Tea tree oil is made from the leaves of the Australian tree of the same name. Aboriginal Australians have used it as a traditional medicine for many centuries. Today, people use tea tree oil in a variety of ways, including keeping the skin healthy. Does this include acne? Let’s take a closer look at how tea tree oil may help with acne breakouts, the best way to use it, and safety precautions to keep in mind.
How Does Tea Tree Oil Work?
Pure tea tree oil is extracted from the leaves of the tea tree. Its herbal, slightly medicinal scent includes a mix of over 100 compounds! Some of these compounds are believed to calm factors in skin that contribute to how acne looks and feels.
Research has shown that application of a 5% concentration of tea tree oil can reduce the number of papules and pustules—both types of pimples that people with acne usually experience.
As a quick refresher, benzoyl peroxide, BP, is chemically formulated to kill the acne-causing bacteria on your skin fast—though often at an irritating cost—while tea tree oil, TTO, uses its natural antibacterial properties to kill off bacteria at a slower, gentler rate. So why use TTO, if it's slower? Because "it's also a natural anti-inflammatory,” explains dermatologist Mona Gohara, M.D., associate clinical professor at Yale University, meaning it’ll help calm the redness and irritation already on your skin, without causing more. And for anyone with temperamental skin, that's a huge, huge deal.