Benefits & Side Effects of Rice Water on hair

Beatrice NtengeriHair Care6 Comments

Benefits and side effects of rice water on hair

Rice Water has gained popularity as a ‘Super Hair Product’, however very few people pay attention to the side effects of rice water on hair.

In this article we will delve into both the benefits and side effects of rice water on hair.


The side effects of rice water include:

  1. Protein overload on the cuticle
  2. Leaves a bad smell on hair
  3. Rice water may contain Asernic

The benefits of rice water are:

  1. Promotes hair growth
  2. Strengthens hair strands
  3. Repairs damaged hair
  4. Relieves scalp inflammation
  5. Improves the hair’s appearance
  6. May prevents premature graying of hair

Now, with that summary out of the way, lets review in detail both the benefits of rice water and the side effects of rice water on hair.

Benefits of Rice Water on Hair

1. Rice water promotes hair growth

To make protein and keratin that forms hair, 18 amino acids have to come together. Rice water contains eight of these amino acids. So when rice water is used on hair you experience more hair regeneration

The vitamins in rice water (B, C and E) also boost hair growth.  Whilst there is limited scientific evidence that prove that rice water promotes hair growth, a lot has been documented in the blogging space with people showing positive results from using rice water.  

History also tells that during the Heian period women in Japan had floor length hair which they kept healthy by washing in rice water.

The Chinese Yao women are a modern day equivalent of the ancient Japanese women. With an average hair length of 6 feet the Yao women are famed for having the longest hair in the world. The Yao women believe that the fermented rice water they use to wash hair with is what helps them have long, dark and clean hair. 

Related Articles: (1) How to use rice water to promote hair growth, (2) How long should you leave rice water in your hair? (3) Make fermented rice water that smells better

2. Strengthens hair strands

Besides helping the hair grow amino acids in rice water strengthen the hair roots. The B vitamins rice water provides also contribute in making your hair stronger. As a result you get to experience more hair retention as less hair falls out.

3. Relieves scalp inflammation

Rice water has anti-inflammatory properties which are effective in soothing an inflamed scalp. According to a 2002 study it was found that patients suffering from Atopic Dermatitis are able to improve their condition by bathing with rice water for 15 minutes twice a day. (1)

Fermented rice water is also capable of fighting fungi causing dandruff. Using it helps manage and eliminate dandruff that may be present on the scalp. Once your scalp is healed of infections, this increases the likelihood of healthy hair growing.

4. Repairs damaged hair

One study carried out found that there is a type of carbohydrate in rice water called inositol that is beneficial to hair. Inositol plays a major role in repairing hair damage. (2)

Inositol can penetrate damaged hair and repair it from inside out. Inositol decreases hair’s surface friction by smoothing the surface of your hair therefore your hair stands can glide passed each other without much resistance.

Less friction between hair strands would mean less damage to fragile hair strands when managing. Inositol has a unique ability to remain on the hair even after rinsing this is essential for the provision of protection to the hair even from future damage.

5. Improves the hair’s appearance

Inositol increases the hair’s elasticity by making hair more flexible with it’s curl pattern more defined. A rice water hair rinse also adds shine to hair.

6. May prevents premature graying of hair

Rice water has antioxidants which get rid of free radicals that may be present on hair and scalp.

Ultraviolet radiation, environmental pollution and toxins from hair products are potential sources of free radicals on your hair and scalp. Accumulation of free radicals on hair and scalp causes your hair to grey prematurely.

Side Effects of Rice Water on Hair

1. Protein overload on the cuticle

Frequent use of rice water on hair can be damaging to hair as a result of protein overload.

Rice water is a liquid protein treatment (contains high amount of protein of upto 16 %)

Protein molecules in rice water are too large to penetrate hair strands hence they end up coating the surface of your hair.

This coat is good but when excess of rice water is used too often it gets thicker inhibiting the absorption of moisture into the hair strand. This condition is referred to as protein overload. Hair feels dry, stiff and more susceptible to damage.

There are two major groups of people who should avoid overusing of rice water

People with low porosity hair

The tiny spaces in between the hair’s cuticle of low porosity hair make it more prone to protein build up

People with a dry scalp

Basing on the knowledge that rice water has a drying effect, people with a dry scalp should avoid overusing it.

To avoid the effects of protein overload, you need to understand how long and how often to use rice water.

In this article we have looked at 7 case studies to arrive at a recommended average on how long to leave rice water in your hair.

2. Leaves a bad smell on hair

Fermented rice water has an unpleasant smell.

The odor gets worse when the fermentation process takes a longer time i.e. Rice water that has been fermented for 24 hours doesn’t smell as bad as that which has been fermented for 48 hours. Maximum time for fermentation be 72 hours after which it starts going bad.

When fermented rice water is used solely it leaves the bad smell on your hair. To suppress the bad smell, add your favorite essential oil, tea or citrus peel to your rice water.

Read this article to learn how to mask the bad smell of rice water.

3. Rice Water May Contain Arsenic

Arsenic is a toxic element that is naturally found in the environment. It exists in two forms organic and inorganic arsenic. Inorganic arsenic is more toxic and can be found in rocks, soil or dissolved in water.

Rice accumulates a significant amount of inorganic arsenic from the environment. A study conducted recently detected a substantial amount of arsenic in rice. (3)

Arsenic has a high affinity for keratin that means in case of an exposure it accumulates in the hair strands. When rice water is frequently used the concentration of arsenic in the hair strands becomes high. This  imposes an oxidative stress on hair cells leading in excessive hair loss. To avoid the effects of arsenic in rice water do not overuse.

As the saying goes ‘too much of something is poisonous’ and in this case too much of rice water may be harmful.  Use it mindfully.  

Before you leave, you may find this recommended products page useful. Here you will find the natural hair products that my friends & I have found to be very good for natural hair.

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Benefits and side effects of rice water on hair

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6 Comments on “Benefits & Side Effects of Rice Water on hair”

  1. Great post!!!!! I have very dry scalp and i have been overusing the rice water. I now know i shouldn’t overuse it. I will reduce the frequency and see the progress. Thank you for the great insights!!!!

  2. Thanks for sharing. You mentioned to use Fenugreek for dry scalp. I have never heard of that herb, just read up on it looks to have good hair benefits. How would I buy and apply it? Would I mix with conditioner or use with shampoo? Iwould like to use it without aloe very if possible.

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