Japanese Camellia oil is best when obtained by cold pressing seeds of the Camellia japonica flower (called Tsubaki in Japanese) without any chemical or heat refining.
Besides the all important Camellia japonica, the Camellia family includes many other plants. Among such plants are Camellia sinensis (the common tea plant) and Camellia oleifera (known mostly for its edible properties). See below for more information.
Japanese Camellia oil is an effective emollient (things which soften skin and hair.) Approximately 82% of its fatty acids are composed of Oleic fatty acid (Omega-9).
Studies have proven that Oleic acids is an excellent emollient, and a remarkable natural agent for the retention and enhancement of skin moisture. It has unparalleled penetration power, permeating deep into the lower layers of skin and greatly enhancing cell growth to give skin support and flexibility.
Also, Oleic acid is a transdermal carrier of cell rebuilding nutrients and bioactive compounds (collagen and elastin) into the skin to repair the damage caused by dryness, sun exposure and other factors.
Japanese Camellia oil is also a rich source of Palmistic (8%) and Omega-6 Linoleic fatty acids (3%), as well as numerous anti-aging polyphenol antioxidants.
With its golden color and creamy texture, Japanese Camellia oil has been responsible for the classic, legendary beauty of Japanese hair for centuries.
Its benefit list is long:
The most common use of Japanese Camellia oil is for conditioning hair after bathing, as it works best applied to hair when it is damp.
Pay special attention to hair ends. OK to apply to dry hair on days you do not wash hair.
As a deep hair treatment pack, Camellia oil helps
Massage a few drops into hair before washing. Cover with shower cap, and wrap with towel (to keep it warm) for 20-30 minutes. You can extend this time to up to one hour. Shampoo and rinse as usual.
Camellia oil can be used as moisturizer and conditioner after washing hair with seaweed.
Seaweed hair cleanser comes in form of powdered seaweed. It is mixed with water to produce a gel-like mixture. The mixture is applied in a variety of ways. The traditional Japanese method is to use it by itself. However, it can also be used as a deep treatment pack, or mixed with shampoo.
Camellia oil is a nutrient and antioxidant-rich skin moisturizer and softener (emollient).
Apply a small amount to damp skin. Massage gently and thoroughly in circular motion until completely absorbed. Use morning and night, or as often as needed.
The Japanese Camellia tree (Camellia Japonica) is native to southern Japan. The most common variety is the classic red Camellia known as Yabu-Tsubaki (wild Camellia) or simply as Tsubaki.
Yabu-Tsubaki is easy to recognize. The upper-sides of the leaves have a distinct waxy coating which sparkles in the light. The Japanese name Tsubaki is believed to have been shortened from "tsuya-ba-ki" or "shiny leaf tree".
The Tsubaki tree blooms in winter and early spring, when the much-admitted beauty of its flower is a common sight in cities and in countryside. Its all-important seeds are harvested in fall.
The Camellia plant includes a very large number of species. Notable among these are Camellia japonica, Camellia sinensis (common tea) and Camellia oleifera, as well as many others.
Though they all are commonly referred to as "Camellia", they have important differences and should not be confused.
The true Japanese Camellia. Also called Rose of winter, and Tsubaki in Japanese. Its fatty acids contain highest amount of Omega-9 Oleic acid of any natural oil (82%). The oil from its seeds is known in Japan as Tsubaki-abura (literally Camellia oil).
The common tea plant. Two major varieties are: var. sinensis (small-leaved teas), and var. assamica (large-leaved teas). Leaves of various species produce all teas including green (Sencha, Matcha,..), black (Darjeeling, Ceylon,..), Pu-erh (Qing Cha, Shu Cha,..) and Oolong (Jade, Wu Yi,..). The oil from its seeds is known as Tea Oil Camellia.
Notable source of edible oil. Very similar to olive oil in composition, with its fatty acids containing about 72% Oleic acid. The oil from its seeds is commonly known as Oil-seed Camellia as well as Tea-seed Oil.
The traditional Japanese method for collecting Camellia seeds is to gather the seed pods by hand after they have fully matured.
This is a time consuming, manual process which ensures that the seeds are at their peak maturity and have reached their maximum potential. The oil pressed from such seeds has an exceptionally deep golden color and a rich, velvety texture.
The collected seed pods are then sun-dried. The process results is the woody shell of the pod to naturally crack open, exposing the seeds inside.
Camellia oil retains its maximum benefit when it is extracted by Cold Pressing, without undergoing any refining process.
Lesser quality Camellia oils are extracted by either Heat Extraction or Solvent (Chemical) Extraction. Such oils also undergo various levels of heat or chemical refinement to make color and texture uniform.
Camellia oil for beauty application must be free of chemicals and must contain the fullest possible amount of its natural anti-oxidants and nutrients.
Cold pressing, a labor-intensive mechanical process, ensures that the maximum possible amount of oil's character and nutritional content are preserved.
Cold pressing yields only about 20-30% of the seeds available oil. This is the reason for the relatively higher cost (and lower availability) of cold pressed high quality Camellia oil.
Heat pressing is the application of high heat in conjunction with mechanical pressure to extract more oil from seeds.
Heat extraction increases the yield to 60-70% of oil available in the seed, and lowers production costs. However, the introduction of heat changes the composition of the oil and significantly lowers its anti-oxidant and nutritional properties.
Large manufacturers, to fully extract the seed's oil, use high heat along with powerful carcinogenic solvents such as ethanol or Hexane, a petroleum byproduct. Adding solvents to the heat extraction process increases the yield to up to 98% of the available oil contained in the seed.
Solvent extraction lowers production costs - and oil's health benefits - even more than heat extraction, as the oil undergoes temperatures of up to 150° C (about 300° F) under extremely high pressure to keep it from boiling.
The process is followed by distillation to remove the solvents (ethanol or Hexane) from the extracted oil to the extent practical. However, residual solvents remain in the finished oil, although these may only be in trace amounts.
While Europe has rigorous standards in place for the terminology of cold pressing, similar phrases such as "cold filtered" have been used erroneously, especially in the U.S. and Australia, often employed as a marketing technique.
"Cold filtered" oils are not necessarily cold pressed. They could very well have been processed at high heat and using chemicals, and then filtered after being cooled.
Unrefined oils are ones that have not been subjected to high heat or chemicals for controlling color and scent. They maintain the maximum amount of oil's original character, and are untainted by chemicals.
Large manufacturers need to control the batch-to-batch differences in their supply chain to make the final product uniform. They employ various "refining" techniques for this purpose.
Refining allows control of color and scent of oil by using combination of chemical, filtration or heat processing.
Refined oils are less expensive to produce, since the process makes it possible to make the final product always uniform and look and feel the same, regardless of using different grade oils.
Refined oils lose important nutrients and antioxidants in the process. Depending on the type of the refining process, there is also the possibility that trace amount of chemicals remain in the finished oil.