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How To Use Tea Tree Oil To Counter Acne

Are you prone to acne, breakouts or pimples? If so, you might be on the hunt for the latest and greatest product in your fight against acne. Though tea tree oil has been around for hundreds of years, it’s relatively new to skincare products. People with acne may find tea tree to be an effective treatment against acne due to its antibacterial properties and ability to reduce skin inflammation.

If you've wondered about using topical tea tree oil for treatment of acne, here's everything you need to know.

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What Is Retinol?

For centuries, tea tree oil has been recognized for its ability to treat a variety of skin conditions. For instance, topical treatment of tea tree can help you get rid of acne, reduce acne scars, minimize inflammation, and heal wounds. Clearly, tea tree oil is a versatile essential oil that deserves a place in your skincare cabinet.

Tea tree essential oil, which is sometimes referred to as melaleuca oil, originated in Australia and is derived from the myrtaceae family of plants, specifically the melaleuca alternifolia species. Once the medicinal properties of Australian tea tree oil were realized, it became commercialized and people all over the world began to adopt it.

According to Helena Holden, Comfort Zone's Skin Care Education Manager, "Tea tree oil has so many amazing properties and uses. Skincare is definitely on top of the list: antiseptic, wound healing, highly effective against acne and breakouts, and it has an overall purifying action."

For those looking to stay away from chemical skin care products, rest assured that tea tree essential oil is 100% natural. While you can buy tea tree oil in this 100% natural state, some people opt for a diluted tea tree essential oil that's pre-mixed with a moisturizing carrier oil, like coconut oil, olive oil, or avocado oil.

How Do Tea Tree Oil Products Benefit Acne-Prone Skin?

Historically, people drank a tea made from tea tree oil to access its health benefits, like treating skin infections, cuts, wounds, and even scurvy (it's important to note that ingestion of tea tree oil is not recommended as it can be poisonous). Because this traditional medicine is a natural antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiseptic, it can treat athlete's foot, contact dermatitis, dry skin, and even active acne breakouts.

Today, tea tree essential oil is generally topically applied to the skin or inhaled through the mouth and nose. When used topically, tea tree essential oil is often diluted and applied to the skin or scalp. Application can reduce swelling, treat dandruff and lice, and kill bacteria.

Why does natural tea tree oil work to treat acne vulgaris? Acne is caused by chronic inflammation of the skin—in fact, it's considered to be a skin disease in cases that span larger than a few occasional pimples. The way our skin counters this disease is with visible, red, inflamed spots that we know as "acne." However, because tea tree oil reduces this chronic inflammation, the development of acne is prevented.

Some facial acne lesions aren't caused by inflammation, they're caused by clogged pores in the face. When there's an overproduction of oil in the sebaceous glands or dirt or dead skin cells become lodged in the pores, the immune system reacts by developing pimples—that's why people with oily skin often struggle with frequent acne. Pores clogged with bacteria, dirt, and dead skin cells are sterilized by tea tree's antiseptic qualities, another way tea tree reduces acne.

Finally, tea tree not only kills the acne-causing bacteria and reduces the inflammation, but it moisturizes and hydrates the skin after treatment. 

In short, tea tree oil is an all-in-one, natural product that reduces acne spots while simultaneously healing and moisturizing the skin.

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How Should People With Acne Use Tea Tree Oil?

When it comes to how and when to apply natural tea tree oil, there's no one best answer for everyone. Instead, listen to your skin to determine the best time of day and frequency of use for you.

You can use tea tree essential oils at any time of the day, but it's important to monitor the use of tea tree oil on your face to ensure you don't experience any adverse effects. If you apply tea tree oil as part of your morning routine and you plan on lying in the sun or spending the day outside, allow your skin enough time to completely absorb your essential oils before exposing your skin to sunlight. The sun can make your skin increasingly sensitive, which might trigger an uncomfortable reaction or other adverse effects like dryness or redness.

Depending on the condition and sensitivity of your skin, you may prefer to include tea tree oil in your nightly skincare routine. Applying tea tree oil at night allows your skin to absorb the mixture and combat acne and bacteria while you sleep.

When it comes to applying tea tree oil, feel free to combine it with the rest of your skincare routine—complementary therapies can help boost the effectiveness of your skincare regimen. For example, want to look like you'll never leave your 20s? Consider using an overnight face mask before your tea tree solution. Don't want your skin to reflect just how busy your life is? Vitamin C booster serums work fabulously to revitalize your skin with or without a complimentary tea tree treatment.

How Long Does It Take To See the Effects of Tea Tree Oil?

