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Tea Tree Oil Causes Cystic Acne: My Study

Updated on March 12, 2014

About Me

To kick things off, I've been acne-free for 8 years! Things get a little boring when your skin is 100% clear all the time. :P You start to go a little crazy, and you begin to wonder, "Would other products effectively keep my skin this clear?"

Ah, who am I kidding? Having clear skin is awesome, and I never get tired of it! The thing is, I like using and reviewing different products to be open-minded. Running my own experiments, taking daily pictures, and keeping you updated as to what works best is what I'm all about.

In fact, the Taylor Rating Scale, named after me, :P let's me rate acne products on a scale of 0 to 10. That is, if you're anything below a 9, you're a 0, and if you're a 9 or a 10, you're worth using.

So yes, I've been clear for 8 years with my use of 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, which is contained in products like Proactiv! But like I said, my goal here is to find another solution to being acne-free, and share my results with you.

Hence, we're here with my study on tea tree oil, and the results that I received while following this regimen to present a case study to you.

Ultimately, you want to know, "Should I use tea tree oil to treat my acne, or as a benzoyl peroxide alternative." That's what I'm here to share with you today.

My Study

I've heard that tea tree oil is a great alternative to benzoyl peroxide. A number of studies* say that it works just as well as benzoyl peroxide, even stating that some of the benefits include:

  • Reduction in acne lesions
  • With less side effects

Being the acne guru that I am, I wanted to do my own study, and I was shocked to find that I actually broke out in cystic acne!

Today, you're going to see some of my amazing before and after pictures, and you're also going to learn how using tea tree oil the wrong way can cause you some major problems. Here is a summary of the topics that I will cover today.

  1. A little about me.
  2. My before and after pictures and experiences.
  3. Why I don't think tea tree oil is an effective acne treatment.
  4. What I would do differently if I were to do my study again.

Before we go any further, you must understand that this is not a bash on tea tree oil report. This is simply me sharing my results with you, based off of my experiences, and how I used this product!

My Before and After Tea Tree Oil

This is 8 days into using tea tree oil, and my acne was way worse! Hence, I had to take the close-up!
This is 8 days into using tea tree oil, and my acne was way worse! Hence, I had to take the close-up!
I wish I would have taken the close-up picture here, but my skin was 100% clear in this picture, and I didn't think to take it! 100% tea tree oil made my acne worse!
I wish I would have taken the close-up picture here, but my skin was 100% clear in this picture, and I didn't think to take it! 100% tea tree oil made my acne worse!

My Experience

You've seen my before and after picture, and unfortunately, it's backwards! Tea tree oil actually caused me to breakout in cystic acne!

If I could go back, I would have gone back and done this study with 5% tea tree oil. That is, tea tree oil that is diluted in a carrier oil or water, where 95ml of water would meet 5ml of tea tree oil, thus the 5% solution.

But, for the purpose of my study, where I wanted absolute control, I used 100% tea tree oil, and this caused major problems, including cystic acne!

Other experience I had were skin dryness, and minor irritation. The one positive that I had was that my skin felt clean and cool upon application, but this positive was completely negated by the breakouts that I experienced.


Other Pictures

Day 3 Close-Up of My Study
Day 3 Close-Up of My Study
Cystic acne breakout I had due to using 100%, undiluted tea tree oil!
Cystic acne breakout I had due to using 100%, undiluted tea tree oil!
Another cystic acne mark on the inside edge of the bridge of my nose, due to my use of 100% undiluted tea tree oil.
Another cystic acne mark on the inside edge of the bridge of my nose, due to my use of 100% undiluted tea tree oil.

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      Elizabeth Busch 3 years ago

      I have read your 'study' and found logical reason behind your observations. I believe that you broke out into cystic acne is because of the type of acne you had before using tea tree oil. And of course everyone has different skin, so different things work better or worse on others. There's also many diverse types of acne and pityrosporum folliculitis, is commonly treated best with tea tree oil. Why? Pityrosporum folliculitis acne is produced by pores making to much bacteria therefore you have these itching pimples. And because of tea tree oil's anti-bacterial benefit, it clears most cases of pityrosporum folliculitis acne. You can read more about pityrosporum folliculiti acne here http://www.drbaileyskincare.com/blog/pityrosporum-...

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      kelly babbit 2 years ago

      I totally agree. I don't even care what people say about "it makes no sense" Tea Tree breaks me out and I only have clogged pores. Anytime I use something with TT I will get raised acne.

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