People in China and Japan have been using rice water for a very long time. The leftover rice water solution that we do not mind pouring down in the sink is much more beneficial than it appears to be. After all, the women in southeast Asia would never approve of us draining down the nutrient-rich rice water.

Why is Rice Water gaining so much popularity in the 21st century? Is it as promising as it appears to be? And most importantly, does science approve of its benefits?

Those who do not know what rice water is are the starchy and murky liquid that we receive after soaking the rice in water. Or, if you like cooking rice by boiling it in water, the leftover water is the magic potion!

Rice water is rich in nutrients, minerals, and amino acids. It comprises vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin E, flavonoids, phenolic compounds, ferulic acids, allantoin, and antioxidants.

Table of Contents

History of rice water 

Rice Plant - rice water
Rice plant with harvest-ready grains (source)

In China, the Yao women from a small village called Huangluo are trendy today for their long, strong, and shiny hair. Their hair grows as long as 6 feet, and the more shocking part is that the hair remains black until they reach the age of 80. And if you are wondering about their long-kept secret, it’s pretty simple – rice water!

These Yao women have a tradition of washing their hair in rice water without using other formulated products. They believe that the hair’s color, strength, and length result from rice water hair rinse.

Huangluo village in China holds the record as “the world’s longest hair village” in the Guinness Book.

About 1200 years ago, women in Japan used rice water to rinse their hair and wash their faces. The rice water solution was called “Yu-Su-Ru” and was commonly used by Geishas to keep their skin smooth and even-toned.

Today beauty gurus swear by the use of rice water for a healthy scalp and hair via a documentary of Yao women. It seems like YouTube has caught up to the 700 CE South Asian tradition!

Rice Water for Skin 

Skin lightening 

If you head towards the personal care section in the supermarket, you will be shocked by the variety of soaps and lotions infused with rice water. Rice water is great for skin lightening and removing sunspots.

Furthermore, many people on the internet swear by the skin-lightening properties of rice water. Some of the ingredients, such as Kojic acid, present in rice water are renowned for their skin lightening and brightening functions.

Well, if you want to get that glowing skin, rice water is your way to go.

Anti-wrinkle and sun protection 

Rice Water for Anti-wrinkle and sun protection 
Rice water paste used for skincare (source)

When applied topically on the skin, rice water increases collagen and protects the skin from sun damage. It helps keep our skin supple by promoting elasticity. Some people believe that it is a natural sunscreen.

This nutrient-rich solution is packed with plenty of antioxidants that protect the skin from free radical damage, preventing fine lines and early signs of aging. How about replacing those sunscreen and anti-wrinkle serums with a spoon full of rice water?

Rice Water for Hair 

Do you have lifeless, rough, damaged hair that has endured layers of bleaching colors and hair styling products? If yes, make sure you rinse your hair with rice water or use a rice water hair pack right before you shampoo your hair.

The rice water can repair damaged hair with the help of inositol, which helps rejuvenate dry and stressed hair, including split ends and frizziness. These Inositol supplements are an excellent cure for hair thinning and balding.

Fermented rice water works like a magic potion for dandruff. The antifungal properties help remove dandruff and dandruff-causing Fungi. Furthermore, it also prevents scalp dermatitis and fungal bumps on the scalp.

Rice is your best friend for those who are desperately trying to grow out your hair after a bad haircut. The amino acids in rice water help your hair grow faster by providing a good boost of nutrients. Additionally, vitamins B, C, and E support hair regeneration.

It seems like rice water is a solution to almost all our hair problems!

And if you are way too busy to prepare a fresh batch of rice water every once in a while, you can opt for shampoos containing rice water.

Rice Water for Digestive System 

Rice water is one of the ancient remedies to treat diarrhea, stomach bugs, and food poisoning. However, if you would like to ingest rice water orally, make sure to use the rice that has been harvested in a chemical-free environment.

Due to excessive fertilizers and pesticides, rice water can contain traces of arsenic, leading to cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and heart diseases.

How to prepare rice water? 

rice grains - rice water
Rice grains (source)

The three most popular ways to prepare rice water are soaking, boiling, and fermenting. There is no hard and fast rule in the preparation. Hence, you can opt for any of these preparation methods depending on your preference and time.

Soaking the rice 

The quickest and easiest method to prepare a fresh batch of rice water in a matter of a few minutes is by soaking it in water.

