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Easy Guide to the Rice Water Rinse for Curly Hair

Whilst doing the curly girl method there are many treatments available to nature you hair. In this guide we look at the the rice water rinse for curly hair and look at how it can help restructure your hair and help it to grow. What are the benefit’s of a rice water rinse and can it really make your hair grow? Using the rice water method as a rinse has been seen to have its benefits for hair for many years. It’s been known to aid hair growth, smooth the hair cuticle and strengthen it. The Rice water trend can be benifical to all Hair types.

This natural rinse for hair is also spreading in the curly hair community for help with the curly girl method. So how is a rice water treatment used for curly hair? How do you do a rinse and how often? Let’s look at the pros and cons of rice water rinses for hair and he recipe of using rice water for your curly hair.

The ultimate guide on how to do the rice Water Rinse, Easy Guide for the Curly girl or Wavy Girl rice rinse method

How to do the Rice Water Rinse on curly hair when doing the curly girl method, Curly hair and rice after treatments with pretty purple

What is a rice water rinse and what are the benefits?

A rice water rinse is a treatment for hair made from plain cooking rice. By method of soaking, boiling or fermenting the rice you can extract nutrients which help to target hair problems. The benefits of rice water for hair remain’s unproven but there is no denying that it does have an effect on the hair. It is largely down to one vitamin found in rice which is Inositol and the proteins found in the rice.

What is Inositol?

Inositol is loosely known as a B vitamin and is used throughout our medical world for a variety of health problems and is normally taken orally. However the effects on the hair for growth have been seen and it can also help strengthen the hair shaft and fill the cuticle. Rice water is excellent if your hair is damaged by sun or simply has lost its shine and curl.

Is a rice water rinse a deep conditioner?

No. A Rice water rinse does not do deep conditioning as such it acts more like a protein treatment for Strengthening and smoothing purposes.

Can I use rice water instead of conditioner?

Yes you can but it depends if you think your hair needs more protein or more moisture or both! It also depends on your hair type if your hair feels dry and unmanageable after a rice protein treatment than you must condition. Personally I always do.

How do I know if my hair needs protein or moisture?

How does your hair feel? Your hair may feel really soft or have that mushy feeling after conditioning. Does you hair feel dry or break easily? Your hair may also be hard at retaining moisture and keeping its curl.

Hair needs a balance of protein and moisture and often the protein moisture balance is off kilter.

An easy way to tell the difference is by doing the hair strand test.

How to do a hair strand test to check if my hair need moisture or protien

To check if your hair need moisture or protein take a strand of hair and gently pull. If the strand snaps straight away it needs moisture and you will need a moisturising deep conditioner.
If the hair strand stretches really long before breaking off and then snaps then you have too much moisture and you need some protein to add some structure. Now is the time to try a protein treatment deep conditioner such as a rice water rinse.

Find out how to make natural Hairspray here

Rice water ingredients are ;

  • amino acids ( protein )
  • antioxidants ( particularly more concentrated when fermenting rice water )
  • B vitamins (Inositol)
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins C and E

Rice water history 

Rice water has been used for centuries particularly in Asia where they have been using the water left over from cooking to condition their hair. Women in the Heian period in Japan had kept healthy hair by bathing it in rice water. The Yao women today who live in a village called Huangluo in China are known to be the village with the longest hair which averages 6 feet long. However this is largely down to the makeup of Asian hair which is unique in the fact that the hair strands are perfectly round in cross section. This larger diameter makes it stronger and it typically grows longer than Caucasian or Afro-Caribbean hair.

Rice water rinse before and after on curly hair

When I first started the curly girl method I was getting great results, I had definition, big soft juicey curls and it looked lovely. After a few months my curls started feeling flat, didn’t clump and my hair felt lank and very dry. Your hair may feel over-moisturised, quite mushy when wet and unable to hold a curl. This is the time to try a rice water rinse. 

When I have done a rinse and finished with conditioner my hair springs back to life looking shiny and well defined. This is my before and after rice water rinse! I had just come back from a holiday in the sun and my hair was desperate.

