Rice Water For Curly Hair: How To Guide + Recipes

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After hairstylist Lorraine Massey published her book Curly Girl: The Handbook, the curly girl method (CGM) started to take the world by storm. 

Plenty of people with naturally curly hair began to embrace this movement. 

a woman with curly hair spraying rice water on her hair

Plenty of treatments also became a trend, thanks to the CGM.

For example, one of the most in-demand treatments uses rice water for curly hair. But despite its popularity, only a few know how to do it properly. 

If you want to know more about using rice water for curly hair, these are the pointers you must keep in mind. 

What Is Rice Water? 

Based on its name, rice water is starch-filled water produced after soaking rice grains. It contains nutrients like protein, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other antioxidants. 

Science claims that rice water can help keep the hair soft and healthy. According to a previous study, rice water may help boost hair elasticity and lessen surface friction. 

Another study conducted in a Japanese research facility created an imaging technique to observe the strengthening benefit of the carbohydrate inositol on hair.

Also called vitamin B8, this nutrient found in rice water can reportedly help prevent hair fall. 

However, more research could help prove the validity of these claims.

Before you look for the best-fermented rice water for hair recipe, it would help if you observe what it can do for your curly hair first. 

Key Benefits of Rice Water for Curly Hair 

The rice water rinse trend claims that this starchy liquid comes with a plethora of benefits: 

  • Strengthens hair
  • Enhances shine of hair
  • Detangles hair strands
  • Smoothens tresses 
  • Helps stimulate healthier and thicker hair growth
  • Eliminates dandruff
  • Soothes dry, itchy, flaky, and irritated scalp
  • Removes hard water buildup
  • Adds curl definition and volume to the curls

Other possible benefits of using hair rice water rinse include gentle cleansing and blood flow stimulation to the scalp. It also reportedly helps protect the hair strands from future damage. 

How to Make Rice Water for Hair

how to make rice water for hair infographic

Ideally, making rice water for hair may sound simple.

But there are proper techniques you must follow when making DIY rice water for hair recipes. 

Before you start making a rice water rinse for your curly hair, keep in mind that you can only use the white long-grain variety of rice for all the rice water conditioner recipes.

Other types of rice have higher protein contents, which can overwhelm your curls.  

There are three methods to produce rice water treatments for curly hair: 

Soaking Method

Soaking method infographic

This is the fastest and most straightforward way to create rice water. 

  1. Put 1/2 cup of uncooked rice grains in a deep bowl. 
  2. Rinse it properly, and strain. 
  3. Next, place the grains back into the bowl and add two to three cups of clean water. 
  4. Leave the rice to soak for another 30 minutes. 
  5. Strain the liquid into another clean bowl to collect your rice water. 

Boiling Method 

Boiling method infographic

This technique requires cooking the rice grains. 

  1. Like the soaking method, you must rinse 1/2 cup of rice properly. 
  2. Put it in a pot with boiling water. Let the rice cook. 
  3. Strain the liquid from the pot.
  4. Transfer it to a clean bowl. 

You may also do the modified boiling method. You can use the modified boiling method if you want a rice water conditioner recipe: 

Modified boiling method infographic
  1. Rinse 1/2 cup of rice.
  2. Put it in a pot with boiling water. Let the rice cook.
  3. Wait until the rice turns mushy. 
  4. Once it reaches your desired consistency, pour the rice over a fine-mesh strainer. 
  5. Put pressure on it as you push it through the sieve to achieve a conditioner-like appearance. 

Fermentation Method 

Fermentation method infographic

According to research, fermented substances come with more antioxidants.

So if you want to know how to make fermented rice water for hair, this is the best tip you will get. 

  1. First, thoroughly rinse a cup of long-grain rice. 
  2. Add three cups of clean water to it. 
  3. Strain the rice grains. 
  4. Let the rice water ferment for at least 48 hours. 

Once done, you can start using the liquid by pouring it over your hair using the scrunching method. 

Since the potency of fermented rice water is more substantial than those made using the other methods, you may want to dilute it, depending on your hair type. 

How to Use Rice Water on Hair

Using rice water rinse on curly hair can be as simple as how you created it. 

  1. First, you must wash your hair using your favorite shampoo for curly hair
  2. Rinse it with clean tap water. 
  3. Once all the shampoo suds come out, you may pour the rice water rinse over your hair strands.
  4. When the liquid has thoroughly seeped into the hair and scalp, you must leave it for up to 20 minutes. 
  5. Then give your hair a final rinse using clean tap water after the recommended period.  
a woman washing a lady's hair before rinsing with rice water for curly hair in a white sink

Can You Use Rice Water as a Leave-In Conditioner? 

One of the first questions CGM practitioners ask when using rice water for their hair is “How long can I leave rice water in my hair?” 

It is recommended to leave the rice water on the hair for approximately 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing. This period allows the hair to absorb the liquid’s essential nutrients to help boost hair health. 

But if you are looking for a rice water leave-in conditioner recipe, you must cross it out from your list of rice water hair treatments. 

Soaking your hair in rice water for a long time may cause protein overload, making your hair brittle and stiff. 

However, some people claim they leave rice water on their hair overnight and that it looks shinier and softer in the morning. Then again, the effectivity will depend on these factors:

Hair Porosity

The first thing you must consider when leaving rice water on your hair is the porosity of the strands

Hair porosity refers to the capacity of your tresses to absorb and keep moisture. 

