Camellia oil has been used for thousands of years because of its beauty benefits. In the modern skincare world, it’s still something of a ‘secret weapon’— not as well known as other plant-based oils but incredibly nourishing for your skin.
This shouldn’t be surprising since camellia oil comes from a close relative of the plant that gives us green and black tea. Tea extracts, particularly green tea, have well-researched skin benefits and potent anti-aging properties.
Here’s more on the origins of camellia oil and what it brings to your anti-aging skincare routine.
What is Camellia Seed Oil?
Tea leaves come from a plant known botanically as Camellia sinensis. The plants are native to East Asia and grow as evergreen shrubs or small trees. Depending on when the leaves are picked and how they are processed post-harvest, we end up with all kinds of tea from this one species of plant: black, green, white, oolong, etc.
Camellia oleifera is a very close relative of the tea plant (aka C. sinensis). It originated in China and looks very similar to its more well-known cousin.
Perhaps the biggest difference between the two plants is that C. oleifera bears leaves without the caffeine and flavor of tea leaves. Instead, this shrub has long been grown for oil production, earning it the nickname ‘tea oil camellia’.
To harvest oil from C. oleifera, the green fruits of the plant are collected from fall through early winter. Then, the fruits are dried and the seeds are removed and dehulled. The oil itself is extracted through cold-pressing the seeds, resulting in a golden-yellow end product with a faint aroma.
Because it is pressed from the seeds, the oil is technically known as ‘camellia seed oil’. However, it often gets shortened to simply ‘camellia oil’ and also goes by the names of tea oil or tea seed oil (not to be confused with tea tree oil).
Camellia Oil for Skincare & Beauty
The benefits of camellia oil have been enjoyed in China and nearby countries for thousands of years. Not only is it an edible cooking oil, camellia oil has also played a role in traditional Chinese medicine as well as hair care, skincare, and many cosmetics products.
In Japan, this rich oil is known as ‘Tsubaki’. It’s believed to have been one of the beauty secrets of the geishas, used to maintain youthful-looking skin, hair, and nails.
Today, camellia oil continues to be extremely popular for culinary and cosmetic uses in many Asian nations. And although it hasn’t caught on as a cooking oil in other countries, the rest of the world is starting to take notice of its skin-enhancing properties.
Top Benefits of Camellia Oil for Skin
One of the best words to describe camellia oil is ‘luxurious’. It has a silky texture and is full of fatty acids that nourish and hydrate skin. This makes it an excellent choice for dry and/or mature skin types in need of replenishment and hydration.
As far as composition goes, camellia oil is often compared to olive oil. In fact, it has earned the nickname ‘eastern olive oil’ because of its high amount of oleic and linoleic acids and low amount of saturated fats (very similar to olive oil).
This rich fatty acid profile allows camellia oil to help restore moisture to skin. It also strengthens the lipid layer of your skin’s natural barrier, which helps keep moisture locked in for longer. This combination effect smooths out dry and flaky-looking skin, leaving it looking healthy and nourished.
Absorbs Quickly & Feels Natural
Though often compared to olive oil, camellia oil also has a similar structure and weight to your skin’s own natural oil. Along with fatty acids and vitamin E, it contains squalene, which is a key component of sebum, the natural substance that protects and locks moisture into skin. (Jojoba oil also has a very similar composition to sebum.)
Because of this similarity to the natural oils in your skin, camellia oil is able to absorb quickly and deeply. It doesn’t leave a greasy feeling behind and has a texture often referred to as ‘silky’.
With clear benefits for dry skin, camellia oil isn’t off the table for other skin types due to these unique properties.
It’s gentle and well-tolerated, which makes it a great choice for those with sensitive skin. Camellia seed oil is also considered non-comedogenic (with a comedogenic rating of 1), which means it shouldn’t clog pores. And because it absorbs quickly, small amounts won’t make your skin more oily.
Still, if you are prone to breakouts or oily skin, you may not want to use camellia straight on your skin. It will likely be more beneficial if formulated into a cream or lotion that balances out its richness with lighter ingredients.
May Help Protect Your Skin from Damage
Your skin is constantly exposed to the elements: wind, heat, dry air, etc. These can take their toll and may result in visible signs like dryness, flaky skin, or redness and irritation.
But the worst damage to your skin happens at the cellular level, and you usually don’t even know it’s occurring.
The main culprit behind this type of cellular damage is the sun. Though beneficial in moderate amounts, too much sunlight causes something known as photodamage. This type of damage occurs deep within the tissues of your skin and only becomes visible years later.
When it does reveal itself, photodamage can show up as many different signs of aging: wrinkles, dark spots, uneven texture, decreased elasticity, and so on.
Antioxidants are one of the best defenses against this type of damage. And camellia seed oil contains several, including potent vitamin E and numerous polyphenols. Both of these have shown an ability to help prevent photodamage, which in turn can slow skin aging.
May Fight Existing Signs of Aging
Obviously, it’s important to protect your skin from further damage, but there may also be benefits of camellia oil for addressing existing signs of aging.
To start with, the vitamin E in camellia seed oil doubles as a protective agent and a skin rejuvenator. It can reduce erythema (red/irritated patches of skin) and boosts moisture-holding capacity, which may help smooth out the appearance of wrinkles.
Camellia oil is also believed to contain the plant form of vitamin A— an important anti-aging nutrient.
