Expert Take

Writer Stephanie Shiu.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Writer Stephanie Shiu.

Nao Kikushima

Rice Force’s manager of international affairs on the power of the mighty grain 

“We strongly believe that Eastern medicine, which appreciates nature, is the best way to keep your skin beautiful”

An inherent part of Japanese culture, rice forms the basis of Rice Force’s skincare range, as its name suggests. Not only a diet staple, it has long been revered for its beautifying properties. Before soap came along, rice bran was widely used in Japan for bathing, and believed to be the secret to silky skin. Integral to each product is the brand’s Rice Power Extract, initially developed by the owner of a sake brewery, who also happened to hold a PhD in Agricultural Science, after noticing that the craftsmen who worked with malted rice on a daily basis had pristinely preserved hands, despite their old age.

Determined to uncover the beauty benefits of rice, the brewery owner enlisted the support of government and medical institutions while developing the skincare range. Nao Kikushima, Rice Force’s manager of international affairs, says, “Our active ingredient, Rice Power Extract No.11 was certified by the Japanese government to improve the skin’s moisture retention capacity, which means that this active ingredient not only moisturises, but also improve your skin’s barrier function.”

According to Kikushima, clinical tests also enhance ceramide production, which boosts moisture and helps regular cell activity. She says, “Once the barrier function becomes active, your skin can actually protect itself by rejecting external stimulus such as UV rays or allergens, leaving it moisturised and pH balanced so you can worry less about wrinkles and pigmentation.”

The germ and hulls from unmilled rice are removed in a process that can take as long as 90 days, after which it is steamed and extracted before aspergillus, yeast and lactobacillus are added. Of the fermentation and ageing process that follows, Kikushima says, “It is created with various kinds of natural bacteria, which have to be strictly controlled in a highly sanitised factory. Our brand caters towards sensitive skin and quality control is the most important thing to balance effectiveness and gentleness at the same time.”

Prevention is a key Rice Force principle. In the same way Asian medicine tends to focus on maintaining health, rather than reacting to illness, the same approach can also be applied to skincare through avoiding skin damage and concentrating on anti-ageing. Kikushima says, “Nature is one of the brand’s most important philosophies to enhance your skin. We strongly believe that Eastern medicine, which appreciates nature, is the best way to keep your skin beautiful.”