Product Review: Shiseido Tsubaki Head Spa Shampoo **UPDATED

Shiseido Tsubaki Head Spa Shampoo, 550ml, CAD$18.99
Shiseido Tsubaki Head Spa Shampoo, 550ml, CAD$18.99

I have long yearned to try out the Tsubaki shampoos. I have tried Kao’s Asience and liked it, but at the time, my beauty idol was none other than Yukie Nakama, and because of her (she’s among the first Tsubaki spokesmodels) I wanted to try Tsubaki too. The prospect of camellia oil also seems very enticing (Tsubaki means camellia) as it has great hydrating and repairing properties.

Well, years later, I finally got around to trying it. I bought the Tsubaki Head Spa Shampoo in the large size (I have that much faith in it!). According to the descriptions, this doesn’t only cleanse, repair, moisturize and strengthen the hair shafts, it also conditions and protects the scalp. I have sensitive scalp so the promise of the soothing and hydrating camellia oil to condition my scalp sounds very attractive.

And it didn’t disappoint. I was already very impressed when I made my first pump. The moment the shampoo poured into my palm, I already went, ‘wow’. It’s not easy to describe but the closest thing is that it’s like a serum which lathers very well. It didn’t even feel the slightest bit heavy like most shampoos are – it’s airy and even though it was like an oil-based serum, it wasn’t thick, greasy or gooey. The fragrance is not overpowering and like most Japanese fragrances, it’s done elegantly. It was just all-round pleasant.

My hair was noticeably softer after the first use. My scalp wasn’t itchy and my hair stays soft, light and non greasy until the next shampoo, which is 2 days (I shampoo every other day). The only regret I have is not to get the conditioner at the same time too!

All in all, my new favorite shampoo. Love it. 🙂

**Edited to add:

As the more Spring like weather comes along, I find Tsubaki made my hair very greasy. When I first used it the humidity level is quite low in general, and it made my hair soft and smooth; but now, the humidity is much higher and I feel sticky even during the shampoo! So, I have to shelf this until winter time again. It’s time to switch to Asience Nature Smooth! 🙂

***Edited November 14, 2011:

I have since found this shampoo to be the best cleanser for my makeup brushes!!! Nothing conditions my makeup brushes as well as this one does, not even the brush cleaners. Given the amount you pay for this is a real steal if you were to use this on your makeup brushes!


49 comments on Product Review: Shiseido Tsubaki Head Spa Shampoo **UPDATED

  1. Lee
    April 4, 2011 at 11:29 am (6 years ago)

    Dear Joseibi,

    It’s good you finally discovered how good the Tsubaki shampoos are! I tried the original (in the red bottle) and really liked it. Even though Shiseido skincare can be hit or miss with me their shampoos are usually awesome (I’m still upset they discontinued Ma Cherie!).

    Currently, I’m using Kracie’s “Ichikami” shampoo and conditioner and I really like them. They have a pleasant fragrance and leave my hair very soft since Ichikami combines Japanese herbal essences and rice bran. I’d recommend you try it when you get a chance 🙂

    • Joseibi
      April 5, 2011 at 12:20 pm (6 years ago)

      Dear Lee,

      I am very happy with Tsubaki! I almost bought the red one!!!

      I used to use Ma Cherie hair styling products (but not the shampoo), what a shame they discontinued it!!!! My husband loves the Gasby (Mandom) hair waxes. I love how subtle the scents are.

      I am using Kracie’s Silk body wash, very nice fragrance and non drying. I generally love the Japanese toiletries for hair and body, love the fragrance even though I usually prefer unscented products! I will look out for the Ichikami shampoo, I definitely will need a conditioner soon so I will find the Ichikami one!! 🙂

  2. Dee
    April 4, 2011 at 2:56 pm (6 years ago)

    I’ve always wanted to try Tsubaki! I always see it at my local market, but didn’t think it was worth the hype. Going to try it soon!

  3. Maria
    April 5, 2011 at 9:59 am (6 years ago)

    Tsubaki is not great for Caucasian hair. It just makes it look greasy. I have tried it, my mother and my friends who stayed at ours and all of them commented how it sort of weighs your hair down instead of giving it a volume. My husband who is Asian finished using it after all as the bottle is huge. All in all not a great shampoo.

