TiKTok’s New Beauty Trend Could Exacerbate Global Food Shortage
Influencers are now flocking to a food staple that's in very short global supply. What could possibly go wrong?
I don't actively spend my days trying to uncover controversies, but this new beauty trend seems too conveniently timed.
Beauty influencers are now praising the benefits of using "Rice Water" to obtain beautiful, luxurious hair.
One problem: this is basically the worst time for that staple to go viral since there's a global shortage of rice.
What's Rice Water?
It's essentially a spray made of soaked rice. Influencers claim if you soak a half cup of uncooked rice for 48 hours, the liquid turns into a magical elixir that will infuse your tired hair with vitamins and minerals.
Hair enthusiasts claim the vitamins like B1, B6, magnesium, potassium and zinc to leech into the water from the rice, which also infuses other amino acids and fibrous elements that "work wonders on the hair."
The influencers strain the water into a spray bottle and coat their hair with the grain-infused substance.
All I hope is that these people actually use the rice after they're done turning it into a hair product.
Although this trend has been floating around the internet for a few years, it's enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent times thanks to the pandemic.
Beauty hub Fresha claims searches on how to make rice water surged by nearly 150 percent over the past five years. It first gained traction when the pandemic shuttered hair salons, so people turned to at-home remedies to maintain their hair.
Now, TikTok users are springing on the craze and are taking over the internet with their own testimonials.
However, before you scramble to your local grocery store to try this beauty hack, you should know Nebraska Medicine University Health Center looked into these claims and ruled them inconclusive.
Researchers stated, "The benefits of rice water remain unproven. More research is needed."
Why now is a bad time for this beauty trend to go viral
The world is already struggling with a global food crisis thanks to extreme weather and the Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Now, India is considering an export ban on all its rice due to torrential rains, landslides and flash floods that battered the country's paddies this year.
India is the world's largest exporter of rice because it makes up for 40 percent of the globe's supply. Rice is also a critical food staple to more than 3 billion people worldwide.
Already, India banned exporting non-basmati white rice to tamp down inflation and ensure its population has enough food. Following last month's ban, the country then placed a 20% duty on its parboiled rice exports.
These moves have already caused the price of rice to skyrocket and people around the world are now panic-buying the staple. Places like Nepal, Kenya, Tunisia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Senegal are reporting high prices, with some people saying they can't even find the staple in stores.
This also comes shortly after Russia backed out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which had previously allowed Ukraine to continue supplying the world with its grains through its ports in Odesa.
Ukraine is known as the "breadbasket of Europe" due to its rich black soil and favorable climate that provides ample conditions for growing grains. This makes Ukraine one of the world's top exporters in grain and corn.
In all, because the globe is struggling with a squeeze to its grain, rice and corn exports - experts warn a global food crisis is on the horizon.
Easy to say, this "rice water" beauty trend isn't helping.
Rice water has been around for centuries
It should be noted this beauty trend didn't come out of nowhere, nor was it a recent invention.
There are historical records of women in China and Japan using it for their hair. The International Journal of Cosmetic Science found that during Japan's Heian period, which spanned from 794 to 1185 CE, women commonly had floor-length hair and would bathe it in rice water to keep it healthy.
But even though this trend dates back centuries, its benefits remain unproven. While there have been studies that claim the treatment is useful, it should be noted they were likely backed by commercial interests.
The beautiful thing is that modern medicine and technology exists. Strides have been made in creating products that can produce healthy, strong and voluminous hair.
Other ways to protect your hair
The American Academy of Dermatology Association found some cheap and easy ways to protect one's hair. They literally say find a brand that is formulated specifically for your hair type and, when showering, concentrate the shampoo on the scalp and conditioner the tips of the hair.
Other recommendations include washing oily hair more frequently and wearing a swim cap in chlorinated pools to avoid damage from the chemicals.
And for you naturopaths, health experts say all you need to do to obtain fuller, healthier hair is to consume more protein, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. These insiders also say massaging your scalp more often stimulates better hair growth.
Health experts also say drink less alcohol and avoid those low-calorie or crash diets if you want healthier hair. They also advocate for using the lowest heat setting when using blow dryers, curlers and flat irons.
That said, it's best to ignore this rice water trend.
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