I’ve long been a K-beauty devotee and have noticed how rice water finds its way into lots of products in the recommended 10-step daily regimen. That’s because the milky-white water we pour down the drain after cooking rice has benefits that make it worthy of being preserved instead of discarded — a fact that was the inspiration for my favorite exfoliant, Rice Bran Enzyme Powder Wash from Korean brand SRB Cosmetics.
This facial exfoliant by SRB is gentle enough to use every day, but I save it for a twice-a-week-indulgence. It has a soothing scent reminiscent of warm rice pudding and leaves my face feeling unbelievably smooth, almost like my pores have been polished.
How it’s Made
To understand the benefits of this powder in a bottle, it’s helpful to learn a little about the rice milling process. (Stick with me.) For starters, white and brown rice actually come from the same plant, (a fact I admittedly did not know until very recently.) Brown rice is a whole grain rice from which the inedible outer protective covering, called the hull, has been removed. For white rice, not only is the hull removed, but so is the hard outer cereal part called the bran layer as well as the cereal germ, the part that grows into a new plant. Oil from the thin bran layer can be extracted either by pressing the rice bran or using chemical solvents; it’s this rice bran oil that’s extremely beneficial yet gentle for the skin, as it contains B complex vitamins like Thiamine, Niacin, Pantothenic and Riboflavin as well as minerals and antioxidants that can moisturize and ease irritation caused by eczema and other skin ailments.
The History of Rice in Cosmetics
According to SRB Cosmetic’s website, the practice of rice washing dates back to 1392 at the start of Korea’s Joseon dynasty, when the Gungnyeo, otherwise known as the “palace women,” discovered that rice water made their skin felt noticeably softer. Since rice bran oil is believed to contain ten times the amount of antioxidants as rice water, which can stimulate collagen production and skin repair, it’s much more adept at reversing the effects of aging and sun damage.
The main downside to rice bran oil, however, is that it has a relatively short shelf life compared to that of white rice; some manufacturers counter that by adding preservatives or fixing agents to rice bran-based beauty products, it can lessen the benefits.
CasinBio, the now-defunct company behind SRB Cosmetics, formulated a proprietary process to extract, retain, and concentrate nutrients found in rice bran while keeping the skincare benefits intact; that’s why this product is referred to as a stabilized rice bran enzyme powder. The main ingredient is cornstarch, which serves as a conduit for the product’s rice bran oil and other skin-boosting ingredients including grapefruit seed, papaya extracts, collagen, and aloe juice.
How to Use It
I use the SRB rice bran wash every few evenings (but no more than twice a week) after my cleansing routine and before my moisturizing regimen. Applying it in this order helps remove any residual dirt or makeup as well as dead skin cells and preps my face to drink up the serums and face creams that will follow. To use it, I splash a little water on my face, pour a dime-sized amount of the powder into my hand, add a little water and rub it to make a foamy paste before gently scrubbing it on my face and rinsing. The results are immediately noticeable: smooth, brighter skin that looks tighter. I’ve also used it in the morning as a makeshift makeup primer since it gives me a perfectly smooth blank canvas for my foundation.
Where to Buy It
As with so many other K-beauty products, the easiest place to find SRB Stabilized Rice Bran Enzyme Powder Wash is Amazon, where it’s sold for around $25 for 70 grams. It’s also for sale on YesStyle for around the same price.
Main photo by lambada/iStock.