Green tea oil has been used in China and Japan for more than 1,000 years for both cooking and as a cosmetic. When applied to the skin, hair or nails, green tea oil acts as a very powerful moisturizer. It is gentle enough to use on a baby’s skin, and may actually play a role in the prevention of infection and disease. Its benefits are similar to those of drinking steeped green tea leaves.
The Green Tea Plant
The leaves of the green tea plant — called Camellia oleifera — are steeped in hot water to make tea. The seeds of the flowers are pressed to make an essential oil. The oil produced may be called white flower camellia oil, tea oil, camellia seed oil or tea seed oil. Do not confuse it with tea tree oil. Purchase the oil from specialty cosmetic companies and apothecaries.
The benefits of green tea, such as a reduced risk for several cancers, stem from the plants high content of flavonoids, according to the the Harvard Women’s Health Watch. Green tea is a great source of both antioxidants and catechins, which are more powerful than vitamins C and E. These catechins have disease-fighting properties and can halt damage to cells.
Green tea oil is sometimes used in Chinese cooking and is perfectly safe to eat. However, it is most often used in cosmetics and skin care products. Manufacturers may add green tea oil to soaps, lotions or hair products. It can also be applied to the nails as a cuticle softener and to keep nails shiny and healthy. A few drops may reduce the appearance of acne scars, aging spots and wrinkles. A 2006 study in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” found that green tea oil can also be used as a defense agent to prevent free radical-related diseases, such as cancer or diabetes.
Green tea oil, when applied topically, is best known for its moisturizing effects. Unlike other essential oils, it does not leave the skin or hair feeling greasy because of its fast absorption rate. The oil does not block pores, and its anti-bacterial properties can actually help prevent infection and acne. Apply a few drops of the oil to your shampoo or rub it into your skin to lock in moisture.
References and ResourcesPure Attitude: Camellia Oil Benefits
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: Antioxidant Activity and Bioactive Compounds of Tea Seed (Camellia oleifera Abel.) Oil
Harvard Health Publications: Benefit of Drinking Green Tea: The Proof is In -- Drinking Tea is Healthy, Says Harvard Women’s Health Watch