The truth about tea tree oil for acne:
Tea tree oil has grown in popularity as a treatment for mild to moderate acne. Some consider it a natural alternative to expensive medications while others dismiss it as ineffective. So what is tea tree oil? How does tea tree oil affect my acne? And how do I use tea tree oil properly? We explain below:
What is tea tree oil?
Tea tree oil is an essential oil produced from the Narrow-leaved Tea-tree which is native to the eastern coast of Australia. The Aboriginal communities there used it as a topical antiseptic for generations, treating scrapes and burns. In the last decade, the production of tea-tree oil has greatly increased with the demand from western nations.
How does tea tree oil affect my acne?
Tea tree oil has antimicrobial qualities, meaning it decreases acne causing bacteria on the surface of your skin. While we can hypothesize the benefits of tea tree oil, there has been no research to suggest that it actually has any ability to fight or prevent acne. In theory, it should help acne as it is both non-comedogenic (does not clog pores) and it decreases bacteria. That being said, some users report irritation and many report little or no change in their acne.
Benefits of tea tree oil for acne:
- Non-comedogenic: it will not clog your pores
- Antimicrobial qualities will decrease bacteria on the surface of your skin
- Natural treatments like tea tree oil are a popular alternative to prescription and over-the-counter medications
Why to not use tea tree oil:
- There is little to no research that shows any effectiveness of tea tree oil as an acne treatment.
- Tea tree oil is unregulated, which means you don’t know exactly what you’re getting, in terms of strength or mixed ingredients. Some products may be mixed with skin irritants while others will be closer to pure oil.
- The oil can have a strong scent, which some people find pungent
- Some users report skin irritation from the use of tea tree oil
Does tea tree oil work for acne?
There’s no clear answer here. Without clinical research it’s impossible to tell if tea tree oil is an effective acne treatment. User reviews range from strong supporters to avid denouncers. Likewise, everyone’s skin is different. It may indeed work on some and not others. If you want to try it out, review our steps below:
Best tea tree oil products for acne:
The most important thing to look for is pure tea tree oil. If it is not pure, then it may contain skin irritants or allergens that will make your acne worse. There are many pure tea tree products to choose from, here are our top three favorites to make it easier on you:
How to apply tea tree oil for acne:
Tea tree oil can either be used as a spot treatment or it can be mixed with your daily moisturizer. Here are the directions for using it as a spot treatment:
- Make sure your skin is clean and dry.
- Apply the oil using a Q-tip or cotton ball (instead of your finger) directly onto the comedone (pimple).
- To avoid irritation consider diluting the tea tree oil with water, aloe vera, or natural honey.
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- European Commission. Opinion on Tea Tree Oil. Rep. no. SCCP/1155/08. Scientific Committee on Consumer Products, 16 Dec. 2008. Web. <https://ec.europa.eu/health/ph_risk/committees/04_sccp/docs/sccp_o_160.pdf>.
- “Tea Tree Oil.” Tea Tree Oil Reviews on Acne.org. Acne.org, n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2013. <https://www.acne.org/tea-tree-oil-reviews-99/>.
- “Australian Tea Tree Oil Treats Skin Conditions.” WebMD. WebMD, 19 Oct. 2007. Web. 03 Dec. 2013. <https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/features/tea-tree-oil-treats-skin-problems?page=2>.