Natural Hair Growth Tip: Fermented Rice Water Review

This post was originally published in 2019. It’s been updated with 2022 progress notes and a before & after pic.
I started using fermented rice water as a hair rinse a month ago and have been completely blown away by how much faster and thicker my hair is growing in already. Here is the story of my hair growth journey and everything I have learned about using the rice water hair rinse so far.

If you also use rice water for hair growth and would like to participate in a survey about rice water, please do so here. It’ll be interesting to see how it works for various hair types, hair loss conditions, etc.


First of all, what is rice water?

This is the water that absorbs the vitamins and minerals from rice after it’s been washed, rinsed, and soaked in the water for anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours. It is used topically for hair growth, as a skin toner, and some folks even drink it and report numerous health benefits. The purpose of this post is to share my experience using it primarily as a hair growth remedy. Spoiler alert: it is AMAZING.

Make sure to follow along with my progress on Instagram under my Rice Water highlights and on Twitter.

In this post I’ll cover the following:

  • My experience with rice water (including progress pics)
  • Who should use rice water
  • Rice water as a skin toner
  • Rice water for eyelashes, eyebrows, and nail growth
  • Rice water for grey hair
  • Comparing rice water to other hair growth remedies and products
  • History of rice water
  • The science & chemistry of rice water
  • How to make rice water
  • And FAQ at the end

My experience with rice water

I love to research haircare, hair products, and natural hair remedies. I first became interested in rice water in mid-November 2018 through watching Youtube videos that came up in their “Recommended” section.

Here are some of the videos I watched that convinced me to give it a shot:

I used it for the first time on December 6th, 2018. I noticed right away that my hair felt extra soft, especially around the roots where I focused my application. Not just soft, but immediately thicker and plush-feeling.

I avoided the ends because my hair is heavily balayaged and bleach-damaged and I didn’t want to over-keratinize my porous ends. 

I started actually *seeing* new hair growth within a couple weeks, mostly around my hairline in the form of baby hairs.

Here’s a picture taken on December 22, 2018, in which you can see a lot of baby hairs, which I honestly hadn’t seen so dense since high school! And it’s only gotten thicker since then.

I was silly and didn’t measure my length at the beginning of using rice water but based on the length of the brand new baby hairs I’d say *at least* an inch in the past month, which is twice my usual rate.  
I don’t have a before picture, because I didn’t expect such dramatic results. But I basically did not have baby hairs. So that’s easy enough to visualize. Lol.

One thing, I have noticed that when I was using it on my whole body that literally just a couple of the super fine hairs on my torso also grew. Didn’t get thicker or darker but grew super long lol, like half an inch long. So I stopped applying to my body.

I’m also using it like a toner on my whole face. I have not noticed any effect to my facial hair. I had some purging actually at first and now my skin looks really good, not sure if it’s the rice water or not. My boyfriend has been using it for the last two weeks, and he is still experiencing minor skin purging as well.

My hair isn’t thin by any means but I def had noticed my hair getting thinner in my mid-20s, especially at the temples. I would avoid parting it in certain areas for this reason. To see it BOUNCE back with such force, so quickly, has been mindblowing.

I also love how it has affected my overall hair texture. It has more volume and definition. Here’s my 2022 progress pic:



Rice Water for Grey Hair

I’ve also noticed that my grays are actually totally laying down. I don’t have a lot of grey hairs but the ones that are present were wiry and liked to stand straight up. If you have grays, you know. So to have them actually soften and lay down with the rest of my hair is really amazing.

The Red Yao women of China, known for growing their hair to floor-length thanks to washing with rice water, report not going grey till their 80s, so it’ll be interesting to see how it impacts my grays. More on this later.

2022 update: Rice water has not eradicated my greys, and who knows if it slowed down their progress. Since then I’ve learned that copper deficiency is the main culprit in grey hairs, and I’ve been increasing my copper intake through eating liver & oysters.

