Rice is valued as a staple food in Asia. It’s so valuable that nothing is wasted. Not even the chaff that is removed when making white rice. In Korea, China, and Japan, traditionally, women have used the leftover water from washing rice in the bath to soften and smooth their skin.

When you look at rice, it’s made up of several layers. The rice that we normally eat is white and refined. This means that the outer coating of rice was removed and polished. This hard, brown, oily layer is called the bran, and it’s the most nutritious part.

What is rice bran oil?

Rice bran oil is made by removing the husk from the rice grain, resulting in brown rice grain. After that, the brown bran layer and rice germ are removed, leaving a white rice grain behind.

The oil is extracted out of the bran and germ by pressing. Then, to get it to look clear, it’s filtered. Although nowadays, some manufacturers use chemical processes to extract the oil. So, it’s best to buy the oild cold-pressed to get all the valuable nutrients.

It’s rich in antioxidants and packed with vitamins B and E. It’s very popular in Asian cuisine because it has a high smoke point. Whenever you heat oil beyond its smoke point, it starts to break down. And in the process, new compounds are produced the can smell or taste funny.

Since rice bran oil has a smoke point at around 250C, it’s ideal for deep-frying and stir-frying. And it can maintain its nutritive quality even at these high temperatures.

Rice, photo by ally j

It’s often used to make tempura and you can also use it to make salad dressings. It has a neutral taste and a nut-like aroma.

Nutritional composition

In recent days, rice bran oil is gaining popularity also in other regions than Asia as cooking oil because it has a long shelf-life and a balanced proportion of fatty acids and is rich in antioxidants.

Its main chemical constituents are

  • Oleic acid
  • Linoleic acid
  • Palmitic acid
  • Stearic acid
  • α-linolenic
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin E
  • Squalene
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Ferulic acid

Health benefits

Since rice bran oil is an excellent source of poly- and mono-unsaturated fats (the “good fats”), you can reap many benefits from eating foods made with it.

Cardiovascular health

Combining rice bran oil foods with a healthy lifestyle is shown in studies to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Oils that have an equal proportion of saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats are best to improve cardiac health and rice brain oil is almost close to this ratio.

Supports healthy blood sugar levels

By improving insulin resistance, rice bran oil helps regulate blood sugar levels. Since it’s rich in antioxidants, it helps fight free radical damages and neutralise the free radical that may lead to oxidative stress and lowers insulin resistance.

Fights inflammation

Rice bran oil has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. One compound is oryzanol, which is known to suppress several enzymes that promote inflammation. Another is tocotrienol that inhibits inflammation.

Both together help ward off inflammation which can damage the blood vessels and heart membrane. They help reduce the risk of chronic diseases and ease hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause.

Why is it so popular in skin (and hair) care?

Rice bran oil is often added for its its moisturising properties. It has many other advantages. Let’s look at it in more detail.

Oleic acid

This is an omega-9 fatty acid. It protects the skin’s barrier, locking in moisture and protecting us from pollution and the elements. It maintains the softness and sheen of skin and hair. It reduces the signs of ageing, such as wrinkles and fine lines.

Linoleic acid

This omega-6 acid is categorised as an essential fatty acid. This means, our bodies can’t produce it but it’s critical for our health. It boosts moisture retention in skin and hair. It helps with wound healing. Interestingly, it makes oils feel thinner in consistency when combined with other oils. Look out for linoleic acid in moisturisers for use on acne-prone skin.

Palmitic acid

Is the most common saturated fatty acid and is an emollient. This makes it so that the rice bran oil fills in spaces of your skin when the top layer of your skin doesn’t contain enough water and it starts to crack and flake off.

Stearic acid

This acid is an emulisifyer in that it binds water and oil. It also can cleanse dirt, sweat, and excess sebum from hair and skin.

Alpha linolenic (α-linolenic)

This omega-3 fatty acid is known to reduce inflammation and control blood clotting on the skin.

Vitamin B

Rice bran oil contains a slew of different kinds of vitamin B. These are Thiamine (B1), Niacin (B3), Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid), and B6. Vitamin B is known to regulate the skin’s pigment production (and so help with hyperpigmentation). It has soothing properties so that it helps with alleviating rosacea, sunburn, eczema. And lastly, it improves your skin’s moisture retaining capability.

Vitamin E

Like vitamin B, this is also an antioxidant. It’s known to help with wound healing as well as repair scarred and blemished skin. It’s often used in anti-ageing as well as after-sun products.


Rice bran oil contains squalene which helps to stimulate your body to produce collagen. It’s a constituent of your natural oils (sebum) and so helps to lock in moisture in your skin.

Coenzyme Q10

Q10 is a well-research substance that’s included in many anti-ageing products. It’s vital for each cell of your body to repair and regenerate itself.

Ferulic acid

This compound is naturally occurring in many plants and is an antioxidant that helps guard against UV rays. It protects your skin against the effects of environmental elements and helps in skin regeneration. It’s often added in vitamin C serums because it stabilises the vitamin C. Ferulic acid prevents the oxidisation of vitamin C and so maintains its efficacy.

What’s not to like?

To sum it up, when you apply rice bran oil, it works to improve circulation. It evens out your skin tone and so reduces the appearance of dark circles and puffiness around the eye area. It’s very nourishing and hydrating and so protects dry and mature skin from the first signs of wrinkles.

It also guards your skin against damage caused by free radicals and overexposure to the sun as well as to other environmental elements such as pollution, harsh winds, dry and cold environments. It increases your skin’s natural regeneration and so supports its health.

You can find rice bran oil in all kinds of products, from creams to soaps, scrubs, and shampoos. Of course, you can also use it pure as a facial oil. It will not feel heavy on your skin but is readily absorbed.

In China, Korea, and Japan, it’s a well-known and well-loved beauty ingredient. If you liked reading about this traditional anti-ageing ingredient, we’d love it if you could share it on social media.

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