What is tea tree oil?Pure tea tree oil is made by extracting the oil from the leaves of the tea tree. Not to be confused with the common tea plant we use to make black and green tea, the tea tree in question was first discovered by sailors. When they arrived on the swampy south-east Australian (it’s native country) coast in the 18th century, these thirsty seadogs used the leaves of the tea tree to make a tea with a nutmeg aroma.
Nowadays, tea tree essential oil is used for all sorts of things, including, skin problems and dandruff. However, like many herbal remedies, most of these claimed benefits are not backed by strong scientific evidence yet.
What are tea tree oil benefits?
Tea tree oil has quite a potent herbal smell, which is not for everyone, so it’s not likely to be one for putting in your oil burner! Tea Tree oil has been used throughout history for many reasons as it’s believed to have antibacterial properties.
Read a little about the most popular tea tree oil uses below:
Tea tree oil for hair
You may have already come across tea tree oil on the back of shampoo and conditioner products, but do you know why? Essential oils are often mixed into hair products either for their naturally pleasant smells, the positive changes they can make to your hair, or both!
Tea tree oil is said to support natural hair growth and help people who suffer with dandruff. Here’s how:
- Dandruff: this annoying and sometimes embarrassing condition is caused by a build-up of dry, scaly skin on your scalp, which if left unaddressed, can prevent your hair from growing to its full potential – and the white flakes aren’t too fun either! Tea tree oil shampoo will have antibacterial properties, which may help fight whatever is causing the accumulation of dead skin on your scalp.
- Heathy hair growth: sometimes hair growth gets hindered by chemical build-ups from hair products and the overuse of hair products in general, which can increase the risk of hair breakage and excessive shedding. Opting for natural (diluted) tea tree oil can help prevent the build-up of dead skin and chemicals on the hair shafts, which can ‘free’ the hair and help it grow at its normal rate.
Commonly recommended dosage: if you want to tackle dandruff, choose a shampoo with 5% tea tree oil. If you want to make your own essential oil treatment to help maintain healthy hair, dilute tea tree oil 1:10 with a carrier oil like almond oil, or just mix a few drops into your shampoo or conditioner.1
Please note: if you are genetically pre-disposed to losing hair, have hair loss associated with ageing or are going through treatment like chemotherapy which often results in hair loss, tea tree oil is not likely to help with your hair loss. It may help keep your scalp nice and clean though!
Tea tree oil for spotsSpots normally pop up when our skin produces excess sebum (natural skin oil) which can cling onto dead skin and cause spots. However, they can also crop up because of bacteria growth on the skin, and as tea tree oil has antibacterial properties2, it could help to prevent this type of spot. Experiments have also found that using tea tree oil to combat spots has fewer side effects for some people in comparison to using conventional spot treatments like benzoyl peroxide.3 and always dilute Tea Tree oil with a suitable carrier oil before applying directly to the skin.
Commonly recommended dosage: most skin formulas contain 5% tea tree oil.4
When tea tree oil is applied to this skin, it is usually safe for most people if diluted properly with a carrier oil or water. However, it can cause skin swelling, irritation, dryness, itchiness, redness and burning. This is why you should always do a patch test.
Last updated: 14 September 2020