Can You Use Rice Water on Color-Treated Hair or is it Hype?

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If you’re an avid hair color lover, chances are you’ve already tried every product under the sun for keeping precious locks stay healthy and vibrant.

Enter rice water, the latest haircare trend that has everyone raving about its benefits. But the question on everyone’s mind is: can you use rice water on color-treated hair?

Let’s explore whether rice water is a hype or a haircare hero – and give you some top tips on how to get your rice water wash right at home!

What is Rice Water, and Why is it Popular?

Rice water is the not-so-secret beauty hack that has been taking Tik Tok and Insta by storm.

As the name suggests, it is the starchy water leftover from rinsing rice before cooking, and it’s been used in Asian cultures for centuries.

But now, it’s making a comeback thanks to its incredible benefits for hair and skin.

Rice water is rich in amino acids, B vitamins, vitamin E, minerals and antioxidants that nourish, hydrate, and protect the hair and skin.

It also works wonders for hair growth and can repair damaged hair strands due to the presence of something called inositol.

You’ve probably already seen a load of rice water-based products, including shampoos, conditioners, and even face masks on the superstore shelves.

If you’re looking for a natural, cost-effective way to up your beauty game, rice water is worth a try. But can you use it for color-treated hair as well?

can you use rice water on color-treated hair rice water bowl with hairbrush

Is Rice Water Safe for Color-Treated Hair?

Yes! Rice water is safe to use and won’t do anything to strip away your hair color.

While there isn’t much scientific evidence to prove that rice water can make color-treated hair healthier, many have reported positive changes in the texture and appearance of their hair after using it.

Rice water is said to add shine, reduce breakage, and increase hair elasticity, which is essential for keeping color-treated hair in great condition.

BUT there’s an important caveat to keep in mind: hair porosity.

If your hair is highly porous, it can absorb more water and dissolve color molecules, leading to color fading.

So, before you dive into using rice water, be sure to use a color-protecting shampoo and conditioner to keep your vibrant hue intact.

Wait for at least a week or two after coloring your hair before attempting a rice water rinse to make sure your color has properly sealed.

This will give your hair time to settle and ensure that the rice water doesn’t strip the color from your hair.

The Top 5 Benefits of Rice Water for Hair

With our favorite celebrities and influencers shouting about its transformative power over their tresses, it makes sense to jump on board and find out what all of this hype is about.

Here are some of the main benefits of washing your hair with rice water:

#1.Nourishes Hair

Rice water is packed with essential vitamins and minerals such as amino acids, vitamin E, and antioxidants which are superfood for your hair.

When used regularly, it helps to nourish your hair strands, moisturize your scalp and prevent dryness.

Mix rice water with your favorite hair oil or use it as a conditioner by diluting it with water for extra nourishing and hydrating strength.

#2. Improves Hair Elasticity

The amino acids present in rice water have been found to help improve hair elasticity.

Elasticity is a vital component of healthy hair, and it refers to the amount of stretch your hair can take before it breaks. Using a rice water rinse as a conditioner can help to strengthen your hair and improve its elasticity.

“Many of the compounds in rice water you will find in tons of products over the counter that are marketed for thickening and increasing volume.”

Dermatologist Dr Dray, How to use Rice Water For Hair Growth.

#3. Promotes Hair Growth

Rice water has been used for centuries in China and other Asian countries as a hair treatment, and it’s no surprise that they have some of the most luscious locks we have ever seen.

The inositol present in rice water has been found to improve hair growth and reduce hair fall.

Inositol is a carbohydrate that is present in rice water and has been proven to have a positive effect on hair growth.

#4. Reduces Hair Porosity

Hair porosity can be described as the ability of hair to absorb moisture.

It can vary from person to person, and if your hair is highly porous, it can lead to frizzy hair and breakage.

The amino acids and vitamins in rice water help to reduce hair porosity, resulting in healthy, shiny hair. If you have color-treated hair, rice water can also help to maintain the color for longer.

#5. Soothes Irritated Scalp and Helps with Dandruff

If you suffer from an itchy or inflamed scalp, rice water could be the solution you’ve been looking for.

