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Fermented Rice Water for Stronger Hair & Beautiful Skin

I break down how to use fermented rice water for hair growth and a brighter skin regimen in this article plus some great DIY fermented rice water recipes.

I never knew rice water and fermented rice water was so useful for hair growth and skin care until recently.

Rice is a staple part of the diet in many countries around the world supplying much-needed daily calories.

When I’m cooking rice, I usually rinse it a few times and throw away the water until it rinses clear before cooking.

The Many Benefits of Fermented Rice Water for Hair and Skin

What is Rice Water?

Rice water is the milky starchy fluid that rises to the top of the pot when cooking rice or after rinsing rice.

It has been used by Asian women for centuries in the treatment of hair and skin. 

In Japan, female rice farmers used to bathe and wash in rice water.

Yao women in the Chinese province of Huangluo are known for their very long, shiny, grey-free hair well into their 80s.

These women have hair so long, they made it into the Guinness Book of Records. So what’s their secret? They wash their hair with fermented rice water.

Yao Women with Long Hair

What is Fermented Rice Water?

Fermented rice water is water that has been prepared in the same way as above but left to ferment and turn slightly sour.

The benefits of rice water are further enhanced when it’s left to ferment.

Fermented Rice Water Benefits for Hair

Fermented Rice Water is Vitamin Rich

Fermented rice water is rich in vitamins B, C, and E. These vitamins are important for hair growth and provide nourishment.

Fermented Rice Water Repairs & Strengthens Hair

Fermented rice water contains inositol, a carbohydrate that helps repair and strengthen damaged hair. This carbohydrate also helps boost hair elasticity.

Natural Cleanser for Hair

Fermented rice water contains saponins, a natural and effective cleanser for hair thus making it suitable for washing hair. Several natural herbs contain saponins as well.

Reduces Hair Shedding

Since fermented rice water replenishes proteins and keratins in hair, the strands are fortified and hair shedding is reduced significantly.

pH Balanced Hair Care

Fermented rice water has a reduced pH level that’s great for optimal hair care for all hair types.

Fermented Rice Water Benefits for Skin

  • It also contains phenolic and flavonoid compounds, which can minimize free radical damage from environmental factors.
  • Rice water contains minerals that can help tighten skin and shrink pores.
  • Rice water helps reduce redness from acne and clear blemishes. The starch in rice water can also soothe inflammation from skin conditions such as eczema.
  • Cleansing your face with rice water helps improve your overall complexion.

How to Make Rice Water

Method 1

Rinse any type of rice (white, brown, jasmine, basmati, etc) then soak the rice in additional water for 20 minutes.

Strain and pour into a glass container. This is the no-boiling method.

Method 2

Boil the rice in more than the usual amount of water. When the starch rises to the top, drain the rice. You can continue cooking the rice to eat later if you want.

Related Hair Growth Resources

How to Make Fermented Rice Water

The process of fermented rice water is a little bit different from plain rice water.

  • Rinse a cup of rice then discard the water.
  • Steep the rice in 2 cups of distilled water for about 20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes or so.
  • Afterward, strain the water into a bottle and set it aside overnight.
  • By the next morning, it should have turned slightly sour and started to ferment.
  • Pour the rice water into a pan, cook until boiling then remove from the stove and allow to cool.
  • Add a few drops of your preferred essential oils such as ylang ylang essential oil or lavender essential oil. You can also add 5 drops of vitamin E oil.

Rice water should last up to a week when kept in the fridge. Always make a fresh batch afterward.

How to Use Rice Water for Clearer Skin

  • After cleansing your face, soak a cotton ball with rice water and apply all over your face.
  • Let dry then apply your moisturizer.
  • You can also use rice water as a liquid base in a moisturizing face mask. 

How to Use Rice Water for Stronger & Longer Hair

  • Once a week, use the rice water like shampoo or use it as a final rinse. It is pH balanced and great as a final step before applying a leave-in conditioner.
  • Rice water is concentrated and quite strong so dilute every cup of rice water with about 2 cups of distilled water. Women with postpartum shedding have reported excellent improvement after including rice water rinsing in their regimen.
  • Your hair might not like it as a final rinse so use it as a shampoo instead, followed by the rest of your regimen.

Plain Rice Water vs Fermented Rice Water. Which is Best?

Fermentation helps lower the pH levels of rice water making it similar to our hair’s pH level.

Finalizing your regimen with a balanced pH product helps close your cuticles and helps it lay flat.

Fermented rice water also has enhanced vitamins and nutrients compared to plain rice water.

While rice water also has a low pH, fermented rice water is best for hair and skin.

Nevertheless, everybody’s hair and skin react differently to products so feel free to try both and judge for yourself.

Also, play with the ratio of rice water to distilled water and see which concentration your hair likes best.

Rice water or fermented rice water is simple and easy to make yet very effective for hair and skin care.

One of the many ingredients in your kitchen that goes farther than commercial products.

I am currently wearing my hair in a protective style for the next 3 months and will be moisturizing with rice water for the duration.

Will come back on the results when I take down the style. Below is a simple video on how to make fermented rice water:

More Healthy Hair Growth Resources

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How to use fermented rice water for stronger hair and clearer skin

Abi is a curly hair expert who delved into the world of natural oils after severe hair loss issues. Through her research, study, and testing, she was able to regrow her bald spots & a healthy head of hair. She is the founder of Healthy Natural Hair Products & Ade Ori Hair Care, and the author of the highly-rated Healthy Hair Care Series. She continues to study hair science, Ayurveda, and natural and healthy solutions for hair and skin. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines

This post contains affiliate links which means I will make a small commission if you purchase through those links. Read full disclosure HERE.


Thursday 18th of June 2020

still on the process but i see it working


Monday 22nd of June 2020

Give it at least 3 - 6 months.

Rice Water for Hair

Friday 10th of April 2020

I use rice water all the time on my hair and have been using it for about a year now. It has made a HUGE difference in the health of my hair. Getting much stronger and thicker!!


Saturday 25th of May 2019

Hi! I’m bald from chemo and radiation treatments. Can I use the fermented rice water directly on my scalp to promote hair growth? How long does it need to stay on your scalp? Thanks

Vivien PasseriniHi

Sunday 3rd of November 2019

Hi, I was in Longji a few days ago and our guide told us about this wonderful method the Yao women have for preserving hair beauty. She assured me that my greying hair would go back to its natural chestnut colour by using fermented rice water but that sounds too good to be true. What do you say? Thanks for the article...very interesting!


Monday 27th of May 2019

I don't think this will work for someone without hair at all. I think scalp massages would be better. If you're still on medication as well, I recommend checking with your physician before trying out this treatment. HTH.


Sunday 1st of April 2018

Hi Abi, I am a college student and I am writing a paper about the Yao women and their hair. I am trying to cite this page and I was wondering when this article was written and what your last name is?


Sunday 1st of April 2018

Hello Mami, it was written in July 2017. My last name is Faniran. Thanks :)

Alicia Stephens

Wednesday 21st of March 2018

I totally jumped ahead and added my oil(peppermint essential oil) before fermenting. Did I mess up the batch too bad? I hope not, lol.


Thursday 22nd of March 2018

Not necessarily Alicia. It may even make it more effective. If you don't like the smell once it ferments though, I would suggest making a fresh batch :)