Fermented rice water (for hair)

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:

  1. 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).
  2. Drain rice, and cover with more water. Stir well, drain, and repeat 2 or 3 times, until water is very clear.
  3. 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.
  4. Strain water into container, and discard the rice. Store water in fridge as you use it.

Alternative methods

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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!

Rice water

Fermented rice water

Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 2 days
Total Time: 2 days 5 minutes

Fermenting rice water for hair is not difficult, and will make your hair so soft! All you need is rice, water, and patience..

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup long grain rice
  • 1 cup water

Instructions

  1. 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).
  2. Drain rice, and cover with new water. Stir well, drain, and repeat with fresh water 2 or 3 times, until water is very clear.
  3. 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).
  4. Strain water into storage container, and discard the rice. Store water in fridge as you use it.

Notes

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).

Conclusion

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!

21 responses to “Fermented rice water (for hair)”

  1. Antonella Avatar

    You do not mention if you have to shampoo your hair before the rice water. Please advise.
    A friend of mine, her hair is thinning and losing hair. She had gorgeous hair and is quite worried and stressed about it. I’m hoping this helps her.

    1. Jenae Lawson Avatar

      Hi Antonella,

      I do shampoo my hair before using the rice water. I really only use it when I wash my hair, and I will edit the post to clarify this. Hope this helps!

    2. Olivia Avatar

      She actually did mention it but it’s ok. Haha. As an add person I miss small details too. Shampoo ur hair first. Put the rice water in ur hair. Leave it in while u shave or wash it body or something. Rinse the rice water out. Then do conditioner. Hope that helps

      1. zelda Avatar

        Thank you so much for the information.

    3.  Avatar

      She does, she mentioned washing her hair with shampoo, then the rice water. She finished cleaning her body then she rinses off the rice water and uses conditioner

    4.  Avatar

      This plan did say to wash first but the Yao tribe that uses this process uses the fermented rice as their shampoo. Nothing else.

  2.  Avatar

    i will try from today

    1. Ann Avatar

      I made this for my face (with distilled water), but oh my God, the smell…It smells like throw up.My face smells disgusting after using it, even with added essential oils.I can’t use it at night, when I actually should, because I would have to sleep in a different room, or my husband would move out of the bedroom. One of us would have to.

  3.  Avatar

    how do i use it on my braided hair

  4. Amy Lawson Avatar

    How does affect color treated hair

    1. Porshe Avatar

      I have colored locs and I use it with my wash hair day in shower, then condition heavy! My locs are growing beautifully and my hair feels strong.

  5.  Avatar

    Is its works for kids

  6. elle Avatar

    what are the benefits of rice water on the hair and how long does it take to start noticing the benefits?

  7. H Avatar

    From what I’ve read, you don’t want to rinse the rice until the water is clear and let all the water go down the drain. You’re not cooking it, you want all those starches in the white water.

  8. Joëlle Brooke Tanenbaum Avatar

    Miz JENAE THANK YOU!!!
    My mom is Jewish with beautiful thick dark brown & auburn ringlet curls. My natural father was in old Sokol terms “nappy headed”. I tell people when God made me he went on lunch when it was time for my hair. Upon returning from His wonderful meal & drowsy, he forgot to add in my mother’s hair. He figured that I’d find a solution since He gave me intelligence. I have suffered my whole life with my hair! It is *nappy, it doesn’t like to grow, dreads, natural, relaxed etc. it is the same, I just want long pretty hair. I want “good” hair that grows from my head, not my wigs.
    *Don’t take offense, I keep it real.
    So 10 months ago after a severe back injury at home & distracting myself with YouTube University, I see women talking about fermented rice water and most were saying they didn’t know exactly if it worked but hey, we’ll try almost anything to get good hair, so they were all using it. Everyone said it did something that was along the lines of better!
    Mine wouldn’t always ferment though so Google sent me here to Miz Jenae. Gotta leave the rice in the water, cover & leave on the counter a couple of days and check it every 12 hrs. Wait, all I had to do was follow Miz Jenae’s directions. I didn’t rinse the rice first when I first started but now I do because it does work better, she points out that the rinsing gets rid of the starch which is not good for our hair.

