What is Rice Bran Oil in Skincare?

Posted by Dr. Natasha Ryz on

Rice bran oil is a nutrient-rich carrier oil extracted from the bran of the rice grain. 

Rice bran oil is rich in fatty acids, gamma-oryzanol, lecithin, squalene, vitamin E, phytosterols and ceramides. 

Rice bran oil has benefits for dry, flaky, sensitive, mature and delicate skin.

This article will discuss:

    • What is rice bran oil?
    • How is rice bran oil made?
    • What does rice bran oil smell like?
    • What color is rice bran oil?
    • What does rice bran oil feel like?
    • What is composition of rice bran oil?
    • Summary
    • References
    Rice bran oil for skin

    Try rice bran oil

    Rice bran oil is perfect for dry, flaky, sensitive, mature and delicate skin.

    Dry Skin Love Apple Elixir 5% Vitamin E Face Oil is made with rice bran oil.

    Apple Elixir 5% Vitamin E Face Oil is a luxurious face oil that makes your dry skin feel nourished, soft, calm and protected.

    Rice bran oil for skin

    What is rice bran oil? 

    Rice bran (Oryza sativa) oil is extracted from the bran or outer coat of the brown rice grain removed during the milling process.

    Rice bran oil is unique due to its rich source of important actives such as gamma- oryzanol, lecithin, ceramides and vitamin E - tocopherols and tocotrienols.

    In general, rice bran oil is considered to be a lightweight and non-greasy oil, making it suitable for various skin types.

    Rice bran oil is perfect for dry, flaky, sensitive, mature and delicate skin.

    Learn more: Benefits of Rice Bran Oil for Dry Skin


    Rice bran oil for skin

    How is rice bran oil made?

    Rice bran oil is extracted from the outer layer of rice grains known as rice bran.

    Here's a general overview of how rice bran oil is made:

    1. Rice Milling: The process begins with the milling of rice to remove the outer husk, resulting in brown rice. During this milling process, the outer layer of the rice grain, known as rice bran, is separated from the inner part of the grain.

    2. Preparation of Rice Bran: The collected rice bran is typically cleaned and dried to reduce moisture content. This drying step is important to prevent the growth of mold and other microorganisms during storage.

    3. Extraction: There are different methods of extracting oil from rice bran, including solvent extraction and cold pressing. The choice of method can influence the quality and properties of the resulting oil:

    • Solvent Extraction: This is a common industrial method where the dried rice bran is treated with a solvent, usually hexane, to dissolve the oil. The oil-solvent mixture is then separated, and the solvent is evaporated to obtain the crude rice bran oil. The crude oil is then further refined to improve its quality and remove impurities.
    • Cold Pressing: Cold pressing involves mechanically pressing the rice bran to extract the oil without using heat or chemical solvents. This method is typically used for small-scale production or when maintaining the natural qualities of the oil is a priority. Cold-pressed rice bran oil may have a stronger flavor and color compared to refined oil.

    4. Refining (Optional): The crude rice bran oil obtained from the extraction process may undergo further refining to improve its stability, flavor, and overall quality.

    Refining involves processes such as degumming, neutralization, bleaching, and deodorization. These steps help remove impurities, free fatty acids, pigments, and unwanted flavors, resulting in a more stable and neutral-tasting oil.

    The extraction and refining processes vary depending on the manufacturer and the desired characteristics of the final product. 

    Rice bran oil for skin

    What does rice bran oil smell like?

    Unrefined rice bran oil may have a slightly rice-like aroma.

    Refined rice bran oil have very little scent, similar to most carrier oils.

    Rice bran oil for skin

    What color is rice bran oil?

    Rice bran oil is a golden brown to brown liquid in color. Rice bran oil may be cloudy in appearance due to the presence of natural sediments found in the oil. 

    Refined rice bran oil is a light yellow color.

    Rice bran oil for skin

    What does rice bran oil feel like?

    Refined rice bran oil has a light to medium consistency that is typical of most carrier oils. 

    Rice bran oil has a rich silky feel when applied to the skin.

    Rice bran oil is absorbed into skin at average speed and leaves a slightly oil feeling on your skin. 

