(Trial Run)

Nothing Makes My Skin Glow Like This K-Beauty Rice Mask

It’s basically my on-call esthetician.

Sarah Y. Wu
house of dohwa rice mask review
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In our series Trial Run, TZR editors and writers put the buzziest new beauty products to the test and share their honest reviews. This week, beauty writer Sarah Y. Wu is testing House of Dohwa’s Rice Wash Off Facial Mask.

When it comes to my skin, I can confidently say that I’ll never be Team Matte because I worship fervently at the altar of glow. Maybe I’ve taken this way too far at times by layering on three separate highlighters for a casual grocery store run. But I’ve since learned from my mistakes and found the key to the ideal amount of dewy luminosity: House of Dohwa’s Rice Wash Off Facial Mask (and no more than one highlighter at a time).

I first discovered House of Dohwa on a recent trip to Seoul, where I spent a morning in their idyllic store in Bukchon Hanok Village. The shopping experience combined two of my favorite things: wall-to-wall shelves of skin care and a menu of house-made teas to sip on while I shopped. I left with so many things that I barely squeezed onto the subway, but this creamy mask in a squeeze pouch was by far the most exciting find of the day.

“House of Dohwa's wash-off masks were inspired by the ingredients used by our Korean ancestors for centuries,” says Abe Cho, co-founder of Coréelle, a K-beauty retailer and parent company of House of Dohwa. “The practice of washing one’s face using rice water was the most common beauty method for brightening complexions in the Korean royal court.” Fast forward several centuries, and you can get it packaged in a travel-friendly pouch reminiscent of a very chic Capri Sun. Ahead, my honest thoughts on this mask after rigorously testing it for a month.

Fast Facts

  • Price: $20
  • Size: 100 ml/3.38 fl oz
  • Clean/Cruelty-Free: Yes
  • Best For: All skin types looking for a gentle exfoliator to soften and boost glow
  • Ingredient Highlights: Rice bran extract, rice powder
  • What We Like: Instantly makes skin feel smoother and look glowy, hydrates, calms, non-drying, easy-to-use packaging
  • What We Don’t Like: Nothing!
  • Rating: 5/5
How TZR Keeps Score: 1/5: Making a return; 2/5: Keeping as a backup; 3/5: Finishing to the last drop; 4/5: Recommending to my group texts; 5/5: Already on auto-replenish

The Formula

In formulating this mask, the House of Dohwa team wanted to create an exfoliating base that stayed gentle enough for all skin types to use regularly. That made rice the perfect starting point. “Rice naturally softens skin, provides high levels of moisture, and visibly brightens,” says Cho. “The rice bran used in our Wash Off Mask is rich in minerals like zinc, magnesium, vitamins B and C, antioxidants, and compounds like ferulic acid and allantoin.” Alongside rice bran extract, Cho says the mask also contains raw rice powder, a non-irritating exfoliant.

I’ve had enough unfortunate experiences with physical exfoliants in the past that I usually prefer a chemical alternative (like AHAs or BHAs) instead. But rice powder might be my single exception because it’s never done me wrong — and not just in this formula.

“Unlike other physical exfoliants, rice powder is not harsh and can be used for people with sensitive skin as well,” says Dr. David Kim, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of Lightsaver. “It can help remove a dead layer of the skin without over-stripping.” Similarly, rice bran extract touts the same benefits. “It’s suitable for all skin types including sensitive skin,” says Dr. Kim.

Courtesy of Sarah Y. Wu

Research shows that rice-derived ingredients have promising anti-inflammatory and moisturizing benefits, as well as positive effects on skin conditions like atopic dermatitis. This is due to rice bran’s rich nutrient content. “Rice bran is the outer cap of the rice kernel, which is high in starch,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital’s Department of Dermatology. “It has also been shown to have soothing and calming effects on the skin.”

Both Dr. Kim and Dr. Zeichner echo Cho’s list of the nutrients found in rice bran: amino acids and antioxidants like vitamin E and ferulic acid that soothe, hydrate, soften, and protect skin.

My Typical Skin Care Routine

It’s been awhile since I gave my routine an overhaul, but 2024 seems to be my year of trying new things. That starts with a daily dose of Elysium’s Mosaic Supplements, a blend of carotenoids and hyaluronic acid that has made a surprisingly big difference in how healthy and hydrated my skin feels. I’ve also begun incorporating gua sha sessions every other night, which I always pair with a few drops of Le Prunier’s Plum Beauty Oil — still the best face oil I’ve ever tried. My arsenal of devices has been whittled down to two. I start my day with the NuFACE Trinity+, which instantly lifts and sculpts my jawline and cheeks with microcurrent, clearing away any puffiness from the night before. In the evening, I do a short treatment with my NIRA Pro Laser, which uses non-fractional, non-ablative laser technology to target the lines on my neck and chest.

The rest of my routine changes depending on what I’m testing at any given moment, but a few things have stayed in the rotation lately. I love Depology’s Opuntia-C Relief Cleansing Balm for removing every single trace of makeup without irritating my eyes. For a hydrated base, I layer House of Dohwa’s Rice Bran Toner under the brand’s Rice Bran Facial Moisturizer (supplemented with regular applications of the Rice Wash Off Facial Mask). And because I would never forget about sunscreen no matter what season it is, I rotate between two. Skin1004’s Hyalu-Cica Water-Fit Sun Serum SPF 50+ feels incredible: like a soothing, hydrating serum with none of that sunscreen slick and leaves my skin looking refreshingly dewy. When I want a touch of glowy tint, I grab Lightsaver’s Activated Mineral Sunscreen SPF 33, which wears like a silky whipped moisturizer and subtly smooths out my skin.

My Experience & Results

I’ll never forget the first time I used this mask because I started that day looking objectively terrible. After a long night out and two hours of sleep, my skin was dehydrated, dull, and patchy —the holy trinity for testing a new skin care product. I unscrewed the cap on my mask, squeezed out a small dollop, and smeared it all over my face like an extra-thick cleanser. Even in my sleep-deprived state, I was able to appreciate how creamy and refreshing it felt (and how it smelled faintly, deliciously like a sticky rice dessert). I left it on for 10 minutes as instructed, then rinsed it off. Instantly floored. My skin had the lit-from-within radiance and softness I typically associate with stronger treatments like acid peels. My dry patches had faded, the redness around my nose and cheeks had gone down, and my glow was back in full force.

Courtesy of Sarah Y. Wu

Since then, I’ve reached for this mask whenever my face looks like it can use an extra boost in the morning. Cho says it’s gentle enough to be used daily, but recommends scaling that back to three to four times a week if you have sensitive skin. I’m usually too lazy to use masks that require rinsing, but this one is so good, I don’t mind adding the extra step. If you use it twice a week like me, you could easily make one of these packs stretch for a few months, especially since the pouch makes it easy to squeeze out every last drop.

Is House of Dohwa’s Rice Wash Off Facial Mask Worth It?

I contemplated buying a second suitcase just to bring more of these back home with me, and I still slightly regret not doing it. This is one of the most affordable face masks in my beauty cabinet, but it’s pretty much made me forget about all the other ones I own. If you have sensitive skin, dream of glow, and want immediate results without the fear of flare ups, this is the formula for you. And if you have any other skin type, you need this too. Have I already booked another trip to Seoul partly just to stock up on more? Maybe.