How Long to Leave Rice Water in Hair Before Rinsing

A cute black girl with a great smile has been using rice water for hair care purposes for over a year and a half.

Thinking about giving your hair a health boost with rice water? Well, making and applying the rice water is only part of the equation.

To get the best results from your rice water treatment, you have to leave it on for a certain amount of time. To find out how long that is, read this article!

We’ll tell you how long to leave rice water in your hair, what happens if you leave it on too long, and much more. Let’s get into it!

How Long to Leave Rice Water in Hair Before Rinsing


We won’t waste your time. You should leave the rice water in your hair for about 20 to 30 minutes. This is the sweet spot to give the hair-loving nutrients from the rice water enough time to penetrate your strands.

Rice water treatments are one of those treatments that don’t need a ton of time to work. This may take a little time to get used to if you’re someone who’s used to leaving deep conditioners and hair masks on for several hours, but you can rest assured that a maximum of 30 minutes is enough.

A black woman with long curly hair uses a rice water rinse within her hair regimen to promote hair growth.

What Happens If You Leave Rice Water on Hair Too Long?

There’s a very important reason why you shouldn’t leave rice water in your hair for a long time. The problem that can creep up is skin irritation.

Not everyone will experience this issue, but if you tend to have a sensitive scalp or a scalp condition, it’s best to leave the rice water on for only a little while. In the case of a problematic or sensitive scalp, you can leave the rice water in for closer to 10 minutes than 30 minutes.

But if you want to get an idea of your scalp’s tolerance to the mask, you can try a processing time of about 20 minutes.

Just be very attentive to how your scalp reacts. If you notice any unwanted changes (itchiness or irritation), scale back on the processing time.

Also, be on the lookout for more serious issues, like peeling, burning, or swelling. If you experience any of these symptoms, you shouldn’t use the rice water again for any amount of time.

African American female with dark brown natural curls styled with a rice water hair mask and coconut oil.

Some Use Rice Water Overnight

Despite the general recommendations for rice water, there are people out there who use rice water overnight with success. If you’ve used rice water overnight without any problems, there’s no need to change that.

Just know that you could get the same results from the rice water in a very small fraction of that time. We’d be remiss if we didn’t highlight the risks of leaving your hair wet overnight.

The moisture from the rice water can encourage the development of mold and mildew on your scalp and hair. Another issue you could run into is a fungal infection.

In addition, you should know that your hair is much more vulnerable to breakage when wet. For these reasons, we recommend not leaving rice water in your hair overnight. There’s no reason to do so since you can get the benefits of the treatment in about a half hour.

A young female with long curly hair styled her hair with a few drops of sweet violet extract and tomato fruit ferment.

Can You Use 5-Minute Rice for Rice Water?

Yes, you can use 5-minute rice to make rice water, but keep in mind that the quality of the rice water may not be as good as if you used regular rice. This is because 5-minute rice is often pre-cooked and processed, which can affect the quality of the nutrients in the rice. In other words, some of the nutrients have often been removed. We recommend using regular rice to create rice water treatments.

Can You Do a 5-Minute Rice Water Treatment?

To get the most out of a rice water treatment, it’s essential to give the hair treatment enough time to do its magic. Though it doesn’t take hours to get the benefits of the treatment, 5 minutes is too little if you’re looking for a noticeable difference in length retention or your hair’s appearance.

The only time when a 5-minute rice water treatment makes sense is when you’re using it as a rinse. Rinses are supposed to be really short-lived, and you can use rice water in this manner if you’re short on time.

Just be aware that you won’t get the same results with a 5-minute treatment as you would with a 20 or 30-minute treatment in most cases.

A cute urban girl in the city eating ice cream has long hair that was treated with rice water hair treatments.

Can You Use Rice Water on Dirty Hair?

This is another question that people commonly have about rice water treatments. If you want to ensure the treatment penetrates as much as possible, use it on clean hair.

That way, there won’t be anything on your hair to block the nutrients from the rice water. To get the most penetration possible, you can wash your hair with a clarifying shampoo before applying the rice water mixture.

Clarifying shampoo is formulated to clean deeper than a normal shampoo can, and it’ll get your hair extremely clean. When you’re ready to put the rice water on, your cuticles will be ready to accept the goodness from the mixture.

