Sometimes you feel like you need to be a scientist to understand what is on the ingredient labels of your beauty products. You see words about 10 letters in length, ending in “phate” or “acid” or “ide” and you think “is this stuff even safe…?”. Your eyes scan the label for something that resembles a word that you can understand and there, there it is – “rice water”! Did I really spend a hefty penny on this cleanser that’s made of rice water?
You’ve noticed the buzz of rice water on product launches, ad campaigns and on ingredient lists of some of your favourite skincare products. This easy-to-do at home remedy has been around for generations and finds its origins in Chinese, Japanese and Korean beauty. We’ll show you how to turn that sack of rice sitting in your pantry into a quick and effective beauty regime for your skin, without the hefty price tag.
Is Rice Water Beneficial for Skin?
When it comes to your skin and hair, rice water contains many properties like vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that are essential for maintaining healthy and beautiful skin and hair. Rice bran contains antioxidant-rich components such as ferulic acid, gamma-oryzanol and phytic acid and has been used in the cosmetic industry and also in the management of skin diseases like alopecia and eczema .
Rice water benefits also include protection against UVB-radiation damage on the skin and promotes anti-aging activity. Inositol is a main compound found in rice water and is proven to show improvement on moisture, sebum, elasticity, and wrinkles.
A study conducted in 2008, where rice water was incorporated into a hydrogel and then tested on human participants proved that there is evidence of antioxidant activity and elastase inhibitory effect. For anyone that’s not a scientist, that means: rice water is recommended to be considered as an anti-aging ingredient to be used as raw material for skincare applications. Who knew this dietary staple could also become such a beauty staple?
How to Make Rice Water?
There are three main ways to make rice water.
First, is the boiled rice water method. You can use the normal amount of rice you would use for a meal but recommend to use two to three times the amount of the water in the recipe for the purposes of this DIY. This could look like one cup of the rice and three cups of water. Once the rice is cooked, strain out the water and set this aside. You can use the water as is (after it’s cooled down), as it is rich and concentrated with nutrients, or dilute with a bit more water. You should be left a milky liquid to use.
If you want a ‘no cooking required’ method, use the soaking method. Use the same proportions of the rice and soak in the water for about 15-20 minutes. Strain the rice and the remaining water can be used on your skin and hair.
Lastly, if you have a little more time, the fermented rice water method is believed to be the most effective method because of the pH change that happens during the fermentation process. Pitera, a substance produced during the fermentation process of rice water can support cell regeneration. To ferment your rice water, follow the soaking method to make your rice water, then store the strained water in a jar at room temperature for two days. You’ll know it’s ready when it starts to smell a little sour. Dilute the mixture with water to use on your skin or hair and store the rest in the fridge.
5 Different Ways to Use Rice Water
There are numerous ways to incorporate rice water into your beauty routine but we’ll also show you how to treat certain skin conditions with rice water.
Facial cleanser or toner
To cleanse your face with rice water, you can splash a handful of the solution on to your face and pat in. No need to rinse off, you can leave the rice water on overnight so that your skin can absorb all the vitamins and minerals. If you’re someone that uses makeup, make sure to use a gentle but effective makeup remover first. Then, to use as a toner, apply some of the solution on to a cotton pad or a cotton ball and dab all over the face
Treat sun-damaged and aging skin
Ditch the expensive serums and try treating your skin with rice water. Thanks to its high level of antioxidants, including vitamin A, vitamin C, flavonoid and phenolic compounds, rice water can address dark age spots, hyperpigmentation, free radical damage from the sun and environmental stressors and brighten complexion. Use morning or night by applying with a cotton pad or leave it on overnight. You get all the benefits without and side-effects.
Treat Skin Inflammation
People experiencing eczema can take a rice water bath that can improve eczema and skin barrier function. Rice bran, the outer layer of a rice kernel, can decrease skin inflammation, repair the skin barrier and lower skin irritation in eczema patients. In 2016, a study proved that rice water is effective in treating dermatitis by bathing in rice water. It can also be used to heal acne and calm outbreaks while acting as an astringent, which will help prevent future breakouts.
Heal your sunburn
Because rice water is known to be an anti-inflammatory, it can be used to relieve your sunburn. Refrigerate the rice water until cold and then apply with a cotton pad to the infected area immediately after taking it out of the fridge – it’ll not only soothe but also give you a pleasant cooling sensation for that burn.
Maintain that mane
Rice water for hair growth has been a traditional remedy historically. The Yao women from Huangluo Village, in Guangxi Province of southern China, are known to have extraordinarily long hair that stays black until they are around 80 years old. This is attributed to the use of rice water for washing their hair. Use the fermented rice water with a few drops of essential oils of a scent that you like and replace as your shampoo when washing your hair.
It’s hard to believe that something you can purchase by the pound at your local supermarket can be used as such an effective beauty ingredient, for a fraction of the price of what’s available on the market. It can be incorporated into your routine at very little cost and the benefits are abundant. Instead of treating your delicate skin with chemicals, try naturally occurring ingredients that are readily available to you. Traditional Southeast Asian societies are on to something here: beauty doesn’t have to come at a price.