A 2015 reviewof 35 studies on the use of complementary treatments for acne concluded that there’s some evidence to support using tea tree oil for acne. But researchers note that this evidence isn’t of the best quality.
One 2006 study found that tea tree oil has both anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. This may help with treating inflammatory acne lesions, such as pimples.
A 2016 study looked at using a combination of tea tree oil and resveratrol to protect the skin from sun damage. Although not the aim of the study, researchers found most participants had less oil and bacteria on their skin, as well as smaller pores. This could potentially improve acne.
In a 2017 study, participants applied tea tree oil to their face twice daily for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, researchers concluded tea tree oil has the ability to “significantly improve” mild to moderate acne with no serious side effects. But this study only had 14 participants and didn’t adhere to other research quality standards.
A 2018 study found combining aloe vera, propolis, and tea tree oil can also improve acne. Overall, the research says tea tree oil might help improve acne, but it’s not a cure-all.