Rice Water For Hair And Scalp: Benefits & Recipe9 min read

For centuries, across different corners of the world, hair has held significant cultural importance. It often symbolizes more than just a personal grooming routine; it reflects identity, status, and sometimes even spiritual significance. One remarkable example is the tradition of Yao women in Huanglou, China, whose hair serves as a symbol of fertility and marital status. Their unique haircare practice has been passed down through generations and captured the attention of the world, earning Huanglou the title in the Guinness Book for the Village of Longest Hair. What sets their hair care routine apart is their use of rice water, a practice rooted in tradition and known for its hair-nourishing properties. 

Let’s delve deeper into the fascinating world of Yao women’s hair care practices and understand the benefits of rice protein for hair growth and scalp health.

The Yao Women’s Rice Water Hair Rinse for Natural Hair Nourishment

The practice of plant-based hair care can be traced back hundreds of years as the Yao women in Huanglou have been using rice water as a fundamental element of their hair care routine for generations. Their rice water recipe involves a blend of natural ingredients:

  • Fresh river water provides the strands with natural minerals and nutrients
  • Locally grown white rice – provides vitamin B, proteins, micronutrients, and carbohydrates to feed the fermentation process (more on that later) 
  • Pomelo fruit skins – which enriches the rinse with vitamin C
  • Tea bran – derived from tea seeds, potentially increasing caffeine content

This concoction is believed to be the secret behind their long hair and its impeccable maintenance.

Rice Protein Benefits for Hair

There are numerous rice protein hair benefits that one can derive from incorporating the use of rice water in a hair care routine.

  • Reduction of Hair Loss: The use of rice water is associated with a decrease in hair loss, contributing to fuller and thicker hair over prolonged use of rice hair rinse due to the presence of proteins, amino acids, and various vitamins (B and C) in fermented rice water rinse naturally boosting activity in your keratinocytes – cells responsible for growing your hair
  • Prevention of Premature Greying: The antioxidants in rice water may help delay the onset of premature greying, boosting the activity of melanocytes – cells responsible for “manufacturing” your hair color – allowing your follicles to maintain natural hair color for longer.
  • Stimulation of Hair Growth: Fermented rice water rinse supports the anagen stage of hair growth, allowing hair to stay in the growth stage for longer. Anagen usually lasts 2-7 years and fermented rice water rinse can keep it at the longer side of this range
  • Enhanced Hair Elasticity: The introduction of proteins through rice water nourishes hair strands, increasing their elasticity and reducing the risk of breakage.
  • Rich in Antioxidants and Vitamins: Rice water is rich in antioxidants and vitamins (such as B vitamins) that nourish the scalp and stimulate hair growth. Hence a rice protein hair mask applied regularly can help boost your hair growth and promote a healthy scalp to support hair health
  • Elimination of Shampoo: Yao women only use fermented rice water to wash their hair thus replacing the need for shampoo. This eliminates the sulfates and harsh chemicals from their hair care routine naturally allowing their scalp to balance oil production and hair moisturization. The elimination of sulfates promotes the process of achieving healthy hair with rice protein as they are able to support natural hair nourishment.

You can use rice water rinse on its own without the shampoo: either replacing the shampoo completely or interspersing your wash days with the rinse and those with a gentle shampoo. (If shampoo is complete, your scalp will need a few weeks or months to adjust and balance the production of natural hair oils.)

Rice Protein Hair Treatment with Fermented Rice Water: A Step Beyond

Many sources quote the usage of rice water – rather than fermented rice water. However, skipping the fermentation step may deprive you of harvesting all the available benefits of the rinse for your hair growth. The fermentation process allows microorganisms within rice water to digest natural sugars and carbohydrates and leads to the production of a number of valuable compounds, including amino acids. These amino acids are a game-changer when it comes to hair health.

The Role of Amino Acids in Rice Water Hair Rinse

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and hair is primarily composed of a protein called keratin. When you apply fermented rice water to your hair and scalp, you introduce these amino acids, which can:

  • Strengthen hair strands by filling up the damaged hair cuticles and repairing damaged hair.
  • Enhance hair texture and boost hair elasticity.
  • Directly introduce necessary proteins closer to your scalp and hair roots
  • In addition, by fermenting the rinse becomes more alkalised which helps balance the pH of your scalp.

Compared to non-fermented rice water, which primarily provides carbohydrates, fermented rice water is a rich source of amino acids that can revitalize your scalp and hair and promote its growth. Hence if you are vying to make the most of rice protein for damaged hair treatment, using fermented rice water can be significantly beneficial.

Antioxidants and Vitamins in Fermented Rice Water

The rice protein benefits for hair fermented rice water for hair do not stop at amino acids! Fermented rice water is also packed with antioxidants and vitamins that contribute to overall hair health. Fermentation creates a higher amount of antioxidants, because of how microbes break down the carbohydrates in rice water. This process increases the amount of helpful phenolic compounds and flavonoids. 

Also, when plant cell walls break down, it release and makes more of these antioxidant compounds. These compounds can help stop harmful free radicals, remove metals, and deal with harmful oxygen, all of which are good for your scalp and hair health.

