Herbs for Acne: Tea Tree Oil

Some of the most powerful acne fighters around can be found in nature. From calendula to vitex, from burdock to witch hazel, effective acne treatments are all around us!

Perhaps one of the most effective acne fighters found in nature is tea tree oil, also known as Melaleuca oil or Australian tea tree oil. Tea tree oil has been used for centuries as a potent skin healer. Its long tradition of use can be traced back to Australian aboriginals using crushed tea tree leaves for cuts, scrapes, burns and other skin problems.

Nowadays, tea tree oil comes in more convenient forms. You can purchase pure tea tree oil, specialty skin care products or tea tree skin pads (similar to the acne skin cleaning pads found at any drugstore) from your local health food store or online. However, unlike benzoyl peroxide pads, tea tree oil is fairly gentle on your skin as it works its magic against acne.

So how does tea tree work for acne? According to Cathy Wong at About.com, tea tree oil is rich in terpenoids, giving it powerful antiseptic and antifungal properties. The most abundant compound in tea tree oil is terpinen-4-ol. These terpenoids, terpinen-4-ol in particular, are responsible for tea tree oil’s anti-microbial nature.

The antimicrobial action of tea tree oil is what gives it such amazing acne fighting abilities. Applying a drop of tea tree oil to a pimple will speed the healing process and have your skin looking clear in a hurry. If you feel a breakout just starting to emerge, apply a drop of tea tree oil to the spot, and it is very likely that it will never erupt into a full-blown pimple.

How is tea tree oil used for acne? You can buy pure tea tree oil, tea tree soaps, tea tree lotions, tea tree creams, tea tree facial pads and tea tree toners. All are effective at fighting acne and breakouts.

A few words of safety: Always use tea tree oil externally. Never ingest it.

Also, as with any substance, natural or otherwise, use caution when first using tea tree oil. Some people are allergic to it, so do a small test on your skin, and discontinue use immediately if allergy symptoms appear.

Tea tree oil has also been shown to potentially cause hormonal disturbances in some individuals. While I have never experienced any tea tree related hormonal issues, nor have I personally known anyone who has reported this problem, it is worthy of a quick mention. Also, according to Cathy Wong, pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid using tea tree.

The bottom line: The next time you feel a pimple sneaking up on you, or if you are suffering from a full blown acne attack, try reaching for the tea tree oil. Tea tree oil’s gentle, effective actions will leave your skin looking and feeling great!


Beauty-Tips.net. (2011). Best Herbs for Acne. http://www.beauty-tips.net/skincaretips/acnecare/herbs-acne-treatment.htm#axzz1ZB2E9x4O

Ritchason, N.D. (1995). The Little Herb Encyclopedia: The Handbook of Nature’s Remedies for a Healthier Life. Pleasant Grove, UT: Woodland Health Books.

Wong, C. (2011). What is Tea Tree Oil? About.com Alternative Medicine. http://altmedicine.about.com/od/herbsupplementguide/a/TeaTreeOil.htm

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