  4. Kev Jang
    April 5, 2011 at 10:49 am (6 years ago)

    Caucasian hair and Asian hair tend to be very different in texture. The former is finer by lots and that could account for why it feels heavier. Asian hair is coarser by feel naturally because of the thicker diameter of Asian hair(when examined cross-sectionally). I find that for greasier scalps like mine, using something like Tsubaki weighs it down more. It felt moisturized but also gets greasy quickly. For that reason, I tend to use other shampoos like LG Re-En and Ryoe.

    • Joseibi
      April 5, 2011 at 12:40 pm (6 years ago)

      I totally agree with Kev Jang, Asian hair is indeed coarser, I remember seeing a promo by Asience when it first came out and the whole science behind making an Asian hair specific shampoo.

      Between Tsubaki and Asience, I find Tsubaki heavier for some reason (I had used both for dry hair). The Head Spa shampoo is very moisturizing but if you have oily scalp then Asience’s Nature Smooth (which I used in summer) will be a better choice.

      I recently dyed my hair and found my hair to be very dry so Tsubaki works very well for me, it’s much softer now. 🙂

  5. Kev Jang
    April 5, 2011 at 12:49 pm (6 years ago)

    Asience is actually a very good Japanese brand. When I used the pink conditioner bottle for my hair, I felt that the hair actually behaved, and even the one which was meant for oilier hair was also good for my hair. The ingredients are actually quite a real steal for the cheap price and the huge size, which actually makes it worth more than brands like Sunsilk and Pantene which you can get in any store but which are just so-so.

    • Joseibi
      April 11, 2011 at 11:54 am (6 years ago)

      @Kev – I will definitely go back to Asience (white bottle) in the summer! I still have a big bottle of the Tsubaki shampoo left, and these few days the humidity is very high here and somehow the Tsubaki left my hair a little oily so I think it’s time to switch to something lighter! Pantene has one that I like, for normal hair though I don’t remember the name, it has gone through many redesigns and repackaging so I lost track! 😛

      @Lee – LOL I love those names too! My husband is using the one in the orange container, it’s ‘moving rubber’! I love the refill in J-toiletries, so economical and environmentally friendly! 🙂

      @hope – I tried a little packet sample of Ryeo (brown packaging), I had the same reaction as Lala (she hasn’t posted in a while though) – it somehow made my scalp very itchy. It’s the only Amore brand product that gave me a reaction like this so far.

      @maria – Albion – one of my wish-list brands to try! 🙂 I don’t doubt you, there are really good brands in Japan, I find that the Japanese shampoos work for me pretty well. The only western brand I had success with so far is Sebastian’s Light Shampoo and Light Conditioner, they are almost equivalent to Asience’s Nature Smooth(white bottle) but more expensive.

      @Julia & Elly – I personally think that some of these shampoos designed for Asian hair are really good if you have frizzy, coarser hair or hair that tends to be rather ‘wiry’, if you have normal to fine hair it will be a little too heavy and greasy, which may explain the results you had. These days the humidity is much higher and I start to find Tsubaki a little too heavy! Time to switch! 🙂

      Elly – I apologize for that error! will get to it today. There were lots of new changes to the site and I am sorry that I must have missed this one! Oops!
      UPDATE: error corrected!

  6. Lee
    April 5, 2011 at 5:28 pm (6 years ago)

    @Joseibi – I use Gatsby hair wax also! I use the one in the blue container called “Cool Wet” (love those Japanese names, haha). I also use Kracie’s Silk body wash and I love the smell and how soft it leaves your skin after cleansing. I always stock up on the refills!

    @ Kev – I’ve tried the U.S. Pantene version and didn’t think it was that special but the Japanese version was a different story. I tried the Pantene Pro-V Extra Damage Care Series and it left my hair really soft and was a lot better overall than it’s U.S. counterpart.

  7. hopeinablog
    April 6, 2011 at 4:43 am (6 years ago)

    Have you tried the Amore Pacific’s Ryeo hair care products?

