Fermented Rice Water Shampoo for Great Hair


Rice water can become a perfect alternative to store bought shampoo as rice may significantly improve hair condition. That milky-colored liquid left over from rinsing or boiling rice is a secret ingredient to beautiful hair.

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As an important part of daily beauty regimes, each of us regularly uses products, typically in the form of a viscous liquid, that is suitable for cleaning hair. This is the easiest and most conventional way to make hair clean. However, most people notices that homemade shampoo based on the right choice of ingredients can bring more benefits than any other things from supermarket.

The majority of us possibly came across different sources mentioning the usage of rice in skin and hair products. And then a reasonable question rises: “Is it possible to wash hair with fermented rice water?” Yes, definitely! But if you wish to take out much of usefulness from natural procedure, follow simple steps and prepare everything in a right way.

What is Fermentation?

Fermentation is the conversion of a carbohydrate such as sugar into an acid or an alcohol. More specifically, it can refer to the use of yeast to change sugar into alcohol or the use of bacteria to create lactic acid in certain foods. This process occurs naturally in many different foods given the right conditions, and humans have intentionally made use of it for many thousands of years.

Fermented Rice Water. Benefits and How to make

In ancient times people did not know the process of freezing and canning, and fermenting was the only method they could know. For example, milk could be fermented into cheese. Processed fish (a sauce) was widely used in the diet of ancient Rome. People always appreciated the nutritional value and the unique properties of pickled cucumbers, carrots and beets. They knew that fermented foods could be kept longer than the unfermented ingredients used to make them. For example, fresh milk goes bad easily, but fermented dairy products such as yogurt and cheese can be kept longer. The Japanese use fermented (with a special mold) rice, barley and soybeans for cooking their national dishes. And in India, dishes from fermented rice and beans are very popular.

Even nowadays fermentation is used in various ways in our day-to-day lives. But who knew that fermented rice water could be so good for hair condition and solving various hair problems?

First, let’s start our talk about benefits of fermented rice rinse for hair. I guess, there are some facts you still didn’t know.

  • Rice contains so called “water-soluble vitamins” and “minerals” and it is more abundant of vitamins of B group (by the way, B vitamins help hair cells to produce black pigment).
  • Rice contains rich protein and amino acids and the process of fermentation method will make the process of protein turn into amino acids, so nutrition value of such rice is very rich.
  • Rice water boosts hair elasticity and decreases surface friction. It is rich in inositol – a carbohydrate that everyone must look for. Not only it protects hair against damage, but it also repairs it. The inositol remains inside hair cells even after rinsing. In other words, it protects a top-notch protection over long periods of time.
  • Fermented rice water is acidic, our hair is suitable for acidic environments. Rice water makes hair smooth and soft so regular wash with rice will bring amazing results and you will wonder how this possible that rice water is much better than any commercial products you used to apply on your hair for such long time.

If you are interested in more detailed benefits of rice wash for skin and hair, you can read article: Rice Water Wash. Ancient China Beauty Secret

Fermented Rice water benefits for hair

It is interesting to note that in article “The effect of rinse water obtained from the washing of rice (YU-SU-RU) as a hair treatment” published in Journal of Cosmetic Chemists, 2010, Japanese researchers identified the of rice water benefits if applied on hair. They took an example of court ladies of the Heian Period, whose beautiful long hair reached to the floor, were said to have combed their hair each day using rinse water obtained from the washing of rice. Researchers found that rice exhibited hair care effects, such as reducing surface friction and increasing hair elasticity.

How to Make Fermented Rice Water Shampoo?

Fermented rice water can be directly used to rinse the hair avoiding using shampoo. Long-term use of such homemade shampoo will make your hair darker and thicker.

Here are tips how to prepare natural rice shampoo:

Remember that the proportions for making rice water are not accurate. The amount of each ingredient is not specifically measured. It may be different every time as it depends on the amount of rice that and water that were being used.

