Are you tired of using commercial shampoos that may contain harsh chemicals? Well, why not try making your own rice water shampoo? These homemade, all-natural recipes will leave your hair feeling clean, smooth, and healthy.
There are few DIY beauty ingredients as cheap, easy to find, and nourishing as rice. It fights inflammation, exfoliates dry skin, and has potent anti-aging effects—and that's just when it’s used on skin.
While a simple hair rinse may be the easiest way to harness the magical powers of rice, I much prefer an easy rice water shampoo recipe that cleanses and fortifies my fine locks without leaving them feeling limp and greasy.
What Is Rice Water Shampoo?
Rice water has been a staple beauty ingredient in Japanese culture for centuries, and geishas were known to use it as a key part of their beauty regimen. After soaking, boiling, or fermenting rice in water, the resulting vitamin-rich liquid was then used as a hair rinse or facial cleanser.
Like the name suggests, rice water shampoo is simply a clarifying haircare product made with the starchy, vitamin-rich water left over from making rice.
Some rice water shampoos contain only rice water as the active ingredient (although we consider this more of a rice water hair rinse), while others make suds like traditional shampoo and include ingredients that provide additional benefits for hair and scalp health.
Rice Water Shampoo Benefits
As we age, our hair and scalp go through many changes. For starters, our natural oil production decreases, leaving hair feeling thinner and more prone to breakage.
Factor in environmental damage and hormonal changes, and you may notice scalp issues like sensitivity, irritation, itchiness, and inflammation. With benefits like increased hair growth, stronger strands, and a healthier scalp, it'd be silly not to use rice water for hair.
1. Rice water promotes hair growth
The vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins C and E, calcium, magnesium, and selenium [source] in rice water can nourish the scalp and promote healthy hair growth. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can improve blood circulation to the scalp, while inositol, a carbohydrate found in rice water, can help to strengthen hair and reduce breakage.
2. Rice water strengthens hair
Rice water contains amino acids, like cysteine and methionine, which fortify hair strands and help reduce hair breakage. Additionally, the vitamin E in rice water may help to boost blood circulation to the scalp, nourish hair at the root, and make hair grow faster.
3. Rice water adds shine
The inositol in rice water provides moisture [source], which can improve the elasticity of hair strands, making them easier to style and less prone to breakage. This reduces frizz and improves hair texture, giving it a shinier appearance.
4. Rice water reduces dandruff and itchy scalp
The benefits of rice water for skin are well known, so it's no wonder that it also works wonders on the scalp. Rice water contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that soothe and calm an inflamed scalp [source], which is often a cause of dandruff.
Additionally, the starch in rice water can also help to absorb the excess oil that often makes dandruff worse. Moreover, fermented rice water is a probiotic that has antimicrobial properties and can reduce the growth of pathological microorganisms [source], thus helping to prevent the imbalances that cause inflammation.
How To Make Rice Water Shampoo
For a long time, I swore by this 3-ingredient rice water shampoo made with soap nuts and essential oils. But after repeated use, I found that my hair was looking a little too dry, thanks to the starch in the rice water.
So I added an oil-based shampoo bar to the mix, and now I alternate between the two for a well-balanced haircare routine that's both cleansing and hydrating.
1. Liquid Rice Water Shampoo Recipe
Rice water — Rice water nourishes your hair and scalp, thanks to its high concentration of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates.
Soap nuts — Unlike traditional liquid shampoo, this DIY rice water shampoo uses soap nuts instead of chemical detergents. Soap nuts create a natural surfactant that cleanses the scalp without stripping it of its natural oils.
Essential oils — Adding a few drops of essential oil improves the scent and helps soothe the scalp, but you're free to tailor your essential oils to your needs. Because it's clean and gentle, this shampoo is ideal for all hair types)
1. Put the soap nuts and water in a pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for about 30 minutes.
2. Strain the liquid, keeping the soap nut shells and debris in the strainer.
3. Combine the rice with the liquid left over from simmering the soap nuts. Let the rice soak in the liquid for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Strain out the rice, add the essential oils to the liquid, and pour it into an airtight bottle.
