Hinoki Essential Oil


Hinoki is a truly special essential oil that comes from a rare and valuable type of wood. This scent will remain with you throughout the day, it’s one of those fragrances worth coming back to again. Hinoki comes from Japan where it has been used as an important part of their culture for centuries. Now it’s time for you to discover its many beneficial properties too.

We combine all knowledge to the list of the essential oils with the description of use.

What is hinoki?

Hinoki, also known as Japanese cypress, is a tree belonging to the cypress family. The tree has strong wood and barks rich in beneficial components. It’s one of the “sacred trees of Kiso” and its wood has long been used to build palaces, temples, shrines, baths, and traditional Noh theaters.

Hinoki trees are highly prized in Japan, and the Japanese have been protecting and preserving them since the time of the feudal principalities and samurai. Today, this tree adorns many parks and gardens.

Few people know that back in 1936, Japanese chemist Tetsuo Nozoe isolated a hitherto unknown substance from hinoki oil. The war prevented us from immediately assessing the importance of the discovery, but in 1950 this substance, hinokitiol, was officially presented to the scientific community.

As a result, Dr. T. Nozoe was nominated for the Nobel Prize, received several top awards from various academies of the world, became a Knight of the most honorable Order of Sacred Treasures, First Class, in Japan. An article about him and his discovery of hinokitiol was placed in the school textbooks.

It was with this discovery – the discovery of hinokitiol – that a new page in the history of Japanese cosmetics began, and a new life started for Japanese women. Scientists were finally able to prove and substantiate the main property of the hinoki cypress known since time immemorial: its powerful antibacterial effect.

It’s now clear what it is in the hinoki cypress that allows reducing inflammation and why hinokitiol is easily absorbed into the skin. It normalizes skin metabolism, regulates the production of melanin, and prevents atopic dermatitis. 

Major constituents

Hinoki root oil:

  • a-pinene
  • a-terpineol
  • cadinene
  • cadinol

Hinoki wood oil:

  • α-pinene
  • Borneol
  • Bolnyl
  • Linalyl acetate
  • Hinokitiol

Hinoki pine oil:

  • α-pinene
  • β-myrcene
  • β-pinene
  • y-murolene
  • Δ-2-carene
  • β-phellandrene

Main characteristics

Hinoki essential oil is obtained through the standard process of steam distillation from the roots, bark, and needles of the tree. However, the methods of distillation might differ based on the part used. 

Like hinoki wood, the oil has a spicy, camphoric scent of fresh pine forest with a subtle note of lemon. The color is pale yellow with a hint of green. The consistency is medium (not too viscous and not too runny).

It should be noted that there is an essential oil extracted from Taiwanese hinoki and it’s quite a different product in terms of properties and effects. So when you want to buy a Japanese cypress essential oil, pay attention to the source plant’s botanical name. It’s Chamaecyparis obtusa for Japanese cypress and Chamaecyparis formosensis for Taiwanese variety.

Blending with other oils

Blends well with atlas cedar, citrus oils (lime, orange, mandarin, yuzu, etc.), lavender.


Hinoki oil comes from a rare type of wood that actually becomes to endangered species. This is why it’s not always easy to find a 100% genuine product. However, this shouldn’t be a problem if you use cypress essential oil (Cuppressae sempriveren) instead. 

The benefits of hinoki essential oil

This oil owes its beneficial properties to hinokitol. It inhibits the development and reproduction of pathogenic organisms, as well as has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and diuretic effects. In addition, hinokitiol is used in cosmetics as a natural antiseptic and antimicrobial agent. The medical use of hinoki oil dates back to the Edo period (1603 – 1868) when doctors treated patients with hinoki cypress baths by adding a small amount of hinoki bark powder to bath water.

Hinoki essential oil uplifts purify, soothes, and opens the mind to new perspectives. It creates an atmosphere of relaxation and tranquility and helps you relax and calm down. It also promotes relaxation, helps to overcome stress, and relieves tension.

Healing properties

This oil is suitable for inhalations, treats sinusitis, shortness of breath, and various respiratory problems. It can also be used for the treatment of flu and colds.

Cosmetic benefits

  • Unlike other woody essential oils such as Juniper, Hinoki is not traumatic to the skin.
  • Good for all skin types.
  • Rejuvenates the skin, increases its defenses, and stimulates tissue immunity.
  • Has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic effects.
  • Being a very strong antiseptic, hinoki is excellent for the treatment of skin problems such as cuts, insect bites, scratches and abrasions.
  • Helps in eliminating pustular rashes, inflammation, and helps in treating acne.
  • It’s an antioxidant neutralizing free radicals and preventing premature skin aging.
  • Good for aged, tired, flabby skin.
  • Increases skin elasticity, helps eliminate sagging and flabbiness.
  • It’s an excellent tonic for skin prone to irritation and redness.
  • Tones and refreshes the skin, removes traces of fatigue.
  • Improves circulation, and is suitable for use in anti-cellulite and toning programs.
  • Excellent in various massage blends and promotes relaxation.
  • Thanks to its antiseptic properties, the oil is excellent for adding to after shave products (lotions, sprays, creams). It disinfects, refreshes, tones, and provides a fresh a forest fragrance.
  • Excellent to include in foot care products as it helps reduce sweating, refreshes, and removes unpleasant odor.
  • Very useful in all kinds of hair care products (shampoos, masks, balms, etc.)
  • Helps strengthen the hair and prevent dandruff.
  • Often added to soaps, toothpastes and mouthwashes because it effectively freshens breath.
  • Often used in perfume compositions as the top note.
  • Excellent as a home and car fragrance as it disinfects the air and kills harmful bacteria.