  • Thoroughly rinse rice to remove any dirt from grains. In this step it is important to use clean (better filtered) water because tapped water contains chemicals and other impurities. Also use clean water while cooking rice.
  • How to wash hair with Fermented rice water

  • First, collect water again (not the water you use on the initial rinse to get off any dirt) after you let rice stay in water for 15-20 minutes and then drain. For example, if you cook rice two to three times a week, you should be able to collect enough liquid for two to three hair washes.
  • Fermented Rice water. Natural Hair Shampoo with Rice water

  • Then leave the rice water at room temperature for a day or two until it turns slightly sour and starts to ferment. After that most people advice to boil the liquid in order to stop fermentation process (most of them write about this tip on their websites). It is a huge mistake. Fermented rice water contains enough useful nutrients and once you boil this liquid – you will get plain water in which all vitamins are gone. It is the same as if you decide to drink beer but boil it beforehand. From the other hand, liquid can be pasteurized. Pasteurization kills bacteria and the easiest way to do this is microwaving. Exposure to microwaves delivers energy evenly and deeply into the whole liquid, it allows for gentler and shorter heating, so that almost all heat-sensitive substances in the rice water are preserved. So, if you prepared rice water and want it be nutritious to your hair – never boil it before application! Just place it in a fridge to stop fermentation process. If you wish to have nice scent on your hair you can add few drops of essential oils (for example, lavender, rosemary or tea tree oil).

    Anyway the resulting liquid contains no preservatives so it cannot be stored even in fridge more than a week. It will usually last about a 5-6 days and after that you have to prepare another portion of rise water for hair.

  • Fermented rice water is very potent, so you may need to dilute it with a cup or two of warm water before use.

If you think that fermented rice shampoo takes much time to prepare then I suggest you to try plain rice water for hair. Follow simple instructions below:

  • First rinse the rice with about a cup of water to remove any dirt or impurities.
  • Then, place the rice in a bowl and pour it with water. Let the rice soak for 30 minutes. Swirl it around or lightly knead it until the water turns cloudy. This will help the vitamins and minerals seep into the water, creating a nourishing rinse for your hair.
  • Now strain out the rice water into a clean bowl. Your rice water is ready to use!

Why Fermented Rice Water is Better than Plain One?

It is interesting to note that washing your hair with fermented rice water is much better than rinsing with unfermented or plain one. Fermentation lowers the pH of the liquid, and this is similar to our hair’s pH, which is also on the lower side (slightly acidic). As a result, slightly acidic pH plus the added nutrients through the fermentation process help restore hair’s pH balance, nourish hair follicles to promote healthy hair growth, and improve general hair condition.

Rice water is effective natural treatment not only for hair but for skin as well! If you want to learn more about rice water uses, then there is special article for you: Rice Water Face Cleanser.

Tips & Rules: How to Use Fermented Water as Shampoo

When rice water is prepared, so it is right time to try it on your hair. Of course, this is not usual way to clean hair and it may cause some kind of uncomfortable feeling that hair is left quite dirty. I want to warn you that this natural recipe has nothing in common with commercial one – there won’t be a foam created while massaging shampoo into you hair. Rice shampoo works in different way and don’t expect immediate results after first use. It is possible that you won’t like the effect after application of rice water – this is just because you hair needs time to get used to it. So that’s why first results may disappoint you a little but keep patience.

  • Apply rice water on damp hair. Before taking shower, you need to do some preparations – take a container with rice water with you. Once you got you hair wet, pour rice water very slowly and massage it gently using fingertips. You can do the massage for about 5 minutes. Make sure you wet hair with rice water completely. Then rinse your hair with cool water. If you have long hair and wish to take a shower immediately, gently coil it in a high bun and use a big hair clip to hold it up.
  • After washing your hair with rice water, don’t use blow dryer – let it dry in natural way. Don’t worry about unpleasant smell of fermented rice water on your hair – once your hair is dry this scent will disappear.
  • It is not necessary to wash your hair every day, two times a week will be enough. After a month of such cleaning method application of rice water on hair will give visible effects.

Try this natural rice water shampoo for stronger and more beautiful hair! If you already have such experience – share with us!

Rice Water for Hair: Reviews

Rice Water for Hair: ReviewsBB
I have fine, wavy thin hair that tangles easily. I’ve tried rice water for hair and it surprised me with the results. It leaves my hair silky soft and untangled while taking shower! I don’t even need to use the conditioner and my hair is soft and very manageable. I put few drops of lavender essential oil to the rice liquid. Pleasant and the fragrant scent lingers in my hair most of the day. I can’t stop touching my hair… so, so soft and shiny!

