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From skin icing and slugging to the oil cleansing method and frozen cucumber facials, if there's a skincare hack you're currently obsessed with, it very likely hails from TikTok. When it comes to clear, glowing skin, the video sharing app is a fountain of knowledge — and nothing gains viral status like DIY tricks and products you can whip up in your kitchen or bathroom.
This week, TikTok's beauty enthusiasts are talking about rice water. The ingredient is nothing new and has been used in haircare for centuries to enhance shine, resilience and improve hair growth. Lately though, skincare lovers have found another use for rice water: as a simple, at-home facial toner.
What is TikTok's rice water facial toner and why has it gone viral?
Rice water is pretty easy to 'make' at home. Simply steep some white rice in cold water for around 30 minutes to a couple of hours, then sieve away the rice. You'll be left with a cloudy brew, which TikTokers say is the ultimate glow-giver. Rice water is big in haircare, with experts praising its high levels of protein, starch, amino acids and vitamins B and E, which promote strength and glossiness in brittle, dry strands. On TikTok, the hashtag #ricewater has an enormous 408.7 million views, while #ricewaterforskin has 688,400 views, as beauty experts like @glowwithava show how the blend can be used on skin.
In a video which has amassed 236.8k likes and counting, Ava says that she rinses her rice three times and soaks it for four hours. "After those four hours I store it in the fridge," she told her followers. "Then I get my cotton pads, soak them in the rice water and give a gentle exfoliating cleanse for my face." Ava mentions that a lot of Koreans have traditionally used rice water as a cleanser. "Another way to use it is soaking cotton pads and actually just using them as a hydrating sheet mask," she continues. "After doing this for 15 minutes, I swear your skin is going to be so baby soft."
Ava isn't the only TikToker to use rice water as a DIY facial toner. @elonaldn freezes her batch and uses the ice cubes as a facial treatment to impart radiance. Like Ava, @natashabaxter_za uses rice water as a morning cleanser for oily skin, while @saharnasratxo says rice water benefits include soothing and toning the skin, as well as reducing inflammation.
What are the skin benefits of rice water?
We know that rice water contains elements of strengthening protein, carbohydrates and amino acids, and research claims that rice also has antioxidant properties. In skincare, antioxidants protect the skin from environmental aggressors such as pollution. But are there any traces in rice water, and is it enough to reap the benefits on skin? As with hair, the research is lacking. Expert trichologist Jane Mayhead at The Private Clinic recently told R29 that there are no independent studies on rice water so any skin advantages may be anecdotal, rather than backed by science.
Still, it seems TikTok's aestheticians don't hate rice water. Licensed aesthetician and surgical nurse @raziesthetics recently reacted to Ava's popular rice water facial video. She wrote: "Rice water is good for skin. It is not harmful and doesn't cause any issue to skin," unlike plenty of other DIY hacks, like pore extraction and chemical peels using high strength acids bought online. The pro added that "rice water also helps to hydrate skin" as well as helping to remove excess oil. As a result, the appearance of pores is improved.
How do you make TikTok's viral rice water facial toner at home?
I have combination skin, which is prone to an oily T-zone, so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try this. Not least because it seems pretty easy compared to other hacks. (Looking at you, frozen lipstick facial roller...)
I poured half a cup of white rice into a sieve and rinsed it very quickly. Next, the rice went into a large bowl, which I filled with filtered water, as this is what I'd be applying to my face. I let the rice soak for four hours until the water looked milky or cloudy, in the hope that it had absorbed all the benefits. I sieved away the rice and decanted half of the remaining water into a spray bottle, placing the rest in a bowl in the fridge. I wanted to use some as a toner and the rest with cotton pads as a cooling, relaxing facial.
It may not come as a surprise but rice water smells of absolutely nothing. While my skin isn't keen on intense fragrances, I like my skincare to have some sort of olfactory element to it so I included a single drop of essential oil, which made the toner smell incredible. After cleansing my face of makeup, I spritzed it on and followed with my trusty moisturiser (Oskia Rest Day Comfort Cream, $62.39). Used alone, this makes my skin feel soft and look radiant, thanks to the moisturising ceramides and hydrating hyaluronic acid, but combined with the silky toner my skin felt more supple and bouncy. That said, this goes for most facial toners, which funnel in more moisture and prime the skin to absorb skincare products a lot better.
Next, the facial. I soaked four cotton rounds in the cool mixture fresh from the fridge and placed them on my cheeks, chin and forehead. I welcomed the cooling sensation in the mini heatwave we're having but I was most impressed by the mattifying results. My skin looked and felt matte to the touch but not stripped, which tends to be the case after some DIY face masks using kitchen ingredients. If you're not sold, there's only one ingredient I really rely on for minimising oil effectively: niacinamide. I love The Ordinary's Niacinamide Powder, $9.70, mixed with moisturiser in particular.
Does TikTok's rice water facial toner work?
If you're keen to incorporate rice into your skincare routine, I'd recommend sticking with tried and tested products. The NovAge Ecollagen Wrinkle Power Set, targets fine lines with peptides (or proteins) from rice, wheat and yeast, which are said to boost collagen. The addition of hyaluronic acid hydrates deep down and plumps out wrinkles.
If you're after a soothing cleanser, try SUQQU Comfort Melt Cleansing Cream, $57. Hyaluronic acid hydrates and fermented rice extract makes skin soft. For those hunting down a great toner to prep skin before serum and moisturiser, give Natural Spa Factory's Illuminate Facial Toner, a go. It boasts micro-particles of rice bran for an exfoliator that's kind to skin, not scratchy. Finally, I rate IT Cosmetics Miracle Water, $45.50. It doubles up as a micellar water and soothing toner to help skincare products absorb better.