Rice water has recently started to gain abounding popularity, but it actually has a deeper history than one might think. It has been used as a miracle hair-growing solution for centuries by the ancient civilizations of Asia.
Tracing the origins of rice water back to a specific location or time is difficult, but it might have started somewhere in Southern China or potentially Japan. After all, there are boundless written testimonies of ancient Japanese women having floor-length hair.
Regardless of its origins, the hair-growing properties of rice water cannot be denied. Eager to try a Rapunzel-like look? Then rice water is exactly what you need.
Table of Contents:
- The Origins of Rice Water
- Why Rice Water is Beneficial for Your Hair
- How to Make Rice Water
- Side Effects to Keep in Mind
The Origins of Rice Water
Undoubtedly, these days the Yao women are well-known for a specific reason – their exceedingly long hair. They live in the ancient Chinese village Huangluo, one of the 13 Yao ethnic villages in Longji. Women keeping their hair long is one of their time-old customs, with their hair usually reaching at least 1.4. meters in length. You can't see the hair of single girls; they cover it with a blue scarf, and the first man to see her hair should be her husband, on their wedding day. The reason their hair is so important is its symbolic value: a long, wealthy, and prosperous life.
Another characteristic of their hair is the color – they have a headful of pitch-black hair, and this applies even to the older women. Since it's so important, they care for it dearly and treat it as a body of its own; it can only get cut during the first 100 days after being born, and when they are 18 years old, only as a symbol of adulthood.
While genetics play a big part in their marvelous hair, it seems like rice water is also part of the secret recipe. There are not enough studies to back it up, but we can still use science to explain why and how it might work. Keep in mind that everyone's hair is different: some people will have results, while others might not. But there is no harm in trying nature's gifts.
Why Rice Water is Beneficial for Your Hair
There are many terrific components in rice grains that contribute to hair growth and help it retain its strength and integrity. Rice water contains:
- Vitamin B – biotin is a type of B-vitamin found in rice water that may help with hair growth because it's essential for the tissue repairing process. It seems that people with biotin deficiency often suffer from hair loss.
- Vitamin E – this vitamin complex contributes to the scalp's health by preserving its protective layer and reducing oxidative stress, which ultimately provides a strong base for stronger hair.
- Amino Acids – are crucial to the hair's health because they work by repairing almost any kind of tissue.
- Antioxidants – these substances help detox the scalp and prevent the damaging effects of oxidation.
Rice grains are also about 70% starch, which has a thickening effect because it coats the hair strands. It also gives the hair shine and smoothness by reducing friction. Friction means hair strands rubbing against each other, which can lead to damage and a lot of frizz.
Studies have shown that in fermented rice water there is an 'active' ingredient called inositol. It's a vitamin-like carbocyclic sugar found in plants, animals, and humans, which allegedly can repair damaged hair from the inside. It's used for treating many conditions, although there isn’t any strong scientific evidence to back it up. Nevertheless, inositol supposedly works by balancing out certain chemicals in our body and hormones.
How To Make Rice Water
The ‘original’ rice water recipe is considered in this day and age the one used by the previously mentioned Yao women.
They use about a cup of white rice that they wash to get rid of any dirt. After this, the clean rice is left in a bowl containing 3 cups of water for approximately half an hour and then it is rubbed by hand to get out any starch residue. Doing that for a few minutes turns the water to a milky color. The rice is then drained and tossed aside. Finally, they boil the water and then transfer it to a recipient, which they secure and put aside to ferment for at least two weeks.
The Yao women may also add a few pomelo peels or tea fruit powder to their rice water that act as cleansing agents. Because of their antibacterial properties and natural oils, their addition also gives a conditioner-like function to the rice water.
While women from the Yao village do not use shampoo or conditioner, relying only on the rice water, most people use this only as a final rinse. You can also only use plain rice water without adding peels and other powders, and without leaving it to ferment. You can rinse your hair with it, or you can use it as a mask: soak your hair in rice water, massage the scalp for a few minutes, leave it on about half an hour, and then rinse it all off.
It’s difficult to say how long it takes for rice water to grow your hair since the effects vary greatly from person to person. Still, it seems that the general consensus is that after about a month of regular use, you should start to see your hair not only getting healthier, more elastic and stronger, but also gaining in length.
Side Effects to Keep in Mind
Some swear by this natural rinse, but others might not be as lucky. For example, using rice water too often can lead to protein overload, dryness, and ultimately breakage – the exact opposite of the desired growth effect leading to the luscious hair of your dreams. Here are some side effects you should keep in mind:
Rice water is rich in protein, which can become a problem for people with low-porosity hair. Having this hair type means that products have difficulties penetrating the hair shaft, so they usually just stay on the hair. So, in this case, the proteins will attach to the hairs and stop other beneficial treatments from penetrating the follicles. That does not mean that people with low-porosity hair can't use rice water; it only means that they should use it in moderation.
When used too often or left for too long, rice water can affect the scalp, making it dry, flaky, and prone to infections. If you have problems with a sensitive scalp, use this treatment sparingly.
To avoid these kinds of scalp and hair problems, or to treat them if experimenting with rice water has not exactly been beneficial, you should look into natural hair products that both purify and nurture your hair, such as an ACV shampoo or a fruit extract conditioner. This way, you are using products that have been specifically formulated for sensitive hair, and the negative effects are essentially non-existent.
Alternatively, use a clarifying keratin shampoo instead of your regular rice water treatment. Not only does the plant-powered activated charcoal formula remove any residual impurities, but the mix of organic oils with aloe vera extract will provide the added moisture that your scalp requires, as opposed to the drying effect of rice water.
Ancient Techniques, Modern Solutions
Tracing back to olden-day Asia and all the way to the modern-day, rice water has definitely remained a staple of natural, long-term hair growth. However, it is just as important to be aware of its potential pitfalls before jumping into over-relying on it. A bit of foresight, research, and right-product use will always go a long way.
But don't let us stop you; try rice water for yourself and let us know what you think of this ever-timely hair treatment down below!
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