As I Am is ringing us into the new year with three new products aimed at helping our most troublesome hair areas like breakage, hair growth, and hair loss. Their latest rice water formula comes in a shampoo, conditioner, and strengthening spray that includes ingredients like biotin and palmetto which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. We had the chance to talk with Dr. Ali N. Syed, founder, and chief chemist of As I Am, about their newest line, benefits, and best uses.

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Why did you choose to make Rice water as the foundation for this collection?

There has been a lot of talk about rice water as an ingredient on platforms like Clubhouses that I had been monitoring, especially from users in the curly hair community. I did scientific research and discovered there were 1-2 studies out of Korea where they used rice water extracts and had seen hair growth in animals. We did a further investigation on different rice types like white, brown, and forbidden black rice. I found the forbidden black rice the most interesting because when foods with pigment or color there can be rich in materials like flavonoids which are anti-inflammatory and have antioxidants. 

After that, we focused on using forbidden black rice as our main ingredient and removed the starches so it was pure and the flavanoids could work into the hair follicle to assist with growth. We have a bio and derm lab where we’ve done alot of research on the rate of hair growth for Black women which is 22% less than for other races, so we wanted to help it grow it faster. We wanted to add Saw Palmetto and Phytosterols to help reduce inflammation and strengthen the follicle to reduce shedding and prevent thinning hair. The copper tripeptide was also an ingredient that could be added to the product to help increase the hair follicle for thicker and fuller hair. We were able to combine all of these modules into several different products which evolved into a Rice Water Spray, Shampoo, and Conditioner. Each bottle is filled with ingredients like Forbidden Black Rice Water, Biotin, Saw Palmetto and Phytosterols, Ceramide, Copper Tripeptide, and Inositol which all work together to help lock in moisture to the scalp and hair, creating a protective barrier. 

What are the benefits of rice water?

It's stimulating the hair follicle to reduce inflammation so your hair continues to grow and stay healthy. We know our consumer does not like the proteins that are traditionally in rice water so we removed them and you can see the opaque results in the products. People who use rice water at home often ferment them and put them in the fridge which can cause harmful bacteria that you won’t want to put on your bed. We examined all aspects of rice water from the fungus to the microbes to create clean ingredients that would be properly preserved for our customers. The collection is also scent-free for any customers who may have allergy sensitivities and will not cause protein overload like in other rice water products.

Read next: Why Asian Women Have Been Rinsing Their Hair with Fermented Rice Water

What should naturalistas know about their hair porosity?

I’ll be releasing a book later this year soon all about hair porosity and in our research, we discovered a few key insights across different types of hair porosities. Type 4 hair has a higher porosity than types 1 and 3-4 has a blend of five different porosities. This particular collection combines conditioning agents for 2 types: high porosity and low porosity hair so customers can benefit from both. Rather than having two formulas for different porosities, we were able to blend them both.

What are the best practices for using these products?

We wanted to keep all the normal and consistent practices we’ve seen our customers love over the years so we kept it simple with a shampoo, conditioner, and strengthening spray that could be used between washes.

Tell us about your commitment to the community and the $1 donation that goes into each product sold

I’ve always been very committed to giving back and after working in the salon business and working for brands like Johnson and Johnson, I was empowered to find an efficient and sustainable way to give back. 

As I Am is committed to providing products that give back to communities and the planet. For every product sold, $1 is donated to the customer's choice of Innocence Project, Inc., Malala Fund, Greenpeace Fund, Inc., NAACP Foundation, RAICES (Refugee & Immigrant Center for Education & Legal Services), 1 % For The Planet, MADRE, An International Women's Human Rights Org., Black Girls CODE, Chicanos Por La Causa Inc, GIRLS NOT BRIDES: THE GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP TO END CHILD MARRIAGE, PULL UP FOR CHANGE, and Black Lives Matter.

As I Am continues to offset every purchase at a 2:1 capacity and is striving to meet a goal of being net zero by 2030. As of December 2022, the total amount donated was up to $238,000. 

Check out: 24 Best Moisturizing Products for Type 4 Natural Hair