Tea Tree Oil for Acne: Does It Work?

Wendy Rodewald
Tea tree oil for acne: does it work?

Tea tree oil for acne: does it work?

In our Q&A series, beauty experts address your most bewildering issues. Have a beauty-related quandary of your own? Submit your question in the comments below or via Twitter.

Q: Do tea tree oil acne treatments really work? I’d prefer to treat my acne with natural ingredients.

A: “There has been some promising research showing that tea tree oil is in fact an effective acne-fighting ingredient,” says Dr. Eric Schweiger, NYC dermatologist and founder of the Clear Clinic. “In fact, one study showed that tea tree oil was as effective as 5% benzoyl peroxide when treating acne lesions. In that particular study, the benzoyl peroxide worked more quickly, but the tea tree oil had fewer side effects. More studies need to be conducted, but at Clear Clinic, we have also seen hopeful evidence that tea tree oil is an effective natural ingredient to treat acne.”

So what is tea tree oil and how do you use it? The fresh-smelling essential oil is derived from a tree native to Australia (Melaleuca alternifolia). The leaves of the tree have long been used in traditional medicine, and the oil has been shown to have antimicrobial properties. Tea tree oil treats blemishes by killing the P. acnes bacteria that causes breakouts.

To use tea tree oil for acne, mix a drop into your cleanser, or create your own acne treatment by combining a squirt of 100% aloe vera gel with a drop or two of tea tree oil. Diluted tea tree oil can also be used as a spot treatment on existing acne pimples. Never apply undiluted tea tree oil to your skin, since it can be extremely drying and cause irritation. Try: Desert Essence 100% Australian Tea Tree Oil ($8.49, drugstore.com)

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