Also known as melaleuca oil, tea tree oil is an essential oil that covers a wide range of purposes. While it can be harmful when taken orally, it is believed to help keep skin, nails, and hair become healthy when applied topically. The use of tea tree oil as a remedy for various skin diseases and hair issues has easily grown in popularity since it is both effective and affordable.
How Does Tea Tree Oil Work?
Tea tree is extracted from the leaves of a small plant scientifically known as Melaleuca alternifolia. This plant can be found particularly in New South Wales and Queensland, Australia and should not be confused with the Camellia sinensis plant from which various types of tea are extracted.
Aborigines have used tea tree oil for centuries. The leaves are crushed to extract the oil which contains numerous healing compounds such as the highly potent terpinen-4-ol. This compound appears to boost WBC activity in your body which is crucial for fighting off foreign microbes and other invaders that may cause infection. Due to its ability to combat fungi, viruses, and bacteria, the presence of terpinen-4-ol in tea tree oil makes it an effective remedy against various skin conditions. It promotes healing by targeting the source of infection.
In a 2011 study, tea tree oil was observed to be more effective when used as a topical treatment to relieve the symptoms of eczema as compared to clobetasone butyrate and zinc oxide creams. However, if you’re planning to use it for that purpose, it is important to make sure that you do so properly. To ensure favourable results, here’s what you need to do:
Choose High-Quality Oil
You want to make sure that the oil you are using is free from contaminants. The best way to ensure this is to choose a high-quality oil from a trusted source. As with most things, always buy from a reputable brand especially when buying products that aren’t regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration yet. Apart from making sure that it’s 100% pure, you can also opt for something that’s organic.
Check Where The Oil Is Sourced
While tea tree oil is harvested from an Australian plant, it can also be sourced from a different type of Melaleuca tree in a different country. The type of plant and the place of origin should be mentioned in the label. It really doesn’t matter where the plant was grown as long as you know you are getting 100% tea tree oil.
Check The Concentration Level Of Terpinen
A lot of tea tree oil’s benefits can be attributed to its main antiseptic agent terpinen. To maximize its benefits, make sure to choose a product that has at about 10-40% concentration.
Store It Properly
To keep its components intact, make sure to store tea tree oil in a cool place away from sunlight exposure as it can cause the oil to increase its potency. Once it oxidizes, it can cause certain allergic reactions.
Dilute It With A Carrier Oil
One important thing you need to remember when using tea tree oil is to never apply it undiluted as it can dry your skin. When undiluted, tea tree oil can be very potent and may even worsen the eczema or any other skin condition that you are trying to treat.
To avoid that from happening, it is best to use a carrier oil such as the following:
- Almond oil
- Avocado oil
- Coconut oil
- Jojoba oil
- Olive oil
- Sunflower oil
The ideal ratio should be 12 drops of carrier oil for every 1 to 2 drops of tea tree oil. However, skin sensitivity varies from one person to another so it is still advisable to do a patch test before treating any affected area. Apply a dime-sized amount of the mixture to your forearm and observe for any reactions that may occur within 24 hours.
Using Tea Tree Oil For Your Hair And Scalp
Tea tree oil is also used widely to clear dandruff. Apart from that, it can also help unclog hair follicles, reduce hair loss, and provide hair nourishment. There are several shampoo products that contain tea tree oil. Choose one that has at least 5% concentration and is made using an all-natural formula to avoid irritation.
You can also try making your own shampoo mixture at home. In this case, the shampoo can act as a carrier to dilute the oil. All you need to do is add a few drops (around 2-3) of tea tree oil to about a quarter of your regular shampoo.
After using, condition and rinse your hair as you normally do. You can use this as often as you like as long as no signs of irritation is observed.
Important Things To Remember
The use of tea tree oil can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. If you want to avoid using chemical-based treatments and products, tea tree oil can be a good natural and inexpensive alternative. However, do note that it is not some sort of magical cure-all ingredient. It’s also important to make sure to apply it only topically. It can be dangerous when ingested. Make sure to keep it out of children’s reach.