Do your kids wake up every morning with crazy bed-head hair? Ours definitely do. If it’s not a tangle of long curls with our daughter, it’s weird cowlicks sticking up in every direction with the boys.
What they don’t wake up with is lice. Yuck and whew, right? I suspect there’s a reason for that and it has to do with that crazy bed-head.
To tame those crazy cowlicks and tangles each morning, we spray detangler or a little water into the kids’ hair and both are mixed with a special ingredient: tea tree oil.
Did You Know Tea Tree Oil is a Natural Lice Prevention Trick?
Here’s where I have to admit that my family has never had lice, nor have I. When their friends get lice at school, I always brace for impact … but it never comes. And this isn’t our family’s first mysterious immunity to lice.
My first job after college was nearly lice-ridden. I worked at an in-patient mental health ward, and many of our patients came in off the street, often with lice. While the other workers would catch the little buggars, I never did.
It took me a while to find the connection: Tea Tree Oil.
Proven Personal History
I was obsessed with the Body Shop Tea Tree Oil line in college and the years after. I washed my face in it, washed my body in it, and used it as a facial mask at least once a week.
Once my kids outgrew baby shampoo? I introduced them to Paul Mitchell’s Tea Tree Special Shampoo and Special Conditioner.
And yet I still didn’t make the connection until I noticed a bottle of specially designed lice prevention spray at a store. I didn’t even know such things existed but am spooked enough by all of your awful stories of lice infestations that I looked it up when I got home.
Wouldn’t you know: the key ingredient was tea tree oil! I had been inadvertently treating myself and my family with a natural lice prevention for years.
DIY: Lice Prevention Spray
Instead of buying the fancy lice prevention spray, I decided to buy pure tea tree oil, instead, and make my own.
Although early studies have shown that tea tree oil (melaleuca alternifolia) is effective as a lice prevention treatment, there are not enough long-term studies to recommend it as a definitive prevention tool. That said, there are hundreds upon hundreds of anecdotal claims that it (in addition to other essential oils) has been effective for families for years, and I can personally attest to it working for prevention.
How does it work? It’s not entirely clear but we do know that lice don’t like oily hair so it is suspected that the texture of the oil, along with the smell, dislodges and wards them off. (Edited because somehow I wrote “lice hate clean hair” in an earlier version, which contradicts my whole post. Sorry about that, as it’s worth spelling out even more clearly that cleanliness has little bearing on getting lice. Meaning “lice” does not equal “dirty kids” at all.)
How to make your spray:
- Use an eye dropper to drop 2-3 drops of pure tea tree oil (per ounce of liquid) in a spray bottle full of water or detangler
- Shake well
- Spray on hair, rub in with your hands to distribute evenly, and style as usual
That’s it! Since we were spraying water or detangler onto the kids’ hair every morning, anyway, this didn’t add a single second to our morning routine but probably saves us hours of heartache over an infestation. (knock on wood)
We still use Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo and Special Conditioner, but I’ve seen a lot of recommendations on making your own tea tree oil shampoo and conditioner by adding 2 drops of tea tree oil per ounce of shampoo or conditioner.
Where to Find Tea Tree Oil
You can find tea tree oil in the natural section of your grocery store or natural food store, as well as online. Some of my favorites:
- 100% Pure Tea Tree Oil Good ‘N Natural 2 oz Oil (use this with an eye dropper to add to a spray bottle or your favorite shampoo and conditioner; this is the brand in the product photo above so you’ll recognize it)
- Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Conditioner (even when the kids use tear-free shampoo, we still use this as a follow-up)
- The Body Shop Tea Tree Body Wash (I adore this entire line, including facial care)
Note: Do not ingest tea tree oil or apply it undiluted to any part of your body. Some people can be allergic to it, so proceed with caution. Start with two drops of tea tree oil per ounce of fluid you are adding it to and test for sensitivity. And, of course, if you have lice, contact your doctor.
Have you ever tried tea tree oil? In addition to lice prevention, it’s apparently a fantastic acne treatment, nail fungus treatment, antiseptic, and psoriasis treatment. Ooh, and I forgot to mention my favorite part: it smells wonderful! Check out Babble’s 9 Beauty Uses for Tea Tree Oil for more.
photo credit: bottle with oil droplet via Honolulu Media
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