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 article has three goals to account for that complexity.
- The first is to look at the benefits of tea tree oil, including why you might want to use the oil yourself.
- The next is to show you different ways to use the oil. Some of these are obvious, but there are some interesting and unusual ideas in the mix as well.
- And finally, we’re going to show you the best tea tree oils out there, along with our personal recommendation.
After all, tea tree oil is popular for a reason. If you can understand all the oil has to offer, it’s easier to take advantage of it.
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What is Tea Tree Oil Good For?
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).
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.
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 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 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 the benefits of multiple oils at the same time. It can also create a more appealing scent.
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.
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.
Finding the Best Tea Tree Oils
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 important things to consider.
- Certification varies. The different standards all vary in their criteria and what they actually test. In theory, certified tea tree oil should be higher quality and purer, but this isn’t necessarily true.
- Grades vary. The same is true for grades. You’ll often see pharmaceutical grade or therapeutic grade essential oil. But, there is no legal definition of the term. Instead, companies just apply it as they see fit.
- More expensive isn’t always better. Many essential oil companies mark up their products and use marketing techniques. But, there’s no guarantee that the oil is any better.
- Labels aren’t helpful. Companies don’t need to disclose much information about their oils, which makes them harder to compare. Aside from the marketing, most essential oil bottles say roughly the same thing.
- Consider your use. You might not need the best quality tea tree oil if you’re mostly diffusing it or using it diluted on the skin. In fact, some oils are very expensive, which is impractical if you plan to use significant amounts on your skin or hair regularly. In contrast, if you’re planning to ingest the oil, focusing on quality is absolutely critical.
These patterns can make it tough to find good essential oils. But, there are still some things you can consider.
- 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
Based on those criteria, here are some high-quality tea-tree oils to try.
Eve Hansen Tea Tree Oil
- Relatively inexpensive, as you receive 120 ml of the oil per bottle
- Focuses on pure and natural concepts
- Extracted using steam distillation
- Is undiluted
- Company answers questions about the product, including the percentage of key compounds
- Includes a dropper, making it great for recipes, along with using on the skin and hair
- Receives consistently positive reviews
Majestic Pure Cosmeceuticals
- 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
- No dilution, addition or deletion of compounds has taken place
ArtNaturals Tea Tree Essential Oil
- 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 popular product that receives good reviews
- Marketing suggests the oil is less potent than brands like doTERRA that focus on smaller bottles. This is likely to be true for any of the 100 ml or larger bottles of essential oil
doTERRA Melaleuca Essential Oil
- 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 also be more potent than the previous three examples
- 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
- 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
The Absolute Best Choice
The companies also have their reputation riding on the oils – so you’re likely to get a potent and high-quality oil. Marketing also suggests that these are much more potent. That idea makes sense too, as a substantial amount of plant material is needed to create essential oils.
Even so, the oils are incredibly expensive, especially if you plan to use significant amounts.
For many situations, the brands with larger bottles would be just fine. Of the three highlighted, we recommend Eve Hansen. This is because the brand is the most honest about the compounds that oil contains.
The product does get fewer reviews, but the reviews for other brands are for multiple types of oil. In contrast, all of the reviews on the Eve Hansen Tea Tree Oil listing are for that specific oil.
Want to Improve Your Health?
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