When I was a little girl in my grandfather’s kitchen, the familiar sights and sounds included the crisp chopping of vegetables, the fiery sizzling of meats in the wok, and of course, the preparation of rice to go into the cooker.
I was no stranger to the pitter-patter of rice beads as they fell into the pot, the gushing of water that stirred up the grains, and the swishing and swirling, which transformed the clear water into a milky white suspension.
He would use the chalky, rice-soaked liquid to water the plants (more nutrients for them to grow, my grandfather would say!) or even to wash our faces; my skin would feel fresher, firmer, and cleaner than before.
For us, rice water went beyond the kitchen and into the sphere of skincare. And it’s not just for my family either, because this nutrient-rich elixir has been incorporated into Korean, Japanese, and Chinese beauty routines for ages.
What is rice water?
Brimming with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, rice water has long been believed to brighten the skin, tighten the pores, fade dark spots, and bump up the skin’s bounce.
Few studies have also demonstrated the potential anti-ageing benefits of rice water for the skin; it’s not just glass skin that you get but “jello” skin too – a complexion that’s firm, elastic, and bounces back.
How to make rice water at home
Since many of us already prepare rice in our kitchen for our daily meals, it’s easy to adopt rice water into our skincare routines without much extra cost.
You can whisk up nutrient-rich rice water on your own at home in several ways; one method involves washing and soaking uncooked rice grains in water for 30 minutes, before straining the water for immediate use.
The thing is, rice water concentrations fluctuate when you prepare it yourself, and there’s no way of knowing how much of the skin-loving nutrients penetrate your complexion. Be warned, too, not to leave rice water at room temperature for more than 24 hours, because it’ll sour and no longer be of benefit to your complexion.
baby cheeks for jello skin baby 💖 #jelloskin #kbeautyroutine
So, when beauty influencer Ava Lee had her sister try the skincare steps that help her reach “jello” skin, it’s no wonder that a rice water toner was the first product to make an appearance.
To help you make rice a staple not just in your kitchen but in your skincare too, here are the best rice water products that you should get for brighter, bouncier skin, including toners, cleansers, and sheet masks!
Best rice water toners
HaruHaru WONDER Black Rice Hyaluronic Toner
It doesn’t matter that we couldn’t identify the rice water toner that Ava Lee’s sister used in her nighttime routine, because this WONDER Black Rice Hyaluronic Toner from K-beauty brand HaruHaru works “jello skin” wonders just as well.
This highly concentrated essence-type toner is packed with antioxidant-rich fermented black rice and moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid. These ingredients condition the skin, so your skin can optimally absorb the skincare products that come after.
Since the fermented black rice is made of tiny particles, the toner penetrates deeper into the skin. The black rice, rich in protective antioxidants, helps to fight free radical damage and provides anti-ageing benefits to the skin from the inside out!
The super-duo of fermented black rice and hyaluronic acid make this rice water toner an ultra-hydrating skin-prepping product that earns a spot in our bathroom cabinets.
HaruHaru WONDER Black Rice Hyaluronic Toner retails for S$25.90 on Zalora.
You can also snag the HaruHaru WONDER Black Rice Hyaluronic Toner and WONDER Black Rice Serum set for S$38.01 instead of S$57.80 on Zalora.
Aprilskin Artemisia Rice Essence Toner
Artemisia and rice water co-star in this super soothing toner that’s a must-have for those with sensitive skin.
A popular ingredient in Korean skincare products, artemisia (a.k.a. mugwort), is a herb that has powerful anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and, thus, is great for calming and soothing sensitive skin.
The toner is infused with 10,000ppm rice bran water as well, which helps to brighten and rid the skin of impurities. Rice’s natural oils also moisturise, lending to a complexion that’s as dewy as it is radiant.
Your toning step won’t just prep your skin for other products to come, it’ll also give you skin that’s already soothed, hydrated, and firm (like “jello” skin).
Aprilskin Artemisia Rice Essence Toner retails for S$26 instead of S$40 on Aprilskin, and S$35 on Shopee. You can also shop the twin pack for S$50.50 on Shopee.
