The Melaleuca alternifolia (aka Tea Tree) grows naturally in Australia and is also cultivated there. The oil derived from its leaves is a time-honored and clinically-proven treatment for a variety of ills. This effective medicinal oil is well-known for its sharp, medicinal scent, and its strong antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Before the advent of antibiotics, tea tree essential oil was the go-to natural remedy for treating wounds. In fact, a bottle of tea tree oil was standard issue in military medical kits during WWII.
In this article, we will share valuable information about the efficacy of the melaleucaoil in dealing with acne. We will also provide sound tips to help you make good use of it. Read on to learn more.
Should You Really Use Oil To Treat Acne?
Do you want to get rid of acne? Acne vulgaris is a common problem, especially for teenagers. It is caused by overactive sebaceous (oil) glands, which may become inflamed and infected. This causes unsightly breakouts of pimples, pustules, blackheads, and whiteheads on the face, neck, and upper torso. [source]
While this is very distressing, those suffering from acne can feel empowered by the fact that healthy lifestyle and hygiene habits, and regular application of tea tree oil can go far to get symptoms under control.
It may seem counterintuitive to use oil to deal with a skin problem that is associated with excess oil; however, in randomized, double-blind studies, tea tree oil has been found to be as effective as benzoyl peroxide in dealing with acne breakouts.
Unlike products that dry the skin, tea tree oil does not stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more oil. Using this light, healing oil on your skin helps balance oil production.
How Does Tea Tree Oil Work?
Thanks to a high content of terpinen-4-ol, tea tree oil possesses powerful antimicrobial capabilities. When you apply it topically to clean skin, it can effectively destroy acne-causing bacteria.
The antifungal and antiseptic properties of the oil work to soothe existing acne breakouts and prevent further breakouts. Its anti-microbial and antibacterial qualities are just as effective as those found in chemical anti-acne preparations. [source]
In fact, tea-tree oil is generally found to be more effective in the battle against acne than prescription or over-the-counter medications. Because tea tree oil is a natural product, it produces few (if any) side effects. Of course, as with any product, it is wise to do a patch test before applying this oil to large areas of skin.
Tea tree oil is light and non-greasy. It soaks into the skin quickly and deeply to kill unfriendly fauna and help clear blocked sebaceous glands. It is very effective in disinfecting the pores and drying up existing breakouts while killing the germs that would cause future outbreaks.
Follow These Steps To Heal Acne with Tea Tree Oil
Begin with a high-quality product. Look for 100% organic, natural essential oil like this. It may be a bit pricey, but rest assured, it only takes a few drops to do the trick. Essential oils are highly concentrated, so you will rarely use them at full strength.
While you can use a bit of tea tree oil at full strength to treat blemishes topically, you should not use it at full strength over large areas of skin. For this sort of application, you would dilute it with a carrier product, such as another light, natural oil or aloe vera gel.
You should dilute it at a rate of 6 drops of tea tree oil per ounce of carrier substance. You can adjust this up or down a bit to suit your preferences and purpose.
Using Tea Tree Oil For Acne
If you are suffering from cystic acne, full strength tea tree oil can penetrate the painful cysts to subdue the bacteria contained therein. Regular use can help soothe and heal inflamed cysts and prevent the development of more. [source]
Just dab a few drops of tea tree oil directly onto the cyst(s) at bedtime using a cotton swab, cotton ball, or your clean fingertip. Always be sure to wash your hands before and after treating your affected skin to avoid spreading germs.
Continue this treatment every night until the blemish has healed. It is a good idea to continue for another 4-5 days to avoid a recurrence.
Make A Honey Paste
If you find that full strength tea tree oil is too strong for your skin, try combining it drop-for-drop with honey, which also has natural, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Apply this directly to breakouts and allow the concoction to stay in place for half an hour or so before rinsing with cool water. Follow up by applying the aloe, tea tree toner, and moisturizer described below.
Keep These Ingredients On Hand
Some articles will tell you to combine tea tree oil with your existing shampoos, body wash, etc., but this is not always a good idea. Be sure that the products you use are natural and do not contain a lot of harsh chemicals, artificial colors, and the like. These ingredients can overpower and nullify the effectiveness of natural essential oils.
By the same token, there are lots of products on the market that claim to contain tea tree oil. They may very well contain it, but it is important to look at what else they contain. If a product is chock full of chemicals (e.g. parabens, sulfates, etc.) the tea tree oil found in it is likely to be rendered ineffective.
You can add tea tree oil to all-natural, organic personal care products at a rate of about 6 drops per ounce. Another alternative is to make your own products with simple, inexpensive ingredients.
Here are a few examples of ways to use tea tree oil on an ongoing basis to battle acne.
Do This One Or Two Times Daily
1. Wash Your Face
If you wash your face with bar soap or liquid soap, after you have lathered up your hands, drop about 3 drops of tea tree oil into the palm of one hand. Rub your palms together and wash your face as usual.
All-natural, liquid castile soap is a good choice for this treatment. You can also purchase all-natural, liquid castile soap with tea tree oil already added. This is very handy as a body wash or even for washing your hair if your scalp tends to break out.