Rice water for eyelashes, eyebrows, and nail growth

On December 24, I started using rice water on my face, focusing on eyebrows and lashes.

Within four days I noticed that the rice water was already causing the bare patches in my lower lash line, especially on my right eye, to fill in noticeably.

I also soak my nails in rice water and immediately feel that they are stronger and more flexible, and they grow much faster. Make sure to check out my blog post and book on Nail Reading, both of which include tips on growing your nails.

Seriously if you want your hair, brows, lashes, and nails to get thicker, stronger and longer, it’s worth experimenting. Rice is the cheapest AND best solution I’ve ever tried. Everything else is more expensive and doesn’t even work as well! Which brings us to the next topic.


Who should use rice water?

I have only experimented on myself and my boyfriend. Based on our results and other people’s anecdotal reports, I would recommend experimenting with it to anyone who wants to their hair to grow in thicker, faster, and healthier.

As always when trying new remedies or products, patch test on a small area of skin first to determine whether you’re allergic or not. I am not a medical expert and none of the advice in this post should be taken as medical advice.


Is rice water better than other hair growth supplements and DIY/home/botanical remedies?

So far, yes. It blows every other remedy I personally have ever tried out of the water. No contest. The main thing is rice water actually has resulted in a LOT of new hair growth, as well as making my hair grow about twice as fast as its usual rate, whereas the products I’ve used in the past that worked only caused my existing hair to grow slightly faster. Here’s my take on every hair growth remedy I have tried:

Biotin supplements: Hard to tell if it made my hair grow faster, because I mostly was using biotin heavily during the years that I was totally platinum blonde and my hair was breaking faster than it was growing. But I never noticed an increase in hair density or increase in baby hairs.

Collagen powder: For about a year from 2017-2018. I noticed it made my nails stronger, but I didn’t notice an improvement to my hair.

Castor oil for lashes: Never did a damn thing for my lashes but I was also never consistent with it for more than a couple weeks at a time. I know of at least one person who reports lash growth with consistent use. With the rice water I started seeing new lashes growing within a few days. I’ve been using it on my lashes for 3 weeks and am also noticing an increase in lash length, as well as new lashes growing in.

Hair/skin/nail supplements and prenatal vitamins from health stores: Some of them maybe made my hair grow a little faster, but nothing noticeable. Nothing like the speed I’ve noticed with rice water, which so far is about an inch a month (twice its usual rate). I always noticed most results from these supplements in my nails being stronger.


This is the product I previously took religiously for a couple years to get my platinum blonde hair past shoulder length. It is also the product I’ve always recommended to clients, and if you can’t do rice water for whatever reason, this is my next best recommendation.

Again, it was hard for me personally to tell exactly how much faster it made my hair grow because my hair was breaking so much, even with the Olaplex and protein treatments I was using. But it allowed me to get past shoulder-length, which I was stuck at for a couple years. 

Random Instagram Hair Growth Supplement: The closest results I’ve seen to rice water. It made my hair grow very fast, which I loved, but I did not notice new hair growth/an increase in density the way I see with rice water. Also, I suspect that it increased the number of grey hairs. Also, it cost $90 for a month’s supply.

And I don’t recommend them anyways because I dislike their business model. I bought it off instagram because the reviews and before and after pics were amazing, and they claimed to be giving it away for free plus shipping costs. So I paid $4-5 for shipping and received the product and loved it, and then a month later noticed on my bank statement that they charged me over $90 for the bottle.

It was apparently in their fine print that I would be charged later. If you’re telling people your product is free and banking on them not reading the fine print to make your sale, guess what? They’re not going to recommend your product to anyone later.

SK-II: This is a skincare product that I used about 5 years ago. I bring it up because its big selling point is a rice-based ingredient called pitera, which is produced during the fermentation process. Apparently the makers of SK-II got the idea for their product when visiting a sake distillery and noticed that the workers there all had very beautiful skin on their hands from coming in contact with sake all day. So they isolated pitera and made it a very expensive product. I bought one bottle for over $100. It was really nice, like a very hydrating and soothing toner. But not so amazing that I felt the need to purchase it again.

