You already know that rice is a healthy staple in your diet, but did you know the water you cook rice in could be just as valuable as the grains themselves? Rice water, or the starchy water that remains after you cook a pot of rice, just might be liquid gold when it comes to beauty. It has become trendy in the past few years, but it’s actually nothing new; this liquid has been used in Asian countries for centuries.
So, what makes rice water useful? The liquid contains many nutrients and vitamins, including vitamin B, vitamin E, magnesium, and zinc, and it’s a very gentle skin cleanser, which might prevent irritation. It also contains cysteine, an amino acid which is an essential element of hair, skin, and nails.
When you consider all of these possible benefits of rice water, along with the fact that it costs next to nothing, you might want to try it out for yourself. It couldn’t be any easier to make, as the only ingredients are (unsurprisingly) rice and water. Simply soak half a cup of uncooked rice in two cups of water for 30 minutes, then strain the water into a jar. Once you have your water ready to go, try one (or all!) of these three tips to take advantage of its naturally beautifying potential.
To Mend Brittle Hair: Try a Rice Water Rinse
When used as a hair rinse, the water’s amino acids and proteins may penetrate the hair shaft to strengthen and repair strands from the inside out. And its hydrating vitamin E content can restore moisture to dried-out locks for a lustrous sheen. To try a hair rinse, pour two cups of the water all over clean, damp hair. Let sit for five minutes, then rinse it out.
To Soften Parched Hands: Try a Rice Water Soak
Our hands often get dry and chapped in cold weather, and rice water may help soothe them. Soaking parched hands in this water can ease dryness-caused cracks and inflammation. The substance contains linoleic acid, which can strengthen your skin barrier and aid in hydration. To take advantage of this potential benefit for parched skin, add two cups of the starchy liquid to a bowl and soak hands for 15 minutes, remove, and pat skin dry.
To Brighten Eyes: Try a Rice Water Washcloth
Some dermatologists say this water may help moisturize and brighten the skin. If the area around your eyes is feeling dry and dull, try this: Warm a cup of the liquid in the microwave for 30 seconds, then saturate a washcloth with it, wring out excess, and place on closed eyelids for five minutes. Then remove and rinse. The compress will feel soothing on the face, and could help give you a natural glow.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.