How to Brighten Skin with Rice Water


Girl with glowing skin

As a skin care brand dedicated to plant-based beauty, we prize our hydrating botanical waters. From soothing rose water to skin-quenching aloe vera juice, we’re dedicated to doing more than just plain ‘water’.

Perhaps the crowning jewel in our super-water crown is rice water: the starchy water left over from soaked rice. While not nearly as glamorous as its floral water competition, rice water has been valued for its beautifying properties for centuries. Today it reigns supreme in K-beauty, J-beauty and beyond as a popular ingredient in brightening skin care products.

If you’ve yet to be converted, you may still be wondering: could something as simple as rice really yield big results for your skin?

4 Key Nutrients in Rice Water for Skin

Using rice water for skin can be an excellent way to encourage UV protection while softening and brightening the skin. In fact, a 2013 study proved that rice water has the ability to reduce UV damage.

Rice water may even hold restorative properties for skin, especially skin that’s been exposed to harsh weather or hard work. These properties are often attributed to rice water’s centuries-old reputation for preserving the hands of Japanese women, who worked long days in the rice field.

It’s helpful to understand that while rice water might be just one ingredient, it’s made up of a plethora of beneficial nutrients. Thanks to its abundance of vitamins, amino acids and minerals, rice water is known to soothe and tone skin while offering relief to those with skin sensitivities.

Rice water

Let’s take a look at just four of the many nutrients found in rice water for skin!

#1: Kojic Acid
One of the most noted ingredients in rice water is kojic acid: renowned for its skin brightening abilities, antifungal properties, and antibacterial functions.

Kojic acid’s most popular function in rice water for skin has to do with its influence on melanin production. Melanin is the natural pigment that gives skin its range of unique and beautiful shades. It’s also one of the main components in scar tissue and dark spots.

Kojic acid can brighten the skin and help fade scar tissue by lowering the production of tyrosine, an amino acid necessary for supporting melanin production. Additionally, kojic acid’s antifungal and antibacterial properties can help prevent acne-causing bacteria.

The science behind kojic acid’s work as a lightening agent involves its effect on melanin production. Melanin is a naturally occurring pigment in the body that gives the eyes, hair, and skin their color. An amino acid called tyrosine is needed to support the production of melanin.

Kojic acid works by blocking tyrosine from forming, which then prevents melanin production. Decreased melanin production may have a lightening effect on the skin.

#2: Ferulic Acid
Rice water, like many plant-based ingredients, is loaded with antioxidants for your skin. One such antioxidant is ferulic acid; it’s perfectly-suited for fighting the harmful free radicals that can wreak havoc on our skin, making it ideal for anti-aging.

Ferulic acid is also a fantastic antioxidant to see working in tandem with other antioxidants like vitamins C and E. While providing powerful free radical defense, these vitamins also have a reputation for unstable shelf lives. Ferulic acid, however, can help keep these antioxidants stable. This 2005 study also suggests that ferulic acid’s photoprotective factors are doubled when combined with vitamins C and E.

#3: Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a powerful, fat-soluble antioxidant known for its ability to reduce inflammation, and helps support skin and immune health while combating free radicals.

The vitamin E content found in rice water for skin and hair care may also help relieve UV damage, which is majorly caused by overexposure to the sun. According to Oregon State University, vitamin E provides its unique sun protection by absorbing the UV rays, endowing it with shield-like powers against environmental exposure.

#4: Allantoin
Allantoin is a powerhouse compound found in a variety of plants known for their soothing properties, like chamomile and comfrey.

Known for its versatility, allantoin has an aptitude for moisturizing the skin by hydrating and discouraging dryness. It’s also able to soothe the skin while encouraging brightness. Allantoin can also work as a potent anti-aging ingredient, by encouraging collagen production and stimulating fibroblasts. In short, that means it may promote more supple, bouncy skin while lessening the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

Dark spot

Using Rice Water in Your Skin Care Routine

Rice water is easy to incorporate into your skin care or hair care regimen – it can even be done with simple DIY recipes.

However, to enjoy a higher concentration of rice water’s rich nutrient profile, a professionally formulated product will offer more powerful results.

Our Fermented Rice Water Serum is formulated to encourage a healthy glow, nourish the skin, and help it recover from exposure to the sun. While it does contain protective antioxidants, this daytime serum is not the same as a proper SPF – which is your best bet for preventing UV damage.

If we’re getting really specific, this serum is made with ‘fermented’ rice water: also known as sake. Sake can take your skin care routine even further by fading blemishes, reducing sun spots, and diminishing signs of aging. We’ve also featured this allstar ingredient in our Brightening Serum and Dark Spot Remover!

Get the Most from Rice Water
Rice water serums tend to have formulas that are both concentrated and lightweight, so they should be applied to skin after being both cleansed and toned. They should also be applied before moisturizers and facial oils.

Fermented Rice Water Serum can be applied both day and night, and is suitable for all skin types. To apply your rice water serum, pump a dime-sized amount onto clean hands. Gently pat and press the serum into dampened skin, and allow 90 seconds for absorption.

Frequently Asked Questions About Rice Water

What is rice water and how does it help in skin brightening?

Rice water is the starchy water left over after rice is cooked or left to soak. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that are essential for skin health. Rice water contains antioxidants and compounds like ferulic acid and allantoin, which can brighten the skin, reduce pigmentation, and even out skin tone.

How do you make rice water for skin care?

To make rice water, rinse a half cup of uncooked rice to remove impurities. Soak the rice in two cups of water for 30 minutes to an hour. Strain the rice, reserving the water. Alternatively, cook rice with excess water and strain the excess water to use. The resulting rice water can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

How often should I use rice water on my face for effective results?

For best results, use rice water on your face 2-3 times a week. Soak a cotton pad in rice water and gently apply it on your face as a toner. You can also use it as a facial rinse after washing your face. Consistent use over time can lead to noticeably brighter and softer skin.

Can rice water be used on all skin types?

Yes, rice water is generally safe for all skin types, including sensitive skin. Its natural composition is gentle on the skin, making it suitable for those with dry, oily, or combination skin. However, as with any new skincare regimen, it’s advisable to do a patch test first to rule out any allergic reactions.

Are there any side effects of using rice water on the skin?

Rice water is typically well-tolerated by most skin types, but in rare cases, it might cause irritation, especially if you are allergic to rice or have extremely sensitive skin. If you notice any redness, itching, or irritation, discontinue use immediately. It’s also important to use fresh rice water and not to use it beyond its shelf life to avoid bacterial growth.

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