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Bedak Sejuk: Our Grandmothers May Have Been Right All Along

Bedak Sejuk: Our Grandmothers May Have Been Right All Along

Tasneem Nazari

Ask any Malaysian grandmother for some beauty tips and she’d swear by something called bedak sejuk. 

Literally translated into “cooling powder”, Malaysian women once slathered this fermented rice-based powder it all over their faces before bed as an ingenious beauty hack that kept them looking young and fair.

This is actually an old Asian woman. Lol just kidding! (Credit: Lubuk Seni)

Some even insisted that the powder was effective in relieving the painful effects of sunburn and the annoying itches you get from measles.

Are bedak sejuk benefits real?

Slathering fermented rice powder all over your face in hopes that it’ll keep you looking young sounds pretty absurd. Is fermented rice the ingenious and cheap beauty hack it’s made out to be?

Bedak sejuk beads are still being sold until today. (Credit: Gvado)

It turns out that there has been some initial research on rice and rice water as beauty products. These findings suggest that there might be some real benefits to the practice after all. 

Here’s what the science says

A study conducted last year by researchers at University Kebangsaan Malaysia found concentrations of amino acids and fatty acids in bedak sejuk.

According to their study, some of these amino and fatty acids were the same ones used in the beauty industry to help keep skin moisturised and promote tissue and cell regeneration.

Rice is the key ingredient in bedak sejuk. (Credit: Marco Verch/Flickr)

A separate study conducted in 2016 found high concentrations of phenolics in rice panicle extracts.

Phenolics are apparently a source of antioxidants that are anti-ageing, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory. The study also found that these phenolics absorbed into the skin really well.

FYI, this whole thing is a panicle of rice. (Credit: Flickr)

So, we guess you could say that grandmama might have been on to something after all when she nagged you to use bedak sejuk every night.

But even if it doesn’t work as well as modern (and more expensive) cosmetic products, you can at least be sure that it won’t be dangerous for you.

Bedak sejuk is made into little beads that you mix with water before applying it to your face. (Credit: Info Santai)

In 2013, researchers from University Malaysia Kelantan actually tested bedak sejuk made from grocery store-bought rice and filtered tap water for traces of harmful bacteria and heavy metals. The study found both to be within safe levels of use.

How to make this cheap beauty product at home

Making bedak sejuk is fairly easy and would cost next to nothing if you cook rice at home on a daily basis. All you really need to make the powder is two ingredients: rice and water. 

First, steep the rice in the water inside a closed container. Your rice should be fully immersed, with the water level being about an inch or two above the rice.

Clean the rice and steep it in a closed container. (Credit: Pixabay)

Steep the rice for at least 3 months to up to a year in a closed container. The longer you steep, the better. To prevent the powder from having a sour smell, change the water regularly, about once every 2 weeks or so. 

Once your rice is steeped for your preferred duration, rinse it in a sieve until it no longer smells. You’ll see that your rice has become fragmented and broken. Dry it slightly and then mash it until it becomes a paste.

Once it’s mashed, it becomes a creamy white paste. (Credit: Going Places Magazine)

If you like, you can add some natural ingredients to it at this stage. Traditionally, pandan leaves, charcoal, lime juice, bunga tanjung (spanish cherry flower) or bunga cempaka was added to make the powder smell nice or increase it’s whitening, brightening or cleansing effects.

Traditionally, people used to load the rice paste into a mango tree leaf, or a banana leaf. But you don’t have to do that. Just put it into any old piping bags and pipe the paste into little beads resembling tiny white Hershey Kisses on a piece of cloth. Leave it outside to dry in the sun for about 2 days.

Bedak sejuk beads look like tiny white Hershey Kisses chocolates. (Credit: Gvado)

Once dry it’s ready to use. 

To use bedak sejuk, simply pick out as many beads as you like, add a little water to it to turn it back into a paste and apply it all over your face as a mask. Use it weekly or nightly for best results.

Do you still use the age-old tradition of bedak sejuk? Share your experiences with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

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