I’m a big fan of beauty oils—particularly argan and coconut—but on a recent trip to Japan I was introduced to a beauty oil I had never before heard of. Tsubaki oil (also known as Japanese camellia oil) has been used in eastern Asia for centuries to smooth skin and hair. In fact, it may be one of the most multi-purpose oils I’ve found on my travels to 40-plus countries. It’s incredibly moisturizing and renowned for its antioxidant effects. It’s anti-microbial, thus a good choice for acne sufferers. It can be used as a hair conditioner, nail softener, makeup remover, and even as a sunscreen—on its own it’s about SPF 5.
The top brand of this miracle-in-a-bottle—Oshima Tsubaki Oil—sells at Japanese drugstores for 820 Yen, or approximately $7. After scouring the aisles of slenderizing socks, baby foot peels and row upon row of false eyelashes at an endlessly entertaining drugstore in Tokyo, I spotted the ubiquitous red and yellow box containing the prized, champagne-hued liquid.
Eagerly tossing the packaging aside, I tore into the box, then splashed two drops on my hands for a test. The oil is odorless, incredibly lightweight and absorbed into my dry hands immediately. Later, I tried a drop on the ends of my hair, and it too absorbed and left my hair soft and non-greasy.
To top it all off, the packaging couldn’t be any cuter, and the Japanese writing on the bottle adds a touch of oriental mystique.
Camellia oil, where have you been all my life?