Is TikTok’s Viral Rice Water Trend Legit? An Expert Weighs In

by | Jan 29, 2024 | Skincare

If you’re a TikTok girlie, you’ve likely come across the rice water trend. So far the hashtag #ricewater has surpassed a whopping 800 million views, and as a result thousands (or more!) women are trying this trend at home to achieve clearer, healthier and more radiant skin. To scope if it really works, we’ve chatted to the experts for the DL – and science – behind this Korean beauty hack.

First, what’s the rice water trend?

A skincare routine, the rice water trend involves soaking rice in water and then using that water to slather over your skin for smoother, softer and blemish-free skin.

To make rice water is super simple: Steep white rice in cold water for about half an hour, then drain the water from the rice (and keep it in a jar). Some women like to cool it in the fridge, while others use it at room temperature. Dip a cotton pad in the liquid and gently sweep it across your skin, allowing it to dry before applying your serum or moisturiser.

According to TikTok, this cloudy water makes the perfect toner, helping to increase the skin’s radiance, reduce redness, soothe irritated skin and neutralize free radicals (thanks to its antioxidant content).

@thatsotee Replying to @pretsho how to use rice water for face || watch how to make 🍚💦 @thatsotee #ricewater #skincaresecrets #antiagingskincare ♬ original sound – thatsotee

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Is the rice water trend legit?

Look to history for the answer to this question. It’s been documented that women in Ancient China and Japan used rice water to cleanse their skin and hair, as it was believed to give the skin a glow and increase the hair’s shine. Just like Cleopatra bathed in milk for its beauty benefits, or how South Africans have been drinking rooibos for eons, there’s some science to back up this practice.

Rice is rich in protein, amino acids, starch and vitamins B and E. “I think the fermentation probably changes the pH of the water so that it might be more compatible with the skin. The carbohydrates present in rice water might also help the skin to trap water,” says Karen Bester, Medical Trainer at Lamelle Research Laboratories. “We know that ferulic acid is derived from certain forms of rice and is a great exfoliator and antioxidant. Fermentation increases the probiotics in the solution and they might have some effect on the skin’s biome. I am not sure that rice and human probiotics are the same but it being human food, it probably does help.”

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Plus, a 2018 study found that rice water has anti-ageing properties, making it a helpful addition when minimising the appearance of lines and plumping the skin. Per more studies, rice water could also calm inflammation on the skin and even inhibit the growth of bacteria that lead to dandruff, making it a nice addition to your hair care routine, too.

It’s not a cure-all

While it may boost your skin’s water retention and add an injection of minerals, be careful to view this as a panacea for all your skin complaints, says Bester. “I do not believe it will reverse severe sun-damaged skin or manage acute inflammatory acne, but I do think it could benefit skin that is generally healthy and just needs a boost. It is also cost-effective,” she says.

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If you want to extend the rice water trend to more parts of your routine, consider finding it in other products, too.

Rice water skincare products

Beauty of Joseon Glow Deep Serum

This brightening serum contains 68.6% rice bran water to clarify skin and 2% arbutin to fade hyperpigmentation.

MPL Fermented Rice Water

This tonic made with fermented rice water could stimulate hair growth and shinier locks.

Hada Labo Concentrated Water Serum

This serum reduces visible signs of fatigue, leaving the skin looking healthy and feeling refreshed and replenished.

Michelle October

Michelle is the features editor at WH. She’s immensely curious about the world, passionate about health and wellness and enjoys a good surf when the waves are good. Find her on Instagram here.

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