Fermented rice water does wonders for hair! I have been using it since May 2020, and I have never looked back. My hair feels much softer and is noticeably healthier. Below, I’ll talk about this wonderful water, how to use it, and how to make it.
What fermented rice water is
Fermented rice water is water that has been in contact with rice, whether through boiling, soaking, etc., and has been fermented for beauty reasons. I have seen it used as a facial toner, but I use mine on my hair.
Many sources I have seen say it is the women in Asian cultures that have been the pioneers of this practice, and credit their long hair and lack of graying to this practice of bathing their hair in rice water. I had seen it all over Pinterest, which is how I was exposed to it, and decided to give it a try.
*WARNING*: it is not for those strongly sensitive to smell! As it is fermented water, it smells strongly of rice. Strongly. This is not a deterrent for me as I will take the benefits over the negatives, it’s just to prepare you for what you may be embarking on.
How to make fermented rice water
Making fermented rice water is not difficult at all; all it requires is water, rice, and patience (and a strong tolerance of smell). Here is a summary of the process:
- Cover rice in a decent amount of water and let sit for ~ 30 minutes. (Not necessary to measure this water as it will be poured off).
- Drain rice, and cover with more water. Stir well, drain, and repeat 2 or 3 times, until water is very clear.
- Cover rice with measured water that you will be using. Let sit covered with a towel at room temperature, undisturbed, for 2-3 days, or until it smells fermented.
- Strain water into container, and discard the rice. Store water in fridge as you use it.
There are so many different ways to make rice water, but I have only tried the above method (my preferred method) and the one below. I’m sure many of them have their merits, but these are the only ones I can comment on. Here’s another way I tried it and how it turned out:
- Boiled the rice in water for ~ 5 minutes, then letting it cool and fermenting that. It turned out basically the same, except one time I let the rice ‘cool’ in the pot on the burner. This resulted in a bunch of huge rice grains and no water left to ferment. I figured it wasn’t worth the trouble, as the fermenting the rice by itself yields the same results.
Note: If your water isn’t fermenting properly and you are using tap water, it may be that your water is too hard or contains too many chemicals. If that is the case, try it with filtered water. My tap water works just fine, though.
Scaling up the recipe
As this takes 2 or 3 days to ferment, it’s not practical to make it every single time you want fermented rice water for your hair, especially if using it multiple time a week. Hence, why I scale up my recipe and keep it in the fridge between uses. (As an added bonus, I find the cold water to be rather refreshing as I pour it on my head!)
I have more mason jars than I know what to do with, and this is one of the many recipes where my half gallon jars come in handy. To make about 7 cups of rice water, these are the quantities I use:
- Rice: 2 cups
- Water: fill the jar to 1″ below the top
This way, I get a lot of water for the same amount of work it would take to make one cup. My advice: if you are new to this and aren’t sure if you like it, start small. Then, if you think you’ll use more, scale it up. Find out what works for you and make it your own. It will keep in the fridge for a very long time (like 6 months+), just be mindful that it will slowly keep fermenting over time.
How to use fermented rice water in your hair
Okay, now that you’ve made fermented rice water, you may be wondering what to do with it (which makes sense). I have seen two uses on the internet, but I do prefer one over the other.
- Pouring over hair in the shower and rinse out before shower ends. (My preferred method)
This method works very well for me, and I like how it softens my hair. To make it a habit, I use rice water whenever I wash my hair. Once my hair is clean and the shampoo is rinsed out, I pour about 1 cup of the fermented rice water over my hair as evenly and thoroughly as I possibly can.
Sometimes, I’ll add 1/4 cup of coconut water, as it adds softness and sheen. I let the water stay on my hair for the duration of my shower, and right before I’m finished, I rinse it out. Follow with conditioner or your normal hair routine.
- Spritzing your hair with rice water as a leave-in moisturizer.
As I type this, I have tried this method once. I’m not sure if it did anything, and the smell lingered in my hair longer than it does when I rinse it out in the shower. I only saw this one place, but, who knows, maybe it’s even better than my method. Nonetheless, I’ll stick to my approach. If you decide to try it, however, let me know the results!
- 1/4 cup long grain rice
- 1 cup water
- Cover rice in a decent amount of water and let sit for ~ 30 minutes. (It's not necessary to measure this water as it will be poured off).
- Drain rice, and cover with new water. Stir well, drain, and repeat with fresh water 2 or 3 times, until water is very clear.
- Cover rice with 1 cup of water (see notes). Let sit covered with a towel at room temperature, undisturbed, for 2-3 days, or until it smells fermented. (If it still doesn't smell like anything, check again in 12 hour intervals until something changes).
- Strain water into storage container, and discard the rice. Store water in fridge as you use it.
Hard water may not work and therefore filtered water can be used, but my tap water works just fine.
Personally, I use about one cup of fermented rice water on my hair at a time, 2-3 times a week (see post for how to use).
I typically use it within 2 weeks of making it, but this should keep in the fridge for a long time.
This recipe can be scaled up, so that you don't have to make it every time. (See post for how to do this).
Like I said above, rice water has made a noticeable difference in my hair. Each time I use it, my hair feels softer and stronger. I’m not sure how it affects different hair types, but hopefully it can work for everyone.
Have you used fermented rice water in your hair? What has been your experience? Let me know in the comments!