Rice Water Challenge for Natural Hair: Week 3

by Kristal C
Rice Water Challenge Natural Hair Update

I just completed my second week of my six-week rice water challenge and am well into my third week.

Actually, the second week of the rice water challenge was extended due to some travel this past week. My weekly wash routine is usually Thursday evening. However, I did not get around to my hair until this past Monday night to do my third rice water rinse.

In this post, I will give a brief rundown on my hair’s reaction to the rice water since the last update. In the midst of my traveling circumstances, I had to make a slight modification to how I prepared my rice water which I will explain below. Also, I learned why my hair really thrives on a weekly hair regimen. Let’s say I could not wait to get back home to do a full out wash day regimen on my natural hair.

If you haven’t caught up on my previous updates, here they are:

Okay, let’s get on with the details! I have hair measurement updates to share!

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Rice Water Natural Hair Challenge Update

Rice Water Challenge on The Road

Since I was out of town, I had to make a few changes to my rice water preparation.

I did not have a strainer on hand. Therefore I added rice to a bowl and did several washes to remove as much residue from the rice as possible. Then, I let the rice soak in a bowl of tap water for 2 hours. I followed through with another rinse before boiling the rice in a small pot for 5 minutes. Here is the recipe for your reference:

Fermented  Rice Water Recipe

Like the previous week, I added the rice and water mixture into a Mason jar and allow to sit for approximately 32 hours before using on my hair Monday night. When I got home, I strained the rice water all into a spray bottle (and ditched using the applicator bottle completely).

The final volume of rice water came out to be much better. Boiling a quarter cup of rice with 2 cups of water has yielded me approximately 1 cup of rice water. This was plenty for me to massage into my scalp and cover the entire length of my hair. Any remaining rice water leftover after applying to my scalp and hair was used to rinse over my entire scalp once more (in the shower) before deep conditioning.

How My Hair Held Up For the Past Week and A Half

Natural Hair Twist Updo Woman
Day 1 of natural hair twist updo hairstyle.

My twists held up great over its course of TEN days. Of course frizz set in some at around day 6 (see pictures below). However, that did not affect the look of the style. What amazed me was how easy it was for me to unravel my twists even with all the frizz when wash day came around. My twist out had great definition and felt really smooth and springy.

But here’s the negative note. My scalp itched like crazy. It’s probably an issue completely separate from the rice water but after day 7, I definitely was itching (no pun) for a good washing. I do not know how I ever survived without washing my hair weekly before. With this summer heat of the South and all my sweating, I do not need to skip too many of my weekly wash days at all. All I could think about was going back home from my vacay and washing my hair.

A Lesson Learned (Again)

One final note, my twists did feel dry and crunchy after day 7. The crunchiness was weird considering I did not use any gel in my hair. Not sure what to make out of it right now.

I left my Flairosol Continuous Mist Bottle at home so I was not able to spritz my hair adequately while I was away. I did lightly dampen my twists while in the shower without disrupting the style and sealed with coconut oil twice for the duration of the style.

However, I am learning that my hair prefers daily spritzing right now. I wonder if the dryness and crunchiness has anything to do with using the rice water or the fact my hair is more exposed to the elements when in twists. Nevertheless, skipping on my daily moisturizing is a big no-no for now whenever my hair is in twists.

Wash Day Regimen Slightly Altered To Address Itchiness and Dryness

Due to wearing my twists longer and experiencing some dryness and itchiness, I used a different shampoo specifically for hydrating my hair. I have been using the Shea Moisture Mongongo High Porosity Shampoo but used my Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Shampoo instead. It definitely did the trick to alleviate the itchiness and flakiness I experienced from wearing my hair in twists.

I proceeded with the rice water application after t-shirt drying my hair for 20 minutes. Following, I deep conditioned my hair with the Shea Moisture High Porosity Moisture Correct Masque for 50 minutes instead of 35 minutes. My hair needed that extra deep treatment loving and it helped greatly to melt away my tangles.

What to know what else is in my staple hair box? Peep it out HERE.

After the wash process was done, my head felt so good yall! Get on that weekly wash day regimen if you have not already! It can do your natural hair wonders and set your hair up for moisture and length retention consistently.

My hair shedding was more during this wash day than the previous one. Wearing my hair in a protective style for a week and a half versus my usual one week may have some contribution to the extra amount of shedding. I am not too worried about it at this point. I will see what next week’s wash day session brings.

Since it was late when I got back home, I decided to style my hair into two braided buns after going through my wash day regimen. I love this style because it is simple, easy, quick, and it keeps my hair nice and stretched until the next wash day. For this busy mom, this style is great to wear as it keeps me cooler. Banded buns is another one of my favorites easy and quick hairstyles which I might do next wash day!