Vitamin A and its derivatives have their own photoprotective properties. They may also decrease the appearance of multiple signs of aging, like wrinkles, and may help prevent the breakdown of collagen (a very important anti-aging protein).
Like any other skincare ingredient with anti-aging potential, use camellia oil consistently for the best results. It takes time for your skin to fully utilize the nutrients you ‘feed’ it.
May Calm Inflammation and Irritation
Another benefit to using antioxidants in skincare is that they frequently have an anti-inflammatory effect. Polyphenols, for example, have noted anti-inflammatory properties and are the main group of antioxidants found in camellia seed oil.
To go along with this, certain fatty acids are also beneficial for calming skin inflammation. In fact, some of the same fatty acids in camellia oil have shown anti-inflammatory and wound healing effects in previous studies.
So what does this mean for your skin?
Small amounts of the oil can be applied to rough or irritated patches of skin to bring relief. Particularly if your skin tends to be on the dry side, using camellia oil daily may also help long-term irritation and inflamed-looking skin. Some studies even indicate it may be beneficial for dermatitis.
Reactions to camellia oil are rare, making it suitable for sensitive skin as well.
Softens and Smooths Skin
Dry, flaky skin doesn’t lend itself to a healthy, glowing complexion. To add insult to injury, your skin is also likely to develop rough, uneven patches as you age that contribute to an overall ‘weathered’ look.
Thankfully, there are benefits of camellia oil that help address both of these issues.
Technically speaking, camellia oil is an emollient, which is what makes it able to reduce flakiness and smooth out your complexion. Essentially, emollients work by filling in the gaps between skin cells. Normally, these gaps are filled by lipids, but dry skin tends to be short on these natural fats.
By sealing up these cracks, camellia oil helps prevent water loss and makes your skin look much less dry and flaky. As a bonus, it also smooths and softens your skin, giving it a youthful glow.
Again, to get the most smoothing and softening power, use camellia seed oil daily. Dry, flaky, or rough skin isn’t going away overnight. However, consistently using emollients and other beneficial ingredients will make a difference in the long run.
Natural Hair Conditioner
One area of skin that often gets overlooked is the scalp. Though you may not see it beneath your hair, this part of your skin needs attention too, and can suffer from most common skin ailments.
This is where plant-based oils enter in— especially ones like camellia, which has been used for hair care for thousands of years, particularly in countries like China and Japan.
Camellia oil provides a hydrating, soothing boost to both scalp and hair. It can be applied as a deep-conditioning oil treatment or used more sparingly as a leave-in conditioner. Either way, it promotes luster, softness, and shine and may help you to get tangles out more easily.
Start with small amounts of the oil to see how much of it your hair absorbs. A few drops go a long way, and you can spread them out over hair strands with your fingers or a comb. Don’t forget to massage a drop or two into your scalp, especially if it feels dry, itchy, or irritated.
Ways to Use Camellia Oil
There are numerous ways to get the benefits of camellia oil for your skin. Even small amounts of the oil are incredibly beneficial, but the biggest key to getting its anti-aging power is using it daily.
For dry skin/hair types:
- Apply camellia oil directly to dry, rough, or irritated patches of skin. Just a drop or two should do the job and can be massaged into skin with circular motions. It should absorb quickly without leaving your skin greasy.
- Use a small amount of camellia seed oil as a pre-makeup moisturizer. You can also use it at the end of the day as a moisturizing, natural makeup remover.
- Apply some of the oil to your cuticles and over your nails to moisturize and add a glossy shine.
- Use camellia oil on its own or with other ingredients to make a hair mask. Apply to your scalp and hair strands and let it sit at least 15-20 minutes before washing out.
- Work a drop or two of the oil through your hair after washing it. Use a comb or your fingers to apply it evenly and allow it to absorb.
- Rub a tiny bit of camellia oil over lip balm to help chapped lips recover during the winter.
All skin types:
- Utilize camellia oil as an anti-aging carrier oil to dilute and apply essential oils.
- Add a drop of oil to your everyday moisturizer or conditioner.
- Look for camellia seed oil as an ingredient in creams, serums, and lotions. Vitamin C ingredients will enhance the photoprotective and anti-aging properties of camellia. Hydrators like aloe vera will add to its moisturizing ability and result in a lighter-weight end product.
What to Look for When Buying
As an important note, whether you buy pure camellia oil or a product containing it, quality is very important.
High quality camellia oil should be a golden-yellow color and have a faint aroma and silky texture.
To ensure you get this, look for an unrefined, cold-pressed option. Ideally, you also want to choose an oil or product that is USDA Certified Organic. This ensures that no harmful chemicals were used on the plants and that no chemical ingredients were added during manufacturing.
Camellia Seed Oil for Younger-Looking Skin
If you’re interested in the anti-aging benefits of camellia oil, look into the Age-Defying Dream Cream from Purity Woods.
The Age-Defying Dream Cream features organic camellia seed oil and other superb moisturizers like mango seed butter and sunflower seed oil. These top hydrators are combined with powerful antioxidant ingredients and elastin-boosting maple leaf extracts to quickly erase signs of aging like wrinkles, dark spots, saggy-looking skin, etc.
The entire Dream Cream formula is USDA Organic and cruelty-free. It’s equally effective for all skin types and rejuvenates your complexion at the deepest level.
Learn more about the Age-Defying Dream Cream here and benefit from this ancient beauty oil.