Rice Water for Hair: ReviewsLesly, 34
I was surprised to know that rice water can be used on hair care, especially as natural shampoo. I thought it’s better for skin. Rice water is one of my favorite remedies. But it won’t remove build-up from your hair like any conventional shampoo. It’s more of a conditioning cleanser. So I cannot say that it is good as a shampoo. It will make your hair soft though and add more volume to it. All you need to do is to use rice water as a final rinse after you wash your hair.

Rice Water for Hair: ReviewsOlimpiaSpark, 19
I like to use rice water on my hair. I’ve used it after shampooing and then rinsed it out, then conditioned my hair. After a while I decided to refuse applying any commercial shampoo and chose washing hair with plain rice water. I feel that it doesn’t leave my hair super clean but it makes them super shiny and soft. I suffered severe hair loss for several months. After regular usage of rice water, this problem finally stopped bothering me!

Rice Water for Hair: ReviewsElena
I have very damaged hair. I went from dark brown to white blonde. I knew I should do something to save my hair. So I preferred to use fermented rice water. One of my Chinese friends advised me this traditional remedy for hair. This works wonders and oh that smell! I don’t like it though rice water leaves my hair soft and lustrous. I think rice water helped me to reduce dandruff and grow my hair faster. It is really working!

Rice Water for Hair: ReviewsRedHairDemon
I wash my hair with rice water twice a week. The liquid is smelly and fermented too but I don’t mind it. Everyone knows that a lot of the beneficial chemicals come from the fermentation process. To avoid smell I add some peppermint, orange or other essential oils to it. I did not smell anything after I rinsed this and the conditioner out of the hair at all. The time before this, I did a final rinse of rinse of fermented rice water as a leave in. That time it did smell sour on the hair until the hair was dry. That smell is fine, at least, I feel my hair condition is much better than before. I’m happy with that!

Rice Water for Hair: ReviewsWells, 31
I know that every beauty product, DIY or not, will work for everyone. But it includes anything containing natural ingredients which are a great advantage. You never know what works and what doesn’t until you try. The same situation happened with me when I decided to experiment with rice water for hair. Anyway, I’ve been using rice water for several months now, and it’s been extremely gentle on my sensitive scalp. I use it twice a week. I love using a cold rice water on my hair, it makes my hair so shiny like never before. Since it isn’t drying and has no artificial fragrances and chemicals, I can use it as often as I want without having to worry about my skin reaction. Usually, I faced the problem of dandruff if the product turns out to be not suitable for my sensitive scalp. I’m pleased with the results!

Rice Water for Hair: ReviewsJade, 33
I have short, color processed hair and can’t go a day without washing it because it is sticking up all over the place when I get up in the morning. Most shampoos that I have tried don’t do much to lift my thin hair while keeping it light and bouncy. So I decided to use rice water for hair, I read many positive reviews about this natural beauty product. The rice liquid smell sour so I was afraid my hair will get that smell. To avoid this I added few drops of patchouli essential oil to the liquid. After I washed my hair with scented rice water, I noticed my hair became thicker, I couldn’t believe it! When I blow dry I do notice more bounce and softness in my hair on days that I use rice water. This also doesn’t leave any residue in my hair. I have a sensitive scalp and this helps soothe it. Also, my hair feels more voluminous and thicker!

Rice Water for Hair: ReviewsHelga Ostrid, 20
I’ve tried various natural recipes for my hair. The problems is that I have sandy blonde, fine hair. Each strand is fine, but it is really thick. My scalp gets very oily if I don’t wash my hair every other day. I never wanted to use conventional shampoo every day to keep my hair clean. So I tried to find a solution. I thought it will be a good idea to use rice water instead of shampoo sometimes. Rise water didn’t seem to clean my oily hair at all. But My hair felt silky and looked smooth after it dried. Also, it was manageable and shiny! I cannot say that rice water is a good substitution for conventional shampoo but it makes hair very beautiful after the first rinse!


