Tea Tree Oil Benefits for Acne

Tea Tree oil is a common essential oil that is easily found in most beauty sections of local stores. Its strong scent may have many people wondering what uses it has, but this is an oil worth keeping in your medicine cabinet. The benefits of tea tree oil can be found in a healthy list of uses, but one of the most popular ways to use it is for skin care health.

This oil has strong properties that we will explore below that can help clear up troubled skin and even help smooth out unsightly scarring. If you struggle with acne, whether occasionally or on a regular basis, this article can give you some tips to help integrate tea tree oil benefits for acne to your daily skin care regimen for a clearer complexion.

What Causes Acne?

Close up woman's face with acne

Acne is an affliction of your skin’s oil glands (called sebum) and hair follicles or pores. Overproduction of sebum, trapped dead skin in your pores, or the increased level of an acne-causing bacteria, called propionibacterium acne, can all be the root cause of your acne flare-ups. They also can work together to create problems with your skin as your immune system reacts to the problem- creating white and blackheads, pimples, isolated spots, or painful nodules and cystic lesions.

Hormonal changes in the body can also create problems with acne as your sebaceous glands create more oil in relation to these hormones. Many adolescents going through puberty will experience this, but women who have been prone to acne may notice flare-ups as their hormones fluctuate due to menstrual cycles for most of their lives.

Tea Tree Oil Defined

Tea Tree oil was named such because of Captain Cook’s famous round-the-world voyage that had him drinking a spicy brewed tea from the leaves of the Paper Bark Tree in Australia. These leaves are more needle-like and are not at all similar to a true tea leaf, but Captain Cook called it the tea tree, and it has been known as such ever since. The official scientific name is Melaleuca alternifolia and is commonly found under this label as well.

The oil is derived from the leaves and twigs of the tree and has a strong, spicy, pungent smell. The loose viscosity of the oil is almost completely clear and mixes well with other oils and liquids – making it an easy-to-use substance for a wide variety of health needs (see our article exploring other ways to use it here).

This oil has strong antibacterial and antiviral properties and is also been found to be helpful as an immune system stimulant. Although it has a diverse chemical makeup that lends well to these claims, the main ingredient is terpineol and is what supports the many benefits the oil provide.

Terpineol compounds are found in many natural plants that work as “health” additions to your lifestyle- and can vary in their use for aromatic, ingestion, and topical applications. The terpenes found in tea tree oil are best used topically, diffused, or can even work as an addition to surface cleansers due to their strong cleansing properties. They are not suggested to be ingested and may have uncomfortable and possibly even toxic side effects.

How Tea Tree Oil Helps Acne

Spa composition with tea oil in small glass bottles and fresh leaves

The strong antiseptic properties of the oil are what makes it ideal as an acne treatment. It helps to counteract the growth of bacteria, keep pores from getting clogged, and also helps reduce inflammation and speeds up the process of healing. Clogged pores also do not repel the oil, allowing it to work its way into the troubled pore to help clean and disinfect. This also helps dry out white and blackheads.

Is it as Effective as Common Over-the-Counter Medicines?

The most common acne treatments you can buy include benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. These are typically found as a 5% and 2% concentration respectively and have been proven to be effective against mild to moderate acne flare-ups and help decrease acne related problems.

Comparatively, tea tree oil at a 5% concentration proved to help reduce mild to moderate acne breakouts and decrease long term acne related problems, which is on par with a 5% benzoyl peroxide application. It was not as effective as certain forms of salicylic acid use- but studies show a favorable response as a wholly natural remedy for the concern. Side effects were mild as well compared to the redness, burning, itching, and dryness associated with the OTC options.

How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Acne Relief

Bottles with tea tree essence and green leaves on white background. Space for text.

It should be noted that tea tree oil shouldn’t be left on as a full concentrate due to the strong compounds in the oil that most likely would result in skin sensitivities. It lends itself well to dilution and can be added easily to your existing skincare regimen or choice of carrier oil to do so.

  • Add a few drops to your toner and shake well before each application.
  • Add a few drops to your moisturizer and be sure to blend well.
  • Use in your facial wash. After applying, let it set for a few minutes before washing off.
  • Dap a few drops on a q-tip or cotton pad and apply directly to your troubled areas. Wash off after a few minutes.
  • Spot treat or apply over your whole face in a 5% concentration (2 teaspoons of a carrier to 15 drops of oil). Leave on if no skin sensitivities occur.

For other acne-prone areas of your body, add to your body wash or apply over your troubled areas with a 5% dilution using a washcloth. The addition to your shampoo can also help keep the additives in shampoos from reacting with your skin and causing clogged pores as you rinse it out (this also can aid in dandruff relief as well).

Tea Tree Oil for Acne Scars

Some studies suggest that the oil can also help with reducing the appearance of acne scars. Although it is no miracle cure for existing scars, since acne marks often form deep within the skin, combating the source of the breakout can reduce the chances of having a deep infection that may result in scarring. It also is an oil, and as an oil, can help with moisture retention as well as softening the skin’s appearance to smooth skin out.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article has helped explain the use of tea tree oil for acne, and how it can be used for the beneficial treatment of this annoying affliction. Even if you don’t suffer from acne on a regular basis, it can most definitely help clear up all form of mild to moderate breakouts when used regularly. It also helps reduce the worsening of the condition and can keep more severe forms of acne from flaring up.

The strong antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties naturally found in the oil have been proven to be effective in acne related treatments. Dilution is suggested for best results and to keep skin sensitivities from occurring.

If you have any further questions or comments or want to share your experiences with the oil here, please do so below. And, as always, please share!

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