Tea tree oil comes from the plant Melaleuca alternifolia and is one of the most popular essential oils out there.
There are many different ways to use tea tree oil, along with countless associated benefits.
This makes it a powerful choice for your home. The oil is also very easy to use. To get you started, this post highlights the 7 best tea tree oils, along with their advantages and disadvantages.
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How to Choose Tea Tree Oil
Choosing the best tea tree oil might seem confusing. There are many companies out there and they often make similar claims. Some also have their own certification standards. But, there are some key things that you can look for.
The most important consideration, by far, is the levels of terpinen-4-ol (sometimes called terpinen 4 OL). This is an antiseptic compound that naturally occurs in tea tree essential oil.
The compound is responsible for many of the oil's benefits. A higher percentage means the antibacterial and antifungal properties are stronger. High percentages are also an indication that the oil is high-quality and other oils haven't been added in.
Concentrations of terpinen-4-ol typically range from 10% to 45%.
You should also be wary of any brands above 45%, as this is the natural upper limit for tea tree oil. Any oil with a higher percentage has probably been chemically modified.
There are other areas that you can consider as well. These can all have some impact on the quality of the oil.
- The Bottle. Your oil should come in a dark brown glass bottle. This type of bottle reduces oxidation, ensuring your oil stays high quality. Light exposure also increases the levels of para-cymene, a skin irritant. That’s another reason for choosing a darker bottle.
- Organic. Organic oils may offer more benefits and higher levels of desirable compounds. This effect hasn’t been proven and choosing an organic product isn’t essential. Still, it’s an area worth considering.
- Testing. Look for brands that test their oils, particularly ones that provide details about those tests. External testing will always be better (i.e., conducted by an independent lab). But, even internal testing is an indication of the company’s focus on quality.
- Price. Price isn’t the best guide for quality. But, it’s still worth avoiding any oils that are extremely cheap. Making essential oils is an involved process. Some companies will cut corners to reduce their costs.
- Brand. Some brands are more reliable than others. In fact, companies like doTERRA and Young Living may overcharge for their oils, but they do have a strong focus on quality.
- Reviews. It’s always worth checking out the reviews for a product or brand –especially if you’re buying from Amazon. Customers often have high standards and tend to leave bad reviews if they’re not satisfied.
- Watch out for Certification, Grades and Bold Claims. There is very little regulation surrounding essential oils. You’ll often see labels like ‘therapeutic grade’, ‘pure’, ‘natural’ or ‘virgin’. These are typically based on the company’s own definitions and mean don’t mean much at all (organic is the exception, as this is regulated). There’s nothing wrong with oils that use these terms –just don’t assume that better marketing means higher-quality oil.
The Best Tea Tree Oils
Based on those criteria, here are some high-quality tea-tree oils to try.
Plant Therapy Organic Tea Tree Oil
- Terpinen-4-ol Concentration: 41.7%
- Plant Therapy is similar to doTERRA and Young Living in that they have a strong focus on quality and provide details about their products
- Plant Therapy also uses external testing to ensure the quality of their oils
- The oil is also USDA organic certified, which is unusual in this field
- The price is in the middle of the range. The oil is cheaper than options from Young Living and doTERRA, but is more expensive than the larger bottles
- The oil gets good reviews, as do all of the products from Plant Therapy
Eve Hansen Tea Tree Oil
- Terpinen-4-ol Concentration: 35.91%
- Relatively inexpensive, as you receive 120 ml of the oil per bottle
- Focuses on pure and natural concepts
- Extracted using steam distillation
- Is undiluted
- Includes a dropper, making it great for recipes, along with using on the skin and hair
- Receives consistently positive reviews
Majestic Pure Cosmeceuticals
- Terpinen-4-ol Concentration: 15%
- The lower terpinen-4-ol concentration means the quality may be lower. But, this may be beneficial for anyone with sensitive skin, especially as the higher concentrations are more likely to cause reactions
- Emphasis on pure and natural
- Relatively inexpensive
- Includes a 118 ml bottle and dropper
- For external use only
- Sells incredibly well on Amazon, with consistently positive reviews. However, reviews are for all oils the company sells, not just tea tree oil
- 100% natural oil, produced through steam distillation
ArtNaturals Tea Tree Essential Oil
- Terpinen-4-ol Concentration: 41.76%
- Another brand offering a significant amount of oil for a relatively low price
- Virgin, natural and unrefined – although the term virgin doesn’t have much meaning for essential oil
- Labeled as therapeutic grade
- Paraben and cruelty free
- A incredibly popular product that receives good reviews
- The company makes testing results easy to find and images of tests are even included on the Amazon page
doTERRA Melaleuca Essential Oil
- Terpinen-4-ol Concentration: Unclear.
