When Kourtney Kardashian first let it slip on her site, Poosh, that her sister Kim Kardashian washes her hair with rice water to promote hair growth, let’s just say the #ricewaterchallenge hit phone screens pretty quickly.Kourtney explained that Kim had been using the trick for a while to encourage faster hair growth, and it’s since taken off with lots of TikTok influencers who’ve garnered hundreds of thousands of views on their tutorials.

If you’re thinking, “Oh, I bet there’s a specific shampoo I should look for,” that incorporates rice or rice water as an ingredient, think again. This trend, which according to one TikTok user, originated from the Yao women of the ancient Chinese village of Huangluo, boils down to exactly what it sounds like: People are washing their hair in the water that’s leftover after soaking rice. Since you can get an enormous bag of rice for only a few bucks at any grocery store, that luckily makes the beauty secret pretty accessible and cost-effective for everyone!

But does this rice water trick actually help your hair to thicken and get longer? To find out if there was any truth to the claims that it can make your hair grow super quickly, Women’s Health Tapped Kavita Mariwalla, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Mariwalla Dermatology. Read on to find out whether or not there may be a few major hair benefits to this practice, and how to go through the steps of washing with rice water.

What are the benefits of using rice water?

“Vitamins, minerals, and the hormone inositol are all found in rice water, which can make your hair smoother, fuller, less knotty and longer,” Dr. Mariwalla says. “In theory, the B vitamins and vitamin E can may help defend against hair oxidation and aging.”

While all of this is anecdotal due to there being no concrete scientific evidence, Dr. Mariwalla also explains that hair can also feel smoother due to the starches of the rice sitting on the hair follicles and acting as a coating. As for whether or not it can promote lightning speed hair growth? Chances are, no. But, the vitamins paired with the starchy coating can add shine and promote stronger hair.

How do you wash your hair with rice water?

Okay, now let’s get down to it. First, go ahead and grab one to one and a half cups of uncooked rice, a large bowl to hold the rice and water, a strainer, and an empty spray or shampoo bottle, Dr. Mariwalla says.

Are there side effects?

You’re not looking at any long-term risks, but rice water may cause residue that builds up and makes hair to look dull. If you want to avoid potential residue build up, Dr. Mariwalla suggests only doing this treatment once per week. It’s the perfect way to treat your strands to a little nourishment on the regular.

Don’t make rice water your first solution for hair loss.

Talk to a professional first. “There aren’t any negative side effects that can happen to your hair, but if your main concern is hair loss, you should consider consulting with your dermatologist for treatment instead of using at-home remedies,” says Dr. Mariwalla.

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