I Washed My Face With Rice Water Cleansing Oil—Here’s What Happened

Updated: May 14, 2021

Rice water cleansing oil can help hydrate and brighten skin and may even curb acne breakouts. Here's what happened to me after using it for six months.

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Rice water cleansing oil for clearer skin

It’s no secret that stress can lead to acne. And the last year or so has been…pretty stressful. To say the least. Add maskne into the equation, and my face needed some serious TLC to clear up breakouts and spots.

My time hasn’t been all worry, though. I also took time to research health, wellness, and beauty products that might help me get through the day and feel better. If you’re curious, you can check out my Theragun and YogaToes reviews.

And, yes, those did make me feel better. But again: my face. It was a total mess.

I really wanted clear skin, and there wasn’t much I could do about reducing stress or avoiding masks. I do live in the world in 2021, after all.

Some of the products I tried to manage acne weren’t worth the money—an exfoliating face wash removed dull skin but was ultimately too irritating.

But I found surprising skin-care success with an unexpected product: The Face Shop’s Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil.

What is rice water?

When you usually make rice, the grains suck up all the liquid by the time you’re ready to eat. But cook with too much water, and you’ll get a mix of rice and a milky liquid. Ta-da, you have rice water.

Turns out, it contains vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that offer skin and hair benefits. Beauty brands have capitalized on this by working rice water into their products, like the one I used.

People are even starting to make their own rice water to use in their beauty routine.

Benefits of rice water for skin care

For centuries, rice water has been used for hair and skin care in Japan, China, and Korea. Other people are finally catching on to the beauty benefits.

“Rice water is commonly used for its gentle hydrating and anti-inflammatory benefits. It’s a great ingredient for people who are dry or sensitive, but can be used across all skin types,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research and assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

That said, there’s not a lot of research on the benefits of rice water for the face. Before they can say for sure if (or how) rice water might improve the skin, scientists will need to conduct some studies.

The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil1via amazon.com

How can an oil clean my skin?

I like a DIY project, but when it comes to my face I wanted something more trusted than my own kitchen.

A friend who advocates for Korean skin care and face oils suggested I check out The Face Shop’s Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil.

The product is a best-seller at Korean beauty stores across the globe, and it’s also available on Amazon—with 4.4 stars and over 5,600 reviews.

Initially, I did not want to put oil on my face. It felt counterintuitive to fight acne (caused by excessive sebum and oil buildup) with more oil. But, the science makes sense.

“Since oil dissolves oil, it is a great ingredient to use in cleansers,” says Dr. Zeichner.

In short, an oil will do a better job of cleaning your face of gunk than your usual cleanser.

“Oil-based cleansers help remove dirt from the skin without compromising the integrity of the skin barrier,” he says. “Oils can be used across all skin types, and it is a myth that they cannot be used and people who have acne-prone skin.

How do you use cleansing oil?

The first thing you need to know is that face washing with a cleansing oil is a two-step process.

When double cleansing, you’ll start with the oil-based face wash. Apply it to dry skin and massage it in. It’ll remove all of the dirt, makeup, and oils from your face, says Dr. Zeichner.

Once you’ve washed away the oil cleanser, rub on a water-based face wash to finish the job.

You really can’t skip the second wash or your face will be full of oil residue and dissolved mascara. Gross.

My routine: using rice water cleansing oil

I use the rice water cleansing oil at night, especially if I wore foundation and sunscreen, which tend to clog pores.

To use, I squirt a pump of the oil into my clean hands. The scent is slightly floral, and the oil feels lightweight.

I gently apply it directly to my dry face in circular patterns. I instantly see mascara, concealer, and sunscreen residue bead up to the surface of my skin.

I rub for about 20 seconds, then rinse it off. I follow up with a water-based face wash to clean up the oil and rinse off the makeup.

After the double cleanse, my face feels clean but not tight. From there, I follow the rest of my skin care routine.

Is rice water cleansing oil right for you?

As with all skin care products, you need to figure out what works for you and read labels carefully before jumping in.

“It’s important to choose an appropriate oil for your skin type,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Some of the heavier vegetable oils, like olive oil, may lead to acne breakouts in predisposed people.”

The Face Shop’s Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil is made with moringa oil, which is known for supporting the skin barrier.

It also contains soap wort for cleansing. And, of course, there’s the rice water. The company says it boosts hydration and brightens.

Young woman at bathroom sinkWestend61/Getty Images

The pros and cons of rice water cleansing oil

No product is perfect. Here’s what I found to be the pros and cons of this rice water cleansing oil.


  • Rice water soothes, brightens, and gently hydrates skin.
  • Cleansing oil dissolves sunscreen, makeup, and grime without stripping natural oils.
  • It’s affordable, at around $11 for five ounces. My bottle has lasted me over six months.
  • It’s free of sulfates.


  • Double cleansing takes twice the time.
  • As with all skin care products, it might not work for you.

What’s the verdict on rice water cleansing oil?

After I finish my bottle of The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil, I’ll buy this exact product again.

I love the feeling (and seeing) the sunscreen and makeup dissolve off of my face at the end of the day.

In the winter, the cleansing oil was hydrating. And I have noticed a decrease in acne breakouts and an increase in moisture since I started regularly using the rice water cleansing oil on my skin.

How big of a fan of rice water am I now? I might make my own rice water to use as a hair treatment.

Next, try these natural face cleanser recipes you can make.