The starch in rice water can help to soothe an irritated scalp, reduce dandruff and reduce inflammation. It also helps to balance the pH level of your scalp, which is essential for a healthy head of hair.

Can You Use Rice Water on Color-Treated Hair infographic of the benefits 
1. Moisturizes Hair

2. Strengthens and Improves Elasticity

3. Promotes Hair Growth

4. Reduces Hair Porosity

5. Soothes Irritated Scalp and Helps with Dandruff

How to Make Rice Water Wash for Colored Hair

Making rice water for hair is easy, but it does take a little time. Here’s how to do it step by step.

Can You Use Rice Water on Color-Treated Hair- rice water ingredients rice and bowl

Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients

To make rice water for hair, all you need is:

• Rice (1/2 – 1 cup)

• Water (2-3 cups)

• Bowl or container

The rice can be any type so feel free to use whatever you have available.

We personally prefer to use organic brown rice, but white rice works just as well.

Can You Use Rice Water on Color-Treated Hair- rice being rinsed in the sink with water

Step 2: Rinse Your Rice

Rinse your rice thoroughly until the water runs clear.

This step is essential to remove any impurities, dirt or dust that may be present in the rice grains. (You should also be doing this when cooking it to eat!)

The goal is to ensure that the water you are using is as pure as possible.

Plain rice water vs fermented

Studies show that fermented substances contain more antioxidants, which can help repair and protect your hair and skin from damage. 

If you want to ferment your rice, use soaking method for rice water but before you strain it, let it sit at room temperature for up to two days to ferment.

Can You Use Rice Water on Color-Treated Hair - water being poured into rice bowl to soak

Step 3: Soak Your Rice

Place the rinsed rice in your container and add two cups of water.

Allow the rice to sit in the water for at least 30 minutes, but you can leave it for up to 24 hours.

The longer you leave it, the more concentrated – or fermented – the rice water will be.

Can You Use Rice Water on Color-Treated Hair- straining rice water into a bowl

Step 4: Strain the Rice Water

After soaking the rice, it’s time to strain out the water.

Using a sieve or colander, strain the rice water into a separate bowl or container. Discard the rice grains, or you can use them for cooking if you wish.

Can You Use Rice Water on Color-Treated Hair- rice water stored in a bottle with a cork stopper

Step 5: Store Your Rice Water

Transfer the strained rice water to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator.

You can use it immediately or leave it for up to a week without any problems. 

Expert Insights

“To curb any odour, I use half a lemon( not just the peels). Initially, I used orange peels but it didn’t enhance the properties of the rice water.”

Yua Hana, Hair Care Enthusiast

Watch and learn: How to How To Make Rice Water Hair Growth Rinse

Here’s an awesome video that shows you how to make a rice water rinse in a jar (also great for storage) and how to apply it with a spray bottle too.

Potential Side Effects and Precautions

  • Protein Overload: Too much rice water can lead to protein buildup, making hair stiff and brittle.
  • Starch Buildup: Excessive use might cause your hair to feel heavy due to starch accumulation.
  • Hair Porosity Issues: If you have low-porosity hair, use rice water sparingly to avoid hardness and breakage.
  • Frequency Matters: Start with once a week and observe how your hair responds before increasing usage.
  • Patch Test: Always do a small test on a hair section to check for any adverse reactions, especially if your hair is color-treated.

3 Ways to Use Rice Water for Color-Treated Hair.

There are three ways to use rice water on color-treated hair – as a pre-wash treatment, as a conditioner and as a leave-in conditioner. Here’s how to do them:

#1.As a Pre-wash Treatment:

• Apply rice water to your hair while it is dry.

• Massage it into your scalp and all over your hair.

• Leave it on for 15-30 minutes

• Rinse your hair with cold water.

• Shampoo and condition your hair as you usually would.

#2.As a Conditioner:

• Wash your hair using shampoo and conditioner.

• Apply rice water to your clean, damp hair.

• Massage it into your scalp and all over your hair.

• Leave it on for 15-30 minutes.

• Rinse with cold water.

• Follow up with a deep conditioner or leave in moisturizer.

You can also mix rice water with hibiscus powder, coconut oil, or aloe vera gel to create a nourishing hair mask.