The effect of rinse water obtained from the washing of rice (YU-SU-RU) as a hair treatment ( Journal of Cosmetic Chemists, Volume 44, No. 1, 2010)

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Discussion31 Comments

  1. i did try it as a mask (a clothe soaked in rice water) and as toner. after only doing this for a day and got tiny hurting red spots ( i had to stop immediately. I don’t know of any allergies, i eat rice constantly. has anyone had the same experience? i even washed the rice three times before soaking the rice. i always WASH RICE THREE TIMES, also before cooking. it needs to be cleaned from all sorts of stuff. (be aware that rice is stored in huge piles in big storehouses before it gets packaged, you don’t want to know what things are running and flying around there, do you really want them “running” on your face? )

  2. Actually, I already know about using rice water as face wash since long ago. But, I just found out that rice water can actually be used to wash hair just recently. Women from a tribe in China (Yao ethnic, from Huangluo village, usually wash their hair using rice water. The women in that tribe is known to have beautiful-long-black hair, and rarely have any gray hair until the age of 80. From the pictures, their hair are indeed very beautiful.
    So, then, I tried to use rice water as a shampoo substitute. Well, you know, I am a fan of fermented stuff. So, this time I tried using rice water that is left to ferment overnight in a room temperature. After leaving it overnight, the rice water will smell a little bit sour, but still pleasant. The rice water then can be used to wash hair as usual. By the way, I also use it to wash my face and body )
    The result is amazing. This is currently my favorite shampoo substitute. Not only cleansing, this water also makes my hair super soft and smooth. For me, it’s even better than vinegar. It’s slightly acidic PH helps balancing my scalp’s PH, while also helps closing the cuticles and makes my hair smooth. The ancient wisdom of the tribe is totally amazing!
    Thank you for the wonderful recipes and article!

    • Anna

      Hi, Martha! Basically, you can use rice water as soon as it got fermented. There is no special condition to keep it in the fridge for certain time before first application. You just need to stop fermentation process placing rice liquid in the fridge as it was described. Storage of natural rice water also implies that it must be kept there for not longer than a week.

  3. I have used it for about a week, but I’m not getting great results. My hair was really oily and dull. What am I doing wrong? I made the fermented rice water as described above, and after massaging at into wet hair the first time I let it soak in for 20 min before rinsing. The next time I diluted it with half water, put it on dry hair, massages it in and then rinsed it out, but my hair felt awful and I had to shampoo. I am going to try again (it has been great for my face) but I want to know how to get it right. Any advice?

    • Hi, Trista! For your oily hair fermented rice water must work great. Using rice liquid may leave a feeling of greasy hair because it is quite concentrated and it is better to dilute with warm water in proportion 1:2. Rinse you hair with rice water immediately after shampooing, combine with gentle scalp massage and make sure hair solution is a little cool so it will close hair cuticle and make it smooth and shiny after drying. If you don’t like rice water odor while washing, add few drops of essential oils (patchouli, vanilla, rose or geranium) to leave floral scent on hair. I hope my advice will be helpful. Anyway, let me know whether it worked for you. Good luck!

    • Hi, Ivy! Rice water is unique natural product suitable for any hair type. If you have curly hair, don’t expect that rice shampoo will give straightening effect but it will work great on dry hair providing them with additional nourish and moisture. Anyway, have a try!

  4. Thank you for the help! I was trying to avoid using shampoo at all, have you been using shampoo in conjunction with this? Much better results with your advice. Thank you

    • Trista, it is so nice to hear my advice helped you! Keep washing your hair with rice water – the results will be better and better! This is not just words, but proven with my own experience. This natural hair product can successfully be used instead of any other commercial shampoo – this is true! For my thin hair it is a great solution to cleanse hair well and add amazing volume. If you are on the way to refuse store bought shampoo completely – I guess, you would be happy to try other hair cleansers variations as well. Alongside with rice water, you can use recipes of Seaweed Hair Cleanser or Sea Salt Shampoo depending on your hair type. If still any questions, feel free to ask )

  5. I have a few questions. Is it best to use white rice or brown rice? Also can this be used on color treated (dyed) hair? And finally I have waist length thin straight hair so roughly how much rice and water should I use? Thanks in advance!