Speaking of products, I’ve found a couple companies that are selling rice water for as much as $26 a bottle. I assume that these products are not fermented, for reasons I’ll explain below. If making your own rice water is inaccessible to you for whatever reason and you prefer to purchase a pre-made product, please read the section below on the science and chemistry of rice water and consider the difference between fermented and non-fermented rice water before spending your hard-earned dollars.


History of Rice Water

The Red Yao women are from the Huanglo village in Southern China, and they’re known for having floor-length hair thanks to washing their hair with rice water. As I mentioned above, they are also reported to not go grey til their 80s. This is the best article I’ve found on them. These women have the longest hair in the world! Of course I’m taking their hair advice. 

April 5 2020 Update: Here is a great video that claims to share the original recipe of the Red Yao women. I’ve tried this method once and LOVE it, as it smells great.


Many of the articles on rice water also state that Southeast Asian women also use rice water in their hair, but I personally have not yet found any information confirming this. I don’t doubt that it’s true, just saying this for the record.

Rice water has also been used by Japanese women for centuries. In Japan it is called Yu-Su-Ru. According to this 2010 study, Japanese court ladies of the Heian Period washed their skin and hair, called suberakashi, with Yu-Su-Ru. This research paper also says “However, when hair was treated with Yu-Su-Ru alone, flaking was observed on the hair surface, and the direct application of Yu-Su-Ru was considered difficult.” Which leads to the next topic:


The Science and Chemistry of Rice Water

Ok so I haven’t observed any flaking whatsoever when I use it. Maybe they weren’t fermenting it. That’s one thing I haven’t been able to confirm in my research – what is the chemical difference between fermenting it and boiling it?

Here is my assumption: My understanding of fermented foods is that fermentation breaks down starches while producing probiotoics and making vitamins and minerals more bio-available, making the food easier to digest. I would assume that using the unfermented rice water, or boiled rice water which some recommend, results in a higher starch concentration, which perhaps explains the flaking and why some people find that rice water makes their hair dry. Are there any chemists out there who can speak to this?

According to one retailer of rice water (which does not appear to be fermented), this is the nutritional makeup of their rice water:

All eight essential amino acids and antioxidantsVitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin, Phosphorous, Iron, Magnesium, Selenium, Niacin, Calcium, Potassium, Manganese and Zinc

No mention of pitera, which is produced by rice during the fermentation process and a key ingredient in the cult skincare product SK-II (see the product reviews section above) which supports my belief that this product is not fermented. So if you are unable to DIY for whatever reason and want to purchase a product, keep in mind that the products probably aren’t fermented, which will likely change how it affects your hair growth.

And as to why fermented rice water may prevent grey hair, it apparently contains a high concentration of B-vitamins, which are necessary for melanin production.


Rice Water Recipe & Instructions

I wash the rice then leave it in a bowl of water for 12-24 hours until it starts to smell fermented. It seems to vary based on climate.

Then I wash and condition my hair, towel dry, then pour it over just my scalp and face and let it air dry. I’m actually on day 3 of an experiment of not shampooing my hair and just using the rice water for cleansing, so stay tuned for updates on that.

I just realized today when I went to the store for more rice that I’ve been using sweet/sticky rice for most of this experiment. Sticky rice has more starch and less nutrition than “regular” rice. I’m switching to regular rice and will report back on how that works.

The rice water will start to work as soon as within 30 minutes of soaking, so I’ll use it for toner and on my lashes and brows during my skincare routine as well.

Some people recommend soaking for just 15-30 minutes before use. Others recommend boiling the rice in water, then straining out the rice. I suspect that boiling would kill the probiotics that develop in the fermentation process and just leave you with starchy water. But this is just my theory.

I’ve seen a lot of rice water instructions talk about the rinse looking “milky.” As you can see in the photo above, my rice water is relatively clear.