Make a natural toner to use after washing your face. Simply add tea tree oil (at a rate of 6 drops per ounce) to a bottle of witch hazel. You can keep this in your medicine chest to tone after washing and clean and refresh your skin between washings.
After washing, just rub a few drops of tea tree oil between the clean palms of your hands and pat it over your face and neck.
In between washing, if your skin feels oily, you can freshen up with this natural toner. Use cotton balls soaked with your witch hazel mixture to wipe the affected skin clean. If the cotton balls come away dirty the first time, wipe again. Repeat until no dirt remains. Follow up with aloe and tea tree oil moisturizer.
After washing and toning your skin, moisturize with a tea tree oil/aloe vera gel combination. Just combine an ounce of aloe vera gel with 6 drops of tea tree oil. You can mix up a few ounces of this concoction in advance if you want. Just store it in a small tub or jar with an airtight lid at a cool room temperature.
After washing your face, neck and/or upper torso, just dip out the amount of aloe vera gel and tea tree oil mixture needed to cover the affected area. This makes a very nice, light daytime moisturizer that will protect and treat your skin all day as you go about your tasks.
Aloe vera gel is an especially good choice as a carrier for an acne treatment because it has very effective anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties of its own.
Do These As-Needed
Deep Clean & Moisturize With Tea Tree Oil & Olive Oil
There may be times when your skin needs deep moisturizing. For example, if you have damaged your skin with too much sun and wind, extra moisturizing may be in order.
For these times, try a combination of olive oil and tea tree oil. Olive oil is a soothing, anti-inflammatory oil that has its own antifungal and antibacterial properties. It can work wonders when used to moisturize skin, hair, and scalp.
Just combine 6 drops of tea tree oil with an ounce of olive oil and apply it as a mask over affected areas. If you have extra, you can store it safely in a dark bottle or jar in a cool place.
If you plan to use this mixture for multiple purposes (e.g. an all-over moisturizer, scalp and hair conditioning, etc.) you can add tea tree oil to a whole bottle of olive oil. It will store well in a cool, dark place for quite a while.
To use your olive oil mixture, simply pour a small amount into the palm of your hand. Rub your palms together and apply to your face or other areas to be treated. Leave oil in place and relax for half an hour.
Blot off excess oil gently with a paper towel and then wash lightly with warm water followed by cool water. Be careful not to wash all the oil off or you will have defeated your purpose. After washing, pat your skin dry gently and apply your aloe and tea tree moisturizer.
Deep Moisturizing & Healing Treatment With Coconut Oil
If your skin is very inflamed, you may want to use coconut oil as a carrier oil. Coconut oil is healing and has powerful antifungal and antibacterial properties.
For cosmetic use, you can choose either virgin coconut oil or fractionated (MCT) coconut oil. The latter is a bit more convenient because it stays liquid at room temperature so is easier to work with. However, fractionated coconut oil does not contain lauric acid (which is beneficial to skin). Virgin coconut oil has more healing powers.
For a deep cleaning and healing treatment, combine 6 drops of tea tree oil with an ounce of coconut oil. Just as with olive oil, if this yields more than you need, you can safely store it as directed above.
Begin your treatment by placing a hand towel in a basin of hot water. While it is soaking, gently wash the affected skin to remove surface oil and grime.
Wring out the towel and lay it over the affected area to help steam the pores open. When it begins to cool, remove it and massage the coconut oil and tea tree oil mixture in.
Leave the oils in place for five minutes and then rinse the area gently with cool water. Pat it dry with a clean, soft towel.
Experiment & Adjust To Your Preferences & Needs
You can feel free to experiment with aloe vera gel, coconut oil, olive oil, and tea tree oil. As you work with them, you will begin to get a sense of how they interact with your skin and each other. Tea tree oil gel can also be bought in different online stores.
You can combine them as needed for desired results. For example, for a lighter, slightly drying product, you would use more aloe. For deeper, more healing effects, you would use coconut oil. For intensive moisturizing, you would use olive oil.
Keep the rate of dilution at about 6 drops of tea tree oil per ounce of carrier. Remember to always work with clean hands and implements. Begin any acne treatment by gently washing the area you plan to treat. Handle your skin gently. Don t use excessively hot or cold water. Always pat your skin dry with a soft, clean towel.
Good daily hygiene can go far toward keeping acne under control. Occasional specialty treatments can also be helpful. Keep in mind that acne-prone skin is sensitive. Don’t overdo masks and treatments. Setting aside half an hour, once a week or so, can be beneficial to your complexion without causing skin irritation.
You can add tea tree oil to any natural facial mask or treatment recipe. Here are a few examples for you to try. If you are allergic to any of the ingredients in a recipe, you should skip that one or make an appropriate substitution.
Yogurt & Tea Tree Nourish & Exfoliate
- Combine a quarter cup of room-temperature, plain yogurt with 6 drops of tea tree oil. You can purchase a bottle here.
- Apply the mixture to clean skin as a mask and relax for half an hour.
- Rinse with warm water, followed by cool water and your aloe and tea tree moisturizer.
- If you want, you can add a teaspoonful of honey to your yogurt and tea tree mixture.
