A guide to the ancient tradition of using rice water for beautiful skin and hair.

Growing up in a Chinese household, I can remember my mother always washed rice before cooking it. Not a one to waste, she then kept the rice water to wash her face or to pickle vegetables.

In fact, rice water has many properties that make it an excellent addition to our skin and hair care regimens.

The use of rice water for skin is now fast becoming the latest Asian beauty hack to take over beauty-guru blogs. For centuries, Asian women have used rice water to brighten, soothe, tone, improve texture, and minimize fine lines and wrinkles. Now — as we’re stuck inside in isolation — it’s gaining popularity as people search for new beauty treatments that are both inexpensive, and don’t require leaving the house.

Gentle on skin, rice water is known to help with skin irritation caused by sodium laurel sulfate, an ingredient found in many commercially produced personal care products. It is also effective in soothing skin conditions like eczema, hives, and rashes.

So if you have sensitive skin, combination skin, or want to try a new beauty hack for less than $5… read on!

What is rice water?

Rice water — the water left over after you wash or soak rice — is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that are essential for healthy, glowing skin. It also contains the nourishing antioxidant, ferulic acid, as well as allantoin, a rich emollient compound that soothes and heals skin.

Despite many real benefits, there are some claims about rice water that science hasn’t fully proven. We recommend it for external use only and discontinue use if you experience any adverse effects. 



Pick your rice, any rice! We like the one in our cupboard the best ;)

Soaking rice water

This is by far the most popular method as it doesn’t require much effort at all. Start by using ½ a cup of uncooked rice and rinse thoroughly to remove dirt and external impurities. Next, add 2 cups of water and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain the rice and water through a sieve into a jar, or sealable container for storage. Rice water can be stored for use in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Boiling rice water

First, rinse your uncooked rice to remove dirt and external impurities. Next, using a 4-1 water-rice ration, add water, and bring to a gentle boil on the stovetop. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Strain rice through a sieve into an airtight container. Discard the rice and store the rice water in the fridge for up to 7 days. Rice water made with this method should be diluted with plain water before use on the face.

Fermented rice water

Use the soaking rice water method to prepare. Instead of refrigeration, leave the sealed jar at room temperature for 1-2 days. Open to check the fermentation process — when it begins to have a light, sour smell, place your jars in the refrigerator. Dilute with plain water before use on the face.


Rice water can be used directly on your skin or hair. You can experiment by adding fragrance or other natural ingredients to it, but we prefer it in its original, almost scentless form. 

If you used the boiling or fermentation method, always dilute with plain water before application!


Facial cleanser and toner

The most popular way to use rice water! Pour a small amount of rice water from the jar into a shallow dish. Soak a cotton ball in the water and apply evenly over your face. Rinse off if desired, or leave on for a gentle mattifying effect.

Damaged hair treatment

If you regularly color your hair, the inositol in rice water can help repair damaged hair follicles from within, and prevent future damage from coloring, air pollutants, and the sun. Apply rice water to clean, dry hair, fully dampening it. Massage deeply into your scalp and work your way to the ends. Wrap your in a shower cap and leave on to absorb for ten minutes. Rinse out with cool water.

To make shampoo for regular use, add some liquid castile soap to fermented rice water, plus your choice of essential oils for scent. We recommend chamomile or aloe or additional hydration.

Relaxing bath soak

Take your spa experience to the next level. Light some candles, put on a Spotify chill playlist, dissolve Epsom salts in hot running water, and pour in a few cups of rice water for a soothing bath soak. For a truly luxurious soak, add some coconut and ginger oils for an aromatic experience.


Rice water is worth the hype, and for less than $5 it’s not a big expense to try something new that you might fall in love with! It may be a bit messier and more time consuming than ordering something online, but we love trying new beauty hacks — that’s how we come up with some of our best products at GingerChi! As with all beauty treatments, it’s not one-size-fits-all, so experiment with preparations, applications, and the amounts you use before deciding it isn’t for you. 

But! If it all seems too hard, check out our GingerChi Gentle Exfoliating Rice Bran Cleanser/Masque which has all the goodness of rice water dried into a powder for easy use ;)

We hope you will try these Rice Water Recipes. Let us know how you like them. 

With Love and Good Chi,

Be well and stay safe!

Anna xoxo