Natural ingredients and essential oils are gaining a lot of popularity in the beauty world lately. One such ingredient, which is being added to a lot of beauty products, is Tea Tree Oil. This natural substance is touted to be a remedy from several skin conditions and to have antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.
While most of these claims haven’t been scientifically proven yet simply because not many studies have been done on Tea Tree Oil, it seems that there is proof that this ingredient can be an effective treatment for acne. This could be good news for those that are affected by this condition but react badly to Benzoyl Peroxide. But let’s dig deeper and see what Tea Tree Oil is and how effective it is against Acne.
What is Tea Tree Oil?
Tea Tree Oil is a clear, colorless to slightly yellow liquid with a strong scent and contains more than 100 natural compounds (most natural ingredients, unlike synthetic ones who are made in labs and contain much less, are made up of so many substances, some of which may be problematic for skin and just proves that natural isn’t always safer)! The main ones in Tea Tree Oil are Cineole and Terpinen and the latter can cause allergies but more on that later. The type of Tea Tree Oil used in cosmetics derives from the needles of the Australian Melaleuca Alternifolia plant.
Tea Tree Oil and Acne
Scientific research shows that Tea Tree Oil is an antimicrobial agent that kills the bacteria that causes breakouts and acne. A 1990 study conducted on 124 patients compared the efficacy, in the treatment of mild to moderate acne, of 5% Tea Tree Oil gel and 5% Benzoyl Peroxide lotion. The results showed that both “had a significant effect in ameliorating the patients’ acne by reducing the number of inflamed and non-inflamed lesions (open and closed comedones), although the onset of action in the case of tea-tree oil was slower. Encouragingly, fewer side effects were experienced by patients treated with tea-tree oil.”
Benzoyl Peroxide is so effective because it is also harsh and that’s why some people can’t use it without experiencing side effects (dryness, redness, peeling and irritation). Tea Tree Oil seems to be a good alternative for these people but not all products that contain it are effective. Most of them contain very small concentrations (usually around 1%) of this ingredient that just aren’t enough for it to work properly. If you’re interested to use Tea Tree Oil as an anti-acne treatment you should (apart from consulting a dermatologist of course) look for products whose concentrations of this ingredient range from 5% to 10%. Anything less, just don’t bother and save your money instead.
Does Tea Tree Oil has any side effect?
Although, as mentioned above, Tea Tree Oil is more gentle than Benzoyl Peroxide, it doesn’t mean it is without side effects. This ingredient has volatile components that can cause mild irritations and allergies such as contact dermatitis in some people. If that happens, discard its use immediately. I think most people will be able to tolerate it quite well though and, for those with sensitive skin, it is certainly a less irritating option than Benzoyl Peroxide.
The Bottom Line
Although a lot of research is still needed to determine exactly what benefits Tea Tree Oil has for the skin (most of its supposed beneficial claims only have anecdotal proof to back them up), current studies show that 5 to 10% concentrations are effective at treating acne. It works more slowly than Benzoyl Peroxide but it is also less irritating and a good alternative for those that can’t tolerate the latter.
Have you ever used Tea Tree Oil has a treatment for acne or blemishes?