Did you know ‘how long you leave rice water in your hair’ could be the difference between flourishing & damaged hair?
In this article, based on research and 7 case studies, I will give you the best answer to the popular question: “How long should you leave Rice Water in your hair?”.
We will compare 7 Youtube Influencers who have used the Rice Water to find out on average how long they leave rice water in their hair.
How Long Should You Leave Rice Water in Your Hair?
You should leave Rice Water on your hair for at least 15-20 minutes before rinsing it off to ensure it absorbs all the nutrients required for hair growth.
This is the short answer. Read on to understand how the period varies depending on several factors and why leaving it on for too long may be bad for your hair.
The general principle is not to leave the Rice Water in your hair for too long especially if you have low porosity hair or if your hair is protein sensitive.
Leaving the Rice Water in your hair for too long may lead to protein overload, leaving your hair feeling stiff and brittle. The last thing you would want is damaged hair as a result of incorrect use of Rice Water.
Now, this may not apply to everyone, am sure you know people who leave their Rice Water in the hair overnight or do not wash it off at all until the next wash day yet their hair is flourishing.
We all have different hair types, and as I mentioned earlier, hair porosity plays a key role on how your hair reacts to Rice Water.
There are several factors that affect how long you should leave the Rice Water on our hair. These factors include: (i) hair porosity, (ii) the concentration of the Rice Water, (iii) the method used to prepare Rice Water and finally, (iv) the purpose of using the Rice Water.
What does Science say about Rice Water?
Let’s delve into some science to understand the nutritional composition of Rice Water. This will be very important in determining whether there are components in Rice Water that if left for too long will damage your hair.
The rice grain contains about 80% starch. This is evidenced by a study that analyzed the nutritional quality of rice, including the mineral and fatty acids content in 8 different types of rice.
Rice also contains significant amounts of proteins. The percentage varies from rice type to another but on average, the protein content ranges between 7 % to 16 %.
Apart from starch and proteins, Rice also contain B Vitamins, Vitamins E, minerals and antioxidants. (1)
The rice proteins form a protective coat on your hair hence preventing breakage. The protective coat is not a bad thing until you pile up layer after layer which will lead to protein overload.
When you have protein overload, the hair become stiff, dry and brittle resulting in breakage. Therefore, just like any other protein treatment, minimize the frequency of use and avoid leaving it on your hair for too long.
As noted above, rice is rich in starch. The molecules that make up starch are huge hence build-up fast and act like a crust on your hair. Proteins combined with starch if left on for long or used too frequently may result in breakage.
Related Article: How to grow hair using Rice Water
Factors affecting how long you should leave Rice Water on your hair
1. Hair porosity
Hair porosity is one of the most important factors that will determine how long you should leave your Rice Water on, as well as the frequency of use. Hair Porosity refers to the ability of the hair to absorb and retain moisture.
If you have low porosity hair, you need to be careful on how you use Rice Water because the protein and starch in the Rice Water tends to sit on the hair shaft and once the ‘crust’ dries out by staying too long, it will make the hair dry and brittle.
This is why it is recommended that you don’t leave Rice Water on longer than an hour if you have low porosity hair.
2. Concentration of the Rice Water
The concentration of your Rice Water will also determine how long you leave the Rice Water on.
If you make very concentrated Rice Water, it means that the protein and starch content is very high and therefore leaving the rice water on for too long may work against you.
Diluting the Rice Water will minimize the potency and therefore it may be safe to leave the Rice Water on for longer.
3. Preparation method
There are various methods of preparing Rice Water. The most recommended is the fermentation method. This method yields the most potent Rice Water.
Other methods include boiling and non-fermentation methods. Rice Water that has been boiled is not as powerful as the fermented Rice Water and therefore, I have found that leaving this type of Rice Water on my hair for longer periods is safe compared to fermented Rice Water.
4. Purpose of the Rice Water
In this article, we talked about various ways to use Rice Water in your hair care regimen. If you are using Rice Water to detangle your hair, you will need to leave it on until you are done with detangling.
When using it as a rinse out after washing the hair, then you should leave it in for about 15-30 minutes.
I have seen some people on Youtube use Rice Water as an overnight treatment, this can be a way of pre-pooing your hair. If you find that your hair does not dry out after leaving it overnight, then this can also be a great way to use the Rice Water.
7 case studies on how long to leave your Rice Water on hair
In this section, we will look at various case studies to help you understand that the duration that Rice Water should stay on the hair varies from one person to another depending on hair type and other factors already discussed above.
We will look at 7 popular Youtubers and study how long they left the Rice Water on, as well as the advice they give on Rice Water. Links to the videos where they talk about Rice Water are against their names.
Case Study 1- Craving Curly Kinks
In this video, Craving Curly Kinks prepared the Rice Water by fermenting it for about 1-2 days. She then proceeded to shampoo and condition the hair. She finished off with applying the Rice Water as a hair rinse.
She recommends leaving the Rice Water in for about 30 minutes to 1 hour before rinsing it off.
