I’ve been using tea tree oil for 2-3 years now but have only been using it to treat my acne for about 1/2 a year. I first purchased the ‘Radiance brand’ tea tree oil when I got my first cartilage piercing about three years ago in order to treat the keloids that were forming on my ear. I currently have a total of 8 piercings with intentions of getting more, so tea tree oil is a big part of my daily regimen.
What is Tea Tree Oil? Tea tree oil is an essential oil that is also known as melaleuca oil. It is a substance that is derived from the the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia, which is native to Australia. Tea tree oil can have various cosmetic uses but is toxic if swallowed. Tea tree oil contains terpenoids, which have antiseptic and antifungal activity. These are the properties that make it such a great treatment for acne. Clinical studies have shown that 5% tea tree oil gel is comparable to 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion in treating those with mild to moderate acne. In fact, the 5% tea tree oil gel yielded fewer side effects such as itching, stinging, burning and dryness.
Tea tree oil has a variety of uses. Keep in mind that no matter what you are using tea tree oil for, you must dilute tea tree oil before using it. You can either dilute it with water or other oils. It is a little difficult to dilute tea tree oil in water since oils don’t dissolve in water but you can mix it with some alcohol (such as vodka) or vegetable glycerin. I don’t know much about tea tree oil dilutions but the dilutions vary for what you want to use it for (ie: dandruff care, atheletes foot, acne, etc.). I would confirm with someone who knows about dilutions before you go about making your own tea tree oil cocktail.
Below is how I use tea tree oil and my review of how well it has worked for me:
For Piercing/Keloid Care: I generally take a small bowl or a shallow cup, fill it with lukewarm water and pour the equivalent to 1-2 drops of tea tree oil. I also stir in a teaspoon of sea salt before dipping the affected ear for about 15 minutes. On other days, I soak a cotton swab (Q-tip) in water, dip it into the tea tree oil bottle and then add 2 more drops of water onto the swab from the sink faucet. I apply this directly to the piercing site or keloid. I usually also followed this up with a drop of Vitamin E oil.
Review: This has always worked great for any keloid formations I have had. My only warning is that I used to get either crusting (maybe dried up Vitamin E oil?) around the piercing in the mornings when I applied it. Just be sure to keep your piercing clean! Also, if you are using it for the first time, know that it can cause itching and dryness (why I also used Vitamin E oil on top).
In addition, I once put drops of tea tree oil into a styrofoam cup and the styrofoam cup had degraded within minutes (a hole had formed, right through the cup). So please imagine if you were to put 100% undiluted tea tree oil onto your skin. It would do more harm than good and severely damage your skin. Please dilute your tea tree oil.
Facial Steaming: I fill a large bowl with boiling water and pour about 3-4 drops worth of tea tree oil into the bowl. This might work better if you purchase the tea tree oil that comes in a dropper bottle. I’ve never had the dropper bottle but I’ve just gotten used to pouring small amounts. I then drape a towel over my head and the bowl, making sure to keep it pretty sealed for about 15-20 minutes. I generally close my pores by applying a cold sheet mask (usually Kuan Yuan Lian NATURAL CARE Whitening Mask) and then following with my regular night regimen.
Review: I used to do facial steaming at least once a week but it really depends on whether I have half an hour to kill or not (which I usually don’t anymore). I find that this method is very relaxing and helps to clear out my pores. Facial steaming helps to open up pores and the tea tree oil can hep purify your pores to maintain clearer skin. This method is better for those with oily skin though, since it can be quite drying.
Topical Acne Treatment: I have a very archaic way of diluting my tea tree oil. I take a cotton swab (Q-tip) and wet it thoroughly in water, flick off the excess and then dip it directly into the tea tree oil bottle. I then add 1 or 2 more drops of water onto the swab before sweeping it across my face. I generally apply more than once on the active acne lesions.
Review: I am absolutely in love with tea tree oil and the wonders it has been doing for my acne. Tea tree oil does a great job bringing my nodules to surface and drying them out. Normally my nodules would take about a week to come to surface and more than a week to heal. Tea tree oil can literally dry out my nodules in 1-2 nights of usage. I must warn you however, the way I dilute my tea tree oil still makes it pretty strong. It still slightly stings when I apply it to my skin. I have a pretty high skin tolerance and pain tolerance though, so I don’t suggest this for those of you with sensitive skin. It does make my skin slightly red and when I apply too heavily, my skin will end up feeling raw the next day. It will sting like crazy to apply moisturizer the next day!
Make sure to be moisturizing well if you are using tea tree oil, since it can dry out your skin. I find that tea tree oil is less drying than my 10% benzoyl peroxide gel that I use in the mornings. While I generally use tea tree oil only at night (due to the strong smell), I will apply tea tree oil to the active lesions in the morning if I’m feeling impatient.
I’ve been using the 2 fl oz bottle of tea tree oil to the left in the image above for this entire time, so one bottle will last you a long, long time. I just recently ran out last month and purchased the new bottle you see on the right (Origin brand). I’m not sure about the differences between brands – I just make sure that I am purchasing pharmaceutical grade 100% pure tea tree oil. Also, remember to always dilute your tea tree oil before applying to your skin!