Are you currently in the dreaded awkward length stage? Or maybe you’re transitioning? Or are you simply just growing out your hair? Ready to be able to say “long hair, dont care”? If you're looking for something to add to your hair growth regimen, look no further, we’ve got the method for you. You've probably heard of it before- the ancient Yao rice water growth treatment. There are a lot of  videos and recipes out there, but we've done the research for you to find the most effective way to create this DIY product (and make it smell good)!

There are a lot of different natural rinses or treatments that are beneficial for your hair, such as coconut water and beer, but rice water is one that has a historical background to reinforce that it really works! Rice Water has been used by the Yao women of the Huangluo Village in southern China since ancient times. 

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Nicknamed the ‘Long Hair Village’, the Yao women are known for their Rapunzel-esque  hair- most in this area have hair longer than 1.5 yards! In the Yao culture, their hair is their most prized possession, which symbolises prosperity, longevity, wealth and good fortune. 

These women believe that using fermented rice water not only promotes shiny and soft hair, but also keeps their hair black past the age of 80.

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Now there are also a couple of different ways to make rice water. If you go through the rice water rabbit hole of youtube, you'll find that the steps people take are usually the same, just in a different order. The two most common ways to make rice water are to ferment it for a long period of time (24+ hours). Or to let the treatment ferment for a short amount of time (30 minutes) and then boil the water. The original recipe does call for you to boil the water, but some choose not to do this step because boiling does make a portion of the nutrients found in the rice to evaporate. Either way you choose to make this treatment, there are a lot of benefits to the health of your hair.

Rice water is rich in proteins, amino acids, magnesium, and a plethora of different vitamins. Some benefits of using rice water for hair are that it increases shine, improves elasticity, smooths hair, makes hair easier to detangle, promotes strong and healthy hair, and helps hair grow.

For people with curly hair, results range from hair growth to shine and strength. Here are a couple youtubers that have included rice water into their regimen and their results:


There are many different ways to apply this treatment. It can be used as a pre-poo cleanser, as a co wash, to replace your conditioner, as a deep conditioner, as a hair rinse, or a daily scalp treatment. 

Because rice water is comparable to a protein treatment, knowing your hair porosity will be very helpful in deciding how to include it in your hair regimen. An extra tip for those with low porosity hair (low porosity hair usually is protein sensitive), steaming may help to penetrate the rice water into the hair shaft even more.

Ingredients & Tools

Good news - odds are, everything you need to create this remedy is already in your home! Since fermented rice water does have a bit of a sour smell, we have a step by step list of how to remedy this with an extra boost of natural scents.

You’ll need:

  • White or brown rice

  • Water

  • Your Choice of a citrus fruit

  • Essential oils

  • Strainer

  • Jar or spray bottle


  1. Using a strainer, rinse ½ cup of rice with the tap to remove any impurities or chemicals.

  2. Put the rice into a bowl and add 2 cups of water. Let sit for 5-15 minutes.

  3. Use your hands to scrub the rice to deposit nutrients and vitamins into the water. The water should be a milky white when you finish.

  4. Transfer rice water to a jar. Add your choice of citrus fruit. A great option is to use oranges which contain Vitamin C, a vitamin that encourages hair growth and health. You can also add essential oils to improve the smell of the treatment.

  5. Let the water sit for 30 minutes to 24 hours at room temperature. 

  6. Strain the rice from the water.

  7. *Optional* Boil the water for about 3 minutes 

  8. Put the water in a jar or spray bottle for washing. Remember to dilute the treatment with water.

  9. Use your rice water right away or preserve it by putting it in the fridge.

Remember to be patient with your curls and locs, hair doesn't grow overnight! Let us know if you tried rice water and if it worked for you in the comments below and @BoxBeautyCo!