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Dr. Alpana Mohta Ranka, MD, DNB, IFAAD, is a triple-board-certified dermatologist with over 100 research publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals.


Why is Rice Water for Acne Such a Bad Idea?

Updated: Jun 25

When it comes to skincare trends, people are always on the lookout for natural remedies to achieve flawless skin. One such remedy that has gained popularity in recent times is rice water. But before you reach for that bowl of soaked rice, here's why I, a triple-board-certified dermatologist, advise against using a DIY rice water toner.

DIY Rice Water Toner

Here's Why I Would Never Recommend a DIY Rice Water Toner

Contamination Risk

Homemade rice water can harbor bacteria and fungi. If you put it aside for fermentation, you run a really massive risk of cross-contamination. This promotes the growth of bacteria and fungi.

The Result? Bacterial infections like acne and folliculitis.

Excessive Use

Applying rice water too liberally will create an overly moist environment, conducive to the growth of yeast, leading to an infection known as pityrosporum folliculitis or fungal acne due to yeast overgrowth.

Lack of Robust Clinical Research

While some studies highlight the benefits of rice water for skin aging and hydration, there is scant clinical evidence supporting its effectiveness in treating acne. Most of the perceived benefits are anecdotal, lacking any scientific validation.

Potential Allergens

Unlike something made in a lab under controlled conditions, a DIY rice water contains so many organic compounds, some of which could act as antigens. Result- contact dermatitis or eczema flare ups.

Altered pH from Fermentation

Fermentation increases the pH level of rice water, with a big risk to disrupt the skin's natural acid mantle. An altered pH will compromise the skin's barrier function.

What is Rice Water?

Rice water is the starchy water left over after soaking or cooking rice. It’s been used traditionally in Asian cultures for hair and skin care due to its supposed benefits, which include:

  • Improving skin texture

  • Brightening the complexion

  • Reducing pore size

  • Enhancing hair growth

Why is Rice Water so Popular in Skincare?

The use of homemade rice water in skincare routines was popularized by Korean and Japanese cultures, but unlike the rest of us, they don't use it as a stand-alone product. It's part of a broader and personalized skincare.

The appeal of rice water lies in its simplicity and cost-effectiveness. With just a handful of rice and water, anyone can make a toner at home. Additionally, rice water is believed to contain beneficial compounds such as amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that promote healthy skin.

Potential Benefits of Rice Water

Rice water can have benefits, but only when you remove all the other factors that make it bad for your skin, which is really difficult to do at home while trying to concoct a solution for your skin yourself.

Here are some of the factors that make an industrially manufactured rice water toner good for skin:

  1. Rich in Antioxidants: Rice water contains antioxidants that can help neutralize free radicals and potentially slow down aging.

  2. Starch Content: The starchy content can provide a soothing effect on irritated skin.

  3. Amino Acids: These building blocks of proteins can help in skin repair and rejuvenation.


While the idea of using rice water as a toner is appealing due to its simplicity and cost, it’s important to prioritize safety and efficacy.

As a dermatologist, I advise caution with DIY skincare treatments like rice water toner. Opt for dermatologist-approved products that are backed by scientific research to ensure the best results for your skin.

By making informed choices and consulting with skincare professionals, you can achieve healthy, glowing skin without the risks associated with unproven DIY treatments.


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