Ingredient Focus: Camellia Japonica Seed Oil

4:19 PM

Hi there,

A new Ingredient Focus article! At the moment, I love camellia oil and I thought it could be interesting to write an article about this particular oil!
I'm currently using a facial oil that contains camellia oil as one of its main oils (Whamisa Organic Flowers Facial Oil), have been using a couple of sheet masks focusing on camellia oil lately (from Blossom Jeju), and am eager to discover more about it. So if you have tried or are using a camellia oil-based skincare product, please let me know!

Camellia oil aka Camellia japonica seed oil

Camellia Japonica belongs to the same genus “Camellia” (Theaceae) as green tea (C. sinensis).
The camellia plant (also called the rose of winter) is widely cultivated as an ornamental plant in Japan, Korea and China for many centuries. Camellia is a small tree that flowers in winter - early spring. By the way the Japanese character for camellia (tsubaki) is composed of the characters for ‘tree’ and ‘spring’. Camellia japonica is also one of the emblematic trees of Jeju island in Korea. Apparently it’s also called the island of camellia trees.

The seeds of Camellia species can be pressed to obtain high quality oils, some of which have been used for years in Asian cultures.
The plant has a long and wide history in Japanese, Korean and Chinese traditional medicine against many remedies such as stomach disorders, and as a tonic and anti-inflammatory agent.
It has also a long history in cosmetics for its skin and hair care benefits. It is used to nourish and soothe the skin and to keep it resilient. The oil is also well-known for hair styling and it has been used since the Edo period in Japan.

For info, in Japan, it’s referred to as “tsubaki oil” and as “dongbaek oil” in Korea (I don’t speak Chinese so no idea how it’s called in China, sorry). The name "Tsubaki" is believed to have been shortened from "tsuya-ba-ki" or "shiny leaf tree".

There are lots of scientific articles that describe the benefits of camellia japonica seed oil. Some of the most reported effects include its antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also, thanks to its fatty acids, a nourishing oil that is perfect for dry skin (1). It is quickly absorbed and leaves no greasy feeling.

The seed oil is a good source of fatty acids and vitamins A, D and E. In terms of lipidic profile, the content of unsaturated acids represented up to 92% of the total fatty acid content of the oil, and in particular oleic acid represent about 80% of the total fatty acid content of C. japonica seed oil (2). Therefore, camellia japonica seed oil has a favourable fatty acid profile, with a very high level of oleic acid, an omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acid. This contributes to its oxidative stability and this makes a great oil to nourish the skin. It also contains palmitic acid (approx. 8 %), and low levels of stearic and linoleic acid (both approx. 3 %).

To summarize, up to 80% of camellia japonica seed oil is Oleic Acid, an Omega 9 fatty acid naturally occurring in skin sebum. This promotes the easy absorption of camellia oil into the skin. It also contains linoleic acid (Omega 6) and alpha linoleic acid (Omega 3), vitamins A, D, E, and polyphenols, powerful antixodiants that can combat the effects of free radicals.

Tsubaki oil is in Japan especially known for its hair care properties. It is used to soften the hair, to make it shinier, and to repair split ends. It is also used to protect the hair from external influences and from drying out. You can directly apply a few drops of pure camellia oil onto your fingers and massage the oil into the damp hair.

In an in vitro study, it was also reported that camellia japonica oil could be an interesting anti-wrinkle agent thanks to its ability to induce the synthesis of human type I procollagen and inhibit matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-1 activity (this enzyme breaks down collagen). In this same study, it was also shown that camellia oil could help reduce trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). Therefore camellia oil could be an interesting ingredient to help strengthen the skin barrier and retain its elasticity (3). That’s only an in vitro study, but that’s already interesting. I’ve also found clinical data that show a soothing and strengthening of the skin barrier function activity of camellia japonica oil (4) but I don’t have the details of the study.

Overall, Camellia japonica seed oil is a very interesting oil that has many benefits for the skin and hair. It has a long history of use in cosmetics in Japan and in addition to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, is a great oil to nourish and soothe the skin, help strengthen the skin barrier and make the skin more resilient.

To summarize:
  • skin soothing activity –anti-inflammatory
  • skin protecting activity - antioxidant
  • strengthening skin barrier function – reduce trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL)
  • anti-wrinkle effect – inhibit MMP1-activity (enzyme that breaks down collagen) and induce the synthesis of human type I procollagen
  • nourishing – fatty acid profile

To come soon: review of the Whamisa Organic Flowers Facial Oil and Blossom Jeju sheet masks that I got from
The other camellia-based product I've tried a while ago was Shiseido Tsubaki Shining Hair Water spray but it contains high amounts of alcohol so not the best...directly applying pure camellia oil would be better and I actually need to try that!
Have you tried any camellia-based products?

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  1. I love your in-depth post about this! I've tried the Shiseido Tsubaki Shampoo & Conditioner in the red packaging, and absolutely LOVED it for my hair - it was just so gorgeously shiny and silky. I also remember really enjoying the smell. I'm actually learning Mandarin at the moment and I think Camellia is known as 茶花 / cháhuā, literally "tea flower".

    A xx

    1. Hi Alexis, thank you for your comment ;) oh that's really great for the tsubaki shampoo and conditioner! You make me want to try the conditioner! Thanks for the info about the word in Mandarin!

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  3. Nice Article about the camellia oil . This is true that the seed oil of fatty acids and vitamins A, D and E. Waiting for more updates.

  4. I tried Hansaegee Nature's Aqua Whitening Cream and its main ingredient is Camellia Japonica Seed Oil. It's so nice on my dry skin and is really good to treat acne and sunburned skin.


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