Acne: the nearly-universal skin scourge that causes tears, frustration, and, in some cases, loss of self-confidence and increased self-loathing and which can be extremely hard to eliminate. As more and more people turn to alternative treatment to try to clear their skin, many are turning to natural products, like tea tree oil acne cures, to achieve this goal. Given tea tree oil’s reputation in the alternative or natural cure community, it is only logical that at some point, the question, “Is tea tree oil good for acne breakouts?” would be asked. Now, within the natural cure industry, there is a frustrating trend of individuals latching on to a substance recently discovered (at least by Westerners) and proclaiming it to be a suitable treatment for nearly every disease faced by humans today, from cancer to diabetes. This is partly why alternative cures have a dubious reputation. HOWEVER, in the case of tea tree oil, its reputation for curing acne is well-deserved, as it can be a tremendously effective tool in the fight against the universal scourge that is acne, as well as acne scars. So keep reading to find out more about how you can use tea tree oil for acne treatment.
How Does Tea Tree Oil For Acne Work?
Those suffering from acne, especially those who have tried repeatedly to treat it in a variety of ways with little to no success, are increasingly turning to natural or herbal cures, with tea tree oil being one of the most popular methods. But how does tea tree oil for acne work? Why does tea tree oil for acne work? To understand this, it is helpful to first have a little background information on acne.
What is acne?
While there are different forms of acne, they all start at the same place—a clogged pore, which occurs when excess oil (sebum) is produced by the sebaceous glands and the extra oil mixes with dead skin cells to create a plug that clogs the follicle (also known as a “pore”) A clogged follicle is more susceptible to bacterial infection and inflammation and because bacteria lives on our skin (and is usually harmless) and because our skin, specifically its acid mantle, which depends on the proper functioning of sebaceous glands to be effective, is the first line of defense against invading bacteria, it is extraordinarily easy for infection to occur. This results in the formation of the dreaded white head or its more evil relatives, the nodule and cyst, both of which may require a doctor’s care.
Why should you use tea tree oil to treat acne?
Antibacterial agent: Tea tree oil helps acne because it is a proven antibacterial agent. When tea tree oil is used for acne, it is applied directly to the affected area. From there, it penetrates the clogged pore to disinfect and kill acne-causing bacteria. Tea tree oil for acne is also useful for acne’s most noticeable side effect—the whitehead, which it is able to dry out.
Solvent: Tea tree oil is a solvent, which means that it cuts through dust and grease, including that which is present on skin.
pH balance: Using tea tree oil helps balance the skin’s pH level, which stops excess oil production and repairs the acid mantle.
Antiseptic: As an antiseptic, tea tree oil for acne is useful for acne because it removes dead skin cells that are partially responsible for clogged pores.
Anti-inflammatory: One of the worst side effects of acne are the inflammation and swelling, which have the power to take a small whitehead and turn it into a pulsating monster of a pimple that is not only incredibly noticeable, but painful as well. Various tea tree oil solutions have anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe the skin, reduce swelling, and decrease inflammation.
What about prescription and over-the-counter products?
Of course, many often ask the question, “Why use tea tree oil when there are prescription and over-the-counter products that work too?” This is a fair question, as both are effective treatments that have given countless acne-sufferers relief from blemishes and breakouts. However, there are several reasons why opting for a tea tree oil for acne based cure may be a favorable alternative option.
Effectiveness: Every body is a little bit different—this is why some medications and products are wildly successful when used by some and completely ineffective or harmful when used by others. There is no universal acne cure, and this applies to tea tree oil acne remedies as well as other kinds of products. Many, if not a majority, of people who turn to tea tree oil woes have previously used prescription and over-the-counter products and found them to ineffective. They sometimes even make the problem worse. For those who have exhausted their options, alternative treatments, like witch hazel (another popular natural acne treatment) and tea tree oil based cures, act as a last-ditch effort in their quest for blemish-free or, at least, clearer skin. Because it has been shown that tea tree oil is good for acne, acne-sufferers have a good chance at success when using tea tree oil to help their acne.
