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Fermented Rice Water for Hair: Benefits & How to Use It

Rice water has been used across Southeast Asia as a hair treatment for hundreds of years. While plain rice water can be beneficial, fermented rice water is even better because of its reduced pH. It strengthens hair when applied after washing. 

Here, we will explain everything you need to know about fermenting rice water for hair, the benefits and how to use it.


What is Fermented Rice Water?

Fermented Rice Water

Fermented rice water is made by first creating plain rice water. Rice water is made by soaking and rinsing rice and collecting the leftover water. To turn rice water into fermented rice water, makers leave it until it sours or ferments, similar to methods used to make kombucha, wine, and beer.

Due to the pH, many experts prefer fermented rice water for hair to regular rice water. The pH of plain rice water is higher than hair, which can cause irritation and damage.

The fermentation process reduces the pH of the water, making it the same as your hair’s standard pH, which increases the benefits and mitigates some of the risks of irritation.


What Are The Benefits of Using Fermented Rice Water?

There are many reasons to add fermented rice water into your hair care routine. Below are some of the benefits of fermented rice water for hair.

  • Reduce Graying: Fermented rice water contains vitamin B12, which has been shown to reduce graying and whitening in hair.
  • Reduce Oxidative Stress: It contains many antioxidants, which have been linked to reducing the effects of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can cause hair to appear aged or coarse, so fermented rice water can help hair appear youthful and soft.
  • Reduce Hair Fall: The proteins and keratin in fermented rice water can help boost your hair’s protein level. Increased protein in hair can reduce hair fall by making your hair stronger and more flexible.
  • Protect and Restore: Keratin has also been shown to significantly strengthen hair, which can prevent new breakage while restoring breakage that has already occurred.


How to Use Fermented Rice Water on Hair

How to Use Fermented Rice Water on Hair

Knowing where to slot fermented rice water into your routine is essential to get the most out of it. Here is our step-by-step guide to using fermented rice water for hair.

  • Step One: Wash your hair with your regular shampoo. Rinse thoroughly afterward, and do not condition. There is no need to dry your hair before the next step.
  • Step Two: Saturate your hair with fermented rice water. The easiest way is to lean back and pour the water at the top of your forehead, running the water through your hair. Make sure not to pour the water on your face!
  • Step Three: Massage the fermented rice water into your scalp. Massaging can help ensure that the product reaches down into your roots.
  • Step Four: Let the water sit in your hair for 20 minutes. Cover your hair with a shower cap or plastic bag to lock in moisture.
  • Step Five: Rinse the rice water out of your hair completely.
  • Step Six (optional): You can use fermented rice water to replace your conditioner or condition your hair normally. Conditioning will help to lock in what you have added to your hair, but it may also make your hair heavy and flat as you are essentially conditioning twice. Additionally, if you dislike the scent of fermented rice water, adding a conditioning treatment can help mitigate some of the smell.


Are There Any Side Effects of Using Rice Water?

There are a few things to watch out for if you’re using fermented rice water, especially if you plan on using it frequently. Most significantly, it’s important to watch out for a dry scalp and too much protein.

Too Much Protein

Too much protein is not a problem that often occurs, but it does happen, primarily if you use repeated high-protein treatments like rice water. Hair with too much protein is often limp or full of split ends. Additionally, over-saturated hair may be brittle or shed frequently.

Hair with protein overload often has similar symptoms to dry or severely dry hair, so it can be challenging to determine the root cause of the issue. If you have these symptoms, know that the only way that it will be a ‘too much protein problem’ is if you are frequently using protein treatments like rice water.


Dry Scalp

The risk of creating or worsening a dry scalp from rice water treatments is minimal if used correctly.

However, leaving rice water on your hair too long may create a dryness issue. This is because the proteins that benefit your hair are also beneficial to yeast, which can multiply and cause problems on your scalp.

You can prevent too much yeast by rinsing rice water treatments thoroughly, decreasing the frequency of use, and not leaving treatments on your scalp for more than 20 to 30 minutes.


Can Fermented Rice Water Help Control Hair Fall?

Yes, fermented rice water can help control hair fall by increasing your hair’s keratin and protein levels. The keratins and protein will prevent breakage as well as hair fall, making for healthier, more youthful hair.



It’s best not to use fermented rice water as a treatment every day. Some side effects are more likely to occur with repeated use, so rice water treatments should be used sparingly.

Additionally, many people have reported that fermented rice water tends to have an odd smell. If you find the smell of fermented rice water offputting, you can try adding a conditioning treatment after you rinse the rice water from your hair.


Fermented and plain rice water has been used for hair care for hundreds of years.  Using fermented rice water for hair can make your hair stronger, reduce hair fall, and can even prevent graying and whitening. To use fermented rice water, you can add it before applying conditioner or as a conditioner, depending on your hair’s current texture.


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