12 to 24 hours.)
To boil or not to boil : Some traditional recipes suggest boiling fermented rice water, while others do not. Everyone’s hair is different, try 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 using. Adjust according to your hair needs, use more for dry hair and less for oily hair.
Making rice water using the boil method
You can also boil rice to extract water from rice. To do this, boil the rice using more water than you normally would. As soon as it starts to boil, remove excess water and use. Or you can also let the rice cook completely, strain it and use that excess water. This rice water will be concentrated, so be sure to dilute it with plain water until it is a little cloudy.
Storage: You can store rice water in the fridge and it will last up to a week. Shake before use.
How to use rice water for beautiful hair and skin
Use every day as part of your cleansing and toning skin care routine, morning or night. For your hair I recommend you use it once or twice a week as a hair mask or rinse, I prefer the latter.
- Use rice water as part of your face and body cleanser.
- It is a great replacement for regular toner and helps to reduce the size of skin pores.
- You can also use it as part of a hydrating face mask to fade age spots and soothe acne.
- Washing the hair with rice water repairs and strengthens the hair, providing elasticity, shine and softness.
- Make a rice bath soak along with your favorite herb and treat your skin with a fabulous DIY spa.
- For smooth, baby-smooth skin, grind up leftover rice and use as a body scrub.
Rice water to rinse hair
Pure or fermented rice water is a great hair conditioner. You can also add some aloe vera juice for a sleek, defined look.
You will need:
- 1 cup rice water
- 1 cup of pure water
- 1 tablespoon aloe vera juice (optional, moisturizes and gives hair a sleek, defined look)
- 5 drops of lavender essential oil (optional, balances the scalp and adds aroma)
Place all ingredients in a mug or squeeze bottle and shake well.
How to use: After washing, pour the rice water on the hair. Gently massage the scalp and hair and let it act for 4 to 5 minutes. Then rinse your hair well with water. Use it once or twice a week as a final rinse.
My experience : I tried using pure 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 became softer, stronger and more manageable. Also, I noticed that I lost less hair than normally rice water really works. But for my face, both plain and fermented rice water work equally well.
Rice water as a facial cleanser or tonic
This is one of the cheapest ways to take care of your skin.
You will need:
- 1-2 tablespoons of rice water
- 2 tablespoons of full 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 for 5 minutes or wash it off with cold water, see what feels best for your skin. With regular use, you will notice your skin soft, smooth and glowing.
You can also use rice water as a tonic. 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 that ferulic acid can prevent skin aging and reduce age spots.
To use, mix 1 teaspoon of rice water with 5 drops of almond oil and massage on face and neck and let it act.
Rice water to soothe eczema and skin irritation
You can also use rice water to soothe eczema, skin irritations and rashes.
One study conducted at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Brussels, Belgium, found that bathing in rice water twice a day for 15 minutes can improve healing in patients with atopic dermatitis.
To use, mix a cup of rice water with a teaspoon of borage seed oil. Dip a cotton cloth in water and apply it all over the affected skin. You can leave it on or wash it off after 15-20 minutes.
Treat your skin to a fabulous DIY spa with rice bath and lavender sauce. Take a small muslin bag and fill the bag with 1/2 cup of rice and 2 teaspoons of lavender flowers . put the muslin bag in the water. Soak in the bathtub and completely relax.
Also, instead of lavender flowers, try other skin beautifying ingredients such as orange, peel lemon, green tea, tulsi leaves (holy basil), neem leaves and marigold petals.
Do it yourself ground rice body scrub
Don’t throw away the leftover rice, simply grind it up for a nourishing body scrub. You can also add other ingredients to this scrub based on your skin’s need.
For a soft, smooth and blemish-free skin, add a few teaspoons of olive oil or coconut oil 1 tablespoon orange peel powder and/or a few drops of essential oils ( lavender chamomile, myrtle ) to ground rice and mix well. Use this once a week or once every 15 days.