Rice Powder: an Asian skin whitening secret

Asian women are known for their delicate beauty and smooth, fair skin. This is probably why I’m always intrigued by any traditional skin lightening remedies from the Orient.

One of these remedies is rice powder and rice water.

What is rice powder? What is rice water?

Rice powder is simply uncooked rice that has been ground into a fine powder. Water or milk added to rice powder creates a paste, which can be used as a face mask.

Rice water is the nutrient-rich water that comes from soaking or washing uncooked rice. Rice water is cloudy in appearance.

How can rice powder lighten our skin?

There are plenty of anecdotes about how rice powder and more specifically, rice water, can keep our skin youthful and translucent looking. But why does rice powder work, exactly?

  • Rice contains a high concentration of PABA. PABA (para aminobenzoic acid) is a very good sunscreen. When taken internally, PABA also raises the Vitamin C levels in our bodies.
  • Rice also contains two other sun protecting agents – ferulic acid and allantoin.
    • Ferulic acid is an antioxidant. Incredibly, scientists have found that when ferulic acid is added to Vitamin C and E, its sun protection ability doubled. (Scroll down this page to read an extract of the study’s findings.)
    • Allantoin is a good anti-inflammatory agent. It soothes sunburns and also promotes the skin’s repair.
  • When applied as a paste on the skin, rice powder has been shown to inhibit tyrosinase.

Make your own skin lightening ‘rice water’ toner

Washing your face in rice water can give you fairer and more translucent skin. While results will not be dramatic, you should see your skin become lighter within a month. The best part of this is that it’s so easy to do.

(For the sake of not wasting food, I do encourage you to only do this if you plan on cooking the rice for your meals later!)

Add water to uncooked rice to make your very own 'rice water' cleanser and toner.
You can add water to uncooked rice to make your very own ‘rice water’ cleanser and toner.

 Step 1. Using a clean bowl, soak some uncooked brown rice, white rice or red rice in water. A handful of rice should be more than enough.

Step 2. Run your fingers through this, as if you’re cleaning the rice.

Step 3. The water should look pretty cloudy right now. Drain this water into another clean bowl.

Step 4. Splash the ‘rice water’ over your face repeatedly (Tip: exfoliate your skin first with a scrub or washcloth so the rice water can be better absorbed). For even better skin lightening, do not towel your face dry but leave it damp to air-dry on its own.

Frequency and results: Do this consistently at least once a week and you should see your skin lighten after a month. If you feel comfortable, you can also use it a few times a week. The ferulic acid in rice is not a very strong acid, and the water would have diluted/weakened the solution further, so there should not be skin sensitivity. However, always use your own good judgement as everyone’s skin is different.

If you have more rice water left over, you can pat the remaining water on your face and neck or refrigerate the rest.

Make your own skin lightening rice mask

Rice paste applied as a mask can lead to a fairer complexion if used consistently

 If you’re not planning to eat the rice made from your rice water, there is one thing you can do with all that uncooked rice you used… Make it into a mask!

Here’s how:

Step 1. Grind a handful of uncooked rice into a fine powder. You can use a coffee grinder to do this.

Step 2. Add some milk to the rice powder – enough to make it into a paste.

Step 3. Apply this paste over your face and neck. Leave for 20-30 minutes.

Step 4. Wash the mask off with some warm water.

Frequency and results: Do this consistently at least once a week and you should see your skin lighten after a month.

Rice paste will not only lead to fairer skin, but also a smoother complexion with fewer wrinkles.

Rice in cosmetics and home remedies

Would you be surprised to hear that the humble rice is used in many expensive cosmetics and skin creams? A few examples of these are Kose Moisture Skin Repair Cream, L’Occitane Purifying Rice Toner, Clarifying Rice Mask, Ultra Matte Face Fluid, and Elegant Minerals Rice Setting Powder.

Here are three of the most common uses for rice in skincare and cosmetics.

  • Used to absorb oil to achieve matte skin. If you have very oily skin, brushing rice powder lightly over your face will give you a very matte look. Because of this, it also makes an excellent base for make-up. Rice powder absorbs oil very well and keeps your make-up from fading throughout the day.
  • In wrinkle creams. Many anti-aging skin creams and wrinkle creams contain ceramides that were extracted from rice. The ceramides in rice closely mimic our skin’s, which can give it a more youthful appearance.
  • Mineral make-up. Rice powder is used in some loose or pressed powder compacts. It is especially found in mineral make-up. Rice powder does a good job of covering blemishes and flaws to give the skin a smooth finish, and yet it allows the skin to breathe and does not clog pores.

References and Further Reading

Study: Ferulic Acid Stabilizes a Solution of Vitamins C and E and Doubles its Photoprotection of Skin

Ferulic acid is a potent ubiquitous plant antioxidant. Its incorporation into a topical solution of 15% L-ascorbic acid and 1% tocopherol improved chemical stability of the vitamins (C+E) and doubled photoprotection to solar-simulated irradiation of skin from 4-fold to approximately 8-fold as measured by both erythema and sunburn cell formation. Inhibition of apoptosis was associated with reduced induction of caspase-3 and caspase-7. This antioxidant formulation efficiently reduced thymine dimer formation. This combination of pure natural low molecular weight antioxidants provides meaningful synergistic protection against oxidative stress in skin and should be useful for protection against photoaging and skin cancer.