This is not to say that tea tree oil acne remedies should only be used as a last resort, merely that this is often the case. For those with mild to moderate acne woes, or those who suffer the occasional breakout, using a dab of tea tree acne solution is preferable to an all-over face wash that contains harsher ingredients, which leads us to the next point.
Side effects: The harshness of the chemicals used in most acne medications can have side effects like excessive drying of the skin, redness, itching, and burning. Although studies have shown that the acne-fighting products that used chemicals worked faster, they have also concluded that using tea tree oil problems has the same effect. It differs from chemical products in that it takes a little longer to work, but has very few side effects.
Tea Tree Oil and Cystic Acne
Cystic acne is a particularly nasty form of acne that occurs when the bacterial infection that causes pimples goes deep into skin and forms a large, painful bump full of pus that may also itch. If it bursts, it can spread the infection, causing more breakouts. Tea tree oil for acne is a great treatment for cystic acne because it antibacterial and antimicrobial, but it does not irritate the skin like chemical treatments.
How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Acne
While it is true that it is a natural ingredient, it is still important to understand how to use tea tree oil for acne before treating yourself with it. Why? Tea tree oil may be natural, but that does not mean that it is weak—when used in improper amounts, tea tree oil can be extremely potent and possibly dangerous, even if it is only being used for acne.
There is a lack of literature on tea tree oil’s effect on pregnant women, breastfeeding women, and children, so these groups should avoid using tea tree oil or tea tree oil for acne products.
When treating acne, do not use a solution that is 100% tea tree oil for acne. Dilute it with something, be it water or another type of oil. Higher concentrations can be used in the treatment of other skin ailments, but for acne, concentrations around 5% have been effective, though you may use more.
Tea tree oil may cause allergic reaction and worsen skin conditions like eczema. It can also negatively affect burned skin.
For some people, especially those with sensitive skin, tea tree oil can cause redness, blistering, and itching. Use a small amount until you know how it will affect you. DO NOT use large quantities of tea tree oil on the skin.
DIY or Store-Bought Tea Tree Oil For Acne Treatments?
Store-bought: There are a surprising number of products that use tea tree oil for acne within the actual product, though these items usually include other helpful herbs and oils, which is good, as tea tree oil for acne should always be diluted. Some of the most popular include:
Burt’s Bees Herbal Blemish Stick
DIY: When it comes to natural remedies, a lot of people like to make it themselves and that is perfectly fine as long as they (and you) make sure to create products that are not harmful or overly harsh. In fact, the best way to make DIY tea tree acne solutions is to follow recommended recipes before getting creative. This enables you to get an idea of what is safe and what kind of concentrations you should be using of each substance. Many people choose to customize these recipes with other oils and herbs known to be beneficial to the skin. If DIY is something in which you are interested, find information on the different herbs and natural ingredients that are known to have benefits for the skin and research each to find out their recommended concentrations and any precautions that should be taken. Below are some tips that may be helpful to those interested in making their own products:
Use Google search, but switch your search venue from “Web” to “Books.” There are numerous books on herbal remedies and cures, some specifically for skin. The full version may not be available, but the preview that is usually given often has a great deal of information and you can use several of these books to compile information on different ingredients. Some that you may find especially helpful are:
Natural Skin Care by Joni Loughran
Herbs for Healthy Skin by Dr. Cindy Jones
The New Healing Herbs: The Classic Guide to Nature’s Best Medicines Featureing the Top 100 Time-Tested Herbs by Michael Castleman
Of course, a general Google search will yield plenty of results. To get you started, check out these articles on herbal skincare:
Top Ten Herbs to Promote Beauty
11 Herbs Used As Traditional Acne Remedies
5 Holistic Ways to Treat Acne
Treatment of Acne with Special Emphasis on Herbal Remedies (This is a medical article written by dermatologists, so it may be a little dense, and it spends most of its time discussing various chemical remedies for acne, but it does have information on herbal cures. It is a good primer for those interested in learning more about acne treatment in general, especially those interested in the science of it.
