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How to Use Japanese Camellia Oil

Japanese Traditional Hair Care • Skincare and Facial Use • Body and Nails Care

Camellia Oil Varieties, Benefits of Cold-Pressed and Unrefined Oil


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. It is a rich source of Palmistic and Omega-6 Linoleic fatty acids, as well as numerous anti-aging polyphenol antioxidants.

Notably, 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).

Omega-9 is a remarkable transdermal carrier, very effective for 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.

Cold pressed unrefined Japanese Camellia (Tsubaki) hair, face and body oil

Hair Care

With its golden color and creamy texture, Japanese Camellia oil has been responsible for the classic, legendary beauty of Japanese hair for centuries. 

Beautiful Japanese woman caring for Her hair with Camellia (Tsubaki) oil

In Japan, Camellia oil is commonly used as a leave-in, best when applied to damp hair such as after showering. How much to apply is a matter of personal preference. A little goes a long way, though you can apply as much as you like. Geishas and maikos apply a lot, for the distinct Japanese traditional glossy hair look they prefer.

For difficult hair, it can also be applied to hair before washing to untangle hair and make it more manageable.

The benefit list of Camellia oil for hair care is long:

  • Softens hair and makes it more manageable
  • Restores hair's natural sheen
  • Helps hair retain moisture
  • Forms a barrier against environmental pollutants
  • Repairs breakage and split ends
  • Treats dry scalp and itchiness
  • Help prevents dandruff
  • Treats damage from perms and coloring

How to Use as Daily Conditioner

In Japan, the most common use of Japanese Camellia oil is for conditioning hair after washing it, applied to hair when it is damp.

How to Use

How to use Japanese Camellia (Tsubaki) oil for hair care

  • Towel dry hair after washing.
  • Put a few drops of Camellia oil into your palms, and spread well.
  • Starting from the top, massage into hair and scalp using fingertips.

Pay special attention to hair ends, They tend to be drier and more subject to breakage and damage.

OK to apply to dry hair on days you do not wash hair.

Use As Deep Treatment Pack

As a deep hair treatment pack, Camellia oil helps restore brilliance to dull hair and treat damage from heat, perms and coloring.

How to Use

  • 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.

Use With Seaweed Hair Cleanser

Japanese Camellia oil can be used as moisturizer and conditioner after washing hair with seaweed.

Japanese seaweed hair cleanserSeaweed 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.

How to use

Washing Hair - Mix a little less than 1/2 teaspoon of seaweed powder with 3 tablespoons of hot water. Let mixture cool down before use. Massage mixture slowly into hair and onto scalp. Rinse well. Towel dry hair. Apply Camellia oil.

Deep Treatment Pack - Mix 1 teaspoon of seaweed powder with 3 tablespoons of hot water. Wash hair as normal (without using the mixture.) Towel dry hair. Apply mixture to hair. Cover hair with cap for 15-20 minutes. Rinse well. Towel dry hair. Apply Camellia oil.

Applying With Tsuge Wood Comb

Applying Camellia oil with Japanese Tsuge wood combApplying Camellia oil to hair by hand is OK. Going over it with a wood comb results in a much better and more even coverage. It is a good idea to let hair dry before combing, as you should never comb your hair when it is wet.

Japanese traditional combs are made from Tsuge (Boxwood) -- one of the densest, hardest types of wood. They are polished, one tooth at at time, to a very smooth finish.

The wood teeth have microscopic pores which pick up and re-distribute Camellia oil in a thin, even layer throughout hair. This promotes natural shine and gloss and even coverage while using less oil.

Tsuge combs do not snag, since their teeth are seamless. They are also anti-static as not to cause frizz when combing.

Skincare and Facial Use

Absorbs Quickly Deep into Skin Restoring Bounce and Elasticity

How to use camellia oil (tsubaki) for skincare and facial use

Camellia oil is a fast-absorbing moisturizer. It has a silky, creamy texture and is non-comedogenic (does not block skin pores, and does not contribute to acne.) Among other benefits, it is a transdermal carrier of cell rebuilding nutrients and bioactive compounds (collagen and elastin) into skin, which repair damage caused by dryness, sun exposure and aging.