  8. maria
    April 6, 2011 at 7:42 am (6 years ago)

    Whilst we lived in Japan, I have tried numerous shampoos there and the best for my hair were by Albion and by a salon brand from Osaka which is called Lebel Tsubaki and Asience are kind of supermarket brands which doesn’t make them any less attractive tho.:))

  9. Kev Jang
    April 6, 2011 at 8:39 am (6 years ago)

    Hey Hope, I have used Ryoe shampoos before. It lathers up relatively easy, and has a rich foamy texture which leaves hair feeling lighter and softer after. The smell is quite herbal depending on which color you use. Normally, what I would use is either the one with purple packaging (for oily sensitive scalp) or the one with brown packaging (for damaged hair)

  10. Julia
    April 6, 2011 at 2:02 pm (6 years ago)

    Hm, it sounds so good, but I have caucasion hair, kind of thin and a bit curly. :/
    I have also, just like Lee, used Ichikami when I was in Japan, and I loved the scent and what it did to my hair! Plus, it’s (supposedly) free of silicone, which is something I pay attention to lately.
    All in all, I really recommend it, especially the conditioner! (I got two of my German friends to love it, too. xD Only one said her hair looked a bit greasy after use, but maybe she got it wrong? She’s a blonde German girl, but her hair has a very “asian” texture, meaning very thick and very straight. Just to warn you if you’re the same.)

  11. Elly
    April 7, 2011 at 1:40 am (6 years ago)

    Hi Joseibi,

    Love what you have done in changes to the blog. Hate on those who steal your great reviews for their own selfish purposes though!

    A bit of feedback in your ‘Leave a Comment’ section, pretty please change the E-mail field to just read (required) as I just tried to post a comment without leaving my email address and I received an error. :'( Lost my post as a result, silly me.

    Attempt #2
    Great reviews on Asian haircare, I’ve always been very curious as to whether they’re effective.

    I used to be a regular at a Boutique Japanese hair salon but my Japanese hairdresser never recommended any Japanese haircare products, even though he worked at a popular Tokyo salon for a decade. I guess this was due to the fact that he’d been schooled by Wella in the UK; he was partial to the Wella SP line.

    I have had an experience with a sample of the old Tsubaki haircare (red packaging); I believe it wasnt very good for me as it made my hair greasy and weighed it down something chronic. I think I have since tried another treatment which my sister purchased in Japan (probably Asience, not sure) and I had a similar result.

    Maybe it is how I used the treatment (normally I leave it in my hair for 5 minutes in the shower before washing out) but this is how I generally use intensive hair treatments/masks. I’ve had much better experiences with western haircare over the last few years (Wella SP, Loreal Professional, RedKen, Matrix, Kerastase, etc) but this could be due to the fact that my Asian hair is chemically coloured and much finer in texture than previously.

    Perhaps Asian haircare works better for untreated (perm, colour, other) Asian hair? Would love to give another product a go if someone else has had better luck than I. I’m always mixing up haircare because using the same ones all the time wears out the effects of the product in my opinion.

  12. vkerets
    April 14, 2011 at 6:00 am (6 years ago)

    how do i order this shampoo?

  13. Maria
    April 16, 2011 at 5:07 am (6 years ago)

    Totally agree with you. Actually, i am using now ascience light blue shampoo (it costs 3 bucks here) and use Sebastian volume shampoo and cond. The Chinese lady in a professional hair shop looked at my hair and told me that it’s not like westerner’s one closer to Asian( she is spot on) and told me to try Sebastian. she also said that Asian hair doesn’t need ionic hairdryers because we don’t get so frizzy. So I didn’t invest in a parlux dryer although I badly wanted too:) Also found an Astalift (fujifilm) shop close by and got a tiny Astalift gel cream. Oh, my wallet is so empty now. Too many temptations to try out new Asian products.

    • Joseibi
      April 18, 2011 at 10:49 am (6 years ago)

      @Maria – so envy you for the $3 Asience shampoo!!! 🙂 It’s $10 here but I am glad to even spend 3x just because it’s available. If I live in Asia I don’t think I will have any savings! LOL

  14. Maria
    April 16, 2011 at 5:08 am (6 years ago)

    Did I mention that on the same day I fell in love with a new lunasol eye palette and a lip gloss and succumbed to its charms. Sigh

    • Joseibi
      April 18, 2011 at 10:50 am (6 years ago)

      Dear Maria,

      Is it the Ocean Scene Eyes?!!!! I LOVE that one! I have it in 03 Vivid Ocean!!! It’s gorgeous!!! (cost me $65 including shipping+taxes)

  15. Tuyet
    April 17, 2011 at 4:54 am (6 years ago)

    Hi Joseibi,
    I haven’t been online for a long time, I’m desperate for a good shampoo, I’m going to try this one

    • Joseibi
      April 18, 2011 at 10:51 am (6 years ago)


      Welcome back!!

