Chances are, you probably did some kind of DIY project during the height of the pandemic. With everyone spending more time indoors, trends like making your own sourdough bread, whipping up a cup of dalgona coffee, and tie-dyeing your clothes became moments of self-care that temporarily took our minds off of current events and was a welcome pause between sessions of doom scrolling. Because most people weren’t able to see their stylists for regular cuts and colors, many DIY hair trends also came out of this time like cutting your own bangs, at-home color kits, and our favorite, rice water hair and scalp rinses.
It was during this time that our co-founder, La La Anthony, started making her own rice water rinses in her kitchen to help address her hair concerns after seeing several videos on YouTube about the topic. Coinciding with the desire to take some time out for herself, making her DIY rice water rinses at home became a ritual that she looked forward to - especially after about two months when she started seeing some incredible results on her edges. These DIY rinses were not, however, the easiest to make, or the most pleasant experience. They didn’t last very long and had a smell to it that was…off-putting, to say the least. She knew that the treatment was working for her, but wanted to create a better way to deliver the benefits of the treatment. This is actually the origin story of INALA and how the brand came to be - she brought her idea to a team of beauty professionals and chemists and, as they say, the rest is history!
Last month we launched our Reset Rinse, which was a product idea from La La that was pulled directly from these DIY rice water rinses. In honor of our launch, the INALA Team did an exploration of the origins of using rice water as a hair treatment – it’s not just a DIY trend, it's a centuries-old ritual that is still practiced today!
The ritual of using rice water as a hair treatment began centuries ago, originating in various Asian cultures and still popular among those cultures today. In Japan, this practice can be traced back all the way to the Heian Period, where leftover water from washing or cooking rice (called Yu-Su-Ru) was combed into the hair of the court ladies, who were known for their floor-length hair (called suberakshi). In fact, the use of rice for beauty treatments in Japan has played such an important role that it even has its own name: “nuka biji,” which literally translates to, “beautiful by the rice.”
In China, the practice of utilizing rice water for hair and beauty benefits has also been around for some time, but many attribute the Red Yao women from Huang Luo in China’s Guangxi Region for bringing worldwide attention to this generational beauty secret. Commonly referred to as the “Long Hair Village,” the average woman’s hair is six feet in length and worn in elaborate twists, knots, and buns on top of the head, with various styles symbolizing their marital status. Similarly to the Japanese court ladies, the Yao women “wash” their hair in rice water and a mixture of local herbs and fruits and distribute the concoction into the hair with a wooden comb from roots to ends. The results from this ritual are so remarkable that the village’s main source of income in the modern age is from selling admission to shows for tourists and educating visitors on their long-standing hair traditions and history.
In India, treating hair with rice water has roots in Ayurvedic medicine and is a commonly practiced self-care and beauty ritual that is passed down from generation to generation. Esha, our chemist who helped us bring the Reset Rinse to life and who grew up in India, spoke to us recently about how she uses rice water rinses and why the Reset Rinse is a nod to her culture and her own experiences of DIY’ing rice water. (PS - She also talks about why the Reset Rinse is more powerful than the average kitchen-made rice water rinse and why the key ingredients were chosen. You can read the full interview here!)
We are so excited to share the benefits of rice water with all hair types and textures and to pay our respects to the women around the world who found such an incredible use for what was, on the surface, just a by-product of making a common food staple.
Have you tried the Reset Rinse yet? We’d love to hear your feedback! Share before and after photos and videos to RealResults@shopinala.com and be sure to follow INALA on Instagram and Supergreat for more tips, tricks, and real customer results!