A stunning black girl whose hair care routine involves using an uncooked rice rinse with injected amino acids.

How Often Should You Use Rice Water?

Now that you understand how long to leave rice water in your hair, you might be wondering how often you should use the treatment. It’s a good question because overusing it can have some disastrous consequences.

At the same time, we’re sure you want to use the water enough to get max benefits. The ideal frequency for rice water treatments is about 1 to 2 times per week.

If you use it any more often than that, you could end up with buildup. Rice water is high in starch and protein, both of which can build up on your hair. When that happens, it’ll be more than an annoyance.

The severe buildup is detrimental to anyone’s healthy hair journey because it keeps moisture and nutrients from penetrating your hair shaft. With buildup stuck to the outside of your cuticles, you’ll have trouble moisturizing your hair and could experience dryness as a result. 

But that’s not all! The buildup can also do a number on your scalp–anything from irritation to follicular damage.

These problems can affect your ability to grow healthy hair, so we advise against doing rice water treatments more often than a couple of times per week.

That being said, you should always listen to your hair.

If you notice that your hair seems coated in something, your first step should be to clarify it (wash it with a clarifying shampoo). If your scalp doesn’t look or feel right, that’s your cue to scale back on rice water treatments or stop them entirely.

An adorable black girl with a bright smile has experienced healthy hair growth on her stunning natural tresses.

Should You Shampoo After Using Rice Water?

After you’ve left the rice water on your hair for the allotted time, you’ll need to get it out. It’s at this point that many are faced with a dilemma: whether they shampoo their hair after using the rice water.

The answer to the question is that it depends. You may want to shampoo your hair after using rice water if you used a fermented variety.

Fermented rice water has a pungent smell, and rinsing your hair isn’t always going to be enough to get rid of it. But if you didn’t use fermented rice water, you can probably get by with a good rinse.

Either way, you’ll want to condition your hair after it’s free of the rice water.

A delightful black female with multiple hair types on a head full of gorgeous curls on vibrant, shiny hair strands.

How Long Does it Take to See Results with Rice Water?

Rice water is often touted as a miracle product that can grow your hair by leaps and bounds in no time, but this couldn’t be any more untrue. Meaningful hair changes all have one thing in common: they take time.

So, how long should you wait to see results after doing regular rice water treatments?

About a month to a month and a half (or 4 to 6 weeks). Give yourself at least that amount of time before deciding whether it’s working for you.

This may be underwhelming for those who have heard about people getting results within days with rice water. But it’s a realistic time estimate, so yes, you have to be patient even with rice water treatments.

A cute African American lady with type 4 hair that shines like the sun thanks to using a rice water hair rinse for 3 years.

Dos and Don’ts of Rice Water Treatments

You’ve got a good idea of how long to leave rice water in your hair, how often to do the treatments, and how long to wait for results. Now, let’s look into some dos and don’ts you should keep in mind when completing your treatments.

Following these unofficial rules can yield better and quicker results:


  • Do allow the rice water to penetrate your hair for at least 10 minutes. The water needs that much time to do its work. When it comes to rice water treatments, it’s sort of like a dance; you don’t want to leave the mixture on for too long, and you don’t want to leave it on too briefly, either.
  • Do be patient. Rice water is thought to be a fantastic hair strengthener and hair growth agent. But it’s important not to be impatient. A lack of patience can sour your experience with this remedy.
  • Do research on all the ways you can use rice water. There isn’t one set way to use rice water. You can use it as a rinse, a hair mask or add it to your favorite conditioner as a strengthener. Experiment with different application methods to find out what works best for you.
  • Do pay attention to your hair and scalp when using rice water. Though some may take rice water to be a perfect remedy that works for everyone, the truth is that it isn’t. It will work well for some and not for others, so it’s imperative to examine your hair while using rice water or any other remedy or product at all. There’s a small but real chance things could go wrong, so keep your eyes open.
  • Do track your results. If you want to know whether rice water is working for you, you’ve got to do some tracking, and it starts before you even begin using rice water. There’s no way to know if rice water is increasing your length retention if you don’t know how much length you were retaining prior. Of course, this rule isn’t non-negotiable. There are folks out there who don’t care to know exactly how much their hair is growing now vs. how much it used to grow. This won’t apply to these types of folks.


