The DIY mask was easy to make, and I could feel the results immediately.
Rice is a kitchen staple found in nearly every pantry—it’s easy to cook, and it pairs well with most dishes. It turns out that rice water—literally the water leftover from your cooked rice—also makes for an excellent hair mask when you’re in need of some extra volume and shine.
Rice water has been used to tend to dry, brittle hair for centuries. Researchers found that Japanese women living during the Heian Period (794 to 1185)—famed for having thick, floor-length locks—would take the water leftover from rinsing the grain and comb it through their hair, which minimized frizz and protected against breakage. Today the Yao women, who live in China’s Guangxi Region, have built up a reputation for shiny, long hair that is routinely submerged in a rice water mixture to maintain its appearance and health.
Simply put, rice water is one of the simplest (and oldest) methods for boosting hair’s radiance, body, and length. And it only requires two ingredients you already have.
Curious how the water would affect my curls and protect against heat damage during my occasional blowout, I pulled out the bag of rice sitting in my cabinet, rinsed it a couple of times, then poured water over the rice and left it to soak in the bowl for about 10 minutes. After the water was a nice, milky white, I strained out the rice, pouring the water into a glass container that I set aside overnight. (You want to let the water sit for a while so that it can continue to ferment, which boosts the level of antioxidants present according to this 2019 study.)
In the morning I grabbed my bottle and took it with me in the shower. After washing and conditioning the way I normally do, I poured the rice water over my hair, making sure to comb it through from root to tip. After letting it sit for a few minutes, I rinsed it out.
Even while I was rinsing, I could feel a slickness to my hair—not sticky, but a noticeable coating on the strands—and it felt thicker. After drying off, I was curious whether the protective barrier would stay once I started to apply heat.
Blowing out my curls usually takes 15 minutes, and that’s if I don’t get distracted. Not only did I find myself spending less time running my blow-drying brush through my hair, I also noticed less tugging. Afterwards my hair was still soft and full of body. I then did a couple passes of my flat-iron to get an extra-sleek look. And instead of my hair being weighed down (which can happen if there’s too much product or the protective spray I’m using is a little too thick), it was light, bouncy, and shiny.
To say I was impressed is an understatement. Given how easy the mask was to make and how quickly I noticed results, I definitely plan on incorporating rice water into my hair-care routine, especially on days when I want to protect against extreme heat damage.
article written by Michella Oré for Glamour