Camellias have a storied legacy in Japan, where the blossoms’ symmetry and long-lasting qualities have come to symbolize purity, elegance and love. The native camellia japonica begins blooming in February, even through the snow, earning the nickname “rose of winter.”
But it’s the oil, cold-pressed from the plant’s seeds, that is the true treasure. A member of the same botanical family as the plants cultivated for tea, camellia oil is similarly rich in antioxidants and beneficial vitamins. It has one of the highest percentages of omega-9 oleic acid of any natural oil – higher than olive oil and avocado oil – yet its molecular structure allows it to be more easily absorbed by the skin, resulting in a lighter and more velvety feel. This means it will not clog pores, leave a residue on the surface of the skin or cause breakouts; just a few drops provide deeply nourishing hydration.
While camellia oil is a novel discovery in some parts of the world, Japan’s geisha have long prized it as one of the most important parts of their beauty rituals. They massaged onto the face to melt away thick stage makeup, keep their skin soft and give their hair a sleek, lacquer shine. Sumo wrestlers and kabuki actors also used it to sculpt and condition their hairstyles, and chefs kept small bottles in their kitchens to keep their knives sharp and prevent discoloration. The light, flavorless composition of camellia oil is also used for cooking and frying, which makes for a beautifying treat inside and out.
I hope you love this precious botanical as much as I do.