How To Use Tea Tree Oil For Acne Treatment

Of all the natural home remedies for acne, tea tree oil has one of the biggest reputations and generates the biggest interest.

And the best part?

Unlike many natural treatments, there’s actually significant evidence to prove its effectiveness when used by acne patients.

In this article we’ll take a look at its benefits, and how to use tea tree oil for acne treatment.

What Is Tea Tree Oil?

Tea tree oil is an essential oil that is obtained by steam distillation from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia tree (tea tree).

It varies in color from almost colorless to a pale, clear yellow, and has a camphoraceous smell.

The tree tree is native to Australia and it has a history of use by aboriginal people that dates back hundreds of years.

It’s been traditionally used for its ability to treat skin infections, and is also popular for the treatment of:

  • Athlete's foot
  • Lice
  • Ringworm
  • Sore throats
  • Ear infections
  • Cuts

These days tea tree oil can be found in a variety of products, including tea tree oil face washes, soaps, body washes, shampoos, moisturizers, cleansers, and gels.

The main constituents of the oil are terpene hydrocarbons, which include monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and related alcohol compounds.

The International Organization For Standardization (ISO) have set guidelines that dictate 14 biologically active components that must be present in tea tree oil for commercial use, and the % composition (1).

Terpinen-4-ol is the major component of tea tree oil and is commonly found between 30-40% in oil that’s used commercially.

Whereas the compound 1-8-cineole is required to be no more than 15%.

Also found in tea tree oil are the active compounds ϒ-Terpinene, α-Terpinene, α-Terpineol, α-Pinene, Terpinolene, and ρ-Cymene.


Is Tea Tree Oil Good For Acne Prone Skin?

A number of scientific studies have been carried out that have looked at the effectiveness of tea tree oil for acne treatment.

The results have been very positive, with significant improvements having been demonstrated.

In a clinical trial to examine the effects of 5% tea tree oil on acne patients, 60 people were separated into 2 groups. Half applied a tea tree gel for 45 days, with a significant improvement in this group of patients compared to the placebo group (2).

In another clinical trial on 124 volunteers that compared the effects of a 5% tea tree oil gel against a 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion, the tea tree oil was shown to be comparable in effectiveness in reducing the number of acne lesions over a 3 month period (3).

The tea tree oil was slower to produce results, but had less side effects than the benzoyl peroxide.

The conclusion of these trials is that tea tree oil is effective when used as a method to treat moderate and mild cases of acne.

Let’s take a closer look at what the science tells us about the useful properties of tea tree oil.


Tea tree oil is a potent antibacterial. But not only that, the evidence shows that it kills P. acnes, the acne bacteria.

In one study that examined the effect of various active components of tea tree oil against the acne bacteria in a laboratory experiment, it was found that terpinen-4-ol, α-Terpineol, α-Terpinene, and Terpinolene, possessed significant inhibitory activity, with terpinen-4-ol determined to be the major compound responsible for the oil's antibacterial activity (4).


Scientific studies in vitro and in vivo have shown that tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory properties (5).

This could contribute towards its ability to treat acne, because the inflammatory response to the acne bacteria is one of the key stages of the condition, resulting in the characteristic red swellings of acne that you see on your face and body.


How To Use Tea Tree Oil For Acne?

How to use tea tree oil for acne prone skin

One of the benefits of using a natural acne treatment like tea tree oil is that, in contrast to some of the products that use harsh chemicals like benzoyl peroxide, it’s kinder on the skin when used appropriately.

It’s best to buy an organic, 100% pure tea tree oil for topical use. Some people like to use a few drops of the oil straight from the bottle onto a cotton ball. This can then be used as an acne spot treatment and can even dry up pimples overnight.

But, many people find that essential oils like tea tree oil are too strong for their skin undiluted and can cause irritation.

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How To Dilute Tea Tree Oil For Acne

When using essential oils, common advice is to start by using a 2% solution if you haven’t used the oil before.

