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.

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

  1. It is really good for women only or it is also effective on men? Please tell me so that I can use this “rice water” stuff…

  2. I have vitilego all over my body accept face, is using rice milk safe for me? Will it whiten my skin? I have white patches all . Pls answer.

  3. Gudday, I m a Nigerian and dark in complexion, i saw d suggestions posted. I want b fairer but not too fair. Can d rice water b used to v bath if cooked in a large quantity? Plssss i want an ansswer.

  4. Hi!
    Quick question. If you have a natural blush to your cheeks will the consistent use of rice water take that away our does it leave the natural blush in cheeks alone?

    1. Hi Ann, I don’t think rice water can affect blood circulation, so it’s doubtful that a natural blush can be affected by it.

  5. Hi,Can I put/leave the rice water or rice mask overnight and clean on the next morning,.and does it is good for my other parts(whole body),.pliz answer,.Im waiting 🙂

    1. Any rice product will dry fairly quickly. It is not a good idea to leave overnight. I’d treat it as a facial, leave it on for 20 min and wash off.

  6. I have a face problem with acne.. and it is recurring.. is it possible to use rice mask on my face? Will it irritate my face since i have a very sensitive skin?hope you will help me on this. Ive been to different dermatologist already but to no avail. (But not swarming with pimples)..
    Thanks. Hoping to hear from you!

  7. Is rice flour and rice powder the same thing?
    Can dried milk be used instead of fresh to mix with rice powder and then just add water in palm to use?

    1. Hi, rice flour and rice powder are different, but rice flour/milled rice can also be used as a mask, so if you have that instead, you can still use it to good effect. It does a good job of fading dark marks and brightening skin.

      And dried/powdered milk can be used as a good substitute to fresh milk, you can even use powdered milk to create a milk bath.

      1. Rice powder and flour are the same. Its just the names that are different. People say powder just because they use it on skin. People say flour just because they use it for cooking. BUT rice powder/flour are made the same way. Rice that has been grind/milled until they turn to powder form which is basically flour.

  8. Hi friends. …..rice water is a good skin toner….
    By adding honey and milk to the rice can make a fast result…and wash with rice water after 20-30min

    1. ria chickpea powder is made of chanais do you know what it is?if your indian than you will now that what am i trying to say……….

          1. But the second step to make your own skin lightening mask says that add some milk to the rice, Well, i m talking about that milk, is it raw or boiled?

          2. Oh I see now.

            I don’t think it matters too much when you’re using milk externally and not drinking it, so you could use whichever is easiest.

  9. Be logical people , use common sense , just don’t ask lame questions like “Hi Hessa , I’m 15 so can I use the rice powder mask” , what’s age got to do with rice powder topical application ??? I was laughing all this time to hear immature people getting so desperate to try this rice powder thing out, just do the ” patch test ” guys, apply it for 2-3 days on a small part of your skin and see if it works , if it does ” BINGO ” else it means that rice powder stuff is just NOT UR THING. Why bother Hessa and overwhelm her with unnecessary questions 🙂 LOL

    1. You may be so smart but you are not being very kind. So what good does it do?
      A fifteen year old has much yet to learn, so it is their right to ask questions. A comment like yours does not encourage, but discouraged instead. So, if no one has yet to tell you, let me take the privilege. If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.

  10. will it be okay if i make a mask with boiled rice? something like porridge but just plain water and rice. will cooking the rice ruin or change the good components in the rice? thankyou.

  11. Can I use every day I have little bit large pores tell me it’s good to use it’s a toner ND cleanser so what happened when I use daily

  12. Pls what kind of milk can I use, cos I av not see any liquid milk or u shl use cow bell mix with water before using

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