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Ingredient Spotlight: Rice Bran Oil - Amani Soaps

Ingredient Spotlight: Rice Bran Oil

Rice bran oil may be one of the best oils you have never heard of. Despite it's usefulness as a culinary oil (high smoke point, mild taste, and long shelf life), it is still relatively unknown outside of select Asian countries. However, rice bran oil is a fairly common ingredient in the cosmetic industry. Read on to learn about this exceptional ingredient and how I use it at Amani.

Perhaps you've heard that brown rice is "better" for you. But what does that even mean? When a rice plant is harvested, it is first processed to remove the chaff, or outer husks of the seeds. What is left is the actual rice grain plus a hard coating known as the bran. At this point, the grain is known as brown rice, and, just like your mother told you, it is nutritionally superior to white rice. However, rice is frequently processed further to remove the bran layer and create "white rice". If brown rice is more nutritious, why is white rice more common? It may be that the answer comes down to some pretty simple reasons: white rice has a longer shelf life and it cooks faster. 

Rice bran has a high oil content which can be extracted by cold pressing. It is rich in many components beneficial to the skin including complex fatty acids, Vitamin B, Vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, ferulic acid, and squalene.  Rice bran oil is gentle and easily absorbed into the skin, where it helps to create a barrier to retain moisture. Some of the benefits of specific ingredients are:

  • Vitamin B--Can help prevent signs of aging, improve the skin's ability to maintain moisture, regulate pigment production, assist wounds to heal faster.
  • Vitamin E--Has antioxidant properties that slow the look of aging and boost circulation, repair scarred and blemished skin, prevent moisture loss from skin and hair, and deeply cleanse pores and balance oil production.
  • Fatty Acids (primarily oleic, linoleic, and palmitic)--Oleic acid is an emollient, helping to protect and moisturize skin. Linoleic acid is anti-inflammatory, acne reductive, and retains moisture. Palmitic acid is a surfactant (i.e.--it cleans) and also an emollient.
  • Squalene--Is chemically similar to the sebum in our skin and can help regulate its production. Sebum is the natural oily, waxy substance that coats, moisturizes, and protects your skin. Squalene has excellent moisturizing and antioxidant properties, can soften and protect skin, and protect from the appearance of aging. 
  • Coenzyme Q10--Promotes collagen production to keep skin elastic, can protect and repair the skin and stimulate skin cell activity that eliminates skin toxins.
  • Ferulic Acid--Protects the skin from harsh environmental elements, assists in skin regeneration, and increases the stability and the effectiveness of vitamins C and E. 

I use rice bran oil in soap and lotion. Because soap is a wash-off product, the primary benefits from rice bran oil will be in the fatty acid composition of the soap itself.  Leave-on products such as lotions are different. Amani's lotion is composed of three primary fats: apricot kernel oil, rice bran oil and mango butter. Apricot kernel oil is very light and absorbs quickly. Rice bran oil is just a little bit heavier and therefore will retain moisture longer than the apricot oil. And in case you're wondering, mango butter is similar to shea and cocoa butter but lighter, and easily absorbed into the skin. We'll discuss apricot kernel oil and mango butter in future blog posts. 

If you start paying attention to skin care labels (and you should!), look for rice bran oil. It's popular in facial serums and creams as well as shampoo, conditioner, lip balm, facial oils, and scrubs.

Shop soaps here. Note: limited edition and Kenyan soaps do not contain rice bran oil. Shop lotion here.

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