If you suffer from acne or constant blemishes, chances are good that you’ve at least heard about Tea Tree Oil. The natural extract is an ancient herbal remedy and is prized for its healing benefits. The essential oil comes from the leaves of Melaleuca Alternifolia tree, which is native to Australia.
There are three main qualities of Tea Tree Oil that helps it fight pimples. Let’s break those down to give you a better idea of how it works.
Acne, at its core, is a bacterial issue. Everyone has the acne-causing bacteria (called p. acnes bacteria) that causes it on their skin, but it really only causes problems when there is an excess of skin oils that trap it in pores and cause an infection, a.k.a. a pimple. For those with acne, their skin naturally produces too much oil so there is always a build-up of that bacteria and inflammation. Tea Tree Oil is a natural antibacterial, meaning it kills bacteria. Less bacteria equals less chances of the infection that leads to pimples.
While it has the same end result as antibacterials, an antiseptic doesn’t kill bacteria, but rather prohibits the growth of it in the first place. Again, less bacteria means less chances of breakouts.
Inflammation is one of the side effects of blemishes. When the p. acnes infects your pores, they become irritated, red, and painful to touch — i.e. inflammation. When applied topically, Tea Tree Oil’s anti-inflammatory ability can help minimize the size, severity, pain, and redness of existing blemishes.
Tea Tree Oil is considered a less irritating, natural alternative to Benzoyl Peroxide (a common pimple treatment). Scientists have found that, when applied topically in the same concentration, Tea Tree Oil is just as effective as Benzoyl at reducing the number of acne lesions, albeit at a slight slower pace. It’s that gradual pace that makes it a gentler option for those with extra sensitive skin, as Tea Tree Oil has less chance of irritation due to too much power in too little time.
It Can Help Other Acne Treatments Be More Effective
While powerful on its own, studies have shown that Tea Tree Oil works well alongside other common pimple-fighting ingredients, both natural and lab-created. One of the best pairings is Tea Tree Oil and Salicylic Acid, because they work on two different levels. Tea Tree Oil works on the actual bacteria and resulting inflammation, while Salicylic Acid helps remove the surface oil, dirt, and debris that can clog up the pores and make it easier for p. acnes to create an infection.
Word of warning: As with most acne treatments, stronger does not always mean better. If you use too high a concentration of Tea Tree Oil, it can lead to irritation and increased sensitivity. Always start with a lower percentage and space out applications until you know how much and how often your skin can handle it. Additionally, never put pure Tea Tree Essential Oil on your skin or you risk damaging the skin. Instead, be sure it is diluted in a carrier oil like Jojoba, Rosehip, Almond, or Evening Primrose.
Add Tea Tree Oil to your existing acne routine and you’ll find it can enhance your results and make blemishes appear less severe and have a shorter duration. With those benefits, it’s no wonder it’s been a staple in holistic healing for centuries.