Curly Hair: Rice Water Rinse

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A lot of times, curly girls, especially those that are transitions (like I did almost 7 years ago) mix up when their hair needs moisture and when it needs, and you are reading this correctly, protein. When hair is frizzy or brittle, it needs moisture. When curly hair starts to go limp and lost its definition, the hair needs protein. Sometimes, hair needs both, at the same time, and that is when multi-tasking comes into play!

Now when I say protein, I don’t mean a steak or cracking an egg (though believe it or not, that works). I meant a simpler way that could even smell delightful and bring back some of the luster while bringing back definition as well! You may have seen it all over the internet, but I tried this method first hand and the results were quite impressive. I am talking about a rice water rinse.

The first time I heard about this, I laughed because why would I put that murky water on my clean hair and expect any good results? But after diving head first into the YouTube abyss, I decided the worst that could happen is that I needed to wash my hair again. So I gave it a go!

I will be honest that I have only done this only a handful of times to date because my hair is protein sensitive so once a month is more than enough for me.

Side bar: How do I know my hair is protein sensitive? Because when I overload my hair with protein, albeit through masks, rinses, or my everyday products, my hair does the reverse of what it is supposed to do and goes limp -almost wavy. And it starts to feel straw-like. I reverse this boo-boo by washing and doing a moisture treatment. Think of moisture and protein like pH levels – on what would be acidic would be protein and what is base would be moisture. You just need to find your happy middle (which may or may not be “7”).

So what did I do? What did I need? How did it turn out? Keep reading!

First things first, you need: an airtight jar (you could use a mason jar but make sure it is a good size -not just a standard overnights oat size); distilled or filtered water; a cup of rice (or more depending on length); and essential oils (or my little secret).

In the couple of trials I did, I did not notice a difference between the two different types – first time I used brown basmati rice and the second time I used white rice. I suppose the type of rice you use is personal preference.

I prepared my rice water by rinsing the rice. Yes, that means I ran the rice under running water (while in the colander) to remove the major impurities. Once the water started coming out clear-ish, I was ready to prepare the rice water rinse.

I placed the cup of rice into the mason jar and added three cups of distilled water. Now this is the step where you can add a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil for fragrance, but because I am sensitive to smells and did not want to disrupt the experiment, I opted to add 1/4 of a cup of my favorite rose water (I use this for cooking mostly but the scent is just amazing) which I inserted a photo below for reference.

al wadi rose water

Then just simply seal up the jar and put it in a dark, dry place – like a cupboard, for at least 24 hours but ideally no more than 36. Once you start to hit that 48 hour mark, the rice water has really fermented and will start to smell sour and will not work as well – trust me, I learned from experience!

After 24 (or so) hours, you are now able to transfer that rice water to a spray bottle or a bowl. I personally opted for the bowl method because I’m also lazy, but that is personal preference! Then you can chuck out the rice. And no, you cannot use that rice again and truthfully a rice water rinse should be a one-time use situation for optimal results even if you refrigerate; yes, refrigeration stops the fermentation but the potency also diminishes.

Now be forewarned – that rinse will be COLD even if it is at room temperature. What I did is I start to dunk my clean (after shampooing but before conditioner) hair in the bowl and watched it soak up the water. I then poured the remaining water on my roots and massaged everything in using my scalp massage brush.

Again, I will tell you that I have done this more than once and tried several different methods with the first being the more successful (I attribute the second to the fact that I let the rice sit for 3 days).

I finished my shower routine and rinsed some of the water out. I did leave some of the rice water in my hair, almost like conditioner. I then detangled outside of the shower and applied my normal products (this time was a Ouidad/DevaCurl combo).

And these are the results…before diffusing and after.

Yeah…no make-up or filter. Sorry! But that definition on the right… That makes up for it!

Conclusion? The rice water rinsing works…and at a minimal cost! But only if you need protein and are not sensitive. You need to also make sure you have the right amount of moisture in your hair.

So tell me…have you tried rice water rinses? What has your experience been? And if you haven’t, do you want to?

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