Tea tree oil is one of the most popular essential oils with numerous uses for daily life. It's one of the most versatile home remedies you can have on hand and has a long history of use. The benefits of tea tree oil range from skin health to sanitizing your home.
The leaves of the tea tree have long been used- likely for thousands of years- by the aboriginal people of Australia. Today, the essential oil is mass produced and widely used around the world.
Here's more about the top benefits of tea tree oil and ways you can use it at home.
What Is Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) is a small tree native to Australia. It was named because the leaves were once used to make an aromatic tea that had a nutmeg-like smell. Tea trees should not be confused with Camellia sinensis, the plant where black, green, and oolong teas come from.
The leaves and twigs of the tea tree have a long history of use by native Australian people groups. Some of their knowledge was also passed on to European settlers when they came to Australia. It's believed Captain James Cook gave the tea to his crew in the 1700's to prevent scurvy. (1)
The essential oil is extracted from tea tree leaves and twigs by steam distillation. The result is a very potent oil with antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. (2)
You'll find tea tree oil in many skincare products, and it's also a good essential oil to have in your home. You can use it to make quick remedies for everyday problems or as a natural sanitizer to keep your home clean.
Top Benefits of Tea Tree Oil
The antibacterial benefits of tea tree oil make it a common addition in all kinds of acne products.
Not only has it been proven to reduce both the severity and amount of acne, it's also been shown to be just as effective as benzoyl peroxide, a leading anti-acne medication. In one study, the side effects (dryness, redness, etc.) associated with tea tree oil gel were also significantly fewer than those that came with benzoyl peroxide use. (3)(4)
If you want to try tea tree as a natural acne treatment, it's important to know that it's effective but works more slowly than prescription treatments you may have tried.
Use it consistently for at least 4 weeks before evaluating your results. If carrier oils irritate your acne, use something oil-free like aloe gel to dilute the essential oil.
Fights Fungal Issues
Tea tree oil has proven itself to be especially powerful against different types of fungal infections. In fact, it was used by Australian soldiers in World War II as the only treatment that could combat foot fungus. (1)
You can use it yourself by diluting pure tea tree oil in a carrier oil like coconut or sweet almond and applying it to your skin. Or try using a product made with tea tree oil like this Awesome Antifungal salve.
Soothes and Protects Skin
Besides acne and fungal issues, tea tree oil has many benefits for other skin conditions.
It has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that can help wounds to heal. The oil has been shown in certain studies to decrease wound healing time and may help treat chronic infected wounds. (8)(9)
Tea tree oil also helps to soothe inflamed skin, whether from an allergic reaction, sunburn, or some other irritation. It can be especially effective when combined with other skincare essential oils like lavender.
You can also use tea tree for itchy skin, and people have found relief using it for conditions like eczema and psoriasis. (10)
Supports Oral Health
Tea tree oil has benefits for oral health by fighting bacteria and other pathogens that can cause problems. One study found that it was just as effective as an antiseptic mouth rinse against certain oral pathogens. (11)
A mouthwash with tea tree as an ingredient can also help you with bad breath. (12) An added benefit is that tea tree oil isn't drying like some other mouthwash ingredients can be.
Fights Dandruff & Supports Scalp Health
Tea tree oil shampoo has shown potential for helping with dandruff, itchiness, and dry scalp. (13) The study was done using a 5% tea tree shampoo, but you can also make your own DIY shampoo.
The easiest way to try tea tree for your scalp is to simply mix a drop or two of the pure essential oil into your normal shampoo before lathering your hair. Mix the two together in your hand and work into your scalp for 4-5 minutes.
Bacteria is often the culprit for unappealing odors, whether that's from your home, laundry, or armpits. Tea tree oil acts as a natural deodorizer on your skin and in your home.
You can use it as an ingredient in a DIY deodorant (or buy a natural deodorant with tea tree). You can also diffuse it in a room that needs deodorized or add it to laundry detergent to freshen clothing.
Tea tree oil's strong antimicrobial properties make it an ideal ingredient in natural DIY cleaners for your home. You can mix it with ingredients like water and white vinegar to make a cleaning spray. Adding other cleansing essential oils (like lemon) will complement the tea tree.
It also makes a good ingredient in DIY hand sanitizer and even homemade toothpaste.
Using Tea Tree Oil
Before using tea tree oil on your skin, you should dilute it first. This helps protect your skin from getting sensitive to the essential oil and allows you to spread the same amount of oil on a larger area.
If you want to use tea tree on dry skin, you can simply add a few drops to your daily moisturizer or dilute it with a carrier oil. Most plant-based oils make great carrier oils, and you can choose the one that works best with your skin.
For DIY projects like homemade deodorant, coconut oil is often the best choice because it has a firmer consistency and can be stored in a jar.
If you want to use tea tree for acne-prone skin, oils aren't always the best choice. You can choose something like aloe vera gel or simply dilute the oil in your normal facial moisturizer, toner, etc.
You can also used ready-made products that contain tea tree oil like shampoos, face gels, salves, mouthwash, or toothpaste. Just make sure the rest of the ingredients in store-bought products are actually natural.
Tea tree essential oil is safe for topical and aromatic use, but there's always the chance you could have an allergic reaction to it. Do a small patch test before using tea tree on a large area of skin just to be sure.
Although the leaves were once used to make tea, tea tree oil should not be ingested. You should also avoid getting any in sensitive areas like your eyes, nose, and mucous membranes.
Always buy 100% pure essential oils from a trusted seller to avoid chemicals and fillers.
Mighty Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is one of the best essential oils to have on hand at home. It has such a wide range of uses, especially for your skin. You can use it for cuts, fungal issues, itchy skin, dandruff, acne, and so much more.
Learn more about the benefits of tea tree oil firsthand by trying it out for yourself!