Rice water rinse before and after photos of the rice water rinse for curly hair and the curly girl method

See my curly girl before and after here

Rice water for hair growth

Rice water treatments are said to make your hair grow due to the Inositol ingredient. Combined with no heat and no brushing which breaks the ends of the hair whilst doing the curly girl method it can help promote hair growth.

This photo shows my hair growth in six months using the rice water rinse for curly hair. The curly girl method and taking care of my hair is certainly doing something.

This photo shows my hair growth in six months so the curly girl method and taking care of my hair is certainly doing something.

When should I do a rice water rinse?

Experiment with how often you do a rice water rinse. You can do it weekly or monthly depending on your hairs need. If your hair is lacking shine and feeling brittle or mushy try a rinse. Start slowly with a rinse for a few minutes and gradually experiment with leaving it on longer.

Is rice water rinse a protein treatment?

Yes, amino acids are found in rice water and these are proteins. Your hair is made of a protein called keratin. Without protein your hair can become brittle and weak and needs the optimal balance of protein and moisture to aid healthy hair and growth.

How to do a rice water rinse, the recipe for rice water;

This is the rice water recipe;

There are 3 ways to make rice water  rinse for your hair, boiling, soaking and fermenting. You will use this water to rinse and coat your hair. You can then add other ingredients to the water if necessary.

Do you have to boil the rice water for hair growth?

There are 3 ways of using rice water for hair growth and strength;

  • Soak your rice
  • Boil your rice or
  • Ferment your rice

All will give similar effects but fermenting is stronger.

Can You Apply Rice Water on Oily Hair? 

Yes, you can apply rice water on oily hair. Before applying rice water to your hair, you can add a teaspoon of a natural clarifier such as like tea tree oil or apple cider vinegar. This will prevent buildup and aid oily hair. Let the rice water for hair soak on the hair for a few minutes then rinse it out

Which rice do you use for a rice water rinse?

You can use any kind of rice including Brown, white or  jasmine. You can even use black rice! however I would not recommend this if your hair is light in colour it could discolour it.

How do I make rice water rinse for my hair? This is how to make rice water by soaking your rice

This is how to make a rice water rinse yourself. Soaking your rice is the least concentrated way of doing a rice water rinse making it the ideal way to start out for the soaking method you need to do the following;

  • Use a small cup of rice
  • Rinse the rice briefly to remove dirt particles.
  • Add a couple of cups of water 
  • Leave to sit for about 30 minutes or a bit longer until the water looks cloudy.
  • Strain the rice keeping the water.

Boiling your rice 

You can boil your rice to make rice water. This can be the least effective as it is said to boil out some of the nutrients in the rice. I have however found this to work and can be a really quick way to do it when you are in a hurry. To make the rice water rinse boiling method yourself you need to do the following;

  • Use one cup of rice
  • Rinse rice
  • Place in a pan with two cups of water
  • Boil for about 15mins or until you see cloudy white water
  • Strain rice retaining the water

Fermenting your rice water

Fermenting rice water can be a more potent way of making a rinse. The smell can be quite sour especially after 48 hours which makes it my personal least favourite method. As this contains bacteria it is not recommend it for anyone who is immune compromised or pregnant. To make the fermented method of the rice water rinse yourself you need to do the folowing;

  • Use one cup of rice
  • Rinse rice
  • Add two cups of water
  • Leave to sit and ferment at room temp for 24-48 hours
  • Either dilute the water as it and can be overly potent or add some conditioner to it.
  • Store your rice water in the fridge for up to three days
How to make and boil a rice water rinse for hair

What can I add to a rice water rinse?

Adding fragrance and oils

You can add oils to the rice water particularly if using the fermented method and you do not like the smell. Try some lavender oil or some orange peel. You can even use lavender from your garden just strain it out again with the rice. You can also add oils which penetrate the hair shaft to your rinse such as coconut oil or avocado oil.

Add some conditioner

To save time you can add your deep conditioner to the rice water to create your own all in one treatment. Once you have your water ready add a few spoonfuls of a moisturising conditioner to your hair. Leave on for 30 minutes or so and then and rinse and style as usual. My favourite conditioner to add is the Aloe vera hair food mask as I find this extremely hydrating which tends to complement the protein rinse. The fermenting method may be bit strong with this so do not add too much.

