Nothing to see over here… just a bowl of boring old rice—OH WAIT. There’s actually everything to see over here: IT’S A BOWL OF RICE!! That’s right. What once was basic is now all the rage. Celebrities like Megan Markle and Kim Kardashian West are raving about rice water, and it’s now used in many skin and hair products. But, eh-hem, that’s no surprise; rice water’s benefits aren’t actually anything new and innovative. Asian countries like Japan and Korea have been using it for years.
What makes rice water so special? It’s chock-full of vitamins and antioxidants like amino acids, Vitamins B, C, E and A, and phenolic and flavonoid compounds. It’s a fierce scavenger of free radicals, preventing oxidative damage to the skin and body. It’s supposed to be very soothing, reducing redness and inflammation from acne or eczema, and it may offer some protection from the sun (though this is no reason to stop using SPF).
Want more? Ok.
Rice water has been packed into face creams, cleansers, toners and mists, promising a more hydrated, even skin tone. It boasts some skin–lightening effects and it can help with sun–damage, so those with pigmentation concerns may benefit. Rice water also apparently improves skin texture (get ready for a complexion once only attainable through airbrushing. It may also soothe irritated skin, eliminate blemishes and improve collagen production.
Rice water is apparently ultra-hydrating and smoothing for hair, detangling, strengthening and improving elasticity (Ariana Grande ponytail, here you come). Does science back this claim, though? There isn’t a lot of research on rice water and beauty out there, but this scholarly paper seems to support existing anecdotal evidence.
Not only do we want to look amazing, we want to feel amazing, too. Turns out, rice water might be able to help. We know that rice is part of the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast), which is good for when we have tummy trouble (a.k.a. we can’t leave the porcelain throne). Similarly, rice water is good for an upset stomach and constipation.
Bonus benefit: this remains unproven but it’s apparently also good for cardiovascular issues and degenerative eye conditions like macular degeneration.
What a lot of people love about rice water is its DIY factor. It’s so easy to make yourself a batch. Just follow these simple steps and, voilà, better skin and hair (when you’re carded at the liquor store, you can thank us).
- Rinse ½ cup of rice (white, jasmine, sushi, brown, purple, etc.)
- Soak rice in bowl of water, making sure that rice is completely covered
- Watch one episode of [insert 30-minute-long show here]
- Drain the rice and keep the water (you can reuse the rice, too)
- Massage the water into your skin with your fingers or a cotton pad, or pour some onto your hair for silky–smooth locks
- Put the remainder in an air–tight container and store it in the fridge (keeps for up to five days)
Note: to make fermented rice water (some claim that the fermented version gives you better results), don’t put the water in fridge but rather leave it at room temperature for a few days. When it’s ready, you should hear a nice little pop! when you open the container and get hit with a smelly odor. Store the fermented water in the fridge until it’s gone.