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Tea tree oil is a potent liquid extracted by steaming the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a plant native to Australia. This natural essential oil has a slight herbal scent and includes a mix of 98 compounds with terpinen-4-ol as the major component. No wonder it is known for its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-microbial and skin nourishing properties.
Tea tree oil skin benefits have been known for centuries. Back in the day, when pharmaceutical medicine was not widely available, tea tree oil was a first aid necessity. Today, tea tree oil is commonly found in skincare products, topical medicines, and household products.
There are multiple tea tree oil uses for skin which is why it has become an increasingly popular active ingredient in skin care products. In this post I will go through some of the most common tea tree oil skin benefits.
Continue reading to learn:
» How to buy tea tree oil that actually works
» Tree tea oil benefits for acne
» How to use tea tree oil to treat foot fungus
» Tea tree oil for relieving eczema
» Tea tree oil as a cold sore treatment
» Healing wounds, cuts and scars with tea tree oil
How to buy a high-quality tea tree oil for maximum skin benefits
Before we move on to tea tree oil benefits on skin I would like to explain how to buy a high-quality tea tree oil.
You see, not every tea tree oil is equal. Some tea tree oils are diluted and some have low levels of active compounds. Such essential oils will not give you the skin benefits that you need, so it is important to buy a good one.
Things you need to consider when buying tea tree oil:
1. The main active ingredient in tea tree oil is terpinen-4-ol. This is what gives the tea tree oil its anti-fungal and antiseptic properties. Choose tea tree oil with high level of terpinen-4-ol. Good quality oil usually has at least 30% of terpinen-4-ol.
2. Make sure tea tree oil is sold in a dark brown glass bottle. Terpinen-4-ol is sensitive to light and will become useless if exposed to the sun for a long time.
3. Make sure you are buying a 100% pure undiluted tea tree oil.
Many bad quality oils out there have good reviews because… well, because people don’t know any better. Don’t get seduced. If you want your tea tree oil to work then make sure it has a high amount of terpinen.
Tree tea oil benefits for acne
One of the most valued tea tree oil benefits for skin is its ability to improve the appearance of acne and acne scars. Tea tree oil is considered to be one of the most effective natural ways to treat acne, not only on the face but on the back and chest too. This is thanks to its strong anti-microbial properties that kill acne-causing bacteria.
Another skin benefit of tea tree oil is its anti-inflammatory property. It calms down inflamed acne, swelling and redness, so your skin looks healthier and lighter immediately.
Tea tree oil is also used to balance out skins oil production, which is yet another great anti-acne skin benefit of tea tree oil.
Is tea tree oil strong enough?
Tea tree oil's ability to fight acne was proven in multiple studies. A research paper analyzed several research studies on tea tree oil and came to the conclusion that the application of tea tree oil helps reduce the number of lesions in those with mild-to-moderate acne. In fact, the studies also showed that tea tree oil performed the same as its synthetic competitors - the 5% benzoyl peroxide and 2% topical erythromycin.
Many people prefer tea tree oil to chemical acne treatments because it is a natural and more gentle option. Tea tree oil works at a slower, gentler pace and so should irritate your skin less. It is also, as mentioned previously, a natural anti-inflammatory agent, meaning it can calm the redness and irritation on your skin. Exactly what sensitive skin needs!
Something to have in mind when using tea tree oil for acne is that acne is not just a bacteria-driven condition. It can be caused by many other factors such as hormones and overproduction of oil. So, while tea tree oil can definitely help with the appearance of acne and acne scars, it may not solve the problem completely.
How to use tea tree oil for acne?
It is important to note that you shouldn’t be using undiluted tea tree oil straight on your face. It can irritate your skin. The best way to dilute essential oils is to mix it with a carrier oil such as argan oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil or similar. For acne treatment, I would recommend diluting your Tea tree oil in a carrier oil that has a very low comedogenic score, which basically means that it will not clog your pores.
Some of the best oils are:
Hemp seed oil
Do not use coconut oil. No matter what you have heard about its anti-microbial properties it is a pore-clogging oil.
How much of tea tree oil to use?
The studies I mentioned before used 5% of tea tree oil and most of the commercial products contain 1-5%. The percentage will highly depend on how sensitive your skin is and whether you will be using tea tree oil as an overall or a spot treatment. For spot treatment, you can experiment with higher concentrations. For full face treatments stay in the 1-5% range.
2 ways to use tea tree oil for acne:
1 teaspoon of a carrier oil of your choice
4-5 drops tea tree oil
Mix both oils together and apply on the affected area. Leave it on for a few hours, wash with lukewarm water and apply a moisturizer.
For sensitive skin, add some Manuka Honey. It has similar properties to tea tree oil: it is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and it speeds the wound healing process. Manuka honey is very gentle, so this mixture is a great way to use tea tree oil for acne if you have a sensitive skin.
2 tablespoons of pure Manuka honey
1 tablespoon of carrier oil
5-8 drops of tea tree oil
If you have a very oily, acne-prone skin then try this easy DIY charcoal and green clay mask recipe. It could be that your acne is caused not as much by bacteria as by oil overproduction. This DIY mask will help with that.