For ideas on curly girl method approved conditioners take a look here.

Rice water rinse, add lavender from your garden just strain it out again with the rice

How to apply the Rice Water Rinse and routine

There are many ways of applying a rice water rinse. 

Step 1 wash

Wash your hair with your normal method, Co-wash, Lo-poo, or Clarify

Step 2 apply

If soaking your rice water it will be runnier so it would be a good idea to rinse with a jug and a bowl catching all of the drips. Leave for a few minutes in your hair before rinsing with warm water.

For boiling or fermenting without conditioner apply to hair massage in and leave on in a shower cap for anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes. Experiment with time and start off with only a few minutes.

Step 3 Condition

After the rice water rinse, rinse off and apply your deep conditioner as your hair can feel dry after. Then rinse and style as usual.

If applying conditioner at the same time as rice water mix it together and apply as one and leave on under a shower cap then rinse and style.

Are there products I can use instead of a rice water rinse?

Yes you can use many different products containing protein and this can be an easy fix if your hair desperately needs it. However a Rice water rinse is a cheap and effective way of giving your hair a much needed protein treatment.

How often should I do a rice water rinse on my hair?

It will not hurt to do a rice water rinse every time you wash your hair. Everyother wash is ideal and works for most people. You can experiment with it dry or curly hair may differ from wavy hair. It also depends how porous your hair is. You will get a feel for when you hair needs a rice water rinse

Is a Rice water rinse a clarifying treatment?

No rice water is not a clarifying treatment, it will not remove impurities or build up. Rice water is a natural treatment to enhance and define shine, smooth cuticles strengthen your hair.

Does rice water thicken the Hair?

Rice water can temporarily thicken the hair. Rice water contains high starch levels, which can coat the hair shaft to add strength. This acts like the protein in the rice water which coats the hair strand. This gives as the strength in the hair shaft and thicken the hair thus giving a thicker effect

All thoughts and opinions are my own, this post may contain affiliate links.

[mv_create key=”14″ type=”diy” title=”Recipe for Rice water rinse” thumbnail=”https://likelovedo.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/6865650D-5F68-44F5-B7F6-AE27CFF7F0F6.jpeg”]

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  1. Will it make a difference if I use a deep conditioner that contains a lot of protein? I have heard the rice water rinse can make your hair feel dry so if that’s caused by too much protein I wouldn’t want to exacerbate the problem.. but I’m unsure!

  2. Hi – I’ve been following you for a while now and the information you’ve provided has been really helpful – thankyou. I just wondered if you have any suggestions for (purple-type) shampoo for women with grey or white heair. I’ve been using Osmo but like to change every so often – Thank you in advance!

    1. Yeas of course it would be fine on grey hair as it the same make up it has just lost its pigment. If you use fermented rice water dilute it. I personally do not like the smell of fermented and prefer the other methods. so I let the rice sit for a while then rinse. I do it every month or so or when I feel my hair needs an extra something.

  3. You are the first curlygirl I’ve seen with a blow dried fringe! I’m trying to keep my fringe too but I find it’s getting conditioner on it and getting a bit producty. Also, I’m using a bit of ‘directions’ violet dye mixed in with my conditioner to makeup for the purple shampoo which I used ALL the time and really miss. It’s not as good though. The Aveda one built up a gorgeous colour in my white hair😩

    1. Hi You can get purple conditioner that is cgm friendly I think its in my savers post, Also treat your fringe separately mine is not dry and I use shampoo and no conditioner on it, hope that helps.

  4. Sorry, think I didn’t post my comment. I always used L’Oréal Elvive on my white hair but not since I started curly girl method. Really miss the lush colour it stained my hair though. Have started mixing some directions violet dye in with my conditioner. Results not very good though. Any idea how I can achieve a slight purple colour (to cover yellow pollution absorption)6

  5. Hi I also have kept my fringe and will try out these rice water rinses, just need to find out what type my hair is. Thing is I always had straight hair till about 5 years and started growing it again. It grew with curls and waves something I always wanted , I am 60 and on medication and have had it bleached from light brown to blonde. Not sure what caused it to curl but I know it needs a lot of care as it breaks so easily

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