- Considerably more expensive and a much smaller bottle
- Reviews are consistently positive (but some will be biased)
- doTERRA’s reputation strongly depends on the quality of their oils. This creates a better chance that they’ll consistently be high quality and pure
- May be worth the price for some uses, including ingestion or diffusing the oil. But, may not be if you want to use significant amounts in skin products or in your hair
- Marketing suggests the oil can be taken internally
Young Living Tea Tree
- Terpinen-4-ol Concentration: Unclear
- Similar style and price to doTERRA
- Labeled as therapeutic grade oil
- The company provides details about their processes on their site and retains an emphasis on quality
- May be more potent than the larger oils
First Botany Cosmecuticals
- Terpinen-4-ol Concentration: 45%
- This is one of the few companies that includes the terpinen-4-ol concentration on the label. That practice should mean the concentration is consistent between batches
- The oil is popular and consistently receives good reviews on Amazon
- It is a relatively small bottle that's at a similar price to some of the larger ones
Uses of Tea Tree Oil
As with other essential oils, you can use tea tree oil in many different ways. The exact approach used depends on the outcome that you’re looking for. Examples of ways to use the oil include the following:
General Ways to Use the Oil
- Add tea tree oil and water to a spray bottle and use to freshen the room
- Diffuse tea tree oil on its own
- Use as part of a blend and diffuse
- Add to a spray bottle, along with water and apple cider vinegar. This creates an effective natural cleaner – although you’ll need to shake the bottle regularly
Tea Tree Oil Uses for the Skin
- Use the oil as an ingredient in homemade moisturizers, soaps and scrubs
- Combine with citrus oils and other ingredients to create a natural deodorant (the site Beginner Beans has a recipe worth trying)
- Add to a carrier oil and massage into the skin daily
- Create a natural hand sanitizer using tea tree oil (DIY Natural has a recipe)
- Use as a way to treat acne. You can buy products that contain the oil or make your own
Tea Tree Oil for the Hair
- Mix with a carrier oil and massage into the scalp
- Comb the oil directly through your hair
- Use the oil in a recipe to promote healthier hair (the site Natural Living Ideas has some examples)
Other Tea Tree Oil Uses
- Use as an ingredient in homemade insect repellent (Wellness Mama offers details about making your own insect repellent)
- Combine with a carrier oil and apply (carefully!) to a cut that has been cleaned. This can help disinfect minor wounds
- A few drops of the oil can also be added to wound dressings
- Use as part of a treatment for toenail fungus. You can apply the oil directly or mix in with coconut oil. Make sure you apply regularly and wash your hands afterward
- Add to warm water and use as a mouthwash (don’t swallow!)
Tea Tree Oil Blends
You can also use tea tree oil as part of a blend. This gives you access to the benefits of multiple oils at the same time. It can also create a more appealing scent.
For example, many essential oil blends for colds use tea tree essential oil as one component. The site New Directions Aromatics also offers a range of blends that you can try out.
These blends can be used in various ways, such as part of a massage lotion, in a roller bottle or in a diffuser. In fact, most tea tree oil diffuser uses will rely on a blend that contains tea tree oil. This is simply because many people won’t find the oil appealing on its own.
