Mar 12, 2019
ARLINGTON, VA -- Odds are you cook rice like most of us do: bringing it to a boil and simmering it in a pot or rice cooker until all the water is absorbed. But some recipes call for soaking, washing, or rinsing your rice before cooking to reduce surface starch. Afterwards you’ll be left with a milky, opaque water that you probably toss down the drain, or use to water your house plants if it’s drought season. But DIY beauty enthusiasts are obsessed with a new, yet ancient, trend that puts that rice water to good use.
The roots of beautifying rice water go all the way back to the origins of rice cultivation itself, when women rice farmers in Asia noticed that the skin on their hands was soft and nourished after spending hours washing rice, and took to washing their faces and hair with it as well. The Yao women from Huangluo village in Southern China are infamous for their long, thick, and healthy hair, which averages about six feet long. While genetics are surely a factor, they also attribute their robust locks to the nourishing effect of fermented rice water treatments.
It’s not just DIYers and bloggers who have caught on to this old-made-new trend. The beauty industry at large has been using rice as an ingredient in cosmetics more and more, from Origins to Dove to Burt’s Bees. And to those of you who attended USA Rice’s Outlook Conference in December, you might recall that the Marriott Marquis hotel in San Diego supplied their rooms with rice bran hand soap. Consumers are demanding natural, simple ingredients in their products, and nothing is more natural or simple than rice.
So what is it about rice that’s causing all this beauty buzz? Rice contains a number of vitamins and minerals that are excellent for your skin, including vitamins B, C, and E. It also contains phytic acid, which is used in many commercial beauty products as a gentle chemical exfoliant; niacin (or vitamin B3), which encourages cell regeneration, heals wounds, and strengthens the skin barrier, allowing skin to better retain moisture; manganese, which supports collagen production and fights free-radicals, keeping skin healthy and resilient; and selenium, an antioxidant that protects skin cells from damage.
If you’re interested in trying a DIY rice beauty treatment, there are plenty of recipes and instructions to choose from online. Simply soak half a cup of rice in one inch of water for 30-60 minutes, and you’ve got an excellent base for a facial or hair mask.
It goes without saying that you should use U.S.-grown rice in these endeavors; who knows what’s present on imported rice, and you don’t want to gamble when it comes to skincare – something the cosmetics industry has already figured out. Beauty giant Dove, for example, exclusively uses rice sourced in the U.S.
So while the best way to enjoy the health benefits of rice is still simply to eat it, rice beauty treatments are an easy and cost-effective way to utilize rice, especially when considering the exorbitant prices of cosmetics these days. Maybe you’ve got just a little bit of rice leftover in a bag that’s been sitting in your pantry for weeks; it’s not enough to make a whole serving, but you hate to throw it out. It’s a good opportunity to soak it in some water and give one of these treatments a try.