Expert Insights

“I did rice water (also assuming you mean fermented rice water–my blend included ginger and grapefruit peel, as well) for a good while last year, and I found it did lovely things for my waves/curls. I stopped using it because it just got a bit labor-intensive.”

Gibson_Girl, Long Hair Community

#3.As a Leave-in Conditioner:

• Wash your hair using shampoo and conditioner.

• Apply rice water to your hair as a leave-in conditioner.

• Gently comb your hair to distribute the rice water evenly.

• Do not rinse and style your hair as you usually would.

If you have a spray bottle, fill it with rice water and mist your hair before blow-drying for a silky and shiny finish.

Expert Insights

“I left rice water in my hair when I had braids on and when I took it off, the result was very impressive.”

Nana K on Quora
can you use rice water on curly frizzy hair lady with curly hair

How often should you use rice water for hair?

Too much of anything is never good, and this applies to rice water as well.

Experts suggest using rice water once a week or every other week, depending on your hair’s own particular texture and needs.

Overusing rice water can lead to protein overload, which can cause your hair to become brittle and break off, especially if you have curly or frizzy hair with split ends already.

It’s always a good idea to talk to your hairstylist before incorporating any new product into your haircare routine. They can give you the best advice that’s bespoke to you.

“I would recommend starting out do it once or twice a month at most to see how your hair responds to it and if you have hair that can take it then once a week is probably fine.”

Cosmetic Dermatologist Shereene Idris, The Science Behind Rice Water

Is rice water the secret to hair growth?

According to Healthline, rice water is loaded with essential amino acids and vitamins, like inositol, that boost hair growth and strengthen your strands and hair follicles.

Inositol, a carbohydrate, is known to repair damaged hair, prevent breakage, and promote cell regeneration in your hair and scalp.

So not only does rice water moisturize and add shine to hair, but it also promotes hair growth like crazy!

What else should you know about rice water as a beauty treatment?

There’s no denying the buzz around using rice water as a beauty treatment – it seems like everyone is trying it.

And why not? It’s a natural and easy way to improve the health of your hair.

However, it’s important to understand that not all hair types are the same.

Porosity is a key factor in how effective the treatment will be on your specific hair type.

Our tip? Experiment with the frequency of use and see what works best for you. So go ahead, give rice water a shot! Your hair might just thank you for it.

Parting words

To sum up, using rice water on color-treated hair is not a no-go, but it needs to be done with caution and care.

Rice water can be a helpful addition to your post-color hair care routine if you use it in the right way and try it out slowly at first.

Wait until your hair color is well-settled before using rice water, and you should always dilute it to prevent any harsh effects.

While there may be some hype around rice water, it’s worth giving it a try and seeing if it works for you and your color-treated or dyed hair.

Ultimately, the decision is yours, and you know your hair better than anyone else. So give it a go or skip it, but either way, keep your hair healthy and happy!

Have you use rice water for your colored hair? Tell us about it! Tag us on Instagram @colouredhaircare or Facebook and share your hair dye success stories. Looking for more hair care tips? Check out How to Look After Colored Hair: 11 Expert Secrets For Long-Lasting Color.

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Our Research & Review Process

To ensure our recommendations are as comprehensive and reliable as possible, we’ve undertaken an extensive research effort.

We cite scientific evidence and journals, collect real user reviews and gather impartial perspectives from hair stylists, users, and experts in the field.

Additionally, we conduct hands-on testing by using products and applying hair dyes not only on our own locks but also on real human hair extensions and hair pieces of different hair type, textures and lengths.

This rigorous approach allows us to provide you with insights into which products genuinely live up to their promises.

As always – please consult with a professional hair colorist or stylist for advice on how to color your own hair at home. It’s different for everyone!

This article was written by:

  • Nicola Freeman, Creative Director & Content Lead
    Creative Director & Content Lead

    With over two decades of passionate hair dyeing experience, I've experimented with nearly every shade imaginable. My journey began long before blogging; as an award-winning copywriter in London and New York, I shaped narratives for iconic brands. However, when friends sought advice during lockdown for at-home hair dyeing, I realized my true calling. Beyond being your hair color expert, I'm a mom of two girls, wife to artist Tony, and an avid soccer player!