People with hair loss who look to the internet for natural solutions are frequently bombarded by advice that is questionable at best. But the web currently seems more taken than usual with the notion that rice water can help boost hair growth.
One newspaper’s website which has run with the story is South Africa’s Southlands Sun, which describes rice water as Asia’s best kept secret and the reason why so many Asian women’s hair looks so strong and healthy. It claims that rice water was first used by noblewomen of the Japanese Imperial Court more than 1,000 years ago – an era, it notes, when long, beautiful styles were especially in vogue.
Nutritional benefits to hair
Unlike some DIY solutions for hair growth – including but certainly not limited to cow urine and onion juice – applying rice water is neither unpleasant nor difficult. Simply wash a cup of rice to get rid of any impurities, then leave it in water for 30 minutes to soak. Once the water has taken on a whitish hue, it should be strained and then put into a spray bottle ready for use.
The article also says that rice water is good for the skin, thanks to its combination of amino acids, minerals and vitamins. These include folic acid, a form of water-soluble B vitamin which plays a role in cell division and is known to be important in healthy hair growth; and iron, a lack of which may or may not play a part in the genetic condition female pattern hair loss, depending on which study is to be believed.
People sometimes think of hair as being somewhat “dead” biologically (rather like fingernails) as it is made of a tough protein called keratin, but this is only true of the shaft; the real magic that goes into it comes from the hair follicle – an area that a solution sprayed onto the hair is unable to reach.
Says Belgravia’s senior hair loss specialist Leonora Doclis: “If people want to try it, applying rice water to the hair shouldn’t harm it but there is no evidence to suggest this solution can make the hair grow, nor treat genetic hairloss. Female pattern hair loss – and male pattern baldness, for that matter – are genetic conditions that involve specific reactions to the hormone DHT. Given rice water does not inhibit DHT or enhance blood flow it will have no effect on these forms of hereditary hair loss. It is possible that topical applications may make the hair look healthy with added shine, but this is purely cosmetic. It is also worth noting that the Asian hair type is naturally more shiny and smooth than Caucasian and Afro hair, as a general, biological rule.”
Whilst the South African story centres around applying rice water directly to the hair, could it be that drinking it may be more beneficial? Leonora is doubtful, explaining: “The nutritional benefits of rice water if consumed orally, rather than applied topically, may help women with dietary deficiencies to avoid thinning hair from the temporary condition Telogen Effluvium, but they should check the values first to see if a) it is worth it – I would assume these values are fairly low – and b) to ensure an overall balanced approach to nutrition. As with many vitamins and minerals, folic acid and iron can be easily consumed in their recommended doses via our daily food intake, especially for meat-eaters. Because of this, and particularly in the case of iron, it is important to ensure you are not regularly overdosing – too much iron can be as bad as too little when it comes to the hair. This is actually true of certain other vitamins and minerals too, so it’s important to follow a balanced diet.”
What we eat – and drink – plays an important part in maintaining healthy hair. A 2015 UK survey found that three quarters of us are likely to be dehydrated due to not drinking enough water – something which is vital to the normal functioning of the body, including hair growth and keeping the hair in good condition. Having a balanced diet is also crucial to overall health and certain nutrients are known to be particularly advantageous to the hair; these include biotin, selenium, zinc and silica.
Though not intended to replace the nutrients that can normally be found in a good diet, a food supplement may be useful to some people. Modern life can be so demanding that some people find it difficult to get what they need through their everyday food intake. This is one of the reasons why the hair experts at Belgravia researched and developed a highly-targeted range of hair growth supplements – Hair Vitalics.
Hair Vitalics for Men and Hair Vitalics for Women are premium one-a-day food supplements which contain optimal doses of a range of key vitamins, minerals, amino acids and botanicals known to benefit the hair.
Biotin, selenium, zinc and silica have been blended with additional elements such as copper – which can help to maintain hair colour – and L-Methionine, an essential sulphur amino acid which is involved in the body’s synthesis of L-Cysteine, a building block of proteins.
Furthermore, each Hair Vitalics product contains ingredients that have been shown to lower levels of DHT in the blood stream and which are not readily found in the average man or woman’s normal diet. These include saw palmetto for men and, for women, the soy isoflavones genistein and daidzein. Whilst these ingredients have been proven to help lower serum DHT, they are not intended for use as hair loss treatments in their own right; these support products are simply more armaments in the arsenal of those taking a holistic approach to maximising their hair’s potential.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.