Psycho-emotional effect

For many years, the oil has been used for meditation, strengthening the spirit, and lifting your mood while opening up new horizons for your mind and helping you relax. The soothing effects of this oil mean stress will feel more manageable. This oil would be useful for creative people and those who feel emotionally exhausted or dejected.

How to use hinoki essential oil

There are multiple ways to enjoy this aroma and its many benefits. Here are a few of them you might want to try.

Steam inhalations

Add 1-2 drops to hot water and inhale for 4-7 minutes.

Cold inhalations

Add 1-2 drops to an aroma inhalator and inhale for 4-6 minutes to relieve coughing.


Add 3-5 drops to water or your favorite bath product and enjoy. Can also be used as a part of alcohol solution (3-5 drops per 0.3 oz alcohol): add a tablespoon of the solution to your bathwater. 

For hot foot baths, add 10 drops to hot water. In case of excessive sweating, add 10-15 drops.

In cosmetics

Add 2-3 drops per 0.2 oz. of the base product. 

Aromatherapy pendants & aroma lamps

Add 2-3 drops


Add 5 drops per 0.5 oz vegetable oil (helps treat cellulite).

Incense burners

4-6 drops of oil per 161 square feet.

Caution, safety, and side effects

  • Don’t use during pregnancy and to treat children under 3 years of age.
  • You might experience mild burning sensation when applying pure product to your skin. The reaction is natural but it’s better not to use unadulterated oil on skin.
  • Shelf life of sealed package is no more than 5 years.
  • Don’t ingest or apply to skin in pure form.
  • The oil might cause skin irritation and/or irritation of mucus membranes.

Is hinoki oil safe during pregnancy?

It’s better to avoid using hinoki oil during the first months of pregnancy. However, it might be useful later to relieve swelling or varicose veins. In any case, keep it away from children, and be sure to consult your doctor before using hinoki oil during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

What does hinoki smell like?

The scent of hinoki essential oil has been described as fresh, woody, sweet, and earthy. The use of hinoki has often been compared to the spa-like experience created by this aroma.

Does hinoki oil stain?

As hinoki essential oil is a natural substance that’s quite pale in color, it doesn’t cause staining. However, it might mix with the colors of other substances in case the oil has any added ingredients. The general rule is to avoid using essential oils anywhere near fabrics, whether they are colored or not.

How must hinoki essential oil be stored?

To ensure that the oil is safe for use and its properties are kept intact, store it in a cool and dark place away from extreme temperatures. Keep them away from kids too!

Is hinoki oil toxic to pets?

This oil is considered to be non-toxic for animals but keep in mind that it still can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions in pets. So use it only if you are sure it’s safe for your pet. Whenever in doubt, talk to a vet before exposing your furry friends to the effects of the oil.

Is hinoki oil good for acne?

This product is said to have anti-bacterial qualities. This means it’s good at treating acne because the condition generally develops due to bacteria getting stuck inside pores. The oil can be useful for other mild skin problems like dermatitis and eczema but see your doctor first if you are dealing with any kind of serious skin infection or issue.

What to look for when choosing hinoki oil?

Hinoki oil is usually sold in dark-colored glass bottles that are tightly sealed to protect it from the effects of light and moisture. The color should be pale or clear, but never darker than brownish-green. Light hinoki oil smells like fresh forest, slightly sweet, with a note of lemon. If you come across hinoki oil with any other aroma, stay away from it! It’s most probably adulterated in some way. To ensure your hinoki oil is 100% pure and safe for all home uses, buy only hinoki essential oil made by reputable suppliers who use just natural ingredients to their products.

Who is hinoki essential oil for?

The simple answer is for everybody! Some might be impressed with its antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory effects. Others might enjoy its many cosmetic uses. And still, others will just love its unique, fresh, lemony fragrance. On a much deeper level, hinoki oil will be good for you in one of the following cases: 

  • If you’re interested in developing your spirituality and increasing your emotional well-being
  • in case you seek spiritual and mental transformation
  • If you are looking for meditative essential oil for complete relaxation and peace of mind


Hinoki is a rare tree native to Japan with its long history of use related to traditional Japanese culture. It’s one of the very few plants that were used by ancient people for both physical and spiritual healing purposes. The secret lies in hinokitiol content that has powerful antibacterial properties which give hinoki essential oil numerous benefits for health and beauty. 

Scientists proved it can be successfully applied for skincare, acting through the skin metabolism. Hinoki oil blends well with other essential oils and can be used in various ways including inhalations, compresses, etc. It’s safe to use because it’s not toxic or allergenic.

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