tea tree oil for acne & skin benefits

Discover how to use Tea Tree Oil to maximize its benefits and counter acne

Are you prone to acne, breakouts or pimples? Tea tree essential oil could be ideal for your skincare regimen. Here’s how to use Tea Tree oil for acne.


For centuries now, tea tree oil has been known as a universal, premier treatment choice for a variety of conditions. Recognized for its ability to get rid of acne, reduce acne scars, lessen inflammation and heal wounds, tea tree oil is a versatile treatment that deserves a place in your skincare cabinet.

Tea tree essential oil originated in Australia and is derived from the myrtaceae family of plants, specifically the melaleuca alternifolia species. Tea tree oil is sometimes referred to as melaleuca oil, hence its plant origin. Once the benefits of tea tree oil were realized, it became commercialized and people all over the world began to adopt it.

How is Tea Tree oil made?

Tea tree essential oil is 100% natural. To create this pure oil, raw tea tree plant matter is gathered and distilled through a steaming process. The tea tree oil then rises with the steam and accumulates. The concentrated oil is mixed with cool water and undergoes a condensing process. The mixture of cool water and tea tree oil separates naturally, as the molecules that make up oil are nonpolar, while the molecules that make up water are polar. (Nonpolar molecules don’t bond, so they remain with other nonpolar molecules that don’t bond. Polar molecules naturally bond to other polar molecules, so they fuse together and sink to the bottom—which is why water sinks in a water-oil mixture and oil rises.) From here, the oil at the top of the mixture is siphoned out, and 100% natural tea tree essential oil is born.

You can buy tea tree oil in this 100% natural state, undiluted, without a carrier oil. Or you can opt for a diluted tea tree essential oil, pre-mixed with a moisturizing carrier oil, like coconut oil, olive oil, or avocado oil.

How does Tea Tree oil benefit your skin?

In the past, tea tree oil began as a tea that the native people drank for its healing powers. The tea tree plant was known to treat skin infections, cuts, wounds and even scurvy, due to its natural antiseptic qualities. The healing benefits of tea tree essential oil can be experienced by way of topical application to the skin or inhalation through the mouth and nose.

In today’s world, tea tree essential oil is often diluted and applied topically to the skin or scalp to reduce swelling, treat dandruff and lice, and kill bacteria. This traditional medicine is a natural antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiseptic. Tea tree oil can treat athlete’s foot, contact dermatitis, dry skin—and finally, its most prevalent use of all: acne, pimples and pesky breakouts. People all over the world are learning and researching how to use tea tree oil for acne.

What is acne?

From a scientific perspective, acne is chronic inflammation of the skin and is considered to be a skin disease in cases that span larger than a few occasional pimples. The way our skin counters this ‘disease‘ is with visible, red, inflamed spots that we know as “acne”. When there’s an overproduction of oil in the sebaceous glands, or dirt becomes lodged in the pores, the immune system reacts with these unfortunate inflammations, or pimples.

On the bright side for anyone struggling with acne, using tea tree oil for pimples is an exceptional method for reducing inflammation and calming red skin associated with acne breakouts.

How to use Tea Tree oil for acne

The antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-everything-and-more properties of tea tree oil are the reasons acne doesn’t stand a chance against this potent treatmentPores clogged with bacteria and dirt (the debris causing breakouts) are sterilized by tea tree’s antiseptic qualities. Inflammation (the source of the pimple and the reason for its swollen appearance) is also reduced by tea tree’s anti-inflammatory powers. This ingredient not only kills the acne-causing bacteria and reduces the inflammation, but it moisturizes and hydrates the skin after treatment. Tea tree oil is an all-in-one treatment that reduces acne and simultaneously heals the skin.


How to dilute Tea Tree oil for acne

Essential oils are typically not used without a carrier oil or lotion mixture, as they’re exceptionally potent. Essential oils are highly concentrated, and when applied directly to the skin without a carrier oil, they can cause irritation, inflammation, redness or burning sensations. No matter your level of skin sensitivity, direct application of a 100% raw essential oil is likely to elicit an unpleasant skin reaction.

People with highly sensitive skin should take extra caution when learning how to dilute tea tree oil for acne treatments. Be cognizant of the ratio between essential oils and carrier oils in your topical mixtures. Diluting tea tree essential oil with a carrier oil does not lessen the potency of the essential oil. Dilution also creates a greater volume of the mixture, allowing it to be applied to a greater surface area on the body.

Depending on your age and inherent sensitivity, it’s important that you adjust the amount of essential oil you include in your mixture.

For beginners learning how to use tea tree oil for acne – people with sensitive skin and young children – use 1 drop of essential oil with 2 teaspoons of carrier oil.

For adults or people with less sensitive skin, try 3 drops of essential oil with 2 teaspoons of carrier oil. As a general rule, try to use at least 2 teaspoons of carrier oil to lessen the intensity of the essential oil.