The study mentioned above that demonstrated similar effectiveness to benzoyl peroxide used a 5% solution on volunteers with acne. So that is a reasonable concentration to aim for if your skin tolerates tea tree oil at the lower amount.

The recipes below aim for a concentration of approximately 5%, so reduce the amount of tea tree oil used accordingly if you require it to be less.

Tea Tree Oil And Grapeseed Oil For Acne

Grapeseed oil has a high linoleic acid content which has been shown in scientific studies to help reduce acne (6).

If you’re looking for a good carrier oil, then the best grapeseed oil for face care is very useful for people with acne and oily skin because it’s low on the comedogenicity scale. It scores 2 out of 5, which means a low risk of blocking skin pores

Directions For Use:

1. Purchase a bottle of 100% tea tree essential oil and a bottle of organic grapeseed oil.

2. Purchase a measuring cylinder.

3. Measure out 95 ml of grapeseed oil and 5 ml of tea tree oil using the measuring cylinder.

4. Pour the oils into a small bowl or container and mix together well.

5. Apply to your face each morning after you wash using your fingers.

6. Keep the excess in a sealed container in a cool place for further use.


Yogurt And Tea Tree Oil For Acne

Scientific studies have indicated that the probiotic bacteria found in yogurt can help reduce acne when applied topically due to antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties (7).

Directions For Use:

1. Purchase a container of organic yogurt and a bottle of 100% tea tree oil

2. Place 1 teaspoon of yogurt into a small bowl.

3. Add 5 drops of tea tree oil to the yogurt and mix together with a spoon.

4. Apply to your face with your fingertips.

5. Leave it for about 20 minutes and then rinse off again with warm water.

6. Repeat daily to see results.


Tea Tree Oil And Aloe Vera For Acne

You can use the best Aloe vera for acne treatment as a carrier for essential oils because it’s very soothing for the skin.

Directions For Use:

1. Obtain a jar of Aloe vera gel and a bottle of 100% tea tree oil.

2. Place 1 level tablespoon of the Aloe vera in a bowl or container.

3. Add 15 drops of the tea tree oil to the bowl and mix together.

4. Use your fingertips to gently spread the mixture over your acne affected skin.

5. Use daily.

6. Keep the left over mixture in the fridge to use again.


Jojoba Oil And Tea Tree Oil For Acne

Jojoba oil is easily absorbed by the skin and has anti-inflammatory properties (8).

Directions For Use:

1. Get a bottle of the best jojoba oil for acne and a bottle of 100% tea tree essential oil.

2. Get a measuring cylinder.

3. Pour 95 ml of jojoba oil and 5 ml of tea tree oil into the cylinder.

4. Pour the contents of the cylinder into a small container.

5. Mix the oils together well.

6. Apply to your face after cleansing each morning.

7. Store the extra mixture you have prepared in the fridge in a sealed container.


Tea Tee Oil And Lavender Oil For Acne

Some people use lavender oil for acne because of its antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties (9).

For this recipe, you’ll need to use a carrier oil such as grapeseed oil, avocado oil, or jojoba oil.

Directions For Use:

1. Get a bottle of the best lavender essential oil, a bottle of 100% tea tree oil, and a bottle of a carrier oil of your choice.

2. Get a measuring cylinder.

3. Measure 95 ml of carrier oil and 2.5 ml each of tea tree oil and lavender oil.

4. Pour into a container or bowl and mix together.

5. Use a brush or your fingers to spread the mixture on your face.

6. Keep the excess in the fridge.


Neem And Tea Tree Oil For Acne

NeemNeem has antibacterial (10) and anti-inflammatory (11) activity when used against P. acnes in scientific studies.

Directions For Use:

1. Buy some neem leaves and a bottle of 100% tea tree oil.

2. First, the neem leaves have to be prepared into a paste.

3. Crush about 20 leaves using a pestle and mortar, adding a small amount of water if required to create a paste.

4. Take 2 teaspoons of the paste and transfer it into a small container.

5. Add 5 drops of lavender essential oil and 5 drops of tea tree oil to the paste and mix together.

6. Using your fingers, apply the paste to your face.

7. Leave the paste on your face for approximately 20 minutes and then wash your face clean.


Tea tree Oil And Avocado Oil For Acne

Avocado oil is easily absorbed by the skin with low risk of clogging pores and has anti-inflammatory properties due to the phytosterols it contains.