From the Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2005).
Source: http://www.nature.com/jid/journal/v125/n4/full/5603565a.html

Conclusion: Ferulic acid not only provides increased stability to a solution of vitamins C+E, but also adds a substantial synergistic photoprotection, essentially doubling its efficacy.

149 Replies to “Rice Powder: an Asian skin whitening secret”

    1. Anything that gets put into the skin goes into the blood system. Therefore if it is safe for you to eat rice then it is safe for you to put it on your skin

  1. Yes, I totally agree that rice powder works well.You’ll rather be suprised of its simple,cheap,yet effective way in clearing off pimples & minor zits effectivelt.I’m using Lancome & Clarins skincare,also Channel & La Praire,but will resolve to traditional rice powder whenever pimples or minor zits pop out of a sudden especially I’m in the midst of changing few skincare brand now.It helps in soothing and calming inflamme pimples very well.You can see your pimples swize reduce & dry up the next morning.It works better than clinelle pimples gelat times,though this is the best commercial I can find in the market so far.Whenever,I find my face is too stress due to heavy use of commercial skincare product,I’ll resort to just hydration serum & rice powder without whitening products /anti ageing cream before bed!

  2. My aunt has been using Betnovate cream since before I was born, and I really want her to stop. But, every time she tries to stop her skin becomes really irritated and itchy and begins to swell, so she goes back to the Betnovate. I’ve been reading some articles and it says that people shouldn’t use this cream for more than 5 days, and she’s been using it for years! I really would appreciate some help in getting her to stop. Do you know of any thing she can do to stop using the cream and help to reduce all of the irritation on her skin? Thanks so much! an e-mail response would be welcome

    1. Omg its very bad that she is using this cream..it contains steroid …which lightens the skin to much extent once u stop using it makes ur skin very very worse believe me..i had this worst experience in ma life …i used to use it for acne …intially i had only two or three boils on my face when i applied betnovate it stopped so i continued this for 4 months …but later on my skin started becoming very itchy and my acne multiplied so i stopped using it and my face became very worse itchy and dry …and my face looked horrible but im thankful to my skin specialist he gave me some medicines was on treatment for 7 months …and now its glowing …
      the steroid in this cream makes ur face worse

    1. How long does it take to see your face getting lighter after using the rice powder on the face? i mixed my rice flour with milk and left it on for 30 minutes like they suggested on here. This is my first time ever trying this. How long does it take to see results? By the way im a caramel african american. Im trying to be exact because i want to know how long it will take for me to see results since im not competely light skinned or dark skinned. Im going to be doing this for a month and see if i see any results.

  3. should the rice powder be used all over the body or only as a paste for the face.n i am an african is it appropriate for my skin

    1. It can be used on the body as well, but it might be awkward/messy to use the paste there. A toner might work better.

  4. i have read that so many peopl use this and it works wonders on their skin! but i am black and i wanted to know if i would be able to use this also without it messing up my skin color (besides lightning it)

  5. I am a person that eats rice everyday so I think I can apply these every day so i can lighten my skin quickly. just things i have around the house EVERYDAY.

  6. Kindly recommend me some whitening tips so i can apply before going to bed..my skin is sensitive and get tanned by the sunny environment…

  7. My mum used to apply her home made rice powder on her face for over decades. Can it be used to remove or lighten pigments on the face?

  8. I was searching for some skincare products. I came across this rice powder issue. I always have rice at home and never really thought that this is a new, inexpensive skincare product. I am not sure but correct me. If you do not have rice at home perhaps the rice flour which is very,very cheap at Asian stores will be a great alternative. i will try to make it into a paste and will share what happens.

  9. how long after its made is it safe for your skin? because this morning I noticed the odor wasn’t that nice . Is it still safe to use it ?

  10. When i was little i saw my big brother putting rice wayer on his face and i thought it was so funny but now i realized the reason why his putting it on his face my mom told him that it is good for skin especially for pimples.I’ve been using a lot of products to make my face looks fresh but it just getting worst and worst so i research home remedy to make ur face look youthful naturally and i found about this rice water and i’ve been trying it now for two days and i can tell its working my pores aren’t as open as before and it makes my face tighter like u have a face lift.Its really amazing and i enjoyed a lot using it as a toner i can smell the aroma of brown basmati rice.I love it thank u so much for sharing this its a huge help for me!

  11. i used rice powder combined with mineral water, and it really works for me…the scars on my face made by pimples got fade away…thanks to those who post this rice powder stuff….

  12. Hello,
    Does it matter if its fresh milk or tin milk? How many times a week would give optimum results? Is it suppose to be freshly made all the time?

