Much ado has been given to the beauty trends consumed online. Between Mary Phillips’s viral underpainting technique, the ribbon-strewn tresses seen all over the recent spring/summer 2024 season’s street set or the short-lived buzz for blueberry milk nails, perhaps the question lies not in what has the power to grip us near-instantaneously these days, but what should stand the test of time. On one hand, there lie a number of so-called skincare hacks in our midst that might require one to reconsider its harmful effects, such as the rather contentious notion of SPF cocktailing. On the other hand? There are a few routine gems that have found their way to the beauty cognoscenti—and are equally deserving of a second opinion for its viability. The use of rice water as skincare, being one of them.
First gaining traction over TikTok, the trend itself is simple enough to understand: it involves the use of water soaked in rice as a skincare supplement or potential replacement for some of the usual toners or serums. Not only is it cost-effective, but the beauty mavens online have been touting its benefits for lending your countenance a radiant and supple complexion. Whilst it may have been a trend that has been picked up all over social media, it is of note that this effective trick of the trade actually has its roots in Asian cultures.
@tamsskyn You can’t deny that rice water works for anti-aging after seeing this AND its free #skincare #skincaretips #skincareroutine #grandmassecret #koreanskincare #koreanskincaretips #fyp #reverseaging #skincarehack #skincaresecrets ♬ 3:03 PM – しゃろう
Korean-American beauty content creator @tamsskyn, or Tammy Weatherhead, is one of many who advocates for this skincare practice through her videos, and attributes her own mature, glowing skin to the tips she personally picked up from her own grandmother, and incorporating rice water into her own routine since she was a teenager. “I believe it was women all across Korea and Japan who had been doing it for years; her (grandmother’s) own mother and sisters were all using rice water on their skin and hair,” she adds. Of course, not all skincare routines can be incorporated without knowing the how-tos and what-nots. Alas, there’s also the big question of how safe it actually is for our skin barrier.
To that end, we’ve consulted the expert knowledge of one dermatologist, Dr Jessica Ee, who’s also been known to dish out the hard facts on the social media platform. To better furbish what you may already understand about rice water-related skincare, read on for their perspectives on everything to know—from how long rice water can be stored in the fridge, to the science behind its supposed benefits.
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Are there scientific reasons as to why rice water would be beneficial for one’s skin?
According to Dr. Ee, rice bran contains gamma oryzanol which will help to fight against UV rays and damage from free radicals. Rice is also a container for antioxidants such as Vitamin A, C, E and flavonoids, which will help in improving overall skin texture and work against skin aging.
Another beneficial ingredient presently available in rice water is kojic acid, a tyrosinase inhibitor which helps to reduce the production of melanin. “Overall, rice water can be a helpful adjunct in anti-aging and combating hyperpigmentation.”
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Is there anything to be mindful of when using rice water as skincare?
“I think a lot of people just jump in, but like any new skincare product you’re introducing to your skin, you should tread slowly to make sure your skin likes it in the first place. I tell people to start once a day and increase the frequency of use if your skin is able to tolerate it,” Tammy advises.
Hydration is also key. Both warn against using rice water as a solo hero product—which it is ultimately not. Dr Ee. advises that the steps that come after are equally essential in order not to ‘dry out the skin’; meaning don’t forget your moisturiser and SPF.
“If you have severe hyperpigmentation or wrinkles, using rice water is also unlikely to result in significant changes in skin quality. It will be more beneficial for you to look for a dermatologist to see what can be done instead of experimenting with DIY skincare hacks, as proper early intervention will lead to better results,” Dr. Ee recommends.
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How long can rice water be kept in the fridge for?
Whilst @tamsskyn usually recommends a shelf life of two weeks, Dr. Ee would advise against keeping any rice water solution for more than three days as it may have turned bad. “Rice water can go bad easily and it should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Using rice water that has turned bad can predispose a person to developing skin infections,” she adds.
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How do you make the perfect batch of rice water for the skin?
In Dr. Ee’s words, if you are using rice water for the skin, the rice should be washed at least twice (third time’s the charm, for rice-water-user Tammy) to remove any impurities that may be present. After using the rice water, do make sure to rinse the skin with plain water to ensure that there are no leftover particles on the face.
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Any other tips for incorporating rice water into your daily routine?
A quick glean of Tammy’s TikTok profile will demonstrate her adept ways at adopting rice water into her skincare ‘recipes’. “I use rice masks about once a week but I’ve also been applying a concoction of rice water and rosemary oil onto my scalp recently—it’s supposed to help with hair thickening and I have noticed less shedding in the two months that I’ve been doing this,” she offers.