Camellia Oil: A Timeless Elixir for Radiant, Nourished Skin

Jan 6, 2022by Heather Smith
Camellia oil benefits infographic by bareLUXE Skincare


Considered by some to be an ancient beauty secret, Camellia oil is a luxurious cosmetic oil usually made from the fruit seeds of the plant Camellia oleifera or Camellia japonica. 

Camellia oil has skin benefits, label appeal, and an exotic heritage. It is used in premium skincare, hair and nail products, and many cosmetics formulations.

Camellia oil has many skin benefits but is most known for its moisturizing, anti-aging, calming, fortifying, and revitalizing properties.

Camellia seed oil is one of the best face oils for glowing, radiant skin. This article is part of our comprehensive series on face oil

About the Camellia Plant

Camellia plants are native to Asia's eastern regions. There are hundreds of species of plants, but the three most common blooming botanicals in the genus are:

    • Camellia sinensis (used in tea manufacturing)
    • Camellia japonica (used for ornamental and aesthetic reasons)
    • Camellia oleifera (used in skincare and nutrition)

The large, magnificent blooms of these plants come in various colours of opulent pink, red, and white, and are the most aesthetically attractive feature of these plants. Incredibly beautiful flowers!

Camellia Sinensis vs. Camellia Oleifera vs. Camellia Japonica 

Camellia sinensis is a common tea plant used to make black, green, and white tea. Ingredients like green tea extract are taken from the plant's leaves.

Camellia oleifera is mainly used in skincare products and as a cooking oil.

Camellia Japonica is a plant native to Japan and is also called Tsubaki (soo-baw-kee) oil and is used in skincare products.

The three plants can all be used to make face oils or carrier oils. In general, think of Camellia sinensis as the one you use most for tea drinking or tea extracts and Camellia oleifera and japonica as more for skincare oils.

We haven't come across any convincing data that any of the plants are superior to the other for skin products.

Some History

The origins of Camellia oleifera trace back to ancient Asia. Camellia seeds were a prized product in China, where they were utilized to manufacture a nutritious edible vegetable oil. Historical records suggest that this carrier oil has been used in Chinese cuisine for over a thousand years. It gradually expanded to other countries, including the United States and Europe.

Camellia oil has gained popularity as a healthy food oil, thanks to its high omega-9s and low content of saturated fatty acids.

From a cosmetics and skincare standpoint, Camellia oil has a long history of use in women's beauty rituals from Asian countries, especially China and Japan. Also called Tsubaki oil, Camellia seed oil was a part of the complex beauty routines of Geisha women and is attributed as being the source of their flawless, porcelain skin.

Rightly or wrongly, it has been romanticized due to the history of use in the beauty routines of Geisha women.

How Is Camellia Oil Made?

The cold-press method is used to extract Camellia seed oil, which protects purity, quality, and nutritional profile. The highest quality oils start with quality seeds and the final product is unrefined.

The seed cake, a by-product of this process that lacks lipids but is abundant in proteins, carbohydrates, and other nutrients, is often converted into animal feed.

This zero-waste practice makes camellia oil a more sustainable choice than some options.

What Does Camellia Seed Oil Contain?

Camellia oil is higher in oleic acid than many of our other favourite oils. It is comparable to olive oil (but without the colour or odour) as it has about 60% oleic acid. The increased ratio of oleic acid is seen in oils made from both oleifera and japonica plants. Camellia oil is also very high in plant sterols and natural squalene.

The higher concentration of oleic acid makes this oil a very powerful moisturizer. It is excellent for protecting and repairing the skin barrier especially for people with irritated or reactive skin.

Camellia Oil Benefits for Skin

The benefits from using camellia on your skin are numerous and include:

    • Intense moisturization
    • Protects, strengthens, repairs the skin barrier and locks in moisture
    • Not likely to clog pores for most people
    • Improves skin tone, texture, and elasticity
    • Antioxidant protection from free radicals and environmental attacks
    • If used on hair, will provide moisture to the scalp and a healthy shine

There is a common misconception that oleic acid automatically makes oils feel greasier than oils higher in linoleic acid. The two don't go hand-in-hand. Many high-oleic oils do feel greasy and do clog pores, but it's more than just the oleic acid that influences whether pores get clogged. There are many other factors involved.

Camellia oil is very light and absorbs rapidly. Like other facial oils and carrier oils, camellia is high in phytonutrients that have calming, soothing, and antioxidant benefits for the skin.

Does Camellia Oil Clog Pores?

When you check the search engines, there is a disconnect in what some people report on the comedogenicity scale.

Since it is a light oil that absorbs rapidly, most people find that camellia oil does not clog pores. However, the higher ratio of oleic means it might not be the best oil for people with very oily skin.

We try not to over-emphasize the comedogenicity scale because of the controversies and the questions of scientific accuracy.

Is Camellia Oil Safe?

Absolutely! If you are worried about sensitivities, proper patch testing is always recommended.

Is Camellia Seed Oil Production Sustainable and Eco-Friendly?

Camellia plants are generally not a land-based crop. They grow on mountains, which allows farming on 'marginal lands' and improves agricultural yield in areas that otherwise wouldn't produce cash crops.

There are no specific humanitarian or sustainability concerns attributed to Camellia plant farming or processing.

Waste materials are often used for animal feed, which is a very sustainable practice. 

The centuries of use as a soothing skincare ingredient combined with it's moisturizing and skin barrier boosting properties has helped camellia seed oil find its way into the bareLUXE bare Essential skin barrier oil.  


Ma, J., Ye, H., Rui, Y. et al. Fatty acid composition of Camellia oleifera oil. J. Verbr. Lebensm. 6, 9–12 (2011).

Kim JK, Park HG, Kim CR, et al. Quality evaluation on use of camellia oil as an alternative method in dried seaweed preparation. Prev Nutr Food Sci. 2014;19(3):234-241. doi:10.3746/pnf.2014.19.3.234

Zeng W, Endo Y. Lipid Characteristics of Camellia Seed Oil. J Oleo Sci. 2019 Jul 1;68(7):649-658. doi: 10.5650/jos.ess18234. Epub 2019 Jun 10. PMID: 31178460.

Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;19(1):70. Published 2017 Dec 27. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070

Camellia as an Oilseed Crop - Journal of the American ... › hortsci › article-p488

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About the Author

Dr. Heather Smith developed her love for skinimalism and clean beauty years ago when she began making home remedies for her newborn's eczema. She is an expert in natural ingredients and active botanicals and has now launched bareLUXE Skincare - a full line of effective oil serums. She dedicates this blog to consumers who are researching ingredients and working to make their beauty ritual more natural and sustainable.


This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Smith nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content should consult their physicians about their skincare concerns and routines.