Alternatively, you can skip the soap nuts and use liquid Castile soap instead. Simply complete steps 3 through 5. After you've strained out the rice, combine 2 cups of liquid Castile soap with the rice water and mix well.
2. Rice Water Shampoo Bar Recipe
The rice water shampoo bar recipe is a popular DIY hair care method known for its nourishing properties. Because it relies heavily on vegetable butters and waxes to give it a solid consistency, it's best suited to thick, dry, or curly hair. If you have fine or oily hair, you may want to take your shampoo bar for a test run over the weekend to see how it works for you.
This method uses rice water, shea butter, and Castile soap to create a soap-like bar that can be used to cleanse and nourish the hair.
—¼ cup shea butter
—6 tablespoons emulsifying wax
—2 tablespoons rice water or 2 teaspoons white rice flour
—¼ cup liquid Castile soap
1. Melt the emulsifying wax and shea butter in a double boiler.
2. Let cool for several minutes before adding the rice water and Castile soap. Stir until it starts to come together.
3. Pour the mixture into your soap mold of choice, and let it solidify in the refrigerator.
For more suds, substitute regular shampoo in place of the Castile soap.
Using Rice Water Shampoo
Shake well: Before each use, give the shampoo a good shake so the ingredients are well combined.
Shampoo hair: Begin by wetting your hair thoroughly with warm water. Apply a small amount of rice water shampoo to your scalp, and massage gently with your fingertips to work up a lather. Continue shampooing your hair in sections, starting at the scalp and working your way down to the ends.
Where are the suds?: Homemade rice water shampoo may not produce as much lather as conventional shampoo since it doesn't contain chemical-based soap or synthetic foaming agents. This doesn't mean that the shampoo is ineffective—just that it's cleaning your hair and scalp without the suds that you're probably used to.
Rinse hair: After shampooing, rinse your hair thoroughly with warm water until the hair feels clean. You may need to rinse for several minutes to ensure that all of the rice water has been rinsed out. Finish by rinsing your hair with cool water to help seal the hair cuticles and promote shine.
Avoid overuse: Avoid using rice water shampoo too frequently or leaving it on your hair for too long, as this can lead to buildup or potential damage. You can use rice water shampoo once or twice a week as part of your regular haircare routine.
Proper storage is important to ensure that your homemade rice water shampoo stays fresh and effective. After making the shampoo, transfer it to an airtight container, such as a glass jar or a plastic bottle with a tight-fitting lid. This will help to keep the shampoo fresh and prevent contamination.
Store the shampoo in a cool, dry place such as a bathroom cabinet or pantry. Avoid storing it in direct sunlight or in a humid area, as this can promote bacterial growth and spoilage.
Since your homemade rice water shampoo doesn't contain preservatives, it's best to use it within a few weeks. If you notice that it's lost its effectiveness or developed an off odor, throw it away immediately and make a fresh batch.
Yes, rice water shampoo is safe to use on color-treated hair. However, it's always best to do a patch test first to make sure you're not allergic to any of the ingredients.
Absolutely! Brown rice may have slightly different properties than white rice, and it has more nutrient value, so it should still be effective.
Yes, you can add other ingredients to your rice water shampoo, such as essential oils, honey, or aloe vera gel. Just be aware that adding too many ingredients may alter the pH balance or effectiveness of the shampoo.
Rice water shampoo is suitable for all hair types, including oily hair. It may even help to regulate excess oil production on the scalp.
Homemade rice water shampoo does not contain preservatives, so it's best to use it within a few weeks. After this time, the shampoo may start to lose its effectiveness or develop an off odor.
How To Make Rice Water Shampoo Recipes
- Put the soap nuts and water in a pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Strain the liquid, keeping the soap nut shells and debris in the strainer.
- Combine the rice with the liquid left over from simmering the soap nuts. Let the rice soak in the liquid for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Strain out the rice, add the essential oils to the liquid, and pour it into an airtight bottle.
- Melt the emulsifying wax and shea butter in a double boiler.
- Let cool for several minutes before adding the rice water and Castile soap. Stir until it starts to come together.
- Pour the mixture into your soap mold of choice, and let it solidify in the refrigerator.