Once upon a time, my general attitude to hair mists was skeptical, to put it mildly. Just another unnecessary step in my already convoluted hair routine.

That hasn’t stopped me from trying many of them (so many), in the hopes that my hair would miraculously untangle, soften and regenerate. As it turns out, one of the only ways to achieve all of the above was to get regular trims (boring and expensive). I’ve even let my Mongolian friend talk me into booking said haircuts on certain dates, which according to custom would bring me fortune, money and love. No, it didn’t work, in case you were wondering.

Who could have then predicted that Kumano Cosmetics’ Shikioriori Tsubaki Camellia Oil Hair Essence Water would turn out to be the answer? Not I. I’ve certainly never heard of it. But here we are. There’s something holistic about the Japanese attitude to beauty, that both speaks to their unshakable commitment to perfection, but also to finding beauty in the wabi-sabi, the imperfections, the impermanence of things. 

Ok, enough waxing philosophical on Japanese aesthetics – it was now time to take this hair essence for a spin. Not one to do things by halves, I  practically doused my towel dried hair in the stuff. First impressions: it smelled amazing and made brushing super easy. To allow this product to really work its magic, I set down my hairdryer and waited for a tiny beauty miracle to happen. Boy, did it ever arrive! And it has continued to deliver shiny, glossy, silky hair to the very last drop. 

How? I’m so glad you asked. It’s called Camellia, an often overlooked oil, but one that packs a real punch.

This super ingredient contains thin oleic acids, which are super effective when it comes to retaining moisture. It’s kind of like nature’s silicone, without the toxic, film-like residue. Au contraire: It absorbs quickly, penetrating the hair follicle to repair damaged hair over time. As mentioned, I’m not one to do things by halves, so naturally, I jumped straight onto Google to stalk the shit out of Camellia. It’s not as creepy as it sounds. It involved a simple entry of “Camellia” and “Japan” into the search bar to discover that geishas and maikos in Kyoto once used the oil to achieve that signature glossy hair.

Apparently, you can even prepare your DIY pre-shampoo treatment with this oil but I do think Kumano’s product is hassle-free and efficient – a $13 bottle served me little sprays of joy for almost two months. Believe it or not, I’m now growing my hair back and I’m more confident than ever this experiment of mine won’t fail.

Arigatō, Camellia!

Words, Marta Knas.