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Tea tree oil acne skin care products - how they work, and how to use them

Updated on November 29, 2010

An introduction to tea tree oil skin care

One of the most effective acne products you can find in about any drug store today is benzoil peroxide.

This treatment does work against most types of acne, but it can cause redness, itching, and peeling of the skin, making the look and feel of the skin worse instead of better.And many people don't like using such harsh chemicals on their skin, and would prefer a natural remedy.

An alternative solution that has proven to be just as effective as benzoil peroxide against acne is tea tree oil.

The use of tea tree oil for acne has been studied and scientifically proven to reduce the occurrence and severity of acne, and it tends to do so with fewer side effects, when used correctly.

Drawing of the tea-tree, from the 1790 book, "Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales" by John White
Drawing of the tea-tree, from the 1790 book, "Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales" by John White

How tea tree oil works against acne

Tea tree oil is actually already used in many commercial acne products, although you’re more likely to find it significant quantities in natural or organic acne skin care products.

The reason tea tree oil fights acne is that it is antibacterial, and some types of acne are caused by bacteria in the skin.

Because tea tree oil kills the bacteria, which are the underlying problem of this type of acne, it eliminates the acne.

The catch is that tea tree oil only works on certain types of acne and that it must be used correctly in order to work at all.

How to tell what kind of acne you have, and whether tea tree oil will help

Not all acne is caused by bacteria. Some forms are caused by hormones, stress, diet, or even vitamin deficiencies.

The simplest way to discover what type of acne you struggle with most is to see a dermatologist, but if you can’t afford to do this, you can always try different acne skin care products until you find one that works for you.

Different products will target different types of acne, and tea tree oil acne products will target bacteria-induced acne.

So if you know or suspect your acne to be caused by bacteria, you can try tea tree oil products to clear up your face.

These products, when used correctly, have several advantages over commercial benzoil peroxide and salicylic acid products. For one thing, tea tree acne products are less likely to cause peeling, burning, and itching of the affected areas.

Benzoil peroxide and salicylic acid can cause these problems, making skin look no better even if they do clear up the actual pimples and blackheads.

Besides this, tea tree oil has been reported to almost immediately ease the pain associated with some pimples, while benzoil peroxide and salicylic acid typically don’t ease the pain until they actually cure the pimple.

A commerical tea tree oil plantation in Australia. This image is in the public domain.
A commerical tea tree oil plantation in Australia. This image is in the public domain.

Making and mixing your own tea tree oil acne treatments

If you prefer to use tea tree oil in your own blends, be sure you’re getting pure tea tree oil from a reputable provider.

You can usually tell if essential oils are aromatherapy grade by the labels; aromatherapy labels should include the scientific name of the oil, the method of extraction, and the location where the oil was originally found and distilled.

Once you’ve found the right tea tree oil product, be sure to blend it well.

You can blend tea tree oil in a soap base to use as a facial cleanser, or you can blend a few drops with a bottle of water or witch hazel to use as a toner.

For a topical acne treatment, blend tea tree oil with a light base oil and apply the blend to affected areas regularly.

Choosing safe, effective tea tree skin care products

Now, some people will say that you can use tea tree essential oil directly on the skin without diluting it first, but this is really not a good practice.

While tee tree oil is safe to be used on most skin, it can cause the sensitive skin of the face, neck, and chest to peel and dry out, which can actually make the acne worse.So while it does work for some people, I'd suggest diluting the oil first, rather than using the pure tea tree oil on your skin.

This advice is for using tea tree oil regularly to treat acne. For treating individual spots, burns, cuts or grazes, undiluted tea tree oil is fine. But for regularly, long-term use, neat tea tree essential oil might be over-doing it.

So instead of using the tea tree oil neat, you can invest in manufactured tea tree skin care products; you can find these at just about any health care store.

Organic, all-natural tea tree skin care products usually have a concentration of about 5% tea tree oil, which has proven to be very effective without having nasty side effects on sensitive skin.

You can find facial cleansers, toners, and topical treatments for acne that include tea tree oil.

As an added benefit, these cleansers and treatments also typically include other anti-bacterial and toning essential oils and plant extracts, which can result in an all-around clean, acne-free face.

How long does it take to get results?

The only disadvantage to using tea tree oil acne products instead of conventional chemical commercial products is that it takes a little longer to work.

This simply means you may have to wait a bit longer for your acne problem to be solved, but it also means that tea tree skin care products are gentler and less irritating as the above paragraph stated.

If you use tea tree products on a regular basis, you will see results in bacteria-driven acne in just a few weeks, and regular use will keep the acne at bay without drying out your skin.


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      Doug 8 years ago

      Nice hubpage. Tea tree oil is well known for its antibacterial properties. Many people in the herbal and alternative health communities recommend its use. As with any plant extract, the user must exercise caution and, as you point out, give a properly blended oil a chance to work.

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      mzoghori 8 years ago

      Its better to know how too get yourself on the safe side of acne. Incase you are infected, a cream can help you get back your smooth face all the same. To prevent at any one time in future from being infected, here are some tips to keep you going;

      Avoid any synthetis materials or fibers espacially when going for excercises.

      Wear a little makeup when going for excercises.

      Avoid being wet. Get out of damp clothes as theyhub the bacteria that causes acne.

    • wolvie1881 profile image

      wolvie1881 8 years ago from Canada

      Wow, great article. I didn't realize that tea tree oil had any uses in acne treatment. I used to sell products years ago for a multi level marketing company called "Melaleuca" that used tea tree oil in all of their cleaning and personal products. Thanx for the info. :)