When it comes to essential oils for the skin, tea tree is definitely one of the most popular…especially as a natural acne remedy.
It’s not surprising given that tea tree oil is antimicrobial, speeds up skin healing and works just as effectively as some pharmaceutical acne treatments.
However, even though tea tree oil is natural, incorrect use can also harm your skin and stop you from getting the results you want.
So in this post, we’re going to look at how to use tea tree oil in your skin care routine, safely and effectively.
More specifically, you’re going to get the scoop on:
- why tea tree essential oil is beneficial to the skin.
- when to apply tea tree in your skin care regimen.
- safety tips for topical application of tea tree oil.
- some simple tea tree oil recipes that you can add to your natural beauty regimen.
BENEFITS OF INCLUDING TEA TREE IN YOUR SKIN CARE REGIMEN
1. Fights Acne-Causing Bacteria
Our skin is made up of a massive community of microorganisms known as the “microbiome.”
This microbiome consists of bacteria, fungi and viruses that protect the skin. And as long as there’s a healthy balance between those microorganisms, then all is good.
However, having an imbalance in those bacteria or fungi can contribute significantly to acne.
In fact, research shows that there are specific bacterial strains (such as propionibacterium acnes and staphylococcus epidermidis) that contribute to acne (source).
2. Helps With Wound Healing
A small study from 2014 found that tea tree oil speeds up the healing time of wounds (source).
This wound healing characteristic can be particularly helpful for anyone struggling with deep, painful cystic acne (which requires significant healing support).
So, by adding tea tree oil into your daily routine, your skin is able to get the additional boost that it needs to heal.
3. Works As Effectively As Benzoyl Peroxide for Acne
As it turns out, research shows that 5% tea tree essential oil works just as effectively as 5% benzoyl peroxide (source).
And even though it takes a little longer to start seeing results with tea tree, once it gets going it works just as well as benzoyl peroxide.
Bonus: that study on tea tree and benzoyl peroxide also revealed that tea tree oil also has less side effects.
CAN YOU PUT TEA TREE OIL DIRECTLY ON YOUR SKIN?
Tea tree oil is considered safe for the skin, so in theory you could apply it directly to your skin (aka apply it “neat”).
But that’s “in theory” 🙂
In reality, you should always dilute tea tree (and all other essential oils) before topical application.
Diluting the oil simply means that you mix it with a skin-loving carrier oil such as almond or grapeseed oil.
Now, at first you might think that dilution will “weaken” the tea tree. But it’s quite the opposite.
Here’s how dilution actually benefits your skin:
- Reduces Dryness: Essential oils are drying. So, neat application of tea tree oil can dry up your skin and create other problems in the long run. By diluting the tea tree oil, you protect your skin from this potential side effect.
- Lowers The Rate of Evaporation: Essential oils evaporate very quickly once exposed to air. So, if you apply tea tree oil directly on your skin, some of it will disappear before it has a chance to be absorbed and work its magic. When you dilute the tea tree oil in a carrier, that rapid evaporation slows down significantly.
- Reduces The Risk of Irritation: Anytime you apply undiluted tea tree or other essential oils directly to the skin, you increase your chances of experiencing side effects like redness or burning. So, for the sake of your skin, always dilute your tea tree oil before using it topically.
WHEN TO APPLY TEA TREE OIL IN SKIN CARE ROUTINE
To get the best results, always apply tea tree essential oil as the last step in your skin care routine. Depending on the severity of your acne, there are two ways for you to go about this:
- If you have just a few pimples, apply diluted tea tree to each spot after applying your moisturizer.
- On the other hand, if you have a lot of acne, then include the tea tree oil into your moisturization step. You can simply mix the tea tree oil with your regular moisturizer or make your own blemish oil and apply it to your face.
3 WAYS TO USE TEA TREE FOR SKIN CARE
Now it’s time to go over how to safely use tea tree oil on your skin, as well as some easy DIY recipes that you can try.
First off, a few words about safety:
- Always dilute tea tree oil before applying it to your face or body.
- If you’re new to using tea tree oil, perform a patch test first to make sure you’re not sensitive to it. To do this, wash your forearm, then apply diluted tea tree oil to a small area. Cover with a bandage and wait 24 hours. If there are no signs of irritation, you can proceed with regular use of tea tree.
- The best way to dilute tea tree oil is with a carrier oil. As a second option you can use a store bought lotion or cream.
- For the face, a 0.2% to 1.5% dilution is safest and least likely to cause irritation. That means 2 to 6 drops of tea tree oil for every 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) of carrier oil.
- As we saw earlier in the article, one study used a 5% tea tree dilution successfully. However, I don’t recommend starting with 5%. Instead, start with 1.5% and if absolutely necessary, gradually work your way up to 5%. Remember that essential oils can be 50-100 times more concentrated than when it’s in the plant. This is strong stuff 🙂
- You can also use tea tree for body acne (such as on the back). In that case a 1% to 4% dilution is ideal.
Now here are some basic recipes to help you include tea tree oil in your daily skincare routine.
1. Tea Tree Lotion Blend
You can give your regular lotion an extra acne-fighting boost by mixing it with tea tree oil.
For this, simply mix 6 drops of tea tree with 1 tablespoon of lotion (this is a 1.5% dilution).
Massage the blend onto your face (careful to avoid the eyes!).
2. Tea Tree Blemish Oil
1 ounce glass bottle (with dropper)
13 drops tea tree oil
- Pour almond oil into the glass bottle. Allow a little space at the top for the essential oil.
- Add in the tea tree oil.
- Close and shake to mix.
- To apply, place a drop of the blend on your finger and apply to acne spots. If you need to cover a large area, then simply massage the blend onto the entire area.
- Use up to twice a day.
3. Honey and Tea Tree Cleanser
Honey is a gentle antimicrobial and cleansing agent that is particularly soothing for sensitive or acne-prone skin.
Honey also fights blemishes, evens out skin tone and nourishes the skin.
The combination of honey and tea tree gives you an effective, non-abrasive cleanser.
¼ cup raw honey
3 drops tea tree essential oil
- Combine the honey and tea tree oil in a bowl. NOTE: If the honey is too thick, warm it up by placing the honey container in a hot water bath. Warming it will make it more fluid.
- Splash your face with water then massage the mixture onto your skin for at least 1 minute.
- Rinse with warm water and pat your face dry.
- Follow up with a moisturizer of your choice.
FAQs FOR HOW TO USE TEA TREE OIL IN YOUR SKIN CARE ROUTINE
Can tea tree oil clog pores?
Tea tree oil is non-comedogenic, which means it doesn’t clog pores. So, as long as you blend it with a non-comedogenic carrier oil (such as grapeseed or almond oil), it’s unlikely to clog your pores.
How long does it take for tea tree oil to work?
When you follow the proper dilution and application guidelines, tea tree oil can start improving acne within the first few applications. Pimples can start drying up and reduce in size (and redness) within a few days. However, in order to completely clear up your skin, it can take several months depending on the severity of your acne.
Tea tree oil is a natural and scientifically proven remedy for all types of acne.
And not only does it kill acne-causing bacteria, but it’s just as effective as popular over-the-counter remedies.
I hope this post has given you some helpful ideas on how you can start incorporating tea tree oil into your daily routine!
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