There are so many beauty enthusiasts who claim to have flourishing hair thanks to rice water. What most of them don’t tell you is that rice water can damage your hair if used incorrectly.
In this article we will cover the following:
- What causes rice water to damage the hair?
- Examples of 3 Youtubers who reported damaged hair after using rice water
Can Rice Water Damage Your Hair?
Rice water can damage your hair if used incorrectly, either by using it too frequently, or leaving the rice water in your hair for too long which may result in protein overload.
When you apply rice water on your hair the rice proteins form a coat on the surface of the hair strands. This is not a bad thing but the problem sets in when layers of proteins pile up on your hair strands.
This condition is known as protein overload. Protein overload is characterized by stiff, dry and brittle hair which is susceptible to breakage.
Rice is also rich in starch. Starch molecules are large and can build- up fast. Both protein and starch in rice water if left for too long or used too frequently will ultimately lead to hair damage.
What causes rice water to damage the hair?
1. Leaving rice water on your hair for too long
Some people can leave rice water in their hair for a long and it won’t have a negative affect while others leaving rice water for too long will lead to dry and brittle hair.
The time you leave your rice water on your hair mainly depends on your hair porosity and hair sensitivity to protein. Generally, rice water should be left on the hair for at least 15-20 minutes before rinsing.
By this time beneficial nutrients in the rice water would have been absorbed into the hair.
When you leave rice water on your hair for too long you may end up with protein overload especially if you have low porosity hair.
Read this article for an in-depth analysis of factors that determine how long you should leave rice water in your hair.
2. Using rice water that is too potent
Rice water that has fermented for too long is highly concentrated, meaning the protein and starch content in it is very high. High protein and starch levels in the rice water can be detrimental to your hair strands.
Therefore, it’s important to dilute rice water that is very concentrated to minimize its potency.
3. Using rice water too frequently
Have you seen some people who use rice water daily without side effects? It means the hair can handle the rice protein. Please don’t try this if you have low porosity hair.
Hair porosity determines how frequently you use rice water. You should be more careful when using rice water if you have low porosity hair. Low porosity has smaller spaces in between the cuticles.
When you use rice water too frequently, large starch and protein molecules accumulate on the hair surface. This leads to dry hair that breaks easily.
For low porosity hair use rice water 1-2 times a month.
High porosity hair is more porous, the large starch and protein molecules are able to penetrate and get absorbed. When dealing with high porosity hair frequency of usage of rice water can be higher.
No matter the porosity type of your hair, be mindful on how frequent you put rice water in your hair. Too much of a good thing can turn into a nightmare.
4. Using rice water that is contaminated with arsenic
Rice accumulates significant amounts of inorganic arsenic from the environment. Arsenic has a high affinity for keratin, in the case of an exposure, it accumulates on hair strands. Presence of arsenic on the hair strand causes oxidative stress leading in excessive hair loss.
Inorganic arsenic is highly concentrated on rice grain’s outer layer. During processing of rice, the outer layer of the grain is removed to make white rice. So, comparing between white and brown rice, brown rice has a higher arsenic content. (1)
5. Using rice water after you’ve done a protein treatment
Rice water contains a substantial amount of protein. Using it after a protein treatment leads to too much protein on the hair a condition known as protein overload. Hair experiencing protein overload is stiff, dry, brittle and susceptible to breakage.
Case Studies: These 3 Youtubers used Rice Water and It Damaged their Hair!
Case Study 1: Sombili Uketui
Sombili Uketui started using rice water when her hair was relaxed. She would apply rice water every night before going to bed and would not rinse off.
A week after her first use, she noticed some hair growth but unfortunately lost some hair while washing her hair. All through she reported having a dry, itching scalp.
Devastated by the rice water, she decided to go deep into research. It was after this she went natural but still continued using rice water. She made adjustments in the way she prepared and used the rice water.
Preparation: Her first method of preparing rice water was by fermenting the rice in water for several days.
She later started preparing her rice water like the Yao women, she rinses the rice first and when rinsing the rice a second time, she ensures the rice water is pretty cloudy before sieving and boiling the rice water with orange peels. She then proceeds to ferment the boiled rice.
Usage: At first, she would use the rice water on her hair every night before going to bed and would not rinse it till her wash days later after the devastating results, she started using the rice water as a shampoo then proceed to conditioning.
After the changes she noticed improvements on her scalp health.
She feels the second preparation method she used to prepare rice water was much better than the first. Even from the look it was cloudier meaning it had a higher concentration of beneficial nutrients. But the key change she made was in using the rice water LESS FREQUENTLY.
For more, watch her video below.
Case study 2: LIFE OF NEL
Chanel started the rice water challenge in April 2020. At that time she reveals her hair was full and healthy. She started by applying rice water then wash it off (only during her wash day).
After 2 weeks she did not notice any difference on her hair.
Later she changed her way of usage, by using it as a leave in. Some months later she noticed a change in the texture, length and thickness of her hair. Her hair strands were thinning and felt brittle, rough and extremely dry. She even had bald patches on her mane.
After research, she discovered that rice water is a form of protein treatment and that her hair was sensitive to the protein.
Because she was overusing it, she came to the conclusion that her hair was experiencing protein overload. In order to salvage her hair from damage she completely stopped using rice water and changed her hair care routine by:
- Changing washing routine -She would wash her hair on a weekly basis to remove the protein build up
- Moisturizing more frequently
- Protective styling
- Minimizing hair manipulation
Don’t follow other people’s hair routine blindly. She advises that you should first understand your hair in terms of porosity or whether it is protein sensitive or not before following influencers who used rice water and it worked for them.
For more, watch her video below.
Case study 3: Joy Alexo
Joy started off by applying rice water on her hair each day. After sometime she experienced excessive hair loss and hair dryness. She explains that the excessive hair loss might have been due to protein overload from frequent use of rice water.
Her advice is to use rice water LESS FREQUENTLY. She feels once a month is fine.
For more, watch her video below.
My final word is that, yes rice water can lead to extreme hair growth but it can also damage your hair if you use it incorrectly. Start by knowing your hair porosity, then find the best method of preparing the rice water and finally determine the right balance of how frequent to use rice water on your hair.
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