What is tea tree oil used for? It may be best known for battling blemishes, but this plant oil has a range of other uses too.
But first, what is tea tree oil? It’s an essential oil sourced from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant. For the avoidance of doubt, this isn’t the same plant that’s responsible for providing the leaves for your morning brew.
For centuries, people have used tea tree oil as a soothing natural remedy to help with a number of common health complaints. Nowadays, it’s most often found in soap, shampoo, toothpaste, skincare, topical creams, and lip balm. It’s also sometimes called Melaleuca, after its native Australian plant source.
What is tea tree oil used for?
The cleansing powers of tea tree oil are down to its antibacterial and antifungal properties. In simple terms, the natural chemicals in this oil can help combat bacteria and fungus. And this is why it’s so popular in skincare and for reducing numerous skin concerns. But it’s purifying prowess doesn’t just work on your complexion.
How to use tea tree oil
- Natural hand gel
- On minor scrapes
- Relief for sensitive skin and blemish breakouts
- Counteract nail fungus
- Prevent body odour
- Keep insects away
- Clean surfaces
- Manage athlete’s foot
Tea tree oil uses
Here we outline some of the most popular tea tree oil uses that show it’s far more than a skin-soothing superhero. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Tea tree oil may be helpful for other reasons too. For example, it could help with gingivitis, dandruff and to repel lice. But as yet, there isn’t sufficient evidence to back up these claims.
Natural hand gel
Due to its bacteria-killing capabilities, tea tree oil makes a great natural cleansing ingredient for hand sanitizers,
Sensitive skin and blemish breakouts
From spots and insect bites to skin conditions, when applied to sensitive skin, tea tree oil can help to reduce redness and itchiness. Although it may take longer to act than other more aggressive treatments – for example, benzoyl peroxide on spots – it can be a gentler option for delicate facial skin.1
Preventing body odour
Tea tree oil’s anti-bacterial properties make it a great odour-fighting ingredient for natural deodorants.
Keep insects away
This natural oil has been known to be as effective at killing or repelling insects as many standard insecticides and repellents. It makes an effective DIY bug spray if you want to avoid DEET.2
Mix tea tree oil with water and vinegar to make an all-purpose cleaner for your home that’s free from chemicals.
Is tea tree oil safe?
For most people, tea tree oil is safe as a topical treatment. But it contains a few more volatile compounds that some individuals may find sensitizing. Allergic reactions can happen, especially when tea tree oil is used in 100% strength.3 This is why you’ll usually find lower concentrations of this plant oil in skincare.
If your skin is prone to irritation and sensitivity, you could try diluting it using olive oil, coconut oil or almond oil before applying. As a precaution, it’s best to test tea tree oil on a small patch of skin first to check for any reaction.
However, it’s important to add, tea tree oil is toxic, so it must not be swallowed. As a result, it’s probably best to avoid applying it to the skin around your mouth.
Summary: What is tea tree oil good for?
As you can see, tea tree oil is a natural alternative for everything from chemical-based treatments for skin and nail conditions, to disinfectants for the home. As a multi-purpose essential oil, it certainly has some impressive credentials, making it one that you can definitely benefit from having to hand.
Last updated: 23 September 2020