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We tried the TikTok rice water trend, and this is how our hair reacted

If you spend any amount of time on TikTok, you are familiar with the tips and tricks given by the app’s users. One recent trend that’s been going around the HairTok group has to do with rice water and its magical properties for your mane. People are raving that rice water has made their hair thicker and shinier and has improved its overall appearance. To say it’s popular would be an understatement — if you look up “TikTok rice water” or the hashtag #ricewater, it’s been viewed over 150 million times!

Even pre-TikTok, rice water has been known for its hair-friendly properties because it contains natural proteins, vitamins, and minerals that improve hair strength and help hydrate your locks, resulting in a shinier appearance. According to scientific studies, rice water also increases the number of hair follicles, likening it with products like minoxidil (Rogaine) to help regrow hair. It also helps repair split ends and helps your hair not to break off, especially if you use ponytail holders.

Sofia Zhuravetc/Shutterstock Image used with permission by copyright holder

How to make rice water

The ingredients couldn’t be easier to find. All you need is white rice and water — that’s it. Take equal parts rice and water (try using one cup of each). Rinse and strain the rice so there aren’t any dirt or particles that get into the rinse. Next, mix the strained rice in a bowl with 1 cup of water until you notice the water becomes cloudy. Then, strain all the rice out and keep the water.

Let the water sit at room temperature for a day. This will let the water ferment and the nutrients come out. Simply put the water into a spray bottle and refrigerate it until you’re ready. Post-shampoo and conditioning, spray the water into your hair and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Then rinse it out.

Guiyuan Chen/Shutterstock Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why does it work?

The studies above found that rice water contains inositol, a nutrient that repairs damaged hair from the inside out, which is prevalent if you use rice water over time. There are also other vitamins and minerals like amino acids, antioxidants, and vitamins B and E. The best news is that you’ll see results after just one week of adding it to your hair care regime.

There are many hair care products that have rice water in them, but it is easier and cheaper to make it yourself. You also don’t have to do anything different (other than remember to bring it into the shower with you); it’s just one more step while you’re washing your hair.

The results are in

We tried this challenge several weeks ago, and it’s amazing the difference you can see (and feel) in such a short time. For one, you can actually feel it on your hair after the first use, almost like a protective layer on your hair. Within one week, we noticed our hair wasn’t breaking as much when we brushed through it and there were fewer flyaways as a result. It also seemed we were shedding less in the shower and during a blow-dry.

During the week, we washed out hair three times, and each time, it felt like our hair was thicker, fuller, and shinier. It was also much softer to the touch, which was an added bonus. One of our team members uses a straightening iron several times a week and noticed there were fewer breakages than in typical use. Overall, it got 5-stars from our team, which isn’t easy when you have different hair types, lengths, and thicknesses.

Women in Japan, China, and other parts of Southeast Asia have used rice water to improve the overall look and strength of their hair, dating back centuries. According to researchers, women in the “Heian period (794 to 1185 CE) in Japan had floor-length hair” and credited rice water as the reason why.

The longer you can leave it in, the better the results. If you have time, plan on keeping it in as long as possible (maybe give those legs a shave or read a book in the bathtub), massaging it into your hair and scalp over that time.

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Julie Scagell
I am a freelance writer based in Minneapolis, MN. My passions include my dogs, talking about my dogs, and taking pictures of…
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