If you’re trying to lay off a few pounds, perhaps you might’ve been actively avoiding white rice—the high-starch, high-carb grain. But it’s time to reintroduce this Asian household staple into your life, taking them from your plate straight onto your face.
In Asian cultures, rice is our fountain of youth. A beauty ritual as old as time, the medicinal value of rice dates as far back as 749 AD where rice water (water from the first or second wash of rice) was used by the women of the imperial court in Heian Japan to nourish and grow their hair, and by geishas who would bathe in the milky leftover water for softer, smoother skin. Not too far away from the Land of the Rising Sun, ancient Chinese women used rice water as well—to remove skin residue and brighten their overall complexion. Fast forward to the 21st century, modern-day royalty like Kim Kardashian (who swears by this beauty hack for strong, thick tresses) and Korean supermodel Lee Sa-Bi continue this 1000-year-old beauty legacy.
The benefits of rice
While Indians have taken to consuming rice water for its starch content to hydrate the body, Japanese, Korean and Chinese women apply rice-infused water topically onto both their skin and hair. When applied on the skin, the benefits are vast: potent antioxidants such as phytic and ferulic acids protect the skin from premature ageing by neutralising free radicals and inhibiting the activity of elastase—the enzyme that damages elastin (essentially what gives your skin the mochi-like bouncy). Studies have also shown that starch in rice can improve and soothe impaired skin barriers such as atopic dermatitis, acne and rosacea while keeping your skin layers hydrated.
Our favourite rice-infused skincare products
Effective as it is accessible, looking to add rice to your skincare routine can begin right from your kitchen. But if DIY-ing this beauty hack sounds energy-depleting for you, there are plenty of rice-based formulas concocted by our favourite brands that unveil brighter, softer and nourished skin, without the hassle.
One of the best-sellers from the geisha-inspired skincare line, Tatcha’s Rice Polish Classic Foaming Enzyme Powder was love at first use, instantly revealing brighter and softer skin. The finely-grounded rice bran is formulated with papaya enzymes and patented Hadasei-3™—a trio of anti-ageing Japanese superfoods – green tea, rice and algae. Water-activated, it emulsifies into a creamy, cloud-like foam that acts as a non-abrasive exfoliant—promoting natural skin-turnover without stripping moisture or aggravating skin’s barrier function. Having used this consistently, our skincare routine doesn’t quite feel the same without this.
We’re not fans of every Cosrx product on the market, but perhaps it’s because we haven’t tried everything, yet. The ones we’ve tried—like the Cosrx Acne Pimple Patch—we love. Adding another to the list, Cosrx’s Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Mask puts ‘beauty’ in ‘beauty sleep’—hydrating and brightening our complexion for a glorious I-woke-up-like-this look. Formulated with 65% rice extract, this lightweight mask contains powerhouse ingredients niacinamide and sunflower seed oil.
If having sake in your skincare routine sounds familiar, it’s probably because of SK-II Pitera Facial Treatment Essence—a cult product birthed from observing the wrinkle-free hands of sake brewers. Tapping into the time-honoured tradition of fermented rice wine, Boscia’s Sake Treatment Water contains sake hailing from Japan’s sake capital, Kyoto. Paired with niacinamide, these two hero ingredients work together to hydrate, firm up and prep the skin for better-absorbed serums and moisturisers.
When traditional Chinese medicine saved the life of Wei Beauty founder’s son, she discovered her passion and purpose in life. The harrowing experience inspired a skincare line optimised through modern science, striking the balance between old and new. Encased in a test tube-like packaging, this sheet masks floats in a nutrient-rich essence containing rice embryo (rice at the point of germination), Chinese liquorice and vitamin C: a trio that works to retain skin moisture, improve skin texture and defend against free radicals. But if instant results are what you’re after, 10 minutes is all it takes to get glowing, glass-like skin.
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