INGREDIENT LOVE: TEA TREE

Few skincare ingredients are as versatile as the tried and true tea tree. Besides treating a myriad of skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema, it’s also been used in hair products, mouthwashes, and deodorants. Many people SWEAR by this stuff- tea tree was one of the first skincare products I was introduced to and it’s stayed a steadfast part of my routine. Everyone can find a use for tea tree, so keep reading to find out yours!

 

What is Tea Tree?

 

To begin, what is it and where does it come from? Tea tree oil is the liquid extracted from Melaleuca alternifolia, a shrub plant native to Australia. And no, this tea tree is not the same as the plants that grow the tea you drink! Approximately every year, the trees are harvested, and the leaves and branches crushed or chopped. The oil is collected through a process called steam distillation.  tree oil is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores. 

 

A major component in this oil are molecules named terpenes, which are organic compounds that eradicate bacteria, viruses and fungi. Terpinen-4-ol has even been shown to elevate the activity of the white blood cells in your immune system, making tea tree ideal for fighting infections, inflammation, and more.

 

What is Tea Tree Good For? Benefits?

 

Because of its strong antimicrobial properties, tea tree can help with a large spectrum of problems, both skin related and not. One thing- It’s important to note that while there hasn’t been extensive research done on tea tree, it’s been used and passed down for generations through anecdotal evidence. 

 

Skin related benefits:

 

  • Acne: Its antibacterial properties can help reduce inflammation, redness, and swelling. Studies have shown to decrease the amount of acne, and tea tree helps prevent and diminish scarring at the same time. 
  • Psoriasis: Although this condition has no known cure, tea tree oil can provide some relief in soothing the discomfort. 
  • Dry Skin/Eczema: Tea tree calms the itching and inflammation associated with these conditions.

 

Other benefits:

 

  • Dandruff: This condition is usually caused by an overproduction of yeast(a fungi), resulting in itching and flaking. The anti-fungal properties of tea tree oil can regulate these yeast levels and consequently reduce dandruff.
  • Body Odor: Tea tree can kill the bacteria responsible for body odor, making it a great option for a natural deodorant.
  • Mouthwash: The bacteria that cause plaque, bad breath, and tooth decay can be combated with tea tree oil. 
  • Hand Sanitizer: Although not a substitute for proper hand washing, tea tree’s antibacterial and antiviral properties have been shown to kill common microorganisms that can cause illnesses like the flu. Use it for on the go disinfecting!

 

Using Tea Tree in Your Skincare Routine

 

You’ll see tea tree in a lot of products like spot treatments, moisturizers, and more. Of course, you can also get yourself a separate bottle of the oil to have the freedom to add it to any step of your routine!

 

First off, be sure to purchase an oil that has no additives, preferably organic as well. As with any new product you’re incorporating, make sure to do a patch test to make sure you aren’t allergic.

 

Because tea tree oil is quite potent, the most common method of using it is diluting it beforehand to prevent irritation. Add a couple drops into the product of your choice and you’re good to go! This is completely customizable based on what your skin can handle. To use as a spot treatment, dilute the oil with water or a non comedogenic carrier oil such as jojoba oil.

 

One last note- tea tree oil can oxidize, so be sure to store it in airtight, dark packaging and check the expiration date.