If you let it ferment longer I suspect it works even better but that smell is really strong. One person on twitter reported to me that she fermented it for 4 days and it didn’t actually smell any stronger than after one day. (I’ll experiment with this myself and report back.) The fermented scent disappears when it’s dry.

According to this article, the Red Yao women make their rice water by fermenting it with ginger slices, tea seeds and orange peel – for ten days! I’ll try this method soon and report back.

Sometimes I’ll add essential oils which helps with the smell, but in that case make sure to keep it out of your eyes! Learned the hard way. It will burn.

Another hard earned lesson: don’t throw the fermented rice in the trash. Flush it down the toilet lol!
April 5 2020 Update: Here is a great video that claims to share the original recipe of the Red Yao women. I’ve tried this method once and LOVE it, as it smells great.



How do you use it on your lashes?

I just pat it onto my whole face and let it air dry.

How often do you use it?

Every day-ish! And definitely every time I wash. As soon as I use it I just start a new batch. I use the rinse even if I’m not actually shampooing my hair. If I don’t have time I stick it in the fridge so it doesn’t ferment too much. If it ferments too much (by which I mean it smells too strong), I dilute it with water. The smell goes away when it’s dry.
2022 update: I now use it once or twice a month.

Do you spray it on or do a rinse with it?

Rinse! But it’s convenient for me to do so almost daily at this point because I work from home. I’d be spraying it on my head if I didn’t have time to do a full air-dry. Sometimes I put it on my hands and just quickly massage it into my scalp.

White rice or brown?

I use white. I’ve never tried brown, nor have I seen reports of anyone using brown rice for rice water.

How much rice, how much water?

Similar proportions to cooking but even more water.

Can you still use the rice after or is it only used to make the rinse water?

I’ve never cooked with it but I will try and report back.

What do you do with the rice after letting it ferment?

I either use it immediately or put it in the fridge.

How long does it take to see results?

I started *feeling* results in my hair almost immediately. It felt softer and more plush. I started seeing results within two weeks.

Will rice water work on different types of hair thinning, balding, post-partum hair loss, or hair loss conditions like alopecia areata?

I don’t know, but I’m talking to a wide range of people who are experimenting, so I’ll update this post or create a new post as I learn more.
Hope this post is helpful! I’ll keep using it and experimenting and post more updates. Please let me know if you have any questions or if you’ve used fermented rice water and how it worked for you! Make sure to follow me on Instagram and Twitter for more hair growth updates.
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18 thoughts on “Natural Hair Growth Tip: Fermented Rice Water Review”

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  3. Type here..i have a relaxed hair. i have read about several ways of using the rice water. i need a more confirmed clarification. Do i use it on my hair before shampooing or after conditioning or overnight.

    1. Hi Portia – rinse just your roots (holding your ends out of the way) after conditioning and let it air dry. You can leave it in until your next wash day.

    1. For most people I’ve spoken to regarding mild cases of dry scalp and dandruff, yes it does help. But for severe cases of dandruff that are related to circulatory and fungal/candida issues, you’re probably better off focusing on getting your digestive system in order first.

    1. Yes, pour it onto the scalp and leave it off the ends. And keep in mind for schedule purposes it may make you need to get them redone or taken out sooner than normal.

  4. If rice water really helps with gray hair, do you think that beginning in my 40’s I might start growing hair back in my natural color where there is now gray?

  5. Most people don’t know that fast hair growth amino scalp therapy shampoos (of course with no sulfates, no parabens, no DEA) are even a thing. Folks now may attain longer hair and experience more options. For sure worth researching.

    If you’re addressing hair loss, hair damage, avoiding skin disorders, hair growth, hair and scalp health more often than not, similar principles actualize.

    Generally, you want to stay away from hair treatments and products that use chemicals such as parabens, DEA and sulfates.

    What’s good for your hair is healthy for your skin as well.

    Obviously the content here is so accurate for various reasons. It avoids the common errors and errors too many fall into- purchasing bad alternatives. Keep up the great content!

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