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Rice Water for your Hair Growth

Does Rice Water Really Make Your Hair Grow?

Rice water is probably one of the easiest to make and apply. You just soak rice in water, then apply the resulting liquid to your hair. It’s supposed to make your hair stronger, shinier, and even promote growth to make it longer. But does it actually work?

My first question was, why would it work? Hair growth isn’t usually affected by anything you apply from the outside. A given hair follicle spends between two and six years in what’s called the anagen stage of development, constantly growing a strand of hair. When that hair follicle finishes its growing stage, the resulting hair is as long as it’s going to get—12 inches would be typical if the follicle grew for two years at the rate of six inches a year. Some people’s follicles are longer-lived than others, which explains why some folks can grow knee-length hair while others can’t seem to grow theirs out at all. (This is also why you don’t need regular haircuts for your eyebrows; their growth cycle is much shorter.

In all the hype around rice water for hair, I haven’t seen anybody present convincing evidence that it does anything for growth. Several articles point to a 2010 study, only publicly available as an abstract, that notes rice water was historically used by a group of women famed for their floor-length hair. That doesn’t mean that it was the reason their hair was floor-length, though.

The authors point out that rice water “exhibited hair care effects, such as reducing surface friction and increasing hair elasticity. However, when hair was treated with [rice water] alone, flaking was observed on the hair surface, and the direct application of [rice water] was considered difficult.” They recommend cosmetic chemists look into making rice water extracts that can be added to shampoo products—but, again, there is no evidence that it boosts hair growth. And as scientist Gaby Longsworth told MarthaStewart.com, rice water doesn’t seem to be absorbed into the hair or scalp, so it’s hard to imagine how it could affect growth at all.

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