Rice Water On Natural Hair: A Skeptic’s Thoughts

by Kristal C

I fell for it. The rice water challenge on natural hair has struck my curiosity.

I am not the bandwagon type. Rather, I am the if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it type of natural. A KISS (keep it simple sister) naturalista. I mean, it took me years to upgrade my blow dryer and handy spray bottle which turned out to be amazing investments.

I am all for DIY products that help improve detangling, smooth hair cuticles, increase moisture on our natural hair. But when it comes to potions that claim to add inches of length to the hair in relatively short periods of time, I am constantly in the sideeye mode.

Does Rice Water Work On Natural Hair

Literally, these women are claiming how their hair grew literally inches over as little as a week span. Some of the rice water curly hair results looked sketchy and very misleading (straight up photoshopped!) but some actually looked really legit.

The only way for this skeptic to know for sure if this rice water is legit is to test it out for myself. If this rice water challenge is full of bull, I promise you I have no issue calling it out as it is.

Therefore, I decided to do a six-week rice water challenge on my natural hair to satisfy my curiousity. I did not want to knock something that might actually work.

**See my Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3 updates so far.**

Even if I do not gain three inches in 6 weeks, I will be happy to achieve thicker hair in the end.

An extra inch or two outside my normal growth rate (0.5 inch/month) would be nice though.

Let’s dig further on the matter.


Rice Water Rinse on Natural Hair Challenge

1. Why Has Rice Water on Natural Hair Become A Big Deal

The burning questions running through my head:

  • Does rice water really make your hair grow THAT fast?
  • What properties give rice water such drastic benefits on hair?
  • How exactly should I go using rice water: more like a wash, rinse, massage, or all three?
  • What rice water recipe should I use (because everybody and her momma have their own special recipe)?
  • Should I use white rice or would a brown rice water rinse be more beneficial?
  • How bad is this rice water stuff going to smell (I got anything from sour summer butt to monkey butt based on other natural’s reviews…lol)

My hope is to get a better understanding of all these questions over the course of the six weeks as I embark this rice water natural hair challenge. But for now, I will start with the benefits of rice water on hair versus some cons I have found in my research.

Benefits of Rice Water on Natural Hair

Not to reinvent the wheel, I am not going to go into the specifics of all the research I have found about using rice water on natural hair. There are plenty of resources for you to check the information out for yourself at your own pace.

Here are some of the many “claimed” benefits I have learned so far:

  • Helps remove dandruff
  • Strengthens hair strands
  • Stimulates faster hair growth and thickness
  • Nourishes follicles
  • Removes toxins and dandruff from scalp
  • Promotes shine, sheen, and vitality
  • Has antioxidant properties to help repair damaged cells
  • Contains many trace minerals and vitamins: iodine, magnesium, manganese, selenium, and zinc to name a few

Of all the nutritional properties beneficial to the hair, the one that stands out is inositol.

Scientific studies have discovered that inositol, a natural chemical found in FERMENTED rice water, is the key secret to the magic of rice water. Inositol is able to penetrate the hair, repair damaged areas, and protect the hair from further damage with continual use. It can remain in the hair after rinsing it out to give the hair extended protection.

Risks of Using Rice Water on Natural Hair

And it goes without warning, there are risks to using rice water on hair. The most common disadvantaged I have found so far:

  • Causes hair dryness
  • Can lead to protein overload

You have to discern for yourself whether the benefits outweigh the cons. If under any doubt of how rice water would affect your hair, it is always recommended to test a small portion of your hair before attempting over your entire head. If your hair is particularly sensitive to frequent exposure to protein, use caution and go easy if attempting this rice water regimen.

I am not a hair expert. However, I definitely do not advocate not listening to your hair for the sake of gaining a few quick inches. Think of your hair growth as a long and steady strategy versus a get-long-hair-quick scheme. In the end, you want your hair regimen to be something that is sustainable and reliable to give you hair healthy results consistently.

Rice Water on Natural Hair

2. How to Prepare Rice Water

There are many ways to prepare rice water (actually it looks more like rice milk to me). You have the soak, boil, and fermented methods (and many combinations of all three).

Many women opt to do the soak only method. It is quick and therefore appeals to those who do not have much time to boil and wait for the rice to sit and ferment for hours and days at a time.

Then there is the boil method. One variation of this method is to boil the rice and strain it once a milky broth has formed.

