In the world of skin care, viral ingredients are a dime a dozen. From staples like hyaluronic acid to newcomers like snail mucin, the internet has a buzzy fix for every concern. Recently, the benefits of rice water for the skin has been making waves on the algorithms. Like the previously mentioned actives, it’s beloved for its hydrating properties. But it’s the glass skin effect that has most captivated the attention of the beauty set. Scrolling through TikTok, you’ve probably seen a few videos touting its illuminating effects. That said, while it may be the platform's latest hot topic, the concept of using rice water in skin care routines is actually an ancient concept.
According to Dr. Jessie Cheung, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of Cheung Aesthetics & Wellness in Chicago and New York City, rice water has been around and used for hundreds of years in Asian cultures. As she explains, it not only has a plethora of benefits, but it’s also highly accessible and suitable for almost every skin type. “It’s the kind of ingredient that people could easily make themselves,” she says. Korean and Japanese beauty rituals have been at the forefront of some of beauty’s top skin care trends. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that the advantages of rice water are becoming more mainstream.
Ahead, TZR spoke with experts to learn more about how this simple ingredient works, including how to incorporate it into your current routine.
What Are The Skin Care Benefits Of Rice Water?
Rice water first gained fame on TikTok for its hair benefits. When included in a standard hair care routine, it fortified strands and gave them a glass-like shine. However, currently, the ingredient is being touted for a similar result — only for your complexion. But just how does the tiny grain translate into a world of skin benefits? Put simply, it’s packed with nourishing substances. “Rice water is full of vitamins, amino acids, antioxidants, and minerals that can combat several skin care concerns,” says Dr. Cheung. She explains that when left soaking in water, starch and other skin-loving components are extracted from the rice to create a nutrient-rich liquid.
It’s a simple yet powerful ingredient that can help even tone and hydrate the skin, giving a dewy or glassy look. While a youthful appearance is always favorable, rice water has deeper advantages. According to Nichelle Temple, esthetician and founder of Inderma Studio in NYC, the antioxidant properties make it ideal for protecting against free radical damage and oxidative stress. “Along with these safeguarding effects, rice water can reduce inflammation and soothe irritated skin,” she says.
Are There Any Side Effects & Who Should Use It?
There’s always a risk when it comes to testing skin care ingredients. But with rice water, the levels of concern are fairly low. According to Temple, the most common issue is a rice allergy. If you happen to be allergic, she recommends avoiding products containing the ingredient at all costs. Aside from that, Dr. Cheung says that dryness may become a problem with excessive use. If you are typically prone to dry skin, she recommends limiting your use or steering clear of the ingredient all together. However, in small doses, rice water can deliver a much-needed boost of hydration.
Both experts agree that it’s generally safe for all skin types, but you should take precautions. “It’s always a good idea to patch test to determine how an item will react with your skin,” says Dr. Cheung. For those who skew more oily than dry, Temple notes that rice water can be effective for minimizing production. “The starch compounds help balance oil levels, keeping problem areas like the t-zone from appearing shiny throughout the day,” she says.
How To Incorporate Rice Water Into Your Skin Care Routine
To get the most benefits from rice water, Dr. Cheung tells TZR that you should use it like a toner. “After cleansing your face, soak a cotton pad with the liquid and lightly dab onto the skin,” she says. Facial mists are another way to reap its benefits. “A spritz can give you an instantly hydrated look or be used to revitalize your skin throughout the day,” she adds. Though simple, rice water has serum-like effects and can be used like your favorite sheet mask. “Many people soak 4x4 tissues with a homemade mixture and allow them to sit on the skin for a deeper penetration,” says Temple.
However, if you’re going to go the DIY route, she notes that the rice water should be stored in a tightly sealed container and kept in the refrigerator to maintain freshness. Remember, the liquid is full of starch and will ferment over time. In that vein, Temple recommends tossing out the old and making a fresh batch every couple of days.