Watch her video below;
Case Study 2- Audrey Victoria
Audrey Victoria tried the Rice Water treatment for 30 days straight but found that it led to dry and brittle hair. She realized that she was overusing the Rice Water. A year later, she reduced the frequency to every 2-3 weeks.
She co-washes her hair, conditions then proceeds to apply the Rice Water rinse. She leaves the rice water on for about 15 minutes before rinsing it off. She found that leaving it on until the next wash day leads to drying of the hair.
She says, “Do not underestimate the power of Rice Water, if you have super low porosity then maybe once a month will be good for you”
Case Study 3 – Lana Summer
Lana Summer ferments her Rice Water, then dilutes it because she says Rice Water is very strong. She goes on to say that boiling can help the nutrients to get into the water quickly but you risk over boiling and killing the nutrients.
Lana uses the Rice Water either as a pre-poo, hair rinse or as a deep conditioner. When using it as a hair rinse, she washes the hair and then applies the Rice Water before washing the Rice Water off.
She does not mention how long to leave it on but from the video it looks like she doesn’t leave it for too long.
Watch her video here;
Case Study 4 – Jaaz Mary
Jaaz Mary – Mary applies Rice Water as a rinse after washing her hair. She saturates the ends in with the Rice Water and also pours some more on the scalp. She then proceeds to rinse off. From the video it looks like she doesn’t leave it for long because she rinses it off immediately.
Case Study 5 – Minerva Joy
Minerva Joy says she has low porosity hair. Her experience with Rice Water was not very good, at least from what she says in the video. She claims that Rice Water possibly damaged her hair.
When she started using Rice Water, she would it every week but was not consistent. When she decided to be consistent, her hair become very frizzy, stiff and brittle. She went on to try a moisture treatment to remedy the situation. Her hair does not like protein, if she does a protein treatment, her hair dries up and becomes brittle.
She was using the Rice Water and then adding more products on top of the Rice Water. She advises that you should know your hair because that will help you understand what you need to do for your hair.
Here is her video;
Case Study 6 – Mary Bono
Mary Bono uses Rice Water about once a month. She does not 100% attribute the phenomenal growth to Rice Water because she also uses Aloe Vera juice treatment regularly.
When using Rice Water, she begins by sectioning and detangling the hair, then applies Rice Water, then covers the hair with a plastic cap for about 20 minutes before proceeding with her co-washing routine.
Watch her video below;
Case Study 7 – Maryam Hampton
As at April 2020, Maryam Hampton had been using Rice Water for about 4 years. She has done a couple of videos on Rice Water.
In her November 2018 video, she says had been using the Rice Water treatment for 2 years. At the time, she was using Rice Water as a leave-in or a regular conditioner. In this particular video, she uses Rice Water as an overnight leave-in treatment, meaning she was not washing off the rice water.
Mary, did another video on Rice Water update on her 16th April 2020 where she talked about how her frequent use of Rice Water caused breakage. Before this recent video, she had been using about 2-3 times a week and leaving it overnight
As you can see from these 7 Youtubers, all with different hair types, there is a lot of variation on how to use Rice Water. What is clear though is that most of them caution that excessive use of Rice Water can be damaging to the hair especially if your hair is protein sensitive.
On average most of them left the Rice Water between 15 – 30 minutes. There are those that left the Rice Water overnight but we see that this did not go so well after a long time of using Rice Water.
My conclusions from analyzing these Youtubers and from my own experience is as below:
- It is crucial that you understand your hair, understand your hair porosity and how it behaves towards different products or ingredients. This will help you determine how long you should leave Rice Water on your hair.
- You may need to experiment before you finally make a conclusion that Rice Water should stay for X amount of time in your hair. When I started off, I would leave the Rice Water on for long but once I realized my hair is protein sensitive, I only leave the Rice Water on for at most 30 minutes.
- Feel free to adjust how you use Rice Water routine to what works for you. Just because your favorite Youtuber leaves the Rice Water on their hair overnight doesn’t mean you should do the same.
- Too much of a good thing can be dangerous! Yes, this is also true for Rice Water, practice caution when using it.
Conclusion on how long to leave Rice Water on your hair
When it comes to Rice Water, there many theories out there, I hope that this article helps you determine how long to leave Rice Water in your hair. I would highly recommend that if you are just starting out, start slow, avoid leaving the Rice Water on your hair for too long especially if you have low porosity hair.
It is also good to be realistic with your expectations on the results you will achieve when you use Rice Water. Remember we all have different hair types. Some people’s hair will grow to floor length within a very short time while others will struggle to get past the waist or even shoulder length.
All am trying to say is that, manage your expectations, understand your hair and how it reacts to Rice Water and then create a routine that will not lead to further damage.
If you realize you have a protein overload, do not panic. Simply withdraw the Rice Water from regimen and ensure your hair well moisturized and conditioned regularly until the damage is reversed.
I hope you this article useful, if you did I would really appreciate to hear about your experience with Rice Water. Feel free to leave a comment in the comment box below.
To learn more about how to prepare Rice Water and various methods for applying it on your hair, check this detailed Rice Water article.