In many cultures of Asia, "camellia oil is known as a symbol of wealth, virtue and happiness ," according to Dr. Michael Liau, Professor of Pathology at Columbia University. Dr. Liau also believes that camellia oil can increase hair growth, making it fuller and healthier in just a few weeks, even restoring color to white hairs. Camellia oil can also be used to repair hair that has been damaged by chemical perms or hair coloring.
Camellia oil is called "tea seed oil" (not to be confused with "tea tree oil") in China and "tsubaki" in Japan. This oil comes from the seeds of the camellia tea tree, which grows mainly in Toshima Island, 100 miles south of Tokyo, Japan and has been used for centuries in East Asia for skin and hair care. The genus of the species, "camellia" is Japonica, meaning "from Japan."
Dr. Liau says camellia oil is rich in vitamins A, B, C and E as well as in minerals. This oil also contains 80 percent oleic acid, a clear, odorless acid used to make soaps, which also appears in olive oil. Oleic acid cleans the scalp and hair follicles and "allows oxygen and nutrients to penetrate freely and deeply. " Dr. Liau explains, "First, as newly dividing cells at the base of the hair multiply, they force the cells above them upward, helping to promote the growth of hair."
Camellia oil is excellent for dry and coarse hair as well as for your scalp. Brush a few drops sparingly through your coarse hair for shine and conditioning. Camellia oil works especially well on damp hair. Massage and comb a few teaspoons through your hair and ends, leave on overnight and shampoo out the next day. Massage camellia oil also directly onto your scalp to moisturize a dry, flaky scalp.
Although you can buy camellia oil online, look for it in natural health food stores or beauty stores also. Not all of the products are alike--some camellia oil for sale have all of the nutrients processed out. Check the labels and research the companies online. Dr. Liau suggests sticking with blends or buying filtered or purified camellia oil.
Tips and Warnings
Camellia oil does not have any known side effects when used on hair. Since camellia oil is exceptionally high in oleic acid, even more so than olive oil, internal use can cause increased edema in patients with lung injuries, according to studies by Sadis Matalon, Ph.D. and Hong-Long Ji, M.D. of the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Alabama.
To be on the safe side consult with your doctor before using camellia oil if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.