If your hair has low porosity, you must limit the time you can spend soaking rice water since the starch and protein content of the liquid may stay on the hair shaft and turn into a crust when it dries out.

As a result, the hair will turn brittle and dry. 

So if your hair has low porosity, avoid leaving the rice water for one hour or longer. 

Rice Water Concentration 

If your rice water recipe yields highly concentrated liquid, it will have high starch and protein content. However, it may only help your hair achieve a healthy glow if you leave it on for a short time. 

You may dilute your rice water mixture before you think about using it as a leave in conditioner. 

Preparation Technique

If you use the fermentation method while creating rice water, you have created something more potent than those made using the soaking or boiling technique. 

So if you plan to leave rice water on your hair longer than the recommended time, you must try to avoid using fermented rice water. 

What Can You Add to a Rice Water Rinse? 

Several ingredients may work perfectly with your rice water. 

Essential Oils and Fragrances 

Adding oils and scents to your rice water can be wise, especially if you are unhappy with the smell of fermented rice water. 

You can put several drops of lavender essential oil in your rice water for the best results. Studies claim that lavender oil comes with antimicrobial and anti-inflammation properties. It also helps stimulate hair growth.

You may also add carrier oils like avocado or coconut oils to help the rice water penetrate the hair shaft properly. 

Hair Conditioner 

Incorporate your desired deep conditioner product for curly hair into your prepared rice water to create an all-in-one treatment. It will help you save time and effort in moisturizing your hair. 

Some of the best deep conditioner options include an aloe vera hair food mask to thoroughly hydrate the hair strands.  

a black woman wearing blue dress is smiling widely at the camera with her healthy curly hair due to rice water

How to Save and Keep Your Rice Water

You must place your prepared rice water in an air-tight container and then keep it in the refrigerator for up to a week. You may also freeze the product in an ice cube tray. 

If you pick the second option, you only need to take the ice cube tray out of the fridge one night before you plan to use it, then add a deep conditioner once the rice water becomes wholly defrosted. 

 Frequently Asked Questions 

How Often Can You Apply Rice Water on Your Hair? 

The frequency of using rice water depends on your hair’s needs. 

For example, you may use your rice water soak on your curly hair twice a week during the start of your CGM journey, especially if your hair is still in its highly damaged stage. 

Once your hair returns to shape, you may soak it again in rice water if the curls become stringy or lose their form. 

Does Rice Water Expire? 

Yes, even if you created fermented rice water. So always keep your rice water tightly secured and resting inside the refrigerator to help keep its longevity for at least one week. 

Can You Use Rice Water Rinse as a Clarifying Treatment? 

If your purpose is to remove impurities or dirt buildup on your hair and scalp, then there may be better products for you than rice water. This liquid does not have any clarifying property. 

You can only use this rinse to enhance your hair’s health and bring back its natural shine. 

Can Rice Water Thicken Your Hair?

Since rice water has high levels of starch, you can expect your hair to look thicker. However, this benefit only lasts for a while. 

When the liquid coats the hair shaft to boost its strength, it coats the strands to protect them from damage. As a result, you will have thicker and stronger hair while the rinse continues to cover the strands. 

Are there Other Uses for Rice Water? 

The starchy liquid of rice water soak is not only good for the hair and scalp but for the skin as well. 

Previous reports claimed that the starches in rice water could help the skin heal from dermatitis. You may also use rice water on your face twice daily as a toner or apply it on your skin once a day as your facial mask. 

Rice water may also help slow down the visible signs of aging, brightens skin, and repair a wide range of skin damage. 

Can You Buy Rice Water in Stores?

Some rice water products can be bought online or in physical stores. It usually comes in a spray to help apply the product to your hair strands efficiently. 

You may also find rice water serums with more powerful features. 

Rice Water Soak for Curly Hair: Should You Try It?

a close-up image of a woman washing rice and saving the rice water in a white bowl

Keeping your curly hair soft and silky requires thorough care and attention.

So aside from using expensive hair treatments and products made specifically for CGM guidelines, you could create your own rice water soak to keep your curls bouncy and lively. 

By using a rice water rinse to nourish and moisturize your curly hair, you can stay on track with your CGM journey because it does not contain any harmful chemicals or preservatives. 

You only need to understand how this liquid works and what it can do for your hair to ensure that you will reap the benefits of this treatment. 

So what are you waiting for?

Rejuvenate your curls back to their springy and lively form with the help of the homemade rice water rinse solution you created using the recipes mentioned above. 

Reap all the hair benefits of rice water in no time. 

Want to Know More About Hair Care Tips? 


  • Ashley Pena

    Ashley Pena brings over 13 years of seasoned writing and editing expertise, fortified by her Bachelor of Science in Management. Esteemed in the beauty domain, her content captivates readers with its depth and authenticity. While she navigates a broad spectrum of beauty trends, Ashley shines particularly as our resident K-beauty guru. Her articles are a harmonious blend of passion and profound knowledge, inspiring readers on their unique beauty journeys.

  • Jessica Hoelscher

    With thirteen years in cosmetology, Jessica Hoelscher is a seasoned stylist recognized for her modern techniques. A graduate of Paul Mitchell the School in St. Louis, her expertise has been showcased on Fox Two News and in People Magazine. Self-employed at Salon Lofts, her work has graced TV screens, styling for renowned events and Ole Miss cheerleaders.

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