Herbs for Acne
DIY Tea Tree Oil For Acne Recipes
Most DIY skincare recipes are fairly simple and straightforward, but here are some with which to start
Spot treatments: Where Tea Tree Oil for Acne Meet in a 1-on-1 Duel
Mix equal parts tea tree oil and aloe vera gel or vitamin E; dab it on the affected area (be diligent!). The tea tree oil for acne gives this solution an antibacterial punch, while the aloe vera and/or vitamin E help with scarring.
Mix 2 tsp of crude, natural honey and 2 to 3 drops of tea tree oil. Apply this to the affected area and let it sit for hours or overnight, then wash it off. Continue this treatment until the blemish has disappeared.
Masks: The Tea Tree Oil and Acne Cage-Match
Mix 3 drops of tea tree oil, 1 tsp of jojoba, and ½ of a finely chopped tomato into a smooth paste. Apply it your face, wait 10 minutes, then wash it off.
Mix 2 tbsp of green clay powder and 3 to 4 drops of tea tree oil with enough water to make the clay into a paste. Apply it to the skin and leave it on for 20 minutes, then wash it off. Be sure to keep the mask out of your eyes. (Note: Using clay too often can dry out the skin, so do not use this product excessively)
Combine ¼ cup plain yogurt and 5 drops of tea tree oil and apply to the face. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm water and pat your face dry.
How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Acne Scars
Of course, after you rid yourself of the acne, you must now take care of the scars. Luckily, tea tree oil for acne is also a treatment for acne scars, though this is not where it is most effective. Using tea tree oil for acne scars will make them fade slowly over time, but there are better natural options, such as apple cider vinegar, honey, olive oil, ice, turmeric, egg whites, cucumber juice, lime or lemon juice, aloe vera, and tomatoes.
Tea Tree Oil: Acne Cure?
Tea tree oil based acne cures are effective, natural, and have fewer side effects than their non-natural counterparts. Using tea tree oil may not help all people, but it is effective in a large portion of those who try it. Due to its low risk of side effects, tea tree oil is a viable treatment for acne woes.
Acnefreeforlife.com (2013) Your Best Cystic Acne Cure to Beat Those Boils. Available from: http://acnefreeforlife.com/cystic-acne-cure/.
Carson, C.F. et al (2006) “Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: A Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties.”Clinical Microbiology Reviews 19.1 (2006): 50–62. PMC. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360273/.
Homeremediesforlife.com (2014) Available from: http://homeremediesforlife.com/tea-tree-oil-for-acne/.
Jackson, Kristin Collins (2014) 3 Tea Tree Oil For Acne Beauty Recipes That Will Get Rid Of Your Acne For Good. Available from: http://www.bustle.com/articles/23959-3-tea-tree-oil-beauty-recipes-that-will-get-rid-of-your-acne-for-good.
Lethow.com. How to Use Tea Tree Oil and Acne Scars Treatment? Available from: http://lethow.com/skin/use-tea-tree-oil-for-acne-and-acne-scars/.
Naturalselectionblog.com (2013) A DIY Divas Guide to Natural Beauty: fighting acne with Tea Tree Oil For Acne! Available from: http://naturalselectionblog.com/2013/04/04/a-diy-divas-guide-to-natural-beauty-fighting-acne-with-tea-tree-oil/.
O’Connor, Anahad (2011) Remedies: Tea Tree Oil. Available from: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/27/remedies-tea-tree-oil-for-acne/?_r=0.
Parks, Chanel (2014) Tea Tree Oil For Acne Your Body: What You Need to Know. Available from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/04/tea-tree-oil-benefits_n_4818635.html.
Sorgen, Carol (2007) Tea Tree Oil Treats Skin Problems. Available from: http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/features/tea-tree-oil-treats-skin-problems.
Webmd Cystic Acne: What Is It and How Do You Treat It? Available from: http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/cystic-acne.
Webmd.com (2014) Tea Tree Oil. Available from: http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/supplement-guide-tea-tree-oil.