      If you have very dry damaged hair Tsubaki is good. But I have to warn you, these days the humidity is high outside (Toronto) and I find Tsubaki makes my hair quite oily! Good for dry winters, but not spring, unless your hair is really damaged! 🙂

  16. Kev Jang
    April 17, 2011 at 5:53 am (6 years ago)

    @ Joseibi, about Ryeo’s brown coloured packaged line, it is meant mostly for very dry and damaged hair, and that might explain why you have itchy scalp reactions (other than sensitive scalp reactions to account for it) when you used it, as it could be too heavy for even dry hair as well. I think the blue coloured line (meant for oilier scalps/sensitive scalp/dandruff) is much better in that case. I used to use the blue coloured packaged line’s conditioner for my hair and it does not weigh it down so much unlike the others. The green coloured line might also work out for you since it is for normal hair, since you commented that the brown line was somewhat not suited to your hair or scalp.

    • Joseibi
      April 18, 2011 at 10:55 am (6 years ago)

      @Kev Jang – That explains it, but too bad I didn’t see the blue or green one here! They only sell the brown one! I do notice that they seem to carry only stuff for dry skin/hair at the Amore here, maybe because Canada is generally so dry…that’s too bad because I am always looking for a new good HG shampoo! 🙂

      @shuqinie – thanks for the tips, I see Aquair all over the Asian supermarkets here so I may give it a try. I like Asience’s Nature Smooth too. I am assuming the VS shampoo you mentioned is made in Japan? I find that the Japan-made western brand products are better than the ones made here, not a surprise, but wish we get that Japanese version here! 🙂

  17. shuqinie
    April 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm (6 years ago)


    I’ve recently stumbled upon your blog.

    You may want to try VS Japan Premium Shampoo Diamond Series.

    I’ve used Tsubaki’s red bottle for a few year before I changed to Vidal Sassoon’s. I find it alot lighter than Tsubaki. Tsubaki makes my hair heavier. I didn’t feel that way before the switch, but after that I didn’t want to use Tsubaki’s again.

    Shiseido Aquair’s conditioner is also not bad. I tried the deep moist one, and it’s really good for my dry ends.

  18. Kev Jang
    April 18, 2011 at 11:19 am (6 years ago)

    @ Joseibi You can probably get the blue or green colour packaged shampoo for Ryoe from either Gmarket or Ebay. The big size of the shampoo might mean that the shipping will be quite a bit on Gmarket. Personally I got it off the mart(a small grocery store named Hanaro Mart) in Seoul last April at only 13,900 won which is honestly a great steal for 600ml or more. It costs more on ebay as I noticed like 25 US and above. I used a sample of the brown one when in Vancouver during winters mostly and the samples did not seem to cause much of a problem in terms of itchiness of scalp, maybe because it was winter then and raining quite often and dry, or if not, just really chilly and cold. That is so unlike Toronto in the spring and summer.

  19. Kooslee
    May 30, 2011 at 10:13 pm (6 years ago)

    Have you tried LG ReEn herbal hair loss shampoo? I haven’t heard much about it.

    • Joseibi
      June 3, 2011 at 10:46 am (6 years ago)

      No, but I used to sell Pola GR Shots and it sold really well, I had guys buying 3-4 bottles at a time, repeat purchases too! It’s the only hair loss product that I knew that worked for some people.

  20. Kev Jang
    June 3, 2011 at 12:20 pm (6 years ago)

    Hi Koslee, I think you posted this question on Hope’s blog. I posted a response there. I think that it is a good shampoo, and very good for oily scalps and also even for normal hair which has been damaged by chemical processing. After washing, I always find that my hair feels lighter and less heavy with grease and buildup when I use Lg Re-En. The good thing is that the treatment conditioner and treatment pack give you a real royal treatment in terms of your hair’s moisture level, which is optimal to restoring damaged hair.

