Brightening Rice & Milk Mask

Good enough for royalty

Based upon the recorded age old recipe’s from the Naeuiwon (royal health clinic of the Korean Joseon Dynasty), I have reinvented the recipe of tarakjuk (lit. milk porridge) to bring you this nourishing and brightening mask which provides instant results as soon as you wipe it off.

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Personally, I like to leave the whole ‘prep process’ ongoing overnight. This is because I can also eat it as fit-for-royalty breakfast in the morning at that point (mask and breakfast all together! Does this get any more awesome?).

The ingredients for this mask are incredibly basic, which makes this the perfect mid-week treat. The only drawback of this mask is that it requires a rice cooker with the congee setting (you can still make it without this, but it speeds up the process by a lot).

As mentioned above, this mask has been based off the Joseon dynasty record’s (Jeungbo Sallim Gyeongjie and Gyuhap Chongseo‘s) original recipe for tarakjuk. Tarakjuk used to only be served to the King, but can now be enjoyed by us all either as nourishment or as a beauty treatment.

Best suited for: all skin types
The mask will: Deter redness and sensitivity, fade acne scarring, soothe and calm acne, brighten complexions (ridding dead skin cells), lighten skin, promote healing

The best part? You can leave this in a container for up to a week in the fridge and for 3 days at room temperature.


This recipe makes enough for a week’s worth of applications as well as breakfast.

What you need:
1 1/2 cups rice (preferably Japanese)
50mL milk
6 tbs honey

Recipe:

1) Rinse rice (keeping the leftover water as a refreshing facial toner) and add to rice cooker* with milk. Set onto congee setting** and cook.
This should result in lower temperature cooking with a longer cooking time; resulting in softer, mushier, pulpier rice (refer to photos).
If your rice cooker is trustworthy and it skips straight to ‘keep warm’ after it finishes cooking – feel free to leave it going overnight for a hearty breakfast.

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2) Once rice is cooked, it should take on the appearance of that in the photos. If not, add more liquid if too dry and set on ‘keep warm’ (or simmer on hob) if too wet.

3) Take out enough for one meal’s worth if you plan on eating once ready.
To eat right away, simply mix in cold milk – enough to turn it into a porridge texture – and add preferred seasoning (salt, sugar, pine nuts, sesame seeds and honey are all traditional choices to choose from… if you like savoury snacks – powdered instant soups or kimchi taste great with it!).
To eat later, keep in air tight container, refrigerate and reheat – repeating steps for ‘eating right away’.

4) Let mixture cool until lukewarm and comfortable to the touch, and mix in honey.

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5) Remove all makeup if wearing any and wash face.

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6) Apply to cleansed skin. Rubbing it in circular motions upwards for up to a minute. Leave on for 5-10minutes (you should feel it forming a protective film over your skin – if you were to apply foundation over your skin right now, it will be line-less and pore-less, try it out on your hand!).

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7) Rinse with lukewarm water and tone with rice water.

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Unused mask can be used stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to three days and a week in the refrigerator. You can check whether it’s still okay to use by it’s smell. If it starts smelling like yoghurt (actually, it will smell like yakult if you follow this recipe exactly because of the honey), you can still use it on that day – but remember to throw it out the next.

*If you don’t have a rice cooker, you’ll have to cook the rice with a pot on the hob. Add an additional 25mL of water or milk as you begin to cook as to not burn the milk but cook as you would normally prepare rice. Add more liquid according to level of heat you use to not let the rice dry out.

**Cooking on the normal setting is also fine, but add an additional 25mL of milk


Why the mask works so well…

Rice – particularly Japanese short grain rice – is rich in inositol and gamma oryzanol, which are both potent anti-oxidants and nourishing moisturizers. It is a vital source of vitamins A, B2, B12 and E, as well as naturally moisturizing proteins. Allantoin an anti-inflammatory agent found in rice soothes sunburns and also promotes the skin’s repair as well. Furthermore, phytic acid found in rice is an Alpha-Hydroxy Acid (AHA) known to be great for treating acne. The granules themselves, although softened, can also provide gently physical exfoliation.

As a food, the humble rice grain contains the three main minerals required for human life (potassium, magnesium and calcium), as well as a broad spectrum of Vitamins (including Vitamin B and Vitamin E), with an impressive protein profile. Rice contains all of the eight main amino acids and are found in perfect proportion. Mixed with milk – a supplement food for special occasions, or recovery food after illness back in the Joseon era – even the King wouldn’t say no to such a creamy, naturally sweet (due to the starch) treat.

Geisha and gisaeng have both used leftover water from washing rice in the bath for soft, smooth and luminous skin for centuries. So keep the water from the rice rinsing to use as a toner for fairer, more translucent skin or as a hair elasticity enhancing rinse for stronger, shinier hair.

Rice water has been known all over Asia as a skin lightener – however, what is largely mis-interpreted is that by ‘light’, it is referring to regaining the original skin tone you were born with by removing freckles, hyper-pigmentation, sun spots and scarring. Rice water is not able to lighten your skin past what your skin’s natural tone would be.

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Milk was obviously the chosen beauty ingredient of Cleopatra and ladies of the Regency era and it’s easy to see it’s charm. Known to soften rough patches, deep cleanse pores, help control oil, act as an antibacterial gem, while hydrating and gently exfoliating skin (due to AHAs), it’s only natural that milk would finds it’s way into this recipe.

Honey is an antibacterial,antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory ingredient which helps to reduce swelling (hungover or I-studied-overnight days, I’m looking at you!) as well as elongate the product’s shelf life. It’s moisturising properties are also well known and just like milk- has loads of good nutrients and enzymes to clear up your skin and help heal wounds.

Honey in this recipe will also provide a  bit of tack. This stickiness pulls away the dust, dead skin, and microbes from the pores while the antimicrobial properties keep the skin from becoming infected again. The antioxidants in honey help make the skin look younger and finally, and if you use raw honey, the wax makes the skin smooth, shiny, and moist.

Even once the mixture starts to smell bad or ‘off’ you can still use it for that one day as it’s doing your skin good. When milk goes off it starts creating more lactic acid and it will provide acne and oil-prone skin types with a gentle peel and cleanse. Clearing dead skin which may be the causes of acne (as it blocks your pores) and oil (excessive oil production can be triggered by dead skin cells).


I hope you enjoyed this recipe for a tasty breakfast and effective skin treatment. It is definitely slightly more time-consuming than most DIYs, the results from this mask definitely speaks for itself though =]

Just out of interest- have any of you had tarakjuk before? Or heard of it before this recipe? Before I traveled to Korea, the closest things I’ve had to tarakjuk had been rice pudding or congee, but they are really all different aren’t they?

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One thought on “Brightening Rice & Milk Mask

  1. Mary says:

    I do something very similar to your mask; And I also didn’t know it was so popular until I went to Seoul in 2010. I actually use raw jasmine rice for mine, grounding into powder (not fine grain though), with milk, and fresh lemon juice instead. The powder form is really good for exfoliating dead skin in the process when rubbing it in circles 🙂

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