Tea tree oil for acne: Benefits and precautions

Tea tree oil has gained a reputation for being a superhero ingredient. It really can do it all! People use it to combat body odour, dandruff, congestion, stinky breath, and even skin breakouts. If you are acne-prone and desperate for a solution, tea tree oil could help you zap those zits.

Tea tree oil basics

First things first: tea tree oil has no link with the plant that produces black and green tea. The oil is collected instead from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia—a woody shrub that is native to Queensland and New South Wales in Australia.

The oil has featured in the traditional medicine of the Australian Aborigines for hundreds of years. The Aborigines inhaled the oil to treat coughs and congestion, and applied it topically to promote skin healing.


What makes tea tree oil such a cure-all? Studies reveal that tea tree oil has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. It contains an active ingredient called terpinen-4-ol, which promotes the action of white blood cells, thereby helping the body fight off germs. 


Tea tree oil benefits for acne

When applied topically, tea tree oil launches a multi-layered attack on skin breakouts. Let’s take a closer look at how this versatile oil works its magic.


1. It clears acne bacteria.

Thanks to its antibacterial properties, tea tree oil kills off acne-causing bacteria. It is particularly effective against Propioni acnes bacteria, which is one of the primary causes of acne. Research suggests that the oil destabilises bacteria by damaging their cell walls.


2. It reduces swelling and redness.

Tea tree oil is anti-inflammatory and aids in skin healing. It brings down the painful swelling and redness caused by inflammatory acne while also soothing irritated and itchy skin. The essential oil minimises lesions in cases of mild to moderate acne.

3. It controls oil levels.

Those ugly zits are usually the result of excess oil and dead skin cells clogging up your pores. Tea tree oil not only tackles the grease and shine but also hydrates the skin. This dual action prevents your skin from becoming excessively dry. That is significant because dry skin is prone to breakouts too.


Safety tips for using tea tree oil

Have you decided to use tea tree oil to treat your acne? Then you will need to follow some precautions:

– Never drink tea tree oil.

This can lead to side effects like severe rash, vomiting, stomach ache, hallucinations, and drowsiness, among others.


– Always dilute the oil.

Pure tea tree oil can be harsh on the skin. The best approach is to dilute the oil in carriers like coconut oil, olive oil, or almond oil. However, carrier oils tend to be heavy and may clog the pores, which could aggravate your acne.


– Run a patch test first.

First-time users should test the diluted oil on a small patch of skin along the inner arm or elbow. Those allergic to tea tree oil will experience redness, itching, swelling, or a rash the next day. If the skin remains clear a day later, then you are good to go.


– Protect the eye region.

When applying tea tree oil on the face, steer clear of the delicate skin around the eyes and eyelids.


– Consult a doctor.

Although tea tree oil is said to promote skin healing, be careful when using it on wounds and rashes. Sometimes, it may irritate the skin further. Pregnant and lactating women and people with underlying health conditions should seek their doctor’s advice before using tea tree oil as well as other essential oils.


– Pick the right product.

Buy tea tree oil from a reputable seller. Look for a product that is completely natural and contains zero additives. Once you have the oil, store the bottle in a cool, dark place. This will keep the oil in good condition for a long time.


Don’t ditch your acne regimen

While tea tree oil can be a handy addition to your medicine cabinet, it is neither a miracle cure for acne nor a substitute for your skincare routine. There are also drawbacks: Tea tree oil could irritate your skin. The carrier might clog your pores. The oil is not recommended for people with certain health issues. 

Besides, there are safer acne-treatment options. A product like Clearica Anti-Acne Cream, for example, is carefully formulated for acne-prone skin. Apply it twice daily after cleansing and toning the skin, and then massage in some moisturiser. It treats acne symptoms, inhibits acne formation, and is gentle on the skin. 

So, reserve the tea tree oil for spot-treating blemishes and focus on strengthening your acne-fighting regimen. The way to clear, dewy-fresh skin is easier than you might think.