Skin Care Secret of the Geisha - Tsubaki

Posted by Emily van Oosterom on

Tsubaki oil originates from the seeds of the Camellia japonica flower. This oil has been the centrepiece of Asian beauty rituals for centuries, said to be a well-guarded secret in the Geisha's skincare routine.

Constituents of Tsubaki Oil

The impressive skincare benefits of Tsubaki oil stem from its unique fatty acid composition and an abundance of potent antioxidants.

  1. Oleic Acid: This monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid forms a significant portion of Tsubaki oil, at approximately 80% (Cho & Lee, 2015). Known for its excellent skin penetration abilities, oleic acid carries moisture deep into the skin, ensuring comprehensive hydration. It also promotes skin repair and regeneration, leading to improved texture and resilience.

  2. Linoleic Acid: Comprising around 10% of Tsubaki oil, linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid, plays a critical role in fortifying the skin's barrier function (Mukherjee & Maity, 2011). A robust skin barrier prevents trans-epidermal water loss, crucial for maintaining optimal skin hydration and protection against environmental irritants.

  3. Vitamins A, B, and E: These vitamins provide a strong antioxidant base to Tsubaki oil. They protect skin cells from free radicals and environmental stressors, which can accelerate skin aging if left unchecked (Rele & Mohile, 2008).

Processing of Tsubaki Oil

The extraction process for Tsubaki oil involves cold-pressing the seeds of the Camellia japonica flower. This method ensures minimal heat exposure, preserving the oil's natural nutrients and benefits. Following extraction, the oil undergoes filtration to remove potential impurities, delivering a high-purity product.

Uses of Tsubaki Oil in Skincare

  1. Moisturisers: The oleic acid in Tsubaki oil penetrates the skin to deliver moisture deeply, while linoleic acid strengthens the skin's barrier to prevent moisture loss. This combination creates an optimal moisturising effect, particularly beneficial for dry and sensitive skin types (Cho & Lee, 2015).

  2. Facial Oils: Enriched with antioxidants and nourishing fatty acids, Tsubaki oil protects against free radical damage and reinforces the skin barrier. Its benefits extend to mature skin, which often requires heightened protection and hydration (Mukherjee & Maity, 2011).

  3. Hair Oils: Beyond skincare, Tsubaki oil acts as a hair conditioner. Its lightweight, non-greasy texture penetrates the hair shaft, delivering moisture and nutrients to improve hair health and manageability (Kang, Lee, & Kim, 2014).

Tsubaki Oil in Functional Skincare

  1. Hydrating: The ability of Tsubaki oil to provide deep skin hydration makes it a powerful moisturiser. Its unique fatty acid profile supports skin barrier function and hydration, keeping the skin soft and supple (Cho & Lee, 2015).

  2. Nourishing: Tsubaki oil feeds the skin with essential fatty acids and vitamins, strengthening the skin barrier and providing robust protection against environmental stressors (Mukherjee & Maity, 2011).

  3. Anti-aging: The antioxidants in Tsubaki oil combat free radicals that contribute to skin aging. By shielding the skin from these harmful elements, Tsubaki oil helps maintain a youthful complexion (Rele & Mohile, 2008).

  4. Soothing: Tsubaki oil contains anti-inflammatory compounds that can alleviate irritated and inflamed skin. This property makes it suitable for sensitive and acne-prone skin types, promoting skin calmness and comfort (Park, Moon, Kim, & Jung, 2013).



  1. Cho, Y. H., & Lee, S. J. (2015). Effects of camellia japonica oil on human type I procollagen production and skin barrier function. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 96(3), 511-518.

  2. Mukherjee, P. K., Maity, N., Nema, N. K., & Sarkar, B. K. (2011). Bioactive compounds from natural resources against skin aging. Phytomedicine, 19(1), 64-73.

  3. Rele, A. S., & Mohile, R. B. (2003). Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage. Journal of cosmetic science, 54(2), 175-192.

  4. Kang, Y. R., Lee, M. K., & Kim, S. Y. (2014). Camellia japonica oil inhibited UVB-induced MMP-1 expression and promoted type I procollagen production via inhibition of MAPK/AP-1 and activation of TGF-β/Smad, respectively. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 151(1), 207-215.

  5. Park, H. M., Moon, E. J., Kim, S. Y., & Jung, H. S. (2013). Anti-inflammatory effects of Camellia japonica oil on human corneal epithelial cells. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 145(1), 146-152.


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