Tea tree oil is a staple in my medicine cabinet. It has many practical uses, including a number of beauty applications. This essential oil is created by steam distillation of an Australian plant called melalueca alternifolia, or the tea tree. The leaves from this tree were used as a substitute for tea, which is how it got its name. It is believed to have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties due to a substance called terpinen-4-01. Tea tree oil should never be consumed; it is for topical use only. It can be purchased in 100% pure form and diluted as necessary, or it can be found in many topical preparations. Click through the slideshow to learn the conditions that can be improved with tea tree oil and how to treat each.
9 Beauty Uses for Tea Tree Oil 1 of 10
Body Shop Tea Tree Oil is found at The Body Shop $7.13
Treats Acne 2 of 10
Blind clinical trials compared a 5% solution of tea tree oil with 5% benzoyl peroxide and found both to reduce breakouts. Tea tree oil did take longer to effect change, but had fewer side effects and is non-toxic. If using pure essential oils, mix 8 drops in one ounce of lotion or cream.
Try: Body Shop Tea Tree Blemish Gel found at The Body Shop $6.75
To Treat Nail Fungus 3 of 10
Head Lice 4 of 10
Head lice is most common amongst preschool- and elementary-school kids and outbreaks aren't uncommon. Tea tree oil can both deter and actually kill head lice. Add about 3 drops to a small amount of shampoo to keep these parasites away. To kill head lice, mix 8 drops with 4 oz of olive oil. Apply to hair and allow to sit for a half hour.
Try: Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Head Lice Kit found at Vitamin Life $10.88
Cuts, Scrapes, Burns, Insect Bites 5 of 10
Tea tree is a natural antimicrobial and antiseptic with a cooling effect. It soothes and speeds healing of minor cuts, scrapes, burns, and insect bites. Apply 100% tea tree oil to affected areas or, if skin is sensitive, mix a few drops with a carrier oil such as olive oil.
Try: Nelson's Tea Tree Cream found at iHerb $5.02
Dandruff and Itchy Scalp 6 of 10
Treat dry, itchy scalp and dandruff naturally with tea tree oil. It's antiseptic and antifungal properties soothe and stimulate the scalp. There are many shampoos available that include tea tree or you can add 10 drops of pure oil to 8 ounces of shampoo.
Try: Jason Tea Tree Normalizing Shampoo available at Jason $9.78
Eczema and Psoriasis 7 of 10
Adding tea tree oil may help soothe some of the symptoms of eczema and psoriasis due to it's antiseptic and mild analgesic properties. Additionally, soaking in a tea tree oil bath may relieve stiff joint and ease sunburn pain, as well as treat a vaginal infection due to it's anti-fungal qualities. Add about 10 drops to your bath for a soothing soak that promotes healing.
Try: NOW Foods Tea Tree Oil found on Amazon $6.2
Cold Sores 8 of 10
Over 80% of the population carry the virus that causes unsightly cold sores. Dab pure tea tree oil directly on the sore using a cotton swab several times a day until the sore is gone. If you are especially prone to cold sores, use a lip balm with tea tree oil to help prevent outbreaks.
Try: Moistic Lip Balm SPF 15 found at Soap $2.70
Athlete’s Foot 9 of 10
Athlete's foot can be a bummer when you want to wear sandals, get a pedicure, or go to the pool. Try an all-natural treatment with tea tree oil or apply the oil full strength to affected areas two or three times a day continuing for two weeks after the fungal infection appears to be gone.
Try: Quantum Natural Athlete's Foot Cure found at Drugstore $11.99
Warts 10 of 10