Rice has been used as a beauty ingredient for thousands of years in multiple Asian communities, including those in Japan, Korean, China and parts of Southeast Asia. I can’t say specifically which country this practice originated from (more historical research will need to be done), but there are early records of women in Japan and China using rice water to wash and nourish their hair, and other records of women using fermented rice water/ rice wine as a skincare ingredient to sooth and brighten the skin.
Rice as a beauty ingredient has been such a core part of my upbringing since I was a child. In my personal experiences, my grandmother, aunties and mother would use rice water not just to wash our hair, but also to wash our faces. Anything not utilized for the day will be used to water the garden – and I know our garden yields some of the juiciest vegetables and herbs (perhaps some correlation there! )
Another way rice was incorporated into our beauty practices was to pulverize it into a powder form, mix it with a little bit of water and apply it on dry skin, as you would for a mask, and this paste would be left on the skin overnight.
Benefits of using rice in skincare
Rice has a complex profile of amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and the type of rice of used (there are over 100,000 varieties!) and the way it is prepared (i.e.: soaked, boiled, fermented) will lead a different chemical profile. But broadly speaking, some of the more widely acknowledged benefits of rice is its ability to hydrate, sooth and brighten skin tone. And to add a little colour to this topic with science!
- Rice is composed of 6-8% protein, and this forms a layer of film over the skin, effectively moisturizing and conditioning the skin
- Rice contains a polysaccharide called amylose which gives it that sticky feel, and while different varieties of rice has a different level of amylose, this compound keeps the skin moisturized by creating an additional barrier on the skin
- Rice bran extract in particular has a high level of antioxidants compounds, fatty acids and polysaccharides because it is derived from the rice bran (brown husk of the rice kernel, a by-product when processing rice grains), and with its unique chemical profile, has the ability to support antioxidant activities on the skin
How is rice being used in skincare formulas?
Most formulas use rice water because it is easier to incorporate into a formula e.g.: rice toners, rice essences.
At Forest Rhapsody, we use rice bran oil in Milk Ferment and rice-based peptides in Barrier Warrior. Rice bran oil has been around for a long time in the skincare industry, but rice-based peptides would be a relatively new ingredient.
We chose to formulate with rice based peptides derived from rice protein, because the customers we serve tend to be savvy when it comes to ingredients, and prefer naturally-derive ingredients (not to say the performance is superior to their synthetic counterparts). This peptide we selected has been clinically proven to support cell regeneration and collagen synthesis. It also contains di and tri-peptides, and are therefore small enough to be easily absorbed into the skin for more visible results.
What skin types would benefit most from this ingredient?
All skin types, specifically those that are easily sensitized. That said, I would caution consumers from preparing their own DIY rice water at home, unless they know the origin of their rice, or take the time to thoroughly clean their rice before attempting a DIY recipe.