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Whether you have acne-prone skin or are looking for something to brighten and soothe irritated skin, here’s everything you need to know about rice water, known for aiding these hang-ups. Plus, the best products to try.
As beauty fans, we’re always looking for hacks, adjustments and interesting ways of using ingredients you may not have come across before. And so naturally, we flock to TikTok (or, more specifically, BeautyTok).
The latest ingredient making waves in the skincare sphere for helping to clear up spots and heal irritated skin comes from an everyday food you’ll find in your kitchen cupboard: rice. But not the rice itself, the secret to healthier skin is in using rice water.
Here at Stylist, we love to get to know the finer details when it comes to our skincare (and the ingredients they’re made from), so it’s only natural that we consult celebrity aesthetician Ada Ooi to get the lowdown on what rice water actually is and what it does for our skin.
Plus, we’ve curated a selection of rice water-infused beauty products that you can try out at home, minus the messiness of making your own rice water.
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What is rice water?
“Rice water is the starchy water left over after rice is cooked or left to soak. It has been used as a beauty treatment by multiple Asian communities for centuries, as a hair treatment and on the skin to enhance complexion,” says Ooi. “It is also used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to strengthen the body. The word ‘Qi’ in Chinese even derives from the symbols for a steaming bowl of rice and the symbol for air. Taken together to describe ‘Qi’, the word comes to mean the essence of nutrition, health, vitality, life force, breath and energy flow.”
What are the benefits of using skincare infused with rice water?
“Rice water is high in minerals, amino acids and antioxidants, which help to brighten the skin and even out skin tone, making it useful in treating hyperpigmentation and dull complexions.
“Tricin is a strong antioxidant and momilactones A and B found in rice are really potent agents in helping with anti-ageing. It could also inhibit the activity of elastase, which is an enzyme that causes the skin to age. Plus, the starch content in rice water helps to protect your skin’s barrier against water loss and dehydration, helping to keep your skin naturally moisturised and protected from dry skin conditions such as eczema.
“The starchy properties also mean it is soothing, and can be used to cool inflammation, redness and sunburn. Overall it’s a good treatment to brighten skin, reduce scars, and increase overall skin elasticity and calm irritable, sensitive skin. It is believed that its astringent properties help with oil control, by absorbing excess oil from the skin – meaning that it can help prevent breakouts.”
How should you use rice water infused products in your skincare? For example, can you use them at all the different stages of your skincare routine?
“From masks to cleansers, there is a rice water infused product for everything. You can also make DIY rice water just by boiling and straining good quality rice or soaking it for 30 minutes.
“However, making it at home might mean it’s difficult to know how much of the beneficial properties you’re getting, so if you want a readymade product to use as part of your skincare routine, a rice water face mask, serum or oil will work well for moisturising and nourishing dry skin and helping to maintain your skin’s natural barrier.
“A cleanser or toner containing rice water may be helpful in controlling oil balance and helping with acne or pimples, and it’s a good way to add hydration without any feeling of greasiness.”
Which skin types will rice water infused products benefit?
“Rice water can help various skin types, but especially dry, dull or acne-prone skin with its oil controlling and hydrating properties that help to give a glass-like skin finish. Its anti-ageing properties make it a good choice for people who are looking to prevent signs of ageing and care for their skin long-term.”
Pai Skincare Living Water Rice Plant and Rosemary Purifying Tonic
This purifying tonic aims to give instant clarity after you’ve cleansed your skin – and thanks to the addition of soothing rosemary, it’s great for those with sensitive skin, too.
Shop Pai Skincare Living Water Rice Plant and Rosemary Purifying Tonic at Lookfantastic, £28
COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Spa Overnight Mask
If staying out in the sun has increased your hyperpigmentation or you’ve been dealing with some dark spots, this overnight treatment is here for you. Plus, thanks to the inclusion of redness-reducing niacinamide, it works just as well for irritated complexions.
Shop COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Spa Overnight Mask at Feelunique, £22.99
Tatcha The Rice Polish: Classic
When the time calls for a skincare overhaul and you want to effectively exfoliate skin, this powder-to-foam product from Tatcha has got your back. Simply mix the powder with water and massage your face for 15 seconds before rinsing off.
Shop The Rice Polish: Classic at Tatcha, £60
Chantecaille Rice & Geranium Foaming Cleanser
If it’s a gentle cleanser you’re after, this Chantecaille foaming product works to both nourish skin, while also removing make-up and any impurities. Sounds ideal.
Shop Chantecaille Rice & Geranium Foaming Cleanser at Cult Beauty, £55
Nuxe Rice Oil Extract Ultimate Night Recovery Oil
Nuxe do face oils incredibly well, and this rice-infused version is no exception. As soon as you’ve finished the last step in your skincare routine (usually moisturiser), go in with a couple of drops of this nourishing oil and pat gently into skin.
Shop Nuxe Rice Oil Extract Ultimate Night Recovery Oil at Cult Beauty, £29
Selfless by Hyram Mandelic Acid and Rice Bran Gentle Exfoliating Serum
If you’re on the hunt for an exfoliator that contains powerhouse ingredients like mandelic acid, salicylic acid and rice bran, this chemical exfoliant from Selfess by Hyram is just as effective, if not more so, than a physical exfoliant.
Shop Selfless by Hyram Mandelic Acid and Rice Bran Gentle Exfoliating Serum at Cult Beauty, £22
I’m From Rice Toner
If it’s simply a little brightening you’re after, look to this toner from I’m From. Not only does it soak up excess oil, but it also helps to rebalance and rejuvenate skin.
Shop I’m From Rice Toner at Tonic15, £26
Images: courtesy of brands
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