The traditional Japanese (and south-east Asian) use of fermented rice water to strengthen and condition hair is doing the rounds on TikTok and Reels, thanks to the Kardashians and a lockdown boom in DIY haircare.
Milky rice water is supposedly rich in amino acids and vitamins good for hair. Don’t go mad: overuse could cause protein buildup and brittle hair.
There are lots of “rice water rinse” methods on social media, but seeing the thick, floor-length hair of Red Yao women in China’s Huangluo Yao village, I’m (mostly) following their method. They wash white sticky rice vigorously in water to extract the nutrients, boil it and leave it to ferment in a wooden vat (Tupperware for me). This lowers the pH, making it more in line with our hair’s natural acidity. The Yao women leave it to ferment for two months, but I go for 48 hours as I’ve seen online. I pour the mix over my dry hair (it doesn’t smell, thankfully) and leave it on for 20 minutes before rinsing off and air drying. Washed with water and air-dried, my roots were still a touch greasy, but my ends felt silkier than an afghan hound’s.
When I next make rice, I’ll try this, in the hope it will strengthen my hair. For a more conventional boost to your locks, try a protein-infused shampoo.