  13. its really work, i look more fair, bright and my skin so soft after use this rice powder mask and wash with rice watar…… 1 week once i do this not everyday……

  14. If you eat it will it turn your tounge a lighter shade of pink?…sorry, I just had to ask 😀
    I will pass this on to my Thai friends….EVERY TV program break there is a commercial advertising about lightening cream….I love the darker tone skin. I visited China a year ago this month and I think ALL of the Chinese were whitter than I am and I am WHITE! haha.

  15. I am really confused on how to make this rice mask paste… So I get some rice powder/flour, add a little bit of milk in, and that’s it…its made? and I leave it on for 20-30mins… Do I wash it off with normal warm water? because I have read above..you wash it off with rice water. Please help…e-mail me!!

    1. The above show steps for a toner and a mask. These are two different things.

      Try reading again, I wrote wash with warm water for the mask…

  16. good day. i want to ask if how many times in a week can i apply this? is it twice a week?
    and how many week or months you’ll wait to see if your starting having a lighter skin?
    please comment 🙂 tnx

  17. i and my husband is blak skin my baby also have blak skin . i want to change baby skin i felt very sad about her color.because in her future she will face problems on this only. please give me suggestion or if any treatment. give me details.

    1. wow that was really sad to read. I’m sure your daughter won’t have any problems don’t be such a pessimist. I can tell by your basic grammar mistakes that your not smart. That you wrote something as silly as this.

      1. Angie – I agree that Shobha’s comment was sad to read, but insulting her is not helpful. Her grammar mistakes are not necessarily a sign of a lack of intelligence, it could just be that English is not her primary language.

        And, unfortunately many black children -do- still face problems because of their skin color. Where I live you can’t even get a taxi if the driver thinks you might be Somalian. It’s outright naive (not to mention disrespectful) to completely disregard Shobha’s concern.

        It is very sad that she feels the need to resort to trying to change the color of her child to give them a better life. unfortunately rice masks probably won’t cut it – the problem is not the child’s skin color, it’s the parts of the world that refuse to see the beauty in it.

          1. While I agree with saya, Angie, YOU’RE grammar and punctuation leave a lot to be desired. Try spell and grammar check before throwing a “smack down” on someone else’s grammar. And always always check that attitude at the door.

    2. Don’t worry about the color of her skin. I’m sure she is beautiful! Black women are often very pretty and exotic-looking. 🙂 don’t try to change her. If anybody is mean to her because of her skin color, they shouldn’t matter anyway because they aren’t worth it. “The ones that mind don’t matter and the ones that matter don’t mind.” God gave her that beautiful skin for a reason. <3

    1. Hi dola

      Shobha’s comment above upset me too, but I think it’s just as important to let our human nature be seen instead of censoring it from view.

      In a way, Shobha did a valuable thing by being honest.

      As disturbing, as misguided, and as sad as her words are — they reflect someone’s actual beliefs.

  18. Hi Hessa….!

    Thanks for ur suggestion….
    i need some help from u ….. due to Humidity and may be bcz of summer my skin became dark.. and my marriage date fix in November… i don’t kno what shud i do wid this problem… defiantly i’ll try rice powder mask but can u plz suggest me some different ticks also…

  19. plz help me is it rely works i have used so many creams bt dsnt work i have only one month left for my wedding .

  20. iam so worried about my complextion and also have acne on my face ,, plz help me is it realy works.plz tell me i dont have so much time left

  21. For the paste, does it matter if I use almond milk or soy milk instead of cow’s milk? I have a low tolerance for lactose so I don’t tend to have a lot of milk lying around…thanks!

    1. Yes, you can use other types of milk. They’ll have their own skin benefits. For example, soy milk is moisturizing. Almond milk is also excellent.

  22. Im starting the mask today, using rice flour and mineral water. It’s on my face right now and feels amazing. I plan on doing this 3 times a week and seeing if there are results. I have combination acne prone skin, I’m 35 and fair completed with a bit of constant redness that I am trying to diminish.

  23. How long until I start seeing results? i’ve been applying rice masks for about two weeks now and I cant really see a difference 🙁

  24. Woww.. back home in Indonesia/Bali, Rice along with some spices and herbs mixture have been used as the main source for skin care treatment ( called Lulur bath) as wel as Cold & Flu and stiff muscle remedies(called Boreh), Ancient time Princesses are using the mixture of Rice powder & turmeric as the body scrub or exfoliation, these days we mixes Rice powder with Avocado, Jicama, Papaya or anything that have a great benefit for the skin and believe me you can do it as often as you want, as some comments said, if you can eat rice anytime, so what will be the harm on applying it to your skin.. other tips for body scrub you can either mix the rice with yogurt, apply it to your skin wait untill the rice paste half dry then you can scrub it, back home if we used the mixture of rice & turmeric we use the yogurt after the scrub done to soothe the yellow color from the turmeric and smoothen the skin..
    As for Cold remedies, we call it Boreh, these are the mixture of rice powder and some spices that have warming/heating effect, the mixture paste applied to the body or specific stiff joint or muscle, wrap it and leave for about 20 minutes.. and at the end we sometimes use cucumber juice to cool it down. Yes all of these body treatment are messy but definitelly worth the mess 🙂
    Ps: Please excuse my english or the grammar as it is not my mother tongue

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