Great for sushi, but what about your hair?

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Rinsing and soaking your hair in rice water to make it grow longer and more shiny has long been a staple of East Asian beauty practices. Now it's making the rounds on TikTok, where users claim spritzing or rinsing hair in rice water leads to "extreme hair growth." But does it actually work—and if it doesn't, what will?

What is rice water?

Rice water is the leftover water rice has been rinsed in prior to cooking, which often contains starchy runoff and occasionally some vitamins, New York City dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD, tells Health. The quickest way to make rice water is to soak 1 part rice in 2 parts water for 30 minutes and strain the leftover water into a clean bowl. Though plain rice water is fine, some TikTok users are adding grapefruit peels and essential oils to ferment the water over time before putting it on their hair.

Does rice water boost hair growth?

Unfortunately, no studies prove that rice water can do anything to help speed hair growth. However, there might be something to it. Rice water contains vitamins B and E, which have been linked to hair growth and vitality, Mona Gohara, MD, an associate professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, tells Health. A deficiency in vitamin B12 is specifically associated with hair loss, according to a 2019 review in Dermatology and Therapy.

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What does rice water actually do for your hair?

"Washing your hair with rice water may, at most, offer some temporary improvement for some people," says Dr. Nazarian. "But this hasn't been proved—and it's likely minimal." 

Dr. Gohara notes that soaking or rinsing your hair in rice water may boost your hair's vibrancy due to the vitamin content, but it won't speed up the growth process, as the rice water is unlikely to penetrate the hair shaft.

What other options are there for hair growth?

Both Dr. Nazarian and Dr. Gohara suggest dermatologist-recommended treatments, such as spironolactone, topical minoxidil, and even platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections, which have been shown to improve hair growth. "In general I like recommending PRP, which is when we use nutrients from our own blood to wake up those sleepy [hair] follicles," says Dr. Gohara.

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