There is a lot of talk and mixed opinions about Tea Tree Oil and whether or not it is a good option for acne reduction.
But, what do the studies say about Tea Tree Oil, and are there any downsides to trying it out?
In this article, we will cover the basics of Tea Tree Oil and acne, and see if there is something to this old folk remedy after all.
Tea Tree Oil is an oil derived by steam distillation from the leaves of the Tea Tree (or Melaleuca alternifolia plant) that is native to Australia.
Another name for the oil is melaleuca oil, and it has been used historically as a traditional medicine of the Aboriginal people of Australia.
Tea Tree Oil often has a pungent camphoraceous smell, and may range in color from yellow to nearly clear liquid.
Tea Tree Oil is reported to have anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory properties.
So, since bacterial overgrowth and inflammation play a big role in most acne outbreaks, if these properties are valid, it is clear to see how Tea Tree Oil may be beneficial for pimples.
The Terpinen-4-ol compound is thought to be the main antimicrobial component of Tea Tree Oil.
One study looked into if Tea Tree Oil was able to kill a variety of bacterial strains in a laboratory setting, and found favorable inhibition of many common strains of skin bacterium, including those common in acne.
This points to Tea Tree Oil being a potential benefit in acne cases, but does what do the human studies say?
One study compared the effectiveness of 5% Tea Tree Oil versus 5% Benzoyl Peroxide for the treatment of mild to moderate acne in 124 patients. In both groups, the participants had similar and significant levels of reduced acne. The Tea Tree group had fewer side effects than the benzoyl, but it took a little bit longer to start working.
Another study with 60 mild to moderate acne participants, had 30 use 5% tea tree oil daily, and 30 use a placebo. After 45 days the Tea Tree Oil was found to be 3.55 times more effective at reducing the number of acne lesions, and 5.75 more effective at reducing acne severity than the placebo group.
So, while the evidence is lacking, and more studies need to be conducted, evidence suggests that Tea Tree Oil may be a safe and potentially effective addition to a skincare regimen in those with mild to moderate acne.
Normally when you buy Tea Tree Oil, it is 100% pure and would be way too strong to apply directly to your face.
Undiluted 100% Tea Tree Oil may cause redness, irritation, rash, or dryness, and should be avoided.
If you are going to use Tea Tree Oil for acne, you should aim for around a 5% solution diluted with a skin-friendly carrier oil to best recreate the strength used in studies.
Another rule of thumb for essential oil dilution is to mix 1 ounce of carrier oil with 12 drops of essential oils.
First, to ensure that the mixture is not too irritating and that you are not allergic, you need to do a spot test.
You do a spot test by applying a small amount of the dilution to the inside of your elbow and wait 24 hours. If no reaction occurs, then you should be fine to use that essential oil.
Then, you would then apply this oil dilution as needed all over the face, avoiding the mouth and eyes, once or twice daily.
If Tea Tree Oil is used diluted, and you are not allergic to Tea Tree Oil or any of its components, you will probably not experience any negative side effects from its use on the skin.
But, if you do not dilute the essential oil enough you may experience itching, redness, irritation, or dry skin.
Avoid applying Tea Tree Oil to mouth, eyes, or very large areas of skin. And never ingest Tea Tree Oil as swallowing it can lead to rash, nausea, confusion or coma.
If diluted properly, Tea Tree Oil may be a beneficial addition to help relieve mild to moderate acne and should have little to no side effects.
There may not be any downsides to trying out Tea Tree Oil to see if there are any benefits for your skin.
However, in cases of moderate to severe acne, stronger prescription medications like the Tretinoin in Strut Acne Formula may be needed to have a significant effect.