As with any other acne treatment, it's natural to wonder if the treatment will work immediately. But like many other acne treatments, the effects of tea tree take a few weeks to be noticeable.

Generally, it takes about 12 weeks for your skin to reap the benefits of tea tree oil. Your skin needs time to adjust to this new ingredient, but once you know how to use tea tree oil on your face you can expect to experience clearer skin within a few months. Over time, your skin will naturally produce less acne and oil.

How To Dilute Tea Tree Oil for Acne

Essential oils are exceptionally potent and highly concentrated. When applied directly to the skin, they can cause irritation, inflammation, redness, or burning. Instead of applying oil directly to the skin, diluted tea tree oil should always be applied as part of a tea tree oil cream or other carrier oil mixture. No matter your level of skin sensitivity, direct application of a raw essential oil is likely to elicit an unpleasant skin reaction—even a few drops of tea tree can cause uncomfortable side effects.

While you can purchase diluted tea tree oil products, some people prefer to dilute the oil themselves for acne treatments. Just be cautious, especially if you have highly sensitive skin. Be cognizant of the ratio between essential oils and carrier oils in your topical mixtures. Keep in mind, diluting tea tree essential oil with a carrier oil does not lessen the potency of the essential oil. Dilution also creates a greater volume of the mixture, allowing it to be applied to a greater surface area on the body.

Depending on your age and inherent sensitivity, it's important that you adjust the amount of essential oil you include in your mixture. Once you become a seasoned essential oil user, you can adjust this ratio to include more drops of tea tree. After application, listen to your body and watch for side effects or reactions appearing on your skin. In general:

  • Beginners learning how to use tea tree oil for acne, people with sensitive skin, or young children should use 1 drop of essential oil with 2 teaspoons of carrier oil.
  • Adults with less sensitive skin can try using 3 drops of tea tree oil with 2 teaspoons of carrier oil.
  • Try to use at least 2 teaspoons of carrier oil at all times to lessen the intensity of the essential oil.
  • When you first start using tea tree oil for pimples, don't apply the oil directly to the pimple.
  • Don't use more than one drop of essential oil without trying a spot test first.

Spot Test for Tea Tree Essential Oils

Performing a spot test or spot treatment is a simple way to ensure that your skin doesn't have an allergic reaction to tea tree before you apply it liberally. If you're just beginning to use tea tree oil for acne, it's important that you perform a spot test first to prevent an adverse reaction. For an effective spot treatment, follow these steps:

  • Dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil.
  • Apply 1 to 2 drops of the diluted oil to your forearm.
  • Wrap the area with a bandage.
  • Pay attention to any reactions, such as stinging, burning, skin irritation, or rashes. If you notice a reaction beginning, remove the bandage immediately and wash your arm with soap and water.
  • Assess the area after 24 to 48 hours of application to see if your skin had any sort of reaction.

If you don't notice any reaction or irritation on your skin, you may safely start using tea tree oil for acne.

Research About Treating Acne With Tea Tree Oil

Decades of research have yielded conclusive evidence that the potency of tea tree oil triumphs the healing abilities of other, less natural treatments. Over time, bacteria build immunity to engineered antibiotics, reducing the effectiveness of synthetic medicines. Evidence shows that tea tree oil, a natural alternative to synthetic treatments, remains effective at reducing acne and regulating oil production in the skin.

In one 2017 study, participants with mild to moderate acne were treated with tea tree oil gel for 12 weeks. These participants' acne lesions reduced significantly due to the antibacterial properties of tea tree oil. At 12 weeks, combined acne lesions decreased by an average of 45%. In contrast, the antibiotics clindamycin and erythromycin were deemed counterproductive for treating acne, as the acne bacteria developed a resistance to the antibiotics.

A 2016 study found that participants who used a mixture of resveratrol and tea tree oil showed significant improvement in the amount of oil, acne, and enlarged pores present. Not only did the tea tree mixture reduce the condition of the skin, it proved effective at providing moderate UVA and UVB protection for the skin.

Additionally, a study published in 2007 showed tea tree oil was 3.55 times more effective at treating acne than a placebo gel.

The 100% pure, natural composition of tea tree essential oil makes it a potent yet natural acne solution with significantly less risk of harmful long-term effects compared to synthetic prescription medications.

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Treat Acne and Prevent Future Breakouts With Tea Tree Oil

Many people fret over how to get glowing skin or how to get rid of acne without knowing how effective tea tree essential oil can be. Whether you're looking to boost your skincare regimen or completely revolutionize it, tea tree essential oil is one of the first ingredients you should consider adding to your routine.


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