  • Don’t do one rice water treatment and then quit. Just one treatment will not be enough to get any kind of noticeable results. You’ll have to get into the groove of making and using rice water if you’re going to get any real results.
  • Don’t leave rice water in your hair overnight. Fungal infections, which often stem from leaving your hair and scalp wet overnight, can stunt your hair growth and cause you long-term damage. Do yourself a favor and stick to the time recommendations we presented earlier on in this article to save some time and frustration.
  • Don’t combine rice water with protein treatments. In case you weren’t aware, rice water contains a considerable amount of protein. We don’t recommend using it with other sources of protein as it could thrust your hair’s levels into excessive protein territory, opening a whole new can of worms consisting of hair dryness, crunchiness, hair loss, and more.
A dark-skinned black woman with naturally kinky curls that she has straightened with a flat iron.

Don’t Limit Yourself to Homemade Rice Water

Homemade rice water may be the most potent form of rice water, but it’s not the only option you have for a good treatment. If you find the rice water-making process too cumbersome, you might fall off the bandwagon and give up before you see results.

To prevent this, look into commercial rice water. You can pull it out of your back pocket when you don’t have the wherewithal to make rice water on your own.

Commercial rice water can be difficult to find in physical stores, and that’s because it’s not as commonly used as typical deep conditioning treatments and rinses. Luckily, you can find rice water online with a simple internet search.

One of the most reliable places to find rice water is on Amazon.

If you buy commercial rice water, you should be sure to use the product according to the instructions on the packaging, as doing so will give you the best chance of success.

Is Rice Water Really Worth the Hype?

There’s been some level of debate online and even among professionals regarding whether rice water is all it’s cracked up to be. It’s important to understand rice water’s capabilities before going through the trouble of adding it to your hair routine.

A cute black woman with a dazzling grin has long curly natural hair while wearing custom makeup and lipstick.

Here’s the rundown on rice water:

What Influencers Say About Rice Water

If you ask influencers on TikTok, they’ll say that rice water is a quick hair growth remedy that gives results in as little as a few days. It’s supposed to stimulate hair growth in the hair follicles and give you the Rapunzel-like tresses of your dreams.

Outlandish claims of several inches of growth over days are unrealistic and even deceptive. There is no basis for these claims outside of questionable before and after pictures.

What Experts Say About Rice Water

When it comes to experts, the effects of rice water are much more watered down. Some experts say rice water can help with hair growth, but it’s not in the way you might think.

No matter what you may have heard, rice water doesn’t increase the rate of your hair growth. However, it can make your hair stronger. 

The protein and starch in the rice water bind to the outer hair shaft and increase its strength. So, as you go about styling and maintaining your hair, it’ll be more resistant to breakage.

With that being the case, you’ll lose less length than you normally would due to hair weakness, damage, and split ends.

This leads to better length retention and more inches. In addition to increased length retention, people often realize their hair has developed a healthy shine and greater manageability.

An African American female with a head full of healthy curls is enjoying the benefits of fermented rice water.

Keep Your Expectations in Check

There are other rice water claims, but few are based on science or evidence. If you expect more out of your rice water than what we’ve stated here, there’s no harm in that.

Just be aware that although rice water does offer some benefits, it’s not a comprehensive cure-all for every hair issue. We urge you to keep your expectations in check so you won’t be disappointed.

Who Shouldn’t Use a Rice Water Treatment?

Before taking the leap with a rice water rinse or mask, you should ensure your hair and scalp are compatible with them. People with low-porosity hair may not get the best results from rice water because low-porosity hair has cuticles that lie flat and don’t allow much in.

Rice water is more likely to sit on top of low-porosity hair than be absorbed into it. In addition, if your scalp isn’t in a healthy state, you should pass on rice water. It can exacerbate any existing scalp conditions. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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So, there you have it! You should leave rice water in your hair for a max of 20 to 30 minutes per session, but there are other things you have to do to make rice water work for you. We hope the information we’ve shared in this article was helpful and that you’re now able to try rice water with confidence. Good luck!

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