  21. Kooslee
    June 3, 2011 at 8:27 pm (6 years ago)

    Hi Kev

    Silly me, I don’t remember where I post my question on hopeinablog. I order Ryoe’s the brown bottles from Gmarket, since it rates well last year in Korea. I have to order LG ReEn next time then. It is hard not to be able to read Korean and just go by what you find on the net, and order items. I am greatly appreciate your input. Do you recommend using conditioner even when I have oily hair?

  22. Kev Jang
    June 3, 2011 at 11:36 pm (6 years ago)

    The brown bottles for Ryoe are for dry and damaged hair. I think you should have opted for the purple or green coloured bottles for Ryoe, which are for oily hair and normal hair respectively. The blue bottle for Re-En is for oily hair. It really depends on your hair and scalp. Some people have dry hair ends although they have an oily scalp.

  23. Kooslee
    June 24, 2011 at 9:22 pm (6 years ago)

    Hi Kev,

    I used the blue ReEn shampoo for a week now. I love the scent and how light my hair feels after washing. I noticed the hair near my scalp isn’t as greasy as before. So now I am looking for an herbal conditioner to help my hair shines. Does the blue ReEn has a conditioner with it?

  24. Kev Jang
    June 24, 2011 at 10:42 pm (6 years ago)

    Yes , I believe the colour of the casing for the bottle of conditioner is the same for oily hair. I used the green treatment conditioner though for my own case, since my hair is tinted hair and got dry from the dye job which I did some months back. You have to customize the conditioner according to your hair type. Green is for dry damaged hair, brown for normal hair, and blue for oily flat hair. But yes, the blue Re En shampoo bottle is an awesome one. I always realized that my scalp is less oily, and hair feels light and even volumized after washing. A lot of other shampoos pale in comparison with it.

  25. Kev Jang
    June 24, 2011 at 10:56 pm (6 years ago)

    Just a note for you, Koslee, Re En does not only carry conditioner but also treatment pack. If you have an oily scalp, but dry hair ends, you will find that the Re En conditioners and treatment packs absorb very easily on the hair strand and do not leave buildup. Human oligopeptide is one of the main ingredients inside the brand. Do you know of that? It is akin to putting EGF(epidermal growth factors) inside skincare creams to retard aging.

  26. Maria
    June 29, 2011 at 6:35 am (6 years ago)

    In sulwhasoo spa they actually use brown ryeo hair products. I have just discovered it after receiving my bottles from gmarket and sniffing it. Anyway, I was reading recently an interview with fekkai and he said that you should actually swap your shampoos every 15 days. Unlike our skin, hair stops receiving any active ingredients after 2 weeks. So one should alternate different products.
    Also a tiny update on skinfood beer hair shampoo, no one in my family is happy with it. Even the nanny turned it down after I offered it to her. Haha.

    • Joseibi
      June 29, 2011 at 8:45 pm (6 years ago)

      @maria– that totally explains why a shampoo that worked well no longer feels good after awhile!! I have 4 shampoos at any given time for that reason. It does clutter the shower but I rotate it every few washes depending on my mood 🙂

  27. Kev Jang
    June 29, 2011 at 2:08 pm (6 years ago)

    I find that the Beer Hops conditioner is something I would avoid like the plague. It contains mineral oil….what guy or girl was thinking of that as an ingredient in conditioners which could clog skin and scalp follicles and cause hair loss to begin with???? Bizarre…..

  28. Kooslee
    July 4, 2011 at 2:00 pm (6 years ago)

    Oh, I didn’t know that you need to swap your shampoo every 15 days. I can’t seem to find ReEn conditioner on Gmarket, but I’ll still looking.

  29. Kooslee
    July 4, 2011 at 2:28 pm (6 years ago)


    I can’t seem to find the blue ReEn bottle with conditioner, but I found a brow ReEn bottle with blue writing on it. I used Gmarket translation option, it said that it is oily conditioner. The blue ReEn bottle is control oily shampoo according to Gmarket translation. Is there a big difference between these two?