    THE FRW (Fermented Rice Water) WORKS!!! ⭐️✨

    1st time using the FRW: I shampoo (L’Oréal Extraordinary for Dry hair, has flower oils & my hair loves flower oils), put the FRW all over my hair but it’s not absorbing or staying in, just running out & it stinks, yes like baby’s throw up. It isn’t just stinky, it is stanky stink! I don’t care but my friend Sarah she doesn’t like it at all & always has to say something about it. Oh well. Ok so you know the big soda bottles, 2L ones? I used almost 1/2 of one on my head before it started to stay in.
    Now here’s the interesting thing, the FRW changed my hair! While it’s in I was touching my hair & OMG it wasn’t as nappy. My hair was loosening and felt lighter, it felt better on my scalp. So I left it in my whole bath, like an hour, rinsed, conditioned (same as my shampoo but the conditioner) and I was like wow, this is amazing. Rice. Water. Ferment. Really!!??!! Yes.
    Fast forward 10 mo’s to now. I was depressed bad for a couple months & didn’t use the FRW, my hair went back to that nappy mess. I have tried leaving in the FRW like a leave in conditioner, adding it to leave in conditioner, adding it to my oil mix, by itself. Maybe if it is used like such for a month but a couple times as a leave in made no difference. I like the shower, rinse out method.
    I am back on it every 3 days. I live in Honolulu, Hawaii and it’s warm here all the time and I sweat now so I rinse my hair sometimes twice a day. Always the FRW afterwards. I go to the beach, I rinse then FRW. I sweat plenty, rinse then FRW. I am careful with what goes on after!!!! The conditioner can undo the benefit of the FRW then I have to go back to wash, FRW, wait, rinse out, aloe vera from my , a little leave in (Moroccan Oil brand leave in or Not Your Mother’s 10-1), put my oil mix all over my palms then touch on my ends up, massage my ginger root/mint/aloe/couple drops of tea tree oil mix into my scalp, brush with the original detangling brush from this London guy, think positive about my hair while doing this, put in a ponytail using the spiral plastic band, on goes my 2nd hair, my wig.

    My hair goes into a ponytail now!
    My hair is not nappy anymore, it changed! My hair is strong, man I get tired after brushing, but it is small coils now, not nappy!! Oh I can not brush and my hair hangs down to the base of my neck, not bad. If I put stuff in my hair like coil cream or glaze it looks pretty and doesn’t shrink up a lot, but most of that stuff makes it dry so until it’s longer I’m not doing that.

    The FRW, lots of moisture promoting, scalp stimulating & prayers has brought me hair I can work with. Thank you God for giving me knowledge to seek out a viable remedy and a HUGE THANK YOU to Miz Jenae for not playing around and being direct & clear. I’m excited to see what happens a few years from now. 40 years I had that nappy mess that would hurt my head if it got too tight. The relaxers killed my hair though, making it all hard like cardboard. The FRW smells but I associate the smell with good results so it doesn’t bother me at all. Make plenty exactly like she says, use it 3-4 times a week, plenty of it, let it sit in there & do its thing, rinse, put in stuff in its most raw usable form, aloe vera from the plant not bottle is better, get 1/2 a spine mash it all over the hair, no need to scrape cut etc. use it fresh, grow plants in your house even if it’s cold where you live, show them sunlight & water, happy music, they grow, (think salad vs. creamed & fried) that promotes hair not being dry, stimulate the scalp (good blood flow makes hair grow), if you have someone you trust ask them to massage your scalp & head for like 15 minutes a day. Don’t be afraid of the water and cleaning the scalp! I used to be like most ethnic women & didn’t want water near my head but here’s the thing: Salt is not good for hair or scalp, it makes it really dry, hard, itchy etc. We sweat & our scalp is hot so get friendly with water. The FRW after regular water is our friend! It’s the trick. Pray and vibe positivity because God wants us to look & feel good, positive energy promotes positive results. Be patient & stop clock watching. This is a journey to healing.

    I hope you find this & Miz Jenae’s helpful wisdom. Even if you choose to do different I wish you success in your journey.

  9. Joëlle Brooke Tanenbaum Avatar

    *Sorry for the typo
    Skool not Sokol

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  11. Ayesha Avatar

    For how long does the fermented rice water last for ? Pleasd mention the days when we refrigerate it

  12. Cho Aera Avatar

    Is it mandatory to use shampoo beforw applying rice water? I’m curious cuz i don’t use chemical on my hair, only soft soap

  13. Jos Avatar

    would it work if i wash the rice using the tap water until the water is clear then at the final stage when it’s time to ferment (when water is already clear), then using the filtered water? Otherwise that’s a lot of wasted filtered water. Pls advise. Thx.

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