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Why Tea Tree Oil Works So Well For Oily And Acne-Prone Skin

Benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, tea tree oil — ingredients that anyone plagued with breakouts will be familiar with because, well, these are the most commonly used ingredients in skincare products formulated to help fight acne. Amongst them, tea tree oil is probably the most easily available, affordable, and has also been used for centuries to treat minor wounds. And if you take a look around, you’ll find that many skincare products count tea tree oil as an ingredient thanks to its multiple benefits which are especially helpful to those with oily and blemish-prone skin. Here, everything you need to know about tea tree oil and the most efficacious products which contain tea tree to help treat acne.

Where Is It From?

Tea tree oil is extracted from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a tree that’s native in parts of Australia, including Queensland and New South Wales.

What Are Its Benefits?

Often found in products that combat breakouts, tea tree oil is known for its purifying and anti-bacterial properties. Plus, it also helps reduce inflammation and speeds up the process of healing, which explains why it’s been used by the Aborigines for years. Traditionally, tea tree oil is inhaled to help treat coughs or respiratory issues. Alternatively, it is applied directly onto small cuts and wounds as it helps kill bacteria, prevent infection and accelerate healing.

These benefits can be traced back to the presence of terpinen-4-ol, a compound which kills bacteria, viruses and fungal infection. Moreover, it also stimulates your body’s immune system, helping it fight infection.

How Should I Use It?

Thanks to its anti-bacterial properties, tea tree oil is easily found in skincare products that are targeted at treating acne. Be it cleansing foams, serums or spot treatments, tea tree oil can be diluted and formulated into products to reduce redness, eliminate bacteria and help heal zits. Alternatively, you can use it directly on angry pustules to take down that swelling. All you have to do is make sure you don’t apply anything stronger than a 5 percent concentration or you might risk irritating your skin.

Can Tea Tree Oil Be Used With Other Ingredients?

Just like any other beneficial skincare ingredients, tea tree oil works best when combined with certain ingredients for an all-rounded action on the skin. For example, tea tree oil is often used with salicylic acid, witch hazel and niacinamide, thanks for their pore-purging, pore-tightening and skin-soothing properties respectively.

What Ingredients Should I Avoid While Using Tea Tree Oil?

You should always practice caution when using a new product or ingredient for the first time. Likewise, if you’re just popping your tea tree oil cherry, it’s best to stick to products with ingredients that are soothing rather than others that have the potential of causing irritation. To play it safe, avoid ingredients like retinol or even other anti-acne ingredients like benzoyl peroxide.

Above, the best products to help keep blemishes in check that contain tea tree oil.

The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil, $35 for 20ml
Perfect as a spot treatment, this iconic product is made with freshly harvested tea tree leaves to retain the active ingredient’s maximum potency. The formula is also enriched with vitamin E, a skin-conditioning agent, to keep skin supple and comfortable while acne-causing bacteria is eliminated. Peter Thomas Roth Irish Moor Mud Purifying Cleanser Gel, $75 for 250ml
The perfect remedy for congestion-prone skin, this purifying cleanser is packed with powerful ingredients that will draw out impurities, dirt and grime from deep within pores, leaving skin clear and smooth. Black moor mud, which is packed with skin-balancing minerals and antioxidants, it restores skin’s sebum-moisture levels and protects it against environmental damage. At the same time, volcanic ash and activated charcoal also helps further clarify pores. Their purifying action is complemented by the antiseptic properties of tea tree oil so that skin texture is refined and bacterial activity is kept at bay. Boscia Charcoal Pore-Minimizing Bio-Cellulose Mask, $14
If you’re looking for a pore-minimising mask that deeply cleanses pores without drying skin out, this is your best bet. Soaked in a specially formulated blend of charcoal extract, tea tree oil, glycerin, allatoin and trehalose, this face mask effectively purifies congested pores while ensuring that your skin is bathed soothing and hydrating ingredients so your skin feels thoroughly cleansed but never dry and tight. Arcona AM Blemish Lotion, $59 for 35ml
Taking a multi-pronged approach to eliminating acne, this lightweight moisturiser hydrates skin without any greasiness or stickiness. It is specially formulated with tea tree oil, witch hazel, salicylic acid and lactic acid to calm redness, get rid of acne-causing bacteria and encourage cellular turnover for a more refined skin texture. Plus, it also contains squalane and glycerin to lock in moisture. Dr. Jart+ Clearing Solution Ultra-Fine Microfiber Sheet Mask, $39 for five sheets
Going beyond ensuring a clarified complexion, this sheet mask is also supercharged with antioxidant glutathione, salicylic acid and niacinamide to even out skin tone, strengthen skin against environmental hazards and keep pores clear.