Lastly, the fermented method is the granddaddy of all three methods. As mentioned earlier, inositol is present in fermented rice water to give it the coveted hair growth benefits many women seek. This method requires patience as women allow their rice water to sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours up to 5+ days before it is ready to use. A sour smell arises from the water at this stage, which has been described as putrid by plenty of users. However, something that some drops of essential oils cannot masque to a tolerable level.

What is the Best Method to Use

I honestly cannot recommend which method for you to use. Like I hinted at earlier, there are too many recipes and variations women use.

I will say that I recommend to always rinse your rice thoroughly, allow it to soak for at least 30 minutes, drain, and then proceed with whichever method you choose. The longer the rice water sits, the more nutrients you can extract from the rice which may (or may not be beneficial) to your specific hair type and needs.

Reported Protein Sensitivity

Some women have reported that rice water behaved like a protein treatment. If you have protein sensitive hair, you may experience adverse effects from using rice water especially if too concentrated.

The rice water rinse is surely not a one-size-fits-all. You have to do some trial and error because what works wonders for one woman may turn totally opposite for the other. This is why I want to give you this disclaimer so you do not give your hopes up if you do not gain the inches another woman claimed so experienced from the rice water.

Which Rice Water Method I Am Using

I decided to take this rice water hair challenge further and test its full potential by opting to rinse with fermented rice water versus non-fermented. Based on what I have read, women have experienced great results with the unfermented version.

However, fermented rice water packs a power nutrient bunch to help the hair reap even more benefits from the rinse. I found all kind of recipes for fermented rice water and decided to just do my own thing for the first week, assess the results, and adapt for the following week if necessary.

Rice Water Challenge Works

3. Recipe for Fermented Rice Water on Natural Hair

I searched for a basic fermented rice water recipe and of course, Google gave me more than I need. Therefore, I opted to pick and choose what I wanted to use for my first rice water trial. Here is what I came up with:


  • 1/2 Cup of Rice (I used what I have on hand…20 lb bag of non-gmo Marhatma Rice)
  • Distilled Water
  • EO’s (Essential Oils…I used 10 drops of Peppermint and 10 drops of Rosemary)
  • 16 oz Mason Jar
  • Bowl
  • Strainer
  • Small Pot
  • Stirrer


  1. Place rice in strainer. Rinse and squish around well until water turns clear.
  2. Add rinsed rice to bowl. Fill with distilled water and soak for 30-45 minutes
  3. Strain water from rice. Add rice and 1.5 cup of water to small pot. Boil for 5 minutes.
  4. Add rice and water mixture into jar. Fill jar with distilled water to the top.
  5. Add essential oils. Close jar with lid and give it a good shake.
  6. Allow jar to sit at room temperature for at least 24 hours.

4. My Six Week Rice Water Challenge Plan

I am already on a low maintenance natural hair regimen for the summer. My hair is still reeling the effects of postpartum shedding so I am striving to improve the thickness of my hair over the half of this year. Therefore, my regimen including the rice water challenge will involve:

  • Weekly: Wash, Rice Water Rinse, Deep Condition, Detangle, Moisturize and Seal, Low Maintenance Styling either with twists or banded ponytails.
  • Daily: Light Spritz with Water, Nightly Hair Protection with Bonnet
  • Monthly: Clarify with Bentonite Clay or Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap (See my staple products and tools list)

Recommended post: See my Busy Mom’s Simple Wash Day Routine

5. The Wrap Up

I honestly do not know what to expect from this challenge. It a way, I am excited, but in another, I am not setting myself up for false hope. I want to remain as neutral as possible throughout the next six weeks so my feelings and expectations do not affect my perception of the challenge end results. Sometimes our eyes can see what they want to believe, you know?

The next update related to the rice water challenge will be after doing my first rinse and just before my second rinse. I will do an initial length check right before doing the first rinse to serve as my reference gauge.

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Have you tried the rice water challenge/regimen yourself? If so, were the results yay or nay? How do you feel about the idea of using concoctions to manipulate your natural hair growth?

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Does Rice Water Really Work

Other Posts Of Interest:


Deatrice Gibbs October 14, 2019 - 6:20 pm

your hair is long from the beginning.

DEB April 12, 2020 - 3:44 am

Did it work

Grace Oshoko May 27, 2020 - 11:52 am

Thank you Kristal for this beautiful post. Your whole process is simplified which makes it very feasible. However I have two questions concerning the preparation the rice water.

First, what do you do with the water you strained from washing the rice?
Second, you mentioned you add the rice and water into a jar, is it the boiled rice and water that you add into the jar, if not what then do you also do with the strained water since you need it to sit and ferment for about 26 hours?

Thank you, awaiting your kind response.


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