When you become a seasoned essential oil user and you know how to use tea tree oil for acne, you can adjust this ratio to include more essential oil drops. Listen to your body and watch for side effects or reactions appearing on your skin. When you first start using tea tree oil for pimples, don’t apply the oil directly to the pimple and don’t use more than one drop of essential oil without trying a spot test first. (Scroll down to learn more about the essential oil spot test.)

How long does Tea Tree Oil take to work on acne?

As with any other treatment, it’s natural to wonder “how long does tea tree oil take to work on acne?” After all, we’re all hoping these acne treatments work immediately, aren’t we?

Tea tree oil can take about 12 weeks for your skin to reap the benefits. Once you know how to use tea tree oil on your face (properly), you can expect to experience clearer skin within a few months. Your skin needs time to adjust to this new ingredient, and over time, your skin will naturally produce less acne and oil.

Research in Tea Tree Oil for acne

With decades of research on the effectiveness of tea tree oil and how to use tea tree oil for acne, conclusive evidence has shown that the potency of tea tree oil triumphs the healing abilities of other, less natural treatments. Over time, bacteria build immunity to engineered antibiotics, reducing the effectiveness of synthetic medicines. Evidence shows that tea tree oil, a natural alternative to synthetic treatments, remains effective at reducing acne and regulating oil production in the skin.

  • In a 2017 study, participants with mild to moderate acne were treated with tea tree oil gel for 12 weeks. This study showed that these participants’ acne lesions reduced significantly, which is believed to be attributed to the antibacterial properties of tea tree oil. At 12 weeks, combined acne lesions decreased by an average of 45%. This study opposed antibiotics (clindamycin and erythromycin) that were essentially deemed counterproductive in the long-term, as the acne bacteria develop a resistance to the antibiotics.
  • A 2016 study evaluating the effectiveness of tea tree oil to reduce excess oil on the skin as well as the appearance of acne and enlarged pores found that participants who used a mixture of resveratrol and tea tree oil showed significant improvement in the amount of oil, acne and enlarged pores present. Not only did the tea tree mixture reduce the condition of the skin, it proved effective at providing moderate UVA and UVB protection for the skin.
  • A study published in 2007 experimented with 60 patients who had mild to moderate acne conditions. Of the 60 patients, 30 were randomly chosen to receive a 5% tea tree oil gel, while the other 30 were randomly selected to receive a placebo gel treatment. This was a double-blind experiment, and patients were instructed to apply their treatment to the affected area for 20 minutes, then wash it off with water. After the treatment period, the total amount of acne lesions in the tea-tree-treated patients reduced from an average of 21.16 lesions to 11.33 lesions, while the placebo-treated patients only saw a decrease in the number of lesions from 19.53 to 17.23. Tea tree oil proved 3.55 times more effective at treating acne than the placebo.

The 100% pure, natural composition of tea tree essential oil makes it a potent, yet natural acne solution with significantly less risk of harmful long-term effects (compared to synthetic, prescription medications).


When to use Tea Tree Oil for pimples

You can basically use tea tree essential oils at any time of the day, but it’s important to know how to use tea tree oil on your face without damaging your skin. Depending on the condition and sensitivity of your skin, you may prefer to include tea tree oil in your nightly skincare routine. Applying tea tree oil at night allows your skin to absorb the mixture and combat acne bacteria while you sleep.

If you plan on lying in the sun or spending the day outside, allow your skin enough time to completely absorb your essential oils before exposing your skin to sunlight. The sun can make your skin increasingly sensitive, which might trigger an uncomfortable reaction.

You can combine your tea tree oils with the rest of your skincare routine too. Want to look like you’ll never leave your 20s? Consider using an anti-aging face mask before your tea tree solution. Don’t want your skin to reflect just how busy your life is? Vitamin C booster serums work fabulously to revitalize your skin with or without a complimentary tea tree treatment.

Spot test for Tea Tree Essential Oils

Here’s the spot test we mentioned!

Referred to as an essential oil spot test or skin patch test, this is a simple precautionary test to ensure that your skin doesn’t have an allergic reaction to the essential oil. If you’re just now learning how to use tea tree oil for acne, it’s important that you perform a spot test first.

  1. Dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil.
  2. Apply 1 to 2 drops of the diluted oil to your forearm.
  3. Wrap the area with a bandage.
  4. Pay attention to any reactions: stinging, burning, rashes or similar reactions. If you notice a reaction beginning, remove the bandage immediately and wash your arm with soap and water.
  5. Assess the area after 24 to 48 hours of application to see if your skin had any sort of reaction.

If you don’t notice any reaction or irritation on your skin, you have the green light to start using tea tree oil. Once you know how to use tea tree oil on your face without harming your skin, you can begin your transformative journey with tea tree essential oils.

Many people fret over how to get glowing skin or how to get rid of acne without knowing how effective tea tree essential oil can be. Whether you’re looking to boost your / skin regimen / or completely revolutionize it, tea tree essential oil is one of the first ingredients you should consider adding to your routine.