Tsubaki Who? Why Camelia Oil Will Make You Remember It's Name
We have fallen in love with Tsubaki Oil! During a recent trip to Japan we were able to get our hands on some pure Camellia oil (Tsubaki oil) to try on our skin and hair. In the U.S. this is very hard to come by at an affordable price and usually even if you can afford it, it comes in a serum form with other ingredients.
Camellia japonica, also known as Tsubaki oil in Japanese (soo-baw-kee) or Japanese Camellia Oil, has been a beauty secret of ancient Geisha's and Japanese women for centuries. It is indigenous to Japan and it grows all over Japan except Hokkaido. Izushoto , Sakurajima are the main producers of camellia and even now, locals are picking the camellia seeds by hand and extracting the oil at their local factories. Tsubaki Oil is cold pressed from the seeds of Camellia and used primarily for cosmetic use.
Tsubaki oil is a versatile oil that can be used on the face, hair, scalp, and body. You can even cook with it! But as you will learn below, it’s best to keep the Japanese variety for topical application. It is rich in oleic acid, plant collagen and vitamins A, D and E as well as nourishing Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids. Vitamin A encourages healthy skin cell production, while vitamin D supports the growth and repair of these new cells. Vitamin E has also been proven to help your skin retain moisture, making it softer, smoother and less prone to fine lines. It’s sebum-like (the oil naturally produced by human skin) composition allows it to penetrate into the deepest layers of the skin delivering an immense amount of phytonutrients (natural chemicals found in plants). It is non-comedogenic (suitable for oily/acne prone skin) and protective against urban air pollutants. Camellia oil has more naturally-occurring antioxidants than almost any other botanically derived oil. Use a few (literally 2!) drops pressed into the skin after or in lieu of moisturizer at the end of your skin care routine. Our founder, Kawthar, has oily acne prone skin and loved adding it to her night time moisturizer the Summer Friday’s Jet Lag Mask. The combination did not clog her pores, the oil sinks right into the skin, and she woke up with baby soft skin every time.
Tsubaki oil has been used for hair care for a very long time in Japan. It’s even mentioned in a document written in the 8th century. The oil was applied with a comb made by box wood. It is said that the material of this wood sits well with the camellia oil. It is infused with oleic acids, proteins and glycerides, which are essential to keeping hair healthy, stronger and shinier. It also helps to replenish moisture, smooth hair cuticles without weighing hair down, and treat dry scalp preventing dandruff. There are several ways you can use Tsubaki on your hair and it can depend on the texture of your hair. For all hair textures it can be used as a hot oil treatment and/or pre-poo mixed with your favorite light-weight conditioner. For straight textures you might prefer to only use a few drops on the ends of your hair to seal the cuticles and impart shine. For our curly girls the same method will really make those ringlets pop.
Here “In the Kitchen” we like to focus on “inside-out” beauty, so if you can get your hands on it, use it as a cooking oil. For cooking purposes it is commonly referred to as “tea seed oil”. Tea seed oil is a sweet seasoning and cooking oil made by pressing the seeds of C. sinensis, C. oleifera, or C. japonica. Note that unlike C. sinensis and C. oleifera, the C. japonica plant does not produce tea leaves. It is a flowering plant with red blooms. Use the Japonica (better known as Tsubaki) for topical application and the Sinensis or Oleifera varieties for cooking. Camellia oil is the most important cooking oil for hundreds of millions of people, particularly in southern China. It is the “Eastern Olive Oil” and as such, you can use it much the same way you would use your handy Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Camellia Oil has a smoke point of 485F, which is higher than both olive and coconut oils, making it the perfect choice for all your cooking needs, from baking to sautéing and frying. It is popular for people struggling with high blood pressure (high in potassium), osteoporosis (minerals like calcium, phosphorus, and potassium help maintain bone density), high cholesterol (contains over 90% unsaturated fats to lower LDL cholesterol levels and harmful triglycerides ), and inflammatory conditions.
Give this versatile oil a try and let us know below what you think.
If you are in Japan, you can purchase it at the locations listed here: http://www.sakurajima.gr.jp/tsubaki/dealer/
Itoh, T., Tamura, T. & Matsumoto, T. Lipids (1974) 9: 173. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02532689
Functional properties of Camellia oleifera seed oil. http://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTotal-SSPJ201001056.htm
Analysis on the Main Physical and Chemical Composition of Camellia reticulate f.simpex Seed Oil. http://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTOTAL-YNLX201005009.htm