Essential oils first entered my life when I was a small child and my aunt visited our home in Mexico. I remember many of the essential oils she brought with her, including tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). Herbs, essential oils, and other natural remedies are used heavily in the Mexican culture, so they became engrained in my lifestyle from an early age. Tea tree is an essential oil that I now use daily, and I’ve come to appreciate the benefits it lends to my skin-care routine.
Photo by Getty Images/narvikk
When learning about a new oil, I first research the plant. (Aromahead, Aromatics International, the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) and the Alliance of International Aromatherpists (AIA) are all resources that I trust for this type of research). Tea tree is a narrow-leaved tree or tall shrub from the Myrtle family. It’s native to Australia. Tea tree essential oil has a fresh, uplifting, and almost spicy scent, and it’s made by distilling the leaves of the tea tree plant.
Because it takes a huge amount of plant material to make essential oils, I believe in using only what you need. Certain plants used for essential oil production are over harvested, and some are even on the USDA endangered list. Fortunately, the Tea Tree Breeding Program has improved the tea tree industry and supports the preservation of the tree. When sourcing essential oils, be sure to find a provider that aligns with sustainable values. Aromatics International does a great job of educating the consumer and sourcing their oils sustainably, which is why they are one of my top choices.
Tea tree essential oil has powerful antiseptic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and expectorant properties. Tea tree is often used to treat allergies (see Aromahead’s excellent post about tea tree for allergy relief, along with their recipe for a tea tree and eucalyptus sinus steam). Personally, I’ve used tea tree to successfully treat acne. The following formula is one that I now use on a daily basis to prevent acne from forming.
Tea Tree and Aloe Acne Treatment
• 5 tsp aloe vera gel
• 10 to 15 drops tea tree essential oil
• 40 to 60 drops Solubol dispersant**
• Cotton swabs
• One 1-ounce PET plastic bottle with a flip-top cap
Photo by Adobe Stock/Grafvision
**Aloe is a water base. Because oils and waters don’t mix evenly, it’s a good rule of thumb to add solubol (a dispersant) to the formula to safely dissolve and disperse the tea tree essential oil.
Combine the aloe vera gel, tea tree essential oil, and solubol in the plastic bottle and shake to combine. PET is a non-reactive plastic that doesn’t leach, which makes the small bottles a good option for homemade products that you’ll be using in the bathroom or kitchen where slippery hands could result in broken glass.
Screw on the bottle cap, and then store in a cool, dry location. To use, squeeze a few drops of the solution onto a clean cotton swab and apply directly to clean skin.
For another take on a homemade acne treatment, check out these enticing skin cleansing pads made with herb-infused vinegar and hydrosol.
Considering essential oils as part of your daily skin-care routine is a wonderful and positive alternative to traditional over-the-counter acne treatments; however, you must listen to your body and stay aware of its responses when using a new essential oil.
Queren was inspired to write this blog post during her time enrolled in Aromahead’s Aromatherapy Certification program. She is a photographer and Digital Content Assistant for Mother Earth Living.