Directions For Use:

1. Buy a bottle of the best avocado oil brand, and a bottle of 100% tea tree oil.

2. Get a measuring cylinder.

3. Pour 95 ml of avocado oil into the measuring cylinder.

4. Add 5 ml of tea tree oil.

5. Pour the oils into a bowl.

6. Mix together.

7. Use your fingertips or a brush to apply the mixture to your skin.

8. Keep the extra prepared mixture in the fridge.


Tea Tree Oil And Green Clay Mud Mask For Acne

Green clay mud masks are good at absorbing sebum from oily skin, exfoliating blackheads, and clearing blocked skin pores.

Directions For Use:

1. Purchase a bottle of 100% tea tree oil and some green clay face mask powder.

2. Use the instructions on the packet to make the clay mud powder into a paste.

3. Use a tablespoon to measure level tablespoons of the clay mixture into a bowl.

4. For every tablespoon of clay that you have made for your face mask add 15 drops of tea tree oil and mix it in.

5. Apply the face mask to your face using your fingers.

6. Leave the clay mud face mask on your face to dry for the time recommended on the packet, usually this is approximately 20 minutes.

7. Wash the mask off your face before it starts to get flaky.

8. Use once or twice a week.


Tea Tree Oil And Honey For Acne

Honey has antibacterial properties and has shown in trials that it can reduce acne when applied to the skin (12).

Directions For Use:

1. Get a jar of the best honey for skin, and a bottle of 100% tea tree oil.

2. Measure 1 tablespoon of the honey into a small bowl.

3. Add 15 drops of tea tree oil and mix together well using a fork or spoon.

4. Put it on your face using your fingers.

5. Leave it on your face for about 20 minutes.

6. Wash it off your face with water.

7. You can use this daily.


Side Effects And Precautions

  • Undiluted tea tree oil is very drying for the skin and can cause irritation. So be careful with it!
  • It's a good idea to test the diluted tea tree oil on your forearm before applying it to your face. Leave it on your skin for about 20 minutes to see how you react to it.
  • Only use the oil on your skin, don't ingest it.
  • If you find that you develop a rash or dermatitis after using it then stop immediately.
  • Not to be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women.
  • Not recommended for small children (13).
  • If you are taking a medication for another health condition you should speak to your doctor before using tea tree oil.


Final Thoughts

Tea tree oil is a very popular remedy used by acne sufferers, and in contrast to many other natural treatments it has clinical trials that support its use.

Larger trials will have to be conducted to further assess its effectiveness, but the results produced so far have demonstrated an ability to treat acne.

It can be used on its own as a spot treatment, but it’s best to dilute it with a carrier for use on large areas of skin.

Have you used tea tree oil for acne? Let us know your experience in the comments below.

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  1. Just made a receipt out of my mind by mixing pure (99%) aloe vera extract approximately 3/4, rapeseed oil about 1/4 and a couple of drops tea tree oil into the lotion. Suprized to discover this works magic, quite scent-free, best ingredients I know for sure work on my skin well – and after I tried it, haven’t seen my skin as hydrated, smooth and soft after literally ANY commercial products I’ve dried over the years for my spotty yet dry skin.

    I know from the experience that rapeseed oil and aloe vera gel both work magic on my skin but rapeseed oil alone seems to block the moisture out whereas aloe vera gel makes my skin sticky (and yacky). Apparently the combo eliminates both problems. Tea tree has worked on high stress situations earlier so I bet it does its magic this time, too.

    Love my discovery, will highly recommend. Without tea tree oil that stuff is 100% edible (just used the cooking stuff laying around) as well which makes it feel even nicer, cheaper and probably safer to use.

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