For thousands of years, rice has been a staple food in Asia. However, it was not only used as food but also in natural Asian skincare.
Legend has it that the women of the royal court in ancient Korea used rice water to maintain their flawless, radiant skin.
They would soak rice in water overnight, then strain the water and use it to cleanse and moisturize their skin.
This practice quickly spread throughout the court and eventually became a common ritual for women all over the country.
Why is Rice Water so Effective for Skincare?
The secret lies in its starch content. Rice starch is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are known to benefit the skin. The starch in rice water acts as a natural moisturizer, helping to hydrate the skin and keep it soft and supple.
Clinical studies have since shown that rice starch can improve skin hydration by increasing the skin’s ability to retain water. This can lead to a more youthful appearance, as well as a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
One study, published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, found that rice starch naturally improved skin hydration by up to 20% after just one application. The study also found that regular use of rice starch-based products resulted in a significant improvement in skin elasticity and firmness.
Another study, published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, looked at the traditional use of rice water in skincare. The study found that rice water has been used for centuries in Asia to soothe and heal the skin and that it contains a number of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that can help to protect the skin from damage.
The history of rice water in Asian skincare goes beyond science. The practice is deeply rooted in tradition, with tales of Korean royal court women using rice water to maintain their radiant skin. Even the famous Korean Kisaeng, Nan Hyang, who lived from 1900 to 1979, was renowned for her flawless skin. Rice water was an essential part of her skincare routine.
Rice starch is also a popular ingredient in Japanese skincare products, where it is often referred to as “komenuka.” In Japan, rice starch is considered to be a highly effective moisturizer and is often used in facial masks and cleansers.
In addition to its moisturizing properties, rice water also has antiseptic and antifungal properties. This makes it an effective treatment for a variety of skin conditions, including acne, eczema, and psoriasis. It also contains ferulic acid, which has been shown to have a protective effect against UV damage.
While rice water is traditionally made by soaking rice in water and straining the liquid, it is now widely available in various skincare products. Many skincare companies, including Pure Thai Naturals, use organic Thai rice in their products to take advantage of the skin-boosting properties of rice water.
The use of rice water in Asian skincare is not just a legend or anecdotal evidence. Science has backed up the traditional claims, showing that rice starch is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are beneficial for the skin. Whether it is used as a natural moisturizer, an antiseptic treatment, or an anti-aging product, rice water is a versatile ingredient that has stood the test of time.
Marike van Breugel is a keen herbalist and the founder and owner of Pure Thai Natural, a Thai herbal business. She is the Clean Beauty Editor here at Whole People.