The vitamins, particularly B vitamins, nourish your scalp and hair follicles, creating an ideal environment for hair growth.

Inositol: The Hormonal Balancer

One intriguing aspect of rice water is its inositol content. Inositol is a naturally occurring compound and is also found in many rice protein hair products. It is known for its potential to decrease serum androgen concentrations when ingested internally in a series of clinical trials. While the topical application of inositol through rice water on hair and scalp needs further research, its presence suggests that it could potentially play a role in addressing androgen-related hair issues.

Transforming Your Hair with Vegan Hair Care: How It Happens

Rice protein hair treatment, especially when done with fermented rice water, brings about transformative changes in your hair. But how exactly does it work?

  • Hair Strengthening: The amino acids in fermented rice water penetrate the hair shaft, repairing damage, and fortifying the structure of your hair. This results in stronger, more resilient strands that are less prone to breakage.
  • Texture Enhancement: Regular use of rice water can improve the overall texture of your hair, making it smoother and more manageable.
  • Boosting Elasticity: Hair elasticity is crucial for preventing breakage. The proteins introduced through rice water enhance your hair’s elasticity, ensuring it can stretch without damage.
  • Promoting Scalp health: amino acids and antioxidants help maintain scalp health and hair follicle activity which leads to a boost in your hair growth 

How to Make Fermented Rice Water Hair Rinse

Gather Your Ingredients:

ingredients of rice water hair rinse for hair growth
  • 1 cup of organic uncooked rice (white, basmati, or sticky rice)
  • 3 cups of fresh water
  • Tea bran 2-3 tablespoons
  • Pomelo fruit skins (replace with lemon or orange peel) – rinsed to get rid of the dust – use organic unwaxed fruit
  • A glass jar or container

Instructions for preparation of rice water rinse for hair:

  1. Combine rice with three cups of water and use your hands to thoroughly wash the rice. Strain the rice and discard this water.
  2. Add 3 cups of fresh water over the washed rice and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes.
  3. After time elapsed, rub the rice in your hands until the water starts looking milky. Drain the starchy water and keep it for the rinse
  4. Add peels from half a pomelo (or skins of full orange or full lemon) are enough for these quantities.
  5. Next, add the tea bran into the water – about 2-3 tablespoons.
  6. Warm up the mixture and let it boil for 5 minutes.
  7. Now let it cool off.
  8. You can now use it directly or transfer it into a jar and let it go through the fermentation process. If you choose the second option, ideally you should store it for two weeks at room temperature, opening the jar occasionally to let the air enter, as it is needed for fermentation.

Now, you’re ready to use fermented rice water as a hair rinse:

  • Wash Your Hair: Begin with clean, wet hair – shampooed but not yet conditioned as a conditioner would seal the hair cuticles thus preventing rice water rinse from penetrating your strands
  • Apply: Pour or spray (using a spray bottle) the fermented rice water onto your hair and scalp. Gently massage it in, ensuring it covers all areas.
  • Wait: Leave the rice water on your hair for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Rinse: Rinse your hair thoroughly with lukewarm water.
  • Condition (Optional): follow up with your regular conditioner.
  • Repeat: For optimal results, use fermented rice water as a hair rinse 1-2 times a week – with or without shampoo

Incorporate this natural remedy into your haircare routine and watch your hair transform.

The profound rice protein benefits for hair growth are the reasons we use oryza sativa powder (rice protein powder) as one of the active ingredients for our signature rice protein mask, by The Hair Fuel. By focusing on your scalp health with this treatment you introduce necessary proteins directly to your hair follicles which promote healthy hair growth.


The tradition of Yao women and their use of rice water is a testament to the power of natural remedies in enhancing hair health and beauty. Fermented rice water, rich in amino acids, antioxidants, and vitamins, takes this tradition to new heights, providing your hair and scalp with the nourishment it needs. 

Who we are:

The Hair Fuel is an all-natural hair growth mask created by Laura Sagen, who lost a third of her hair after a terrible visit to a hairdresser while suffering from a life-long condition of PCOS associated with androgenic hair thinning. She developed the formulation rooted in the science of scalp blood flow, which has become The Hair Fuel growth mask. Since then, her company has helped thousands of people like you to start growing healthy hair.

We work closely with our lab and manufacturers to ensure the highest quality product. But a product alone is never enough – so we hold your hand throughout your own, unique hair growth journey. Our flagship product, The Hair Fuel mask coupled with tailored advice, digital tools, and online support is there to help you grow the best hair you can. It’s a big claim – but we’re unafraid to make it. Check out our starter bundles >>


Effects of Fermentation Process on the Antioxidant Capacity of Fruit Byproducts (1)

Metabolic and hormonal effects of myoinositol in women with polycystic ovary syndrome:
a double-blind trial, (2)

Therapeutic properties of rice constituents and derivatives (Oryza sativa L.): A review update, (3)

Oxidative Stress in Ageing of Hair, (4)


Healthy Hair Growth Tips: How to Grow Your Hair Faster?


Does apple cider vinegar hair rinse work?

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