How to Use 

  • Pump a small amount into the palm of your hand.
  • Rub your palms together to spread the oil into a thin layer.
  • Pat the oil over your face and neck. Do not rub hard.
  • Spread the oil in small circular motion till its absorbed. 

For small wrinkles and blemishes, add a small drop to your fingertips and apply directly on the areas you need.

Vitamin E and Sunblock Properties

Vitamin E

The all-important vitamin E comes in many forms. Notable ones are alpha-Tocopherol (the most common vitamin E) and the much more potent Tocotrienol (the so-calles "super vitamin E").

While Camellia oil contains the alpha-Tocopherol variety vitamin E, it is not a significant source of Tocotrienol (especially compared to rice bran oil.)

Sunblock Properties

Common claims of Camellia oil having significant sunblock properties are somewhat exaggerated. The fact is that just about all vegetable-based oils, including Camellia oil, have SPF of about 3-5, and should not be used as a primary sunblock regimen.

Use in Combination with Rice Bran Oil

Some prefer to apply Camellia oil in combination with rice bran oil to take advantage of their different benefits. Among other things, rice bran oil is a significant source of Tocotrienol, the "super" vitamin E, as well as an anti-aging antioxidant called Gamma-oryzanol. 

Mixing them together is not the way to go since it cuts the effectiveness of each oil in half. Instead, they are applied separately. They both absorb quickly, and one can be applied in about 15 minutes after applying the other.

Body Care

For Bouncy Skin and Softer Elbows, Knees and Heels

Japanese Camellia (Tsubaki) oil for softer hair, skin, elbows, knees and heelsCamellia oil is a nutrient and antioxidant-rich skin moisturizer and softener (emollient), and its fatty acids contain powerful agents for retention and enhancement of skin moisture.

The oil is fast absorbing and penetrates deep into the lower layers of skin, enhancing natural cell growth and bounce.

  • Moisturizes, nourishes and softens skin
  • Restores bounce and elasticity
  • Diminishes fine lines and wrinkles
  • Repairs stretch marks such as in after pregnancy
  • Heals minor acne scars

Japanese Camellia oil also does an excellent job to soften rough skin in areas such as elbows, legs, knees and heels.

How to Use

Apply a small amount to damp skin (best after showering or taking a bath.) Massage gently and thoroughly in circular motion until completely absorbed.

Use morning and night, or as often as needed.

Nails and Cuticle Care

  • Beautiful nails with Japanese Camellia (Tsubaki) oilSoftens dry or brittle nails and rough cuticles
  • Helps alleviate discomfort from dry skin under
  • Keeps nails nourished, smooth and shiny

How to Use

Add one or two drops to a cotton pad and wipe nails and cuticles. Best after showering. After a few days, you will notice that your nails and cuticles are softer and smoother and look healthier.

Camellia Oil Varieties

The Camellia family of plant includes a very large number of species. Besides the all important Camellia japonica (Tsubaki), the Camellia family includes many other plants such plants are Camellia sinensis (the common tea plant) and Camellia oleifera (notable for its edible properties). 

Though they all are commonly referred to as "Camellia", they have important differences and should not be confused.

Camellias Japonica, Sinensis and Oleifera Differences

Camellia Japonica, Sinensis and Oleifera Comparison

Camellia japonica (Top left picture)

The true Japanese Camellia. Also called Rose of winter, and Tsubaki in Japanese. The oil from its seeds is known in Japan as Tsubaki-abura.

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.) Yabu-Tsubakis are easy to recognize. They are dark pink to red, with 5-7 petals which connected at the bottom in a cup shape. 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.

Camellia sinensis (Center)

The plant which all teas come from. Two major varieties of Camellia sinensis 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.

Camellia oleifera (Right)

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.

Collection of Matured Seeds

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.

Oil Extraction

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.

Cold Pressing

Cold Pressing

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 Extraction

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.

Solvent (Chemical) Extraction

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.

Cold Pressed vs. Cold Filtered

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.

Why Are Unrefined Oils Better?

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.

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