I’m From Rice Toner
Your skin will look glowy and hydrated after using the I’m From Rice Toner, a formulation that truly taps on rice as a super-skin-loving ingredient!
Featuring 77.78% rice extract, this toner creates a protective film over the skin to lock in moisture, rebalances the skin’s pH, and even sloughs away dead cells for a complexion that’s healthy and radiant.
Other supporting ingredients like Japanese elm bark help to soothe the skin, and amaranthus caudatus seed extract, which is rich in squalene, helps strengthen the skin’s barrier.
I’m From Rice Toner retails for S$31.19 on Lazada.
Best rice water cleansing products
The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Foaming Cleanser
One of the best-selling cleansers in Korea, The Face Shop’s Rice Water Bright Foaming Cleanser whips up into a rich, dense foam that deeply cleanses the skin.
The rice water in this formula helps to brighten and revitalise the skin, as well as clear away impurities like dirt and oils. The cleanser is also made with soapwort extract, which creates a frothy lather, at the same time it clears the skin for a more even tone.
Reviewers love this rice water cleanser because of how fresh it makes their skin feel without stripping it of its moisture.
The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Foaming Cleanser retails for S$9.60 on iHerb.
Rosette Rice Release Cleansing Oil
Slather Rosette’s Rice Release Cleansing Oil onto your skin and use it two ways – as a face wash to cleanse away regular dirt and impurities, or as a remover to effectively melt away a day’s worth of makeup.
Japanese skincare brand Rosette infuses rice extracts to dissolve makeup and uproot keratin plugs in the skin, so your skin is left bare and smooth just before you go to bed.
Fragrance- and colouring-free, the Rice Release Cleansing Oil is suitable for even those with easily-irritated skin.
Rosette Rice Release Cleansing Oil retails for ¥2,211 (approximate S$22.12) on Kokoro Japan. Shipping fees apply.
Skinfood Rice Daily Brightening Cleansing Foam
Feed your skin the same nutrient-rich foods you put into your body with Skinfood’s Rice Daily Brightening Cleansing Foam!
This cleansing water is infused with the ingredient we’re keeping our eyes peeled for: rice water. Extracted from premium Odae rice grown in Cheorwon, Gangwon Province, the rice water refreshes the skin so that it takes on a clear and almost glass-like quality, paving the way toward the Korean glass skin complexion of dreams.
The cleanser lathers up into a cushiony, fluffy foam that feels as soft as clouds on the skin; the smooth formula creates an easy slip over the skin that makes it impossible to over-scrub your skin.
Skinfood Rice Daily Brightening Cleansing Foam retails for S$16.38 on iHerb.
The Skin House Rice Active Cleansing Water
Brimming with brown rice bran extracts, The Skin House Rice Active Cleansing Water is one that thoroughly cleanses the skin whilst keeping it soft and nourished!
The brown rice bran works alongside other noteworthy ingredients like avocado, papaya, and chamomile. Oil-rich avocado moisturises and the papain enzymes found in papaya help to calm even acne-troubled skin.
Since chamomile also helps to soothe the skin, this Rice Active Cleansing Water is, indeed, a worthy product for those with a sensitive complexion.
The Skin House Rice Active Cleansing Water retails for S$23.97 on Yesstyle.
Best rice water moisturisers
HaruHaru WONDER Black Rice Hyaluronic Cream
Let’s just take a moment to admire the cute ‘gram-worthy egg-shaped packaging of HaruHaru’s WONDER Black Rice Hyaluronic Cream!
Another rice water product from HaruHaru, this nutrient-rich moisturiser brims with fermented black rice extract from Korea, hyaluronic acid, and safflower seed oil – all of which intensely nourish the complexion.
Less is more when it comes to using this rice water product; applying just a little bit of the velvety cream onto the skin already works to instantly rehydrate dry, tired skin.
The cream’s luxurious lavender scent is a plus for those who’d love to elevate their wind-down routine, but for those with sensitive skin, then it might be best that you swap this rice water elixir for another on our list.
Head-up, because although we give points to the chic packaging, some reviewers note that the smooth shape makes it slippery in their hands and impossible to be placed upright on the vanity.