- The lactic acid in the yogurt helps slough off dead skin cells. Yogurt is very nourishing and soothing to the skin, and the friendly fauna it contains discourages fungal growth and unfriendly fauna.
Clay Masks Draw Out Toxins
- Green clay is a natural product that is easy to find at your local health food store or online. To use it, mix a few tablespoons of clay powder with enough cool water to form a paste. Add the tea tree oil at a rate of 6 drops per ounce of water.
- Once you have your mixture the consistency and strength you desire, spread it evenly over clean skin. Relax for half an hour and then rinse the clay off with cool water. Pat dry and apply your aloe and tea tree oil moisturizer.
- A clay mask is a very drying treatment, so you probably will not want to do this more than once every few weeks.
Tea Tree, Jojoba Oil, & Tomato Mask Treats Scarring
- This mask can help with acne scarring because the ascorbic acid in the tomatoes sloughs off dead skin cells. Jojoba oil is a light, penetrating oil is a light, penetrating oil that softens the skin to make this exfoliation process even more effective. Tea tree oil penetrates deeply to kill bacteria on new skin as it is exposed.
- Apply this mixture to clean skin and leave in place for no more than 15 minutes. The ascorbic acid in the tomatoes can cause some sensitivity, so be sure to rinse with cool water after the 15 minutes is up.
Tighten & Tone With Tea Tree & Egg White
- To smooth and clarify your skin, try using a room-temperature egg white combined with 4 drops of tea tree oil.
- Apply to the affected skin and leave this mixture in place for about 20 minutes.
- Rinse with lukewarm water followed by cool water and your aloe and tea tree moisturizer.
Make A Sugar Scrub With Tea Tree Oil
- Rather than buying expensive scrubs that are filled with tiny plastic beads that pollute the waterways and kill wildlife in streams, rivers, lakes and oceans, make an all-natural scrub using inexpensive sugar. Here’s how:
- Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp. honey, 1/4 cup sesame oil, and 12 drops of tea tree oil.
- Use this mixture to gently scrub affected skin. Be sure to massage the area 2-5 minutes to help stimulate circulation and remove dead skin cells.
- Rinse the mixture off thoroughly using warm water followed by cool water.
- You can make this in larger batches if you wish. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place to prevent it from solidifying.
Bath Salts With Tea Tree Oil Treat Your Whole Body
- Add a dozen drops of tea tree oil to a cup of Epsom salts. Stir it up well and add it to your bath for an all-over tea tree treatment.
- Note that it is important to mix the oil with the salts first as this will prevent having whole drops of oil floating on the surface of your bath. Encountering a large drop of tea tree oil in a hot bath on bare, sensitive skin can be an unpleasant experience because tea tree oil can cause a burning sensation.
- When you mix the oil with Epsom salts, it is distributed evenly into the water, so you avoid unpleasant surprises. Additionally, Epsom salts provide relaxation and a nice dose of magnesium, which is good for your overall health.
Steam Your Skin To Deep Clean
- Add a dozen drops of tea tree oil to a couple of cups of boiling water in a large bowl. Hold your face over the bowl and drape a heavy towel over your head to hold the steam in. Stay in position for 5 or 10 minutes or as long as is comfortable.
- This treatment will open your pores and allow the tea tree oil to penetrate your skin deeply.
- Follow up by washing your face thoroughly to remove toxins and grime that have been exposed. Tone with your witch hazel mixture and moisturize with your aloe mixture.
Lavender & Tea Tree Oil Are Natural Partners
Some people find that tea tree oil smells too medicinal or that it burns. If you find either of these to be the case, you may wish to use a 50/50 mixture of tea tree oil and oil of lavender.
This oil is also naturally antibacterial and antifungal. It has the added advantage of smelling nice and delivering some powerful aromatherapy benefits.
If you decide you want to use a combination of tea tree oil and lavender oil, just remember to keep your rate of use at 6 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier. So, instead of 6 drops of tea tree oil, you could have 3 drops each of tea tree and lavender oils.
Tea tree oil is safe for use on the skin; however, some people are sensitive to it. It pays to perform a patch test by applying a drop to the soft skin of your inner forearm and waiting 24 hours to be sure you are not sensitive to the product.
For the most part, you should use the oil diluted at a rate of 6 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier. For concentrated application on blemishes, you may use the oil straight or dilute it 50/50 with honey or jojoba oil.
You should not use tea tree oil on babies, children, or pets. Cats and dogs are often quite sensitive to it. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not use tea tree oil.
Just as with any product, if you develop itching, rash, or blisters, discontinue use and see your health professional.
Always read labels carefully. Be sure to get pure tea tree oil for best results and avoid unwanted side effects.
Don’t Expect Tea Tree Oil To Solve All Your Problems
Lifestyle habits play a big part in the development and treatment of acne. For effective treatment with any product, you must:
- Eat a balanced, whole foods diet
- Avoid processed foods, soft drinks, caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco products
- Drink ample amounts of pure, filtered water
- Exercise regularly
- Practice good stress management
- Get plenty of restful sleep every night
When you take a consistent, holistic approach, you will soon see positive results.