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How to Use Japanese Camellia (Tsubaki) Oil

How to use for hair and skincare

Japanese Camellia oil is best when crafted by cold-pressing seeds of the wild (yabu) variety of Camellia japonica flower (tsubaki in Japanese), unrefined by chemicals.


Japanese Camellia oil is a rich source of Palmitic and Omega-6 Linoleic fatty acids, as well as numerous anti-aging polyphenol antioxidants. It is non-greasy and an excellent all-around moisturizer for the skin as well as for hair.

Cold-pressed unrefined Camellia oil for hair and skincare

Camellia oil is an excellent emollient for keeping skin and hair moist and supple. Approximately 82% of its fatty acids are composed of Oleic fatty acid (Omega-9), a remarkable transdermal carrier and very effective in enhancing skin and hair's ability to retain moisture.

Camellia oil absorbs very quickly. It permeates deep into lower layers of skin, promoting cell growth and giving skin support and flexibility.

Hair Care

Skincare and Facial Use

Body Care

Camellia Japonica and Other Varieties

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 the hair before washing to untangle hair and make it more manageable.

The benefits 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

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How to Use Camellia Oil for Hair Care

Put a few drops into palms. Spread well. Apply to hair and scalp using fingertips.

For the Japanese, the most common use of Camellia oil is to apply it to hair after washing.

  1. Towel dry hair after washing.
  2. Put a few drops of Camellia oil into your palms and spread well.
  3. Starting from the top, apply 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.

How to Use Camellia Oil 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.

  1. Apply a few drops into hair before washing hair.
  2. 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.
  3. Shampoo and rinse as usual.

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How to Use Camellia Oil With Seaweed Hair Cleanser

You can apply Camellia oil as moisturizer and conditioner after washing hair with seaweed.

Japanese Seaweed hair cleanser is mixed with water to produce a gel-like mixture. The traditional Japanese method is to apply it by itself.Seaweed hair cleanser comes in the form of powdered seaweed. When you mix with water to make a gel-like mixture.  You can apply the mixture in a variety of ways. The traditional Japanese method is to use it by itself. You can also use it as a deep treatment pack, or mixed with shampoo.

  1. Mix a little less than 1/2 teaspoon of seaweed powder with 3 tablespoons of hot water.
  2. Let mixture cool down before use.
  3. Apply mixture slowly into hair and onto scalp.
  4. Rinse well.
  5. Towel dry hair.
  6. 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 the mixture to hair. Cover hair with cap for 15-20 minutes. Rinse well. Towel dry hair. Apply Camellia oil.

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Applying With Tsuge Wood Comb

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

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Skincare and Facial Use

Absorbs Quickly Deep into Skin Restoring Bounce and Elasticity

Japanese Camellia oil has a silky, creamy texture. It is a transdermal carrier of cell rebuilding nutrients & collagen into skin, which repair damage caused by dryness & aging.

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 the skin, which repair damage caused by dryness, sun exposure, and aging.

How to Use Camellia Oil for Skincare

  1. Pump a small amount into the palm of your hand.
  2. Rub your palms together to spread the oil into a thin layer.
  3. Pat the oil over your face and neck. Do not rub hard.
  4. 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.

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Vitamin E and Sunblock Claims

Vitamin E

Although there are numerous claims that Camellia oil is rich in vitamin E, such claims are simplistic at best and can be misleading.

Vitamin E comes in many forms. Notable ones are Tocotrienols, the so-called "super vitamin E", and the more common (and much less effective) Tocopherols.

While Camellia oil contains only moderate levels of the Tocopherol variety vitamin E (about 60 mg/1000 g), it is not a noteworthy source of Tocotrienols at all.

For high Tocotrienol content rice bran oil at 600-800 mg per 1,000 g is by far a better choice.

Sunblock Properties

Common claims of Camellia oil having significant sunblock properties are highly exaggerated.

In fact, all vegetable-based oils, including Camellia oil, have a low SPF (about 3-5) and should not be used as a primary sunblock regimen.

Use in Combination with Rice Bran Oil

Rice bran oil is a notable source of Tocotrienol, the "super" vitamin E, as well as an anti-aging antioxidant called Gamma-oryzanol. You can apply Camellia oil in combination with rice bran oil to take advantage of their different benefits.

Mixing the two oils together is okay, but not the best way to go. To get their full benefits, it is much better to apply them separately. Both get absorbed into the skin rapidly, so one can be applied in a few minutes after applying the other.

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Body Care

Camellia 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.

For Bouncy Skin and Softer Elbows, Knees and Heels

Camellia 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.

Camellia oil absorbs fast and penetrates deep into the lower layers of skin, enhancing natural cell growth and bounce. It moisturizes, nourishes and softens skin, and restores bounce and elasticity. It can also do a good job in diminishing fine lines and wrinkles, and repairs stretch marks such as in after pregnancy. Plus, it can help heal minor acne scars.

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

How to Use Camellia Oil for Body Care

  1. Apply a small amount to damp skin (best after showering or taking a bath.)
  2. Apply gently and thoroughly till completely absorbed.
  3. Use morning and night, or as often as needed.

How to Use Camellia Oil for Nail and Cuticle Care

Camellia oil softens dry or brittle nails and rough cuticles. It also helps alleviate discomfort from dry skin under and keeps nails nourished, smooth and shiny.

  1. Add one or two drops to a cotton pad.
  2. Wipe nails and cuticles with the pad. Best after washing hands well with lukewarm water.
  3. Massage in gently.

After a few days, you will notice that your nails and cuticles are softer and smoother and look healthier.

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Camellia Oil Varieties

The Camellia family includes a 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.

Camellia japonica, sinensis and oleifera Differences

Camellia family of plant includes a large number of species. such as the Camellia japonica (Tsubaki) Camellia sinensis (the common tea plant) and Camellia oleifera (notable for its edible properties)

Camellia japonica

The true Japanese Camellia, native to southern Japan. Also called Rose of winter and Tsubaki in Japanese. The 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. Its all-important seeds are harvested in fall.The Tsubaki tree blooms in winter and early spring, when the much-admired beauty of its flower is a common sight in cities and in the countryside. Its all-important seeds are harvested in fall.

Yabu-Tsubaki Variety (Top left picture)

The most classic Camellia japonica variety is the traditional red Camellia known as Yabu-Tsubaki (wild Camellia.) The oil from its seeds is known in Japan as Tsubaki-abura.

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. 

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)

A 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.

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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.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. As a result, the woody shells of pods crack open naturally, exposing the seeds inside.

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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.

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Cold Pressing

Cold pressing Camellia oil, a labor-intensive mechanical process, ensures that the maximum possible amount of oil's character and nutritional content are preserved.

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 Unrefined Oils are 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 a 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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