    Rice bran oil for skin

    Composition of rice bran oil

    Rice bran oil is composed of fatty acids and other minor compounds.

    Rice bran oil that has been refined, bleached and deodorized contains 3-5% unsaponifiable matter (Orthoefer et al, 2005).

    The active nutrients of rice bran oil include:

      • Fatty acids
      • Gamma-oryzanol 
      • Lecithin
      • Squalene
      • Vitamin E - tocopherols and tocotrienols
      • Phytosterols
      • Ceramides


    Rice bran oil for skin

    Fatty acids in rice bran oil

    Rice bran oil is composed of fatty acids:

    • 37–41% oleic acid (omega 9)
    • 37–41% linoleic acid (omega 6)
    • 22–25% palmitic acid (C16:0) 
    • 2.9% stearic acid (C18:0)
    • 2.2% alpha-linolenic acid (omega 3)

    Oleic acid

    Oleic acid is an omega 9 fatty acid found naturally in your skin barrier.

    Oleic acid is an emollient and is skin conditioning with benefits for dry skin. 

    Linoleic acid

    Linoleic acid is an omega 6 fatty acid found naturally in your skin barrier.

    Linoleic acid has many benefits for your skin when applied topically. It softens your skin and strengthens your skin barrier. 

    Linoleic acid is a precursor for ceramides (Breiden et al, 2014), which are bioactive lipids that play a role in keeping our skin barrier firm, smooth and healthy.

    Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid and it cannot be made by your body.  It must be supplied through diet, supplements and skincare.

    Palmitic acid 

    Palmitic acid is a saturated fatty acid found naturally in your skin barrier. Saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature (like coconut oil and butter).

    Palmitic acid is a rich emollient as well as an occlusive agent, meaning it locks moisture into your skin rather than letting it evaporate.

    As you age, your skin makes less palmitic acid (Kim et al, 2010).

    Stearic acid

    Stearic acid is a saturated fatty acid found naturally in your skin barrier. Like palmitic acid, it’s very rich and forms an occlusive layer over the skin.

    As you age, your skin makes less stearic acid (Kim et al, 2010).

    Alpha-linolenic acid

    Alpha linolenic acid is an omega 3 fatty acid found naturally in your skin barrier.

    Alpha linolenic acid cannot be made by the body, and must be supplied through the diet, supplements and skincare. 

    Rice bran oil for skin

    Gamma-oryzanol in rice bran oil

    Rice bran oil contains 1-2% gamma-oryzanol (Patel et al, 2004).

    Gamma-oryzanol is a mixture of ferulic acid esters and phytosterols including sterols and triterpenic alcohols (Minatel et al, 2016).

    The highest gamma-oryzanol content of crude rice bran oil was found in oil extracted by conventional cold press at 13.70 mg/g (Wongwaiwech et al, 2023).

    Gamma-oryzanol has strong anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activity (Ramazani et al, 2021).


    Lecithin -  Rice bran oil for skin

    Lecithin in rice bran oil

    Rice bran oil contains 1-2% lecithin (Jala et al, 2015).

    Lecithin is the gummy material in crude vegetable oil that is removed by degumming.

    The specific phospholipid formerly called lecithin is now referred to as phosphatidylcholine (Scholdfield et al, 1981).

    The active portion of rice bran lecithin is a complex mixture of phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, and phosphatidylinositol, along with glycolipids, triglycerides, free fatty acid, oryzanol, tocols, sterols, and waxes as minor components (Jala et al, 2015).

    Phosphatidylcholine is a natural phospholipid found in cell membranes and is known for its emulsifying, moisturizing, and protective properties.

    Squalene and squalane - Rice bran oil for skin

    Squalene in rice bran oil

    Rice bran oil contains 0.35 - 3.18 mg/g squalene (Shimizu et al, 2019).

    Squalene is an oily liquid hydrocarbon. Squalane is its hydrogenated form.

    Squalene is naturally found in shark liver oil, human sebum and certain plant oils, including rice bran oil.

    Shark liver (Squalus) is the highest natural source of squalene and the name "squalene" originates from "Squalus" species of shark.

