Rice Water In Skin Care: Is it Worth the Hype?

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Rice water is such a simple, affordable, versatile ingredient making it a great option for skin care. While rice water has been around for centuries, it’s recently been trending. Fresha found that online interest in rice water has skyrocketed around the globe. Particularly, searches on Pinterest have increased dramatically over the past six months. Cosmetic chemist Ginger King explains that the buzzy ingredient is simply the water that’s left after washing rice. Cosmetic chemist Gloria Lu says rice is a great source material for skin care.

“It can be processed into anything from exfoliating powders to conditioning rice bran oil,” says Lu. “In fact, originally, products that claim skin benefits from rice tend to use the oil form Oryza Sativa Bran Oil. Rice water ingredients found in skin care can refer to several different forms varying from oils, waters, to even powder extracts.” Lu notes that “rice water ferment” is another popular category. This is generally the excess material from the post-yeast fermentation of rice, she explains.

The benefits of rice water in skin care

“Rice water is mainly a hydrating, conditioning ingredient,” says Lu. “Rice water ferment has been linked to anti-aging properties such as wrinkle reduction and skin texture,” she adds. Lu notes that consumers should look for brand testing and validation claims for specific products.

In King’s first-hand experience, she’s seen rice water brighten skin. “I don’t cook, but I always volunteer to wash rice because of this benefit seen when I was a kid,” she says. Rice water tends to be good for any skin type. Clean cosmetic chemist and founder of KKT Consultants Krupa Koestline says it has been found to have “skin brightening, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, photoprotective and moisturizing properties. Some studies also find that it helps prevent collagen degradation. It contains bioactive phenolic compounds like ferulic acid, phytic acid, squalene and betaine.” She adds that many studies have shown that it’s non-irritating, making it safe for daily use on all skin types. “It’s a gentle way to brighten the skin over time while moisturizing it.”

Cosmetic chemist Victoria Fu says you should definitely look to Asian skin care for rice water products. “As a good representation of rice water, we recommend looking for products that tout larger amounts of rice water extract,” she notes. Beauty of Joseon Glow Deep Serum Rice + Arbutin ($17) fits this description, says Fu. Koestline recommends GOOPGENES All-in-One Nourishing Face Cream ($98), One Love Organics Love + Rose Hydrating Serum ($78) and Kypris Cerulean Mask ($210).

“For rice ferments, probably the most famous is SK-II’s proprietary Pitera Essence ($119),” says Fu. However, she wants to emphasize “that sourcing (where and how the rice extract is produced) can be very important in terms of what benefits these extracts can bring.” King says toners are often a good product to get your rice water in.

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