This story first appeared in the June 18, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
First cultivated in China more than 2,000 years ago, Camellia sinensis, also known as the tea plant or tea shrub, is the source of tea. The most common varieties, green, black and oolong, are created from the dried leaves and buds of the plant; the type derived depends on the processing.
Tea oil is extracted from the Camellia sinensis’ oil seeds and is used as a sweet seasoning and cooking oil in Asia. Rich in antioxidants and terpenoids, which have antiseptic benefits, camellia leaf extract and tea oil have long been used to make soap, as a freshening ingredient in laundry powders and even to set the hair of Japanese sumo wrestlers.
The anti-inflammatory, skin conditioning properties of Camellia sinensis leaf extract also make it a popular ingredient in skin and hair care products. Mark’s new Fresh Approach Hydrating Body Cleanser taps the plant for an antioxidant boost, while Philosophy’s wrinklefighting Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Concentrate harnesses its powers to refine skin tone and increase firmness. Doctor T’s Supergoop SPF 30 UVA & UVB Protection Sunscreen Swipes contain the extract to reduce irritation, calm redness and prevent signs of aging, while VMV Hypoallergenics Illuminants+ Face-Hand-Body Lotion includes it for its skin-renewing properties. Cover Girl & Olay’s Simply Ageless Serum Primer blends the leaf extract with an amino-peptide complex for a lifting effect, while Garnier’s Fructis Pyrithione Zinc Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Intense Cleanse uses the extract for detangling and smoothing damaged hair.
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Camellia sinensis is an evergreen shrub, which produces a dainty white flower with a pronounced yellow stamen. While they can grow 6 feet or more, the plants are usually kept much shorter, making for easier leaf picking, which is done by hand.
Sent to the Trust Gardens in Savannah, Ga., in 1744, Camellia sinensis was the first type of camellia to arrive on American shores. It grows in full sun to part shade and requires acidic soil and protection from the cold. Camellia sinensis is a hearty plant, native to mountainside areas with cooler temperatures. “Camellias are permanent plants,” says Andrew Mikolajski, the author of Camellias (The New Plant Library). “Once you have one, you’ll have it for 30 years.”
Cover Girl & Olay Simply Ageless Serum Primer; $13.99.
Garnier Fructis Pyrithione Zinc Anti-Dandruff Shampoo Intense Cleanse; $4.99.
Philosophy Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-Aging Concentrate; $62.
Mark Fresh Approach Hydrating Body Cleanser; $10.
VMV Hypoallergenics Illuminants+ Face-Hand-Body Lotion; $75.
Doctor T’s Supergoop SPF 30 UVA & UVB Protection Sunscreen Swipes With Zinc for Sensitive Skin; $34.