That aside, if you’re using a diffuser, blends of oil simply have a more complex and interesting scent.
Additionally, the site Essential Oil Haven provides an interesting article on how to blend essential oils without following a specific recipe or guide. As the author points out, there are many different combinations and no ‘ideal’ blends.
Tea tree oil can be used in many ways, including on its own or in a blend
What is Tea Tree Oil Good For?
So, why use tea tree oil in the first place?
Despite the name, tea tree oil isn’t related to the tea we drink at all. The oil comes from an entirely different species (Melaleuca alternifolia). It is extracted from the twigs and leaves of the Melaleuca tree, using the process of steam distillation.
The oil is often considered a cure-all and it offers benefits in many different areas.
In fact, there are so many individual benefits that it’s hard to know where to begin. But, the two key areas below cover many of these different benefits – and explain why the oil is so powerful.
Tea tree oil is considered an antiseptic, which means it kills viruses, bacteria and fungi on contact (1,2,3,4). This makes it powerful for many applications. It can even combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria (5).
Early research has shown that the oil can help improve specific microbe-related conditions, including acne (6), gum inflammation (7), dandruff (8) and athletes foot (9,10,11).
Topical use has been proposed for other conditions that involve bacteria, including cold sores and thrush. Tea tree oil may be effective here as well, but there is currently no proof.
Tea tree oil is also anti-inflammatory. For example, one study found that gel containing tea tree oil decreased inflammation in the mouth (12). The oil could have anti-inflammatory impacts elsewhere in the body too, such as reducing joint pain.
Likewise, tea tree oil can provide relief for some skin issues, including contact dermatitis, which is a skin irritation (13,14,15). This may be partly because it can help reduce associated inflammation, while also fighting any bacteria present.
There has been much less research in this area. Even so, there is little risk in trying it out for yourself. If nothing else, applying oils and lotions to the skin can be soothing, so you’ll always see some benefit.
There are some other health impacts of tea tree oil but most outcomes do fall into the previous two categories. That might not seem like much but both areas are extremely broad and cover many different applications.
The end result is that tea tree oil is a powerful way to improve health. The oil is also natural and is very easy to use.
Tea tree oil has a significant ability to fight microbes and lower inflammation
Dosage, Risks and Side Effects
The best dose of tea tree oil varies depending on what you’re using the oil for. Some common doses include the following:
- Acne: Between 5% and 15% concentration
- Fungal Infections: Between 70% and 100% concentration
- As a Vaginal Douche: Between 1% and 40% (with medical supervision only)
However, dosage information is limited, especially as many potential uses haven’t been studied.
You can also turn to recipes and blends for guidance. These will often be designed for specific benefits and tailored over time. As such, a high-quality recipe should give you the appropriate dose for the desired outcome.
Tea tree oil is generally safe. It’s also a mild essential oil, so there are fewer risks than with other oils.
Nevertheless, some people do experience allergic reactions (16). To avoid this, you should dilute the oil before using it and do a patch test before applying it everywhere.
As with other essential oils, you should take care when using the oil orally. In large doses, it can be toxic and may cause side effects in smaller doses. The health benefits of oral consumption are also under heavy debate.
If you are interested in ingesting the oil, check out this post from The Hippy Homemaker. She goes into detail about what you need to consider and the risks. She also talks about ways to safely ingest essential oils if you plan to do so.
Tea tree oil is generally safe but you do still need to be cautious
The oils on this list all have advantages. Most contain significant levels of terpinen-4-ol, suggesting that they are unadulterated and high quality.
Even though they don't state terpinen-4-ol concentration, brands like doTERRA and Young Living can still be a good choice. Their reputation is focused on essential oils and they take many steps to make sure their products are pure every time.
Despite this, if I were to recommend a single brand from this list, it would be Plant Therapy.
This brand has a similar focus on quality but they are more transparent about terpinen-4-ol levels (and about their products in general). The oils are also more reasonably priced, while those from doTERRA and Young Living are more expensive.
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