Does Using Fermented Rice Water for Black Hair Actually Work?

Here’s the Science Behind The Hair industry's New Trend

A new trend for hair care has risen— or, should I say, has come back. Using rice water to treat hair may be catching steam now, but its usage dates all the way back to the Heian Period of Japan (794 – 1185 AD).

Rice water, specifically the fermented kind, has also found its place for generations within the Huangluo Yao Village in China, where the Red Yao tribe calls home. They’re particularly known for their hair, which always seems clean, undamaged, and with a lustrous gleam. They swear by the magic of fermented rice water, but is it really the miracle cure for hair that everyone is claiming?

Moreover, if it does work on hair, how well does it do with black hair? Those tight black coils are notoriously delicate and require an attention that is unique for people of that hair type.

Here, we’ll take a look at what fermented rice water is, the benefits, and how to make it if you’re interested in trying it out for yourself.


What is Fermented Rice Water?

Fermented rice water

So, rice water is exactly what it sounds like: water that was used to soak rice; it can be boiled or unboiled, depending on what you think works best with your hair. Fermented rice water, however, requires no boiling, and is produced by leaving rice in an airtight container for a couple days.


The Benefits and the Science

Benefits of fermented rice water for black hair

The benefits are mainly anecdotal, but do have some backing in science. It can greatly depend on how much you use, how long it’s in, your hair type, and the state of your hair beforehand. For example, because hair is naturally porous when dry, you’re more likely to reap the benefits of rice water with dry hair rather than wet or damp hair. Additionally, using rice water can be beneficial, but using too much in your hair can actually dry it out considerably.

As for the benefits? Let’s explore what people have been saying about this alleged hair panacea.



I honestly wish I’d had this as a child, because my hair was notoriously nappy. Rice water is actually able to reduce surface friction, which makes one’s hair easier to brush and less likely to get tangled up in knots.


Protects and Repairs Hair

Rice is densely packed with nutrients, but there’s a special protein within that can protect your hair from breakage. Another great addition is Inositol, which is a natural carbohydrate within rice that is commonly used in hair products to treat and repair damaged hair.


Promotes Hair Growth and Shine

Rice is full of a variety of minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, and a variety of vitamins. It’s vitamins B, C, and E, along with the amino acids, that allegedly strengthens the hair and encourages faster regeneration. Along with that, the amino acids also help to give hair a shinier appearance and give it a smoother texture.


Does it Work Specifically for Black Hair?

Black hair and rice water

For many who have tried it, they swear by its usefulness. You’ll find a variety of testimonials from black haired women on Youtube who have tried it and show off their results. There are quite a few videos that even do before and after measurements of their hair. However, I do need to state that while we are happy these women have found a treatment that works for them, these are still anecdotal, and results may vary.

Consistency is also the key. As long as you’re using it properly, as well as making the water properly, you’ll find better results.


How to Make Fermented Rice Water

Making rice water and fermented rice broth

For fermented rice water, you’re going to need:

  • ½ cup of raw rice, uncooked
  • 2 to 3 cups of water (depends on how concentrated you want your water to be)
  • 1 tbsp of carrier oil
  • (Optional) 3 to 7 drops of an essential oil of your choice (works only to reduce the odor of the rice water)
  • An airtight container


Here’s a small step-by-step, but as per usual, it can be adjusted depending on how you take to the concentration.

  • Pour rice and water into an airtight container and mix well
  • Cover and leave at room temperature for 1 to 2 days
  • Strain the rice from the water
  • Add essential oil (optional) and carrier oil and mix well
  • Apply to your hair and store the rest in the fridge. Do not keep it out at room temperature, as it will ferment further. Too much fermentation could have negative effects on your hair.


How to Apply

Woman applying fermented rice water to black hair

Before you apply!

Despite fermented rice water being natural, and we don’t doubt that you’ve eaten rice before, there have been poor skin reactions to fermented rice water. Like with all new chemicals you put in your hair, make sure you apply some to your inner arm to check for any sort of serious reaction. If there is no reaction, then you’re good to go.

Also note that you should moderate your usage. Too much can clog up your hair follicles.

Now, onto how to apply it!


As a Detangler

Spray your hair with regular warm water until it’s damp, but not wet. Put your fermented rice water in a spray bottle and apply a decent amount, but make sure your hair stays at a nice damp. Leave it in for five minutes, then finger-comb your hair until all the tangles are worked out. From there, you just rinse and let your hair air dry.


As a Shampoo

In order to make your rice water a shampoo, just add castile soap with your rice water. Since some brands make the soap differently, it’s up to you to decide how much you want to combine. From there, you can use it as you would normal shampoo.


As a Rinse

For this, just shampoo your hair as you usually would, then apply the rice water. Leave it in your hair for a good ten minutes, then rinse.


As a Hair Mask

You should add pre-poo oil to your rice water mixture, spray it into your hair, and leave it in, and let it sit overnight. This will allow the nutrients to soak into your hair. However, it must be noted that everyone’s hair is different. If you find your hair gets too dry when rice water is applied, you shouldn’t leave it in overnight.


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