Rice Water Challenge Length Updates

Rice Water Challenge Natural Hair

I know many are dying to find out how this rice water challenge has affected my natural hair growth. When I first started, my initial measurements were:

  • Back/nape of the neck: 18.5 inches
  • Front: 14.5 inches

My hair typical grows at a rate of half an inch per month. Therefore, at the end of 6 weeks, I would expect approximately 0.75 to 1 inch of hair. If my hair grows more than 1.5 inches at the end of my six week rice water challenge, I will give the rice water its due credit. Without the rice water, it would take me about 3 months to gain 1.5 inches.

So how has my hair fared so far?

Right before doing my third rinse, I recorded the following measurements:

  • Back/nape of the neck: 19 inches
  • Front: 14.75

Any Concrete Conclusions?

So in 2 weeks, I have gained about a month worth of growth in the back of my hair. The front of my hair grew approximately a quarter inch which is on par with my normal hair growth rate. This area historically grows slower than the rest of my hair. Therefore, I can’t make any concrete conclusions yet on the affect of rice water on my head as a whole just yet.

What I am continually seeing is the first 5-6 inches of my hair growing in much thicker than the rest of my hair. Additionally, since using the rice water, my hair has maintained a nice sheen, smoothness, and bounciness to it. Last but not least, my hair is feeling stronger these days.

Because of the latter benefits, I will continue to monitor my hair’s reaction throughout the rice water challenge to see if these benefits still stand at the end of the sixth week.

The Wrap Up

Well, I can say my hair is growing!

The rate appears to be faster in the back of my head with the rice water while the front’s growth rate remains unchanged. Maybe the rice water does not work for me in regards to overall faster hair growth. Or maybe my hair needs more time to adapt to the rice water. We are still early in this rice water challenge. I will do my next length check at the end of the fourth week (right before my 5th rinse).

At this stage of the rice water challenge, I am not finding any serious implications it has on my natural hair. I am still loving the benefits it has on my hair even though my hair has not sprouted inches within the first two weeks as some other women have claimed for their own hair. Maybe the frequency of rice water and not rinsing it out stimulate more instant growth than my weekly rinse and wash out method.

However, I will continue the way I started at the beginning of the challenge. Weekly (or almost) washes and low maintenance styling for the week. I believe I have mastered the rice water prep and application and no longer need to make alterations. My next rinse is scheduled for next Monday evening so I will have an update ready following that wash day.

Engage and Connect

Do you keep track of your hair growth on a routine basis? If so, what is your method(s) (pictures, tape measurements, length check t-shirts)? Do you find hair length tracking encouraging or discouraging on your hair journey? Sometimes, the hardest part is being patient!

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Hayley July 28, 2019 - 8:18 pm

I myself have done the rice water rinse off & on since I discovered it few years ago(I think prior to natural hair rice water bandwagon or right at start of natural hair rice water bandwagon began).The few times I did rice water it seemed to help lessen my already major amount of more than normal shedding/breakage I think.You’ve given me a reminder to try rice water and see if it’d help with my haïr issues & slow hair growth. That are cause of daily medication\health issues. I’m going to do my own 6 weeks rice water challenge. Rice rinse once a week and/or daily rice leave-in spray. I’m not sure if it’ll be both rinse and leave-in or one of them. Whatever I decided it’ll just be added into my normal weekly natural hair ritual.

Kristal C July 29, 2019 - 1:56 am

Hi Hayley!

I must have been under a rock because I just did not realize how long the rice water movement has been present in the natural hair community. It seems rice water is going to be around for a while so I figured I would finally test it out for myself. It’s reassuring that you experienced less shedding whenever you did use rice water. I am hoping to experience that as well considering the amount of hair I’ve lost over the past recent years.

I’m glad you are inspired to give rice water a try again. I haven’t looked too much into using it as a daily leave in spray but will consider further options once I have completed this six week challenge. I am a low maintenance naturalista but have found that making the rice water is not too much extra effort. So far, I do love how it makes my hair smoother and shinier. The verdict is still inconclusive about the super fast growth aspect. We shall see! Thanks for leaving a comment and let me know what you decide to do!

Deeds February 8, 2020 - 8:58 pm

Did you stop at week 3? I’m super interested about weeks 4,5, and 6.

Kristal C February 19, 2020 - 10:30 pm

Hi Deeds,

I stopped at week 4 because I got side track on my challenge and had to postpone. I will say my growth was slightly faster overall but nothing super drastic so I would not count this method for growing long hair really fast. But it has so many other benefits to enjoy. Overall, I really like how the rice water works with my high porosity hair to make it shiny and stronger. I actually restarted using black rice water and just completed week 3.

Cynthia Holmes February 23, 2020 - 6:32 pm

I’ve just experienced my first big shed! Now I’m afraid to wash! I have the single finger coils. My length is just at the top of collar of your blouse. I’m ready to use the rice water but do I use weekly? I use Cantu shampoo and Aunt Jackie’s products…..can you advise on how to wash so I do not lose any more hair? Thanks


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