    Human sebum naturally contains 13% squalene as one of its major constituents (Kim et al, 2012). 

    Squalene is a strong antioxidant and is also an emollient and can help the skin maintain hydration.

    Squalene is non-greasy and quickly absorbed by the skin.

    Vitamin E in rice bran oil

    Vitamin E in rice bran oil

    Vitamin E is a group of fat-soluble compounds that are important for skin health.

    There are 8 types of natural vitamin E.

    There are four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma and delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma and delta).

    Rice bran oil is a great natural source of vitamin E tocopherols and tocotrienols (Yong et al, 2014; Górnaś et al, 2016; Shahidi et al, 2016). 

    Rice bran oil contains 0.29 mg/g tocopherols, with:

    • 0.007 - 0.15 mg/g alpha-tocopherol 
    • 0.003 - 0.08 mg/g gamma-tocopherol
    • 0.002 - 0.03 mg/g beta-tocopherol 
    • 0.0003 - 0.03 mg/g delta-tocopherol

    Rice bran oil contains 0.411 mg/g tocotrienols, with:

    • 0.01 - 0.23 mg/g gamma-tocotrienol
    • 0.008 - 0.13 mg/g alpha-tocotrienol
    • trace - 0.026 mg/g beta-tocotrienol
    • 0.001 - 0.025 mg/g delta-tocotrienol

    When applied topically, vitamin E is a skin conditioning agent, a powerful antioxidant and it can protect your skin against photodamage from the sun.

    Rice bran oil for skin


    Phytosterols in rice bran oil

    Rice bran oil contain high amount of phytosterols at 18.91 mg/g (Yang et al, 2019).

    Phytosterols are plant-derived sterols that have a similar structure and functions as cholesterol. 

    The main phytosterols in plant oils are beta-sitosterol, campesterol, stigmasterol, brassicasterol, and delta5-avenasterol (Verleyen et al, 2002).

    The total phytosterol contents of plant oils has been shown to range between 1.42 and 18.91 mg/g (Yang et al, 2019).

    Phytosterols such as stigmasterol are potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds (Bakrim et al, 2022).

    Rice bran oil for skin

    Ceramides in rice bran oil

    Rice bran oil contains ceramides and glucosylceramides (Miyasaka et al, 2022).

    Ceramides and glucosylceramides are lipids found naturally in your skin barrier and play a crucial role in maintaining the skin's barrier function and moisture retention.

    Ceramides are synthesized from glucosylceramides.

    Rice bran oil has been shown to contain 13 glucosylceramides and ceramide "elasticamide" (Miyasaka et al, 2022).

    Rice bran oil for skin


    Rice bran oil is a nutrient-rich carrier oil extracted from the bran of the rice grain. 

    Rice bran oil is rich in important nutrients, including fatty acids, gamma-oryzanol, lecithin, squalene, vitamin E tocopherols and tocotrienols, phytosterols and ceramides.

    Rice bran oil is an emollient and has antioxidant activity and anti-inflammatory activity.

    In general, rice bran oil is considered to be a lightweight and non-greasy oil, making it suitable for various skin types.

    Rice bran oil is perfect for dry, flaky, sensitive, mature and delicate skin.

    Our Dry Skin Love Apple Elixir 5% Vitamin E Face Oil is made with rice bran oil that contains vitamin E and gamma-oryzanol.

    Rice bran oil for skin


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    Author Information

    Dr. Natasha Ryz, Scientist and Founder of Dry Skin Love Skincare

    Dr. Natasha Ryz is a scientist, skin care expert and an entrepreneur. She is the founder of Dry Skin Love Skincare, and she creates skincare products for beauty, dry skin and pain relief.

    Dr. Ryz has a PhD in Experimental Medicine from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and she is a Vanier scholar. She also holds a Master of Science degree and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

    Natasha is the former Chief Science Officer of Zenabis Global, and she oversaw extraction, analytics, and product development. Her team brought 20 products to market including oils, sprays, vapes and softgels.

    Why I Started A Skincare Company

    Email: natasha.ryz@dryskinlove.com
    Twitter: @tashryz
    Instagram: @tash.ryz
    LinkedIn: @natasharyz

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