In the natural hair community, there are two types of Naturalistas. On the one hand we have the ‘explorers’ who have tried every DIY and are on every internet trend when it comes to their natural hair, while on the other hand there are the ‘chic naturals’ who refuse to indulge in the stress of maintaining their natural hair. These ladies keep to their salon appointments and have every product aimed at improving the manageability of their natural hair. What group among these two do I belong to, you might ask? I will say, call me ‘Dora the Explorer’ when it comes to my 4c hair. Everyday with my fro is a new adventure.
My natural hair journey started in 2015 and has experienced many highs and lows since then. Like a lot of my Naturalistas, I have had my fair share of moments when detangling my hair almost made me cry, periods of frustration because my hair was not growing, and times where styling my hair brought me to tears in the bathroom because everyday seemed like a bad hair day.
In the past five years of loving and tending to my natural hair, I have tried so many DIYs, products, and internet hacks which have hardly ever worked (for my hair at least). This was until the acclaimed hair growth ‘holy grail’, Rice Water, took the natural hair community by storm. The rate at which our Naturalistas on YouTube were releasing videos hailing rice water for its ability to grow your hair in less than a month, you would almost think for a moment that these videos were sponsored. As someone who nearly ruined her hair from internet concussions, I was on the fence about trying out the supposed ‘miracle’ rice water treatment. Moreover, is it my mother’s rice I was going to waste? Little did I know trying it out would be one of the best decisions I have made in my natural hair journey so far.
The Origin of Rice Water
Rice water as a means for hair growth dates centuries back. Women in the Heian period in Japan had floor length hair which they kept healthy by bathing it in rice water. A modern equivalent of this story can be found in China. The Yao women, who live in Huangluo China, are famed for having hair that averages 6 feet long and hair that keeps its color longer. This means it does not gray as quickly. All this they attributed to their use of rice water.
In recent times, women of all races and nationalities have caught on to this best kept beauty secret and now, the rice water treatment has become a global trend.
Some of the acclaimed benefits of rice water include; prevents breakage, detangles hair, increased shine, helps grow the length of hair and makes hair smoother.
Scientifically the benefits of rice water are yet to be proven. However, I tried rice water out on my 4c hair this year and found out the results were exactly as it was described.
Disclaimer Before Using Rice Water
- It is important to note that everyone’s hair has its own identity and uniqueness. What works for one person may not necessarily be what works for you.
- Rice water is in essence a protein treatment. This means when used on your hair, it strengthens the bonds of your hair which help to prevent breakage. However, like any protein treatment, overuse of rice water can lead to your hair feeling brittle.
- Rice water treatments should be used in conjunction with moisturizing treatments like deep conditioners and leave in conditioners. This is to ensure a protein moisture balance in your hair.
My Personal Experience and Tips for Growing Your Natural Hair
Honestly speaking, rice water and protective styles have been game changers in my natural hair journey. I can attest to the fact that rice water can actually grow hair types it is compatible with in a week, because I noticed my hair not only grew but it significantly made a difference in the strength and thickness of my hair.
My first-time trying rice water on my hair was early in the year and it was based on vibes. I did not take the application seriously neither did I think it would make any significant improvement to my hair. It just happened to be a washday for me, so I thought why not? It also happened to be the same day I was getting braids done so I had no way of tracking any significant improvement. Lockdown happened and I had to leave my braids in a lot longer than I am used to. Unknown to me, it would turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
I remember taking out my braids and the first thing I noticed was how my hair did not shed as much as it normally would. I detangled my hair and was both shocked and pleasantly surprised at how much my hair had grown. My hair that would look non-existent in puffs could now do ballerina buns and low puffs.
Now, I am not attributing my hair growth solely to rice water treatments. However, I did notice that rice water treatments in conjunction with prolonged protective styles work wonders for my 4c hair. This has been the most amount of hair growth I have seen in less than a year on my natural hair journey till date. All I can say is, the results have been amazing.
If you are currently struggling with growing your natural hair, I would highly recommend keeping your hair in protective styles slightly longer than a month to reduce the amount of manipulation on your hair, perfecting your washday routine and even though it might be pricey, going to salons that specialize in taking care of natural hair. I would recommend rice water, but at your own risk because everyone’s hair reacts differently and has different needs.
There are many methods in making rice water but for the most convenient, all you need to do is wash about half a cup of rice and pour the starchy water into any bottle of your choice. Leave it for a few days to ferment before use (I usually leave mine for a day or two before washday). On washday, I simply shampoo my hair and apply the rice water then leave it in for thirty minutes and follow up with a deep conditioning treatment.
I will give the rice water treatment a 10/10 based on my personal experience from using it but you can say it is a gamble that paid off for me. Some people love it for their hair while others hate it. With that being said, I cannot tell you if rice water treatment for hair growth should be classified as a myth or fact. Let’s just safely conclude that every hair case should be taken on its own merit, and just as the taste of the pudding is in the eating, so let it be with the use of rice water treatment.