  30. Kev Jang
    July 5, 2011 at 1:54 am (6 years ago)

    Hi Koslee, I think that Re En has undergone some extensive repackaging in Korea, and so what I am familiar with might not be the same as what you see online or from American websites where you buy the shampoo and conditioner. Maybe you can forward the link to the website here, so that I can look at the Korean words when I have time and tell you what type of hair or scalp it is suited to.

  31. Maria
    July 5, 2011 at 2:06 am (6 years ago)

    I have ordered some salon care products from Amore Pacific’s Amos, so fingers crossed it is worth its hype. So far I am pleased with alternating Aesop’s shampoo, Rahua, Sebastian Volume and Ryeo. Talk about the clutter!!! Anyway, wanted to tell you about a famous Japanese salon brand called Fiole (don’t know where to find their products) which has The Treatment (NP 3.1). I have tried it at the salon and even a week later my hair is still in the best condition it was since my childhood, haha. So if you come by fiole give it a try, as it is realy goooood.

  32. Kev Jang
    July 5, 2011 at 9:37 pm (6 years ago)

    Number 8 controls hairloss, and is meant for oily hair. Number 2 is for oily hair, but it is the newly packaged and reformulated Re En shampoo for oily scalp and hair. Both Number 2 and 8 are the shampoos!

  33. Kooslee
    July 6, 2011 at 12:21 am (6 years ago)

    Another question Kev, for that same site, the special hair care set #2 comes with conditioner, but I am not sure if that one is the one fit for my hair type. Will you please check for me? Thank you.

  34. Kev Jang
    July 6, 2011 at 3:55 am (6 years ago)

    Hi Koslee, I am not so sure about the newly revamped line for Re En’s hairloss control shampoo and conditioner, although I always tend to get an extra bottle and then leave it on the side until I finish my other shampoos and conditioners for use. Re En should not be too heavy on the scalp or hair, and I think that even the treatment pack for damaged hair was not greasy at all. In fact, what I do is to use the blue bottled shampoo and then the green coloured treatment pack(the latter is a treatment conditioner for damaged hair), and my hair stays fine even though my scalp is oily. You should be fine with the newly packaged conditioner since the main ingredients are still the same.

  35. Kev Jang
    July 28, 2011 at 12:39 am (6 years ago)

    I was wondering about alternating shampoos, since I have a problem of itchy scalp or recurring dandruff which comes on and off depending on how oily my scalp is, and also season(I get that a lot more during the first few days of adjusting to winter, as well as during hot summers). Does anyone know of any good brand of shampoos other than Head and shoulders for resolving such problems? Selsun and stuff like Nizoral might be effective on the first few times of use, but I find that their heavily medicated base tends to make my hair feel drier.

    • Joseibi
      August 2, 2011 at 2:38 pm (6 years ago)

      Dear Kev,

      I remember recommending Lala apple cider shampoo (I think Kiss My Face makes one) which will solve the scalp problem. She said it really helped. Apple cider can clear up the buildup that can cause itchy scalp, esp. if you use a lot of styling products. You use that only once a week (or twice, depending on how much hair styling products you use per week) just to remove all the buildup and to give your scalp a break. It’s natural and won’t dry out your scalp like Head & Shoulders does. 🙂

  36. nami
    June 3, 2012 at 11:40 pm (5 years ago)

    hello joseibi..can you suggest any good hair dye for sensitive skin…am looking for my mom ..she is badly allergic to loreal dye ,her scalp swelled up terribly whenever she applies loreal and hair colour is a must for her

    • Joseibi
      June 4, 2012 at 9:24 am (5 years ago)

      Hi nami,

      If she’s already allergic to hair dyes chances are she is allergic to most dyes…she can try the non-permanent dyes like Clairol’s Herbal Essence (the kind that will wash off after 28 shampoos or less). Be sure to do a patch test (inside of wrist) and not use it all over the head first. It could be the ammonia which stings and burns my eyes as well. She can also try the henna (natural) products if you can find them in your area.

  37. Tina
    February 18, 2013 at 12:21 pm (4 years ago)

    Hi, this was an excellent review and thanks for the follow up posts as well. I just started using Head Spa this winter and am loving it! I hope it doesn’t disappoint come spring and summer though.



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