Is rice water really good for your skin and hair? We asked experts

Anti-Aging Medicine
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Anti-Aging Medicine
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If you’re inclined towards skincare and all-natural remedies, you’ve likely encountered the trend of using rice water for its purported benefits on skin and hair – a phenomenon that I, too, am familiar with. From fermented rice water to ground rice, both influencers and self-proclaimed ‘beauty experts’ have championed its virtues, promising radiant skin, improved hair texture, and more. However, dermatologists offer a different perspective.

The popularity of rice water

Rice water’s surge in popularity can be attributed, in part, to its status as a readily available kitchen ingredient that has been used in various forms over time.

  • Rice water is believed to contain a range of nutrients, including B vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, and folate, which play roles in maintaining skin and hair health.
  • Additionally, it is thought to house essential minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus, as well as antioxidants (more prevalent in fermented rice water), which might provide protection against oxidative stress (beneficial for anti-aging purposes).
  • Moreover, rice water may be rich in carbohydrates and enzymes that could contribute to soothing effects and potential skin brightening.

The viral phenomenon

This DIY solution has achieved cult-favorite status, with people employing it for both hair and skin. A quick online search reveals countless individuals sharing their recipes for creating the perfect rice water.

The rice water trend has even penetrated the beauty market, prompting various renowned brands, including Indian ones, to introduce products ranging from sunscreens to toners, all touting the benefits of rice water.

Usage and application

Rice water, a natural ingredient with a history of use spanning centuries and multiple cultures, is believed to offer potential benefits for both skin and hair. While some of these advantages are anecdotal and subject to individual variations, here are some of the potential benefits of using rice water for skin and hair:

Rice water hair rinse

For hair care, rice water is commonly employed as a final rinse after shampooing and conditioning. It’s essential to dilute the rice water with plain water to prevent potential protein buildup on the hair.

Benefits attributed to this rinse include:

Hair growth: Rice water’s vitamins, minerals, and amino acids are thought to support hair growth and enhance hair shaft strength.
Enhanced hair texture: The proteins in rice water may contribute to smoother and more manageable hair.
Shine and luster: The nutrients in rice water might add shine and vibrancy to hair, enhancing its appearance.
Reduced hair breakage: Rice water’s proteins and amino acids may help minimize hair breakage and split ends.

The face toner

Now, for skin, you can use rice water as a toner after cleansing.

It can be applied with a cotton pad or sprayed onto the skin.

  1. Begin by putting the rice in a container.
  2. Wash it thoroughly to remove any possible debris.
  3. Add water to the same bowl. Let it soak overnight.
  4. Next morning, strain the rice and keep the water.
  5. The best thing to do is to pour it into a spray bottle and you have your toner that you can refrigerate and keep for a week.

Potential Benefits for Skin: 
1. Soothing Irritation: Rice water’s natural starches may have a soothing effect on irritated skin, helping to calm redness and discomfort.

2. Skin Brightening: Some people believe that rice water can contribute to a brighter complexion due to its potential exfoliating properties.

3. Tightening Pores: The astringent properties of rice water might help tighten the skin and minimize the appearance of pores.

4. Softening Skin: The vitamins and minerals in rice water could help moisturize and soften the skin, leaving it feeling smoother.

5. Anti-Aging: The antioxidants present in rice water might help protect the skin from environmental damage and potentially contribute to anti-ageing effects.

Now, if you’re wondering why we are using words like ‘potential’ and ‘may,’ it’s because the science behind the rice water formula and DIYs is very limited. Whether it works is mostly hearsay. So, we asked some experts, and here’s what they said:

‘There is no science behind it’

” I just tell patients to use karna hai toh karo (use if you want to)”, says Dr Sujit Shanshanwal, a dermatologist from Mumbai.  He further says, that there is no science or study behind it. 

Dr Anupama Bisaria, a dermatologist from Noida says, “Some people believe that rice water can be useful, it may have some anti-irritant or brightening properties but it has not been studied much. 

I am not a big fan of it at least for now, but if future studies come in I’ll be open to the ideas. I do not encourage rice water as a DIY, or some products that are available that have rice water, but I do not promote it

– Dr Anupama Bisaria

A reminder

Should you decide to experiment with rice water, conducting a patch test before applying it to your entire face or hair is advised to identify any adverse reactions. If you have allergies or sensitivities to specific ingredients, consulting a dermatologist prior to incorporating rice water into your skincare or haircare routine is a prudent step.

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