Steps involved:

  • Take a cup of uncooked rice and wash it thoroughly with clean water.
  • Take a large bowl and fill it with three cups of clean drinking water.
  • Pour the washed rice into the bowl and soak it for at least 45 minutes to extract the rice water.
  • Strain the water into a container. Your rice water is ready to use.

Note: It is best to soak the rice for about 3 to 4 hours to get good concentrated rice water.

Fermenting the rice water 

Researchers claim that fermented rice water is much more beneficial than plain rice water because it contains more antioxidants. Hence, these antioxidants are a typical ingredient in beauty products.

Steps involved:

  • Follow the steps mentioned above for the soaking method.
  • Before straining the rice water, leave it for two days at room temperature.
  • After 48 hours, strain the fermented rice water into a clean container. Now, go ahead and yield the benefits of fermented rice water!

Note: The Yao women recommend adding a citrus fruit peel to speed up the fermentation.

Boiling method 

You can also prepare a thick paste-like texture of rice water by boiling the washed rice in water for a few minutes. This paste can be applied to your hair as a mask to give it a spa-like deep conditioning treatment.

Steps involved:

  • Take a cup of washed rice.
  • Put about 5 cups of water to a rolling boil and pour the rice over the boiling water.
  • Cover the lid of the pot and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes.
  • Switch off the flame and let it cool down before straining the rice water.

How to use rice water appropriately for maximum benefits?

If you plan to use rice water for your skin, it is best to opt for the rice water prepared by soaking the rice. Conversely, you can also use the rice water prepared by boiling method once in a while to see what works best for you. Many users report that they could see significant changes in their complexion while using plain soaked rice water.

Soak a few cotton patches in rice water and dab it all over your face, neck, and hands. It would be great to refrigerate your rice water at all times to avoid fungal and bacterial development. Make sure to prepare a fresh batch every once in 3 to 4 days.

If you are using rice water as a toner, you do not have to wash it off. However, if you are going for a face pack prepared by boiling rice water, wash it off with lukewarm water once it dries out.

As for hair, you can use any of the methods mentioned earlier to prepare the rice water for hair. However, it has been observed that fermented rice water works best for hair. Take a cup of rice water and rinse your hair with it after shampooing your hair. Leave it for 5 minutes and wash it off. The rice water will technically replace your conditioner.

It is best to use a mild shampoo when using rice water to yield maximum benefits. You can also use a thick mask prepared by boiling rice once to boost the moisture and penetration in the hair follicles.

If you are looking forward to consuming rice water to boost your digestion, prepare the rice water by soaking. Fermented rice water is not ideal for consumption, and the same goes for rice water prepared by boiling method.

It is best to consume the rice water early on an empty stomach to jump-start your metabolism early in the morning.

How to extend the shelf life of your rice water? 

Since chemical preservatives are not added to our rice water, it is highly prone to bacterial and fungal development. If you see that your rice water looks different or smells foul, you either stored it inappropriately or it has simply expired.

We cannot stop the rice water from expiration; however, we can prolong its shelf life by appropriately storing it.

Steps involved:

  • Let your rice water cool down completely (if you are using the boiling method) before straining it into a container.
  • Store your rice water in a clean glass jar with an air-tight lid.
  • Place it in a refrigerator at all times.
  • Add in a piece of citrus fruit peel to extend the shelf life by 2-3 days.

How frequently can you use rice water? 

Long Rice grains (source)

Rice water is free from side effects when applied topically. You can use it twice a day, every day, as either toner or face rinse. As for the face pack, it is recommended to use it twice a week.

While incorporating the mixture in your hair care routine, you can use the rice water either as a hair pack or hair rinse every time you wash your hair.

Golden tips

  • Always use organic and pesticide-free rice to ensure there are no traces of arsenic or harmful foreign compounds.
  • It is best to use white rice over brown rice as it is rich in water-soluble compounds and vitamins.

To conclude 

Rice water is the miracle fluid for ageless skin and healthy hair. If an inexpensive product such as rice water promises us to leave with wrinkle-free skin and a head full of hair in our 80s, why not give it a go, right? After all, it is the safest and side-effect-free concoction for our daily beauty regime.

(Last Updated on October 21, 2021 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Shradha Bhatta holds a Bachelors’s Degree in Social Work along with a Post-graduate degree in Project Management from Georgian College in Canada. Shradha enjoys writing on a variety of topics and takes pleasure in discovering new ideas. She likes traveling and spending time with nature. She is a very people-person who loves talking about climate change and alerting people to go green!