HaruHaru WONDER Black Rice Hyaluronic Cream retails for S$11.50 instead of S$28.90 on Robinsons.
You can also shop this rice water product for S$25 on Zalora, or snag it in an almost double 90ml size for S$48.38 on Amazon.
Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream
The best-selling product from the K-beauty brand, Beauty of Joseon’s Dynasty Cream is a silky-smooth moisturiser that’s made with hanbang (Korean herbal medicine) ingredients like ginseng root water and rice bran water.
Rice bran water is, in fact, the newest addition to the new and improved skin-nourishing mix. Rich in amino acids, minerals, and vitamin E, the infused rice water keeps the skin hydrated throughout the day, and brightens to give you a creamier, dewier complexion.
Ginseng, known during the Joseon Dynasty as ‘shincho’, meaning ‘herb from the gods’, is another powerhouse ingredient for energising and giving the skin a more radiant glow from within!
Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream retails for S$30.29 on Amazon.
I’m From Rice Cream
Pair I’m From’s Rice Cream with the brand’s rice water toner (that we listed earlier on in our article) for skin that’s truly aglow with rich rice minerals, vitamins, and nutrients!
Specially distilled, the rice water in the Rice Cream gives the skin a more even tone as well as defends it against UV damage. It’s also packed with ceramides – lipids that “glue” skin cells together – to lock in moisture and make the skin feel softer and more supple than before.
Slightly on the heavier side, the I’m From Rice Cream leaves a hydrating but non-sticky film on the surface of the skin.
I’m From Rice Cream retails for S$34.40 instead of S$40 on Wishtrend’s official store on Shopee.
You can also get it for S$44.90 at NTUC and Guardian.
Best rice water face masks
COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask
You know that you can fall back on trusted Korean brand COSRX for skincare formulations that effectively give clearer and healthier skin.
The brand’s Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask is made from a high concentration of 68.9% rice extract, which helps soften and tone the skin.
Sweep this nourishing mask over your face and leave it on overnight, and you’ll soon wake up with a “jello” complexion of dreams.
COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask retails for S$16.90 on Amazon.
You can also get it for S$19.98 on iHerb or S$28.90 on Watsons.
Tony Moly I’m Rice Clear Skin Beauty Mask Sheet
Rice water isn’t the only Asians’ best-kept secret to more radiant skin; sheet masks are just as responsible for a translucent glass-skin glow!
So many celebrities swear by using a sheet mask every day for flawless skin: Blackpink’s Jisoo revealed that she uses a sheet mask two to three times each day, depending on her mood, and Chinese actress Fan Bingbing is also famous for using more than 300 facial masks a year.
Tony Moly’s I’m Rice Clear Skin Beauty Mask Sheet, a rice water sheet mask, lets you get in on both these sneaky beauty hacks.
A three-layer pulp sheet mask that’s soaked in rice extract, red wine, and hyaluronic acid, it clears, unclogs, and moisturises to give you a translucent, dewy complexion.
Just slap that nutrient-rich mask over your skin often, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving a celebrity-worthy glow!
Tony Moly I’m Rice Clear Skin Beauty Mask Sheet retails for S$2.90 on iHerb.
NADESHIKO Keana Rice Mask
Japanese brand NADESHIKO’s Keana Rice Mask is a true-blue rice formula that’s made entirely of pearly Japanese rice-derived ingredients.
It contains four kinds of rice extracts: fermented rice liquid to moisturise, rice bran oil to plump, rice ceramides to nourish, and rice bran extracts for a more even skin tone.
For those with dry skin and enlarged pores, this rice water sheet mask is a skincare saviour that’s much-needed in your arsenal. The thick sheet masks, drenched with rice essences, will give you ultra-dewy, plump, and hydrated skin. They also blur out the pores for a complexion that’s glass- and “jello” skin combined.
NADESHIKO Keana Rice Mask (10 sheets) retails for S$14.60 on NANA’s official store on Shopee.
Related read: This is the one skincare step Korean women swear by for clear, glowing skin – it’s not a serum or an essence