How to use tea tree oil to treat foot fungus
Skin benefits of tea tree oil do not end with its anti-microbial properties. Tea tree oil also has strong anti-fungal properties. This is why it is one of the best-known natural home remedies for foot fungus. Whether you are suffering from Athlete’s foot, ringworm or nail fungus, tea tree oil can help.
Tea tree oil is often used in foot soaks and can also be applied directly to the affected area. If you have a stubborn fungus, consider doing both.
Foot fungus is often a recurring problem. An effective (and a very pleasant) way to prevent foot fungus from reappearing is to regularly use tea tree oil foot soaks. My family has been using this one for a while and it works well.
To save some money, I have created a homemade tea tree oil foot soak recipe. It works great for both treating and preventing fungus. This anti-fungal tea tree oil foot soak is very easy and inexpensive to make. Check out the recipe and tutorial here.
To use tea tree oil as an anti-fungal spot treatment, first dilute it in a carrier oil, for example, olive oil. As I mentioned in the section about acne, undiluted tea tree oil might irritate the skin. Use 20 drops of tea tree oil to 1 tablespoon of carrier oils.
Tea tree oil for relieving eczema
Another example of tea tree oil skin benefits is its ability to relieve eczema and contact dermatitis. Since tea tree oil is anti-inflammatory and anti-itching it can reduce some of the most significant symptoms associated with eczema. While eczema cannot be fully cured, tea tree oil combined with a good moisturizer can help improve bothersome symptoms.
The skin benefits of tea tree oil, including its ability to relieve eczema, have been widely researched. A research was conducted to compare the effects of tea tree oil, zinc oxide cream and clobetasone butyrate cream in reducing the symptoms of eczema. The results showed that Tea tree oil is a lot more efficient in reducing eczema and contact dermatitis symptoms than its competitors. Tea tree oil decreased symptoms of allergic contact dermatitis by 40%, zinc oxide - by 17.4% (p = 0.04) and clobetasone butyrate by 23.5%.
How to use tea tree oil for eczema
Mix a few drops of tea tree oil into a small amount of moisturizer or carrier oil. Good carrier oils for this are jojoba oil, olive oil, coconut oil, and sweet almond oil. Apply this mixture on the affected area a couple of times a day. The best time to apply it is immediately after the shower.
Never use undiluted tea tree oil straight on the affected area. It can make your eczema worse.
Tea tree oil as a cold sore treatment
Cold sores are inflamed open sores that form around your mouth. These sores are mainly caused by the HSV virus (herpes simplex virus) that cannot be cured. This means that for many people cold sores are a recurring issue.
There are many over-the-counter solutions for cold sores that can help them faster. But if you want to treat your lips naturally, then tea tree oil is your best choice.
I feel that the ability to treat cold sores is somehow overlooked when talking about the skin benefits of tea tree oil. But it works and it works really well. It works due to tea tree oils antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties.
Just like store-bought cold sore solutions, tea tree oil cannot completely cure HSV virus but it can prevent it from spreading and help cold sores heal faster. Here is a study discussing tea tree oils ability to stop herpes virus. It shows that tea tree oil was very effective, especially in the early stages of the condition. Consider getting yourself a nice lip balm with tea tree oil as a preventative measure.
How to use tea tree oil for cold sores?
Dilute 10-15 drops of tea tree oil in 1 tbsp of carrier oil of your choice (olive oil, coconut oil, etc.). Apply this mixture directly to the affected area using a clean cotton swab.
To maintain healthy lips and prevent cold sores from recurring use a lip balm with tea tree oil.
Tea tree oil for healing wounds, cuts and scars
Another great skin benefit of tea tree oil is its ability to promote the healing of cuts, wounds, and scars. If you think about it, it makes sense. Tea tree oil is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal and helps with tissue regeneration. This combination of properties covers many of the issues that can arise from cuts and wounds.
Tea tree oil is one of the most researched essential oils and, therefore, there are studies to prove this claim as well.
For example, this research paper talks about different studies that have been performed to test tea tree oils benefits on skin. The research shows that tea tree oil is effective at promoting wound healing and reducing scar size. The research paper also provides some interesting examples of the results achieved in the studies. For example, in one case study, a chronic, non-healing, post-amputation surgical wound was treated with a mixture of tea tree oil (10%) and pumpkin seed oil (90%). The wound healed completely within 5 months despite the prediction that it will not heal without surgery. Amazing isn’t it?
An important thing to note is that even though this research shows that a serious wound was healed just with pumpkin and tea tree oil, you should not attempt to treat serious wounds yourself. If you have a very deep cut or a serious wound, contact your doctor.
However, tea tree oil is a great natural remedy for small wounds, cuts, and scars.
Summary: tea tree oil benefits and where to buy it
To sum up, the main skin benefits of tea tree oil are eczema relief, acne management, fungus treatment, cold sore treatment and the ability to heal wounds and scars. All these skin benefits have been studied and shown to work as you could see from the research papers I linked to.
I personally think that tea tree oil is one of the most powerful essential oils and I love adding it to my homemade skincare recipes for its therapeutic properties.
However, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you will feel these skin benefits only if you purchase a good quality tea tree oil.
If you missed my explanation on how to buy a good quality tea tree oil, just scroll back to the beginning of the post.