    • Hi, Samantha! I tried to answer all your questions, hope this information will be useful to you )
      1. On the one hand, brown rice has higher nutritional value in comparison with white rice and it is possible to use it successfully in hair care. On another hand, brown rice contains more amount of arsenic which is accumulated in the outer layers of grains. This element is known to be toxic and poisoning with its high doses may become the main reason for hair loss. Nevertheless, level of arsenic in brown rice itself cannot provoke intoxication or other unpleasant side effects but if applied on hair too often – then some doubt may arise. So, the choice of white rice for hair rinse would be better.
      2. If you are afraid that rice water may change dyed hair color or wash it out significantly – don’t worry, it won’t happen. After fermentation process is finished, rice water becomes a little acidic and acts as conditioner on hair tightening its cuticles and, thus, making hair shiny and silky. Logically, dye pigments penetrate and remain deep into the hair structure, so since rice water smooths the outer layer of hair, the dye cannot be washed out so easily.
      3. For long hair you can prepare a container of fermented rice water (500 ml) and then dilute it with clean water until you get enough amount of liquid to rinse the whole length of hair.
      Good luck!

    • Hi, Amy! Fermented rice water is used mainly to improve hair structure, add volume and luster to dull and brittle hair, remove excessive scalp oil. As for hair loss prevention, onion mask and sea salt scrub work best of all.

    • Hi, Michelle! If you use avocado mask with different oils, then fermented rice water won’t make your hair clean enough – there will be some oily residue left in hair. Instead of that, you can prepare Sea Salt Shampoo which will successfully solve your problem. Good Luck!

  6. So.we don’t need to use any more hair serum and oils,if we use Fermented Rice Water as shampoo because it already contains vitamins enough? Thank u so much in advance!

    • Basically, fermented rice water has strengthening effect, makes hair moisturized, shiny and soft. But besides rice water, in order to support hair in good condition it is also necessary to include other means of hair care in your beauty regime (for example, herbal infusions for hair rinse or oils for scalp massage.

    • If you are talking about pure rice water, there are no side effects for eyes. Just rinse them with clean water. But if you add some essential oils to the mixture and it got into your eyes while washing, splash eyes with enough water and in the case of serious irritation consult a doctor.

    • Hi Deb,
      I made several cups of fermented rice water to use for my hair and as a final body/face rinse. I used brown rice. I ended up getting some in my eyes and it swelled up, was painful and started producing discharge within a couple hours. I ended up rinsing my eyes with cool water and used a cleansing/disinfecting contact solution rinse (Thankfully had it in the cupboard. The swelling and pain went down and I was left with a little redness.
      I really liked the the rice water and would like to use it in the future, but will be much more careful not to get it in my eyes. Hope this helps!

  7. Hey Anna so I left the rice water out to ferment for just over 24 hours but it has a really strong stench and I wonder if it over fermented and that it’s not okay for use anymore. Or is this just how it is?

    • Hi, Nada! Make sure you use clean bowl and wash rice well before let it ferment. Basically, fermented rice water will have quite unpleasant smell (but not strong) even if everything is done in a right way. Just add few drops of any essential oil.

  8. Question. What kind of rice do I buy to make it fermented and prepare it for shampoo? Basmati? Can you post a link please of the best recommended rice to prepare this method for best results.

  9. Actually I oil my hair before washing it as my hair is very dry. So can I use shampoo and then use this rice- water?

  10. HI. I am trying to wash off a keratin treatment. And I have had really good success with this but, I think that a little of the keratin is still left in the ends of my hair. Will rice water help rid the ends of my hair from keratin.

  11. Hi
    I have started using rice water. I see that my hair has gone very dry and since I also apply it on roots, there is a lot of build-up leading to dandruff. Because of this and the fact that hair is getting dry and damaged, my hair has started falling recently. Its so dry and tangled that it becomes difficult to brush as well.
    Here is how I use it?
    I read at some websites and they say that I can boil the rice and then collect the water instead of using just the rinsed water. I have been doing that.
    I apply it on my roots and length of the hair and leave it for 15 minutes or so. Then I wash it out.
    Am I doing anything wrong? Or is there any any reason besides rice water that may be causing this problem in my hair?
    Appreciate your guidance.

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