How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Acne: The Ultimate Guide

How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Acne: The Ultimate Guide
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Acne vulgaris (or just acne) is an unsightly skin condition that affects most people at some point in their lives. Acne is caused when excess sebum (the oil the skin produces) and dead skin cells clog up pores and become infected by bacteria. The result is red pimples, pustules, swollen red bumps, whiteheads, and blackheads. Severe acne can cause large, inflamed red lumps called cystic acne to appear. Outbreaks of acne can appear on the face, chest and back.

Most dermatologists recommend various medicated treatments to control acne outbreaks that help to reduce the amount of sebum the skin produces, fight the bacterial infection, and minimize inflammation. However, many of these treatments can be very expensive and contain harsh chemicals that can cause allergic reactions or skin irritation.

Using tea tree oil for acne is a natural and safe way to treat pimples, whiteheads, blackheads, pustules, and even cystic acne.  Tea tree oil contains many natural compounds that effectively help to treat acne in 3 ways:

  • Tea tree oil is antibacterial and kills off bacteria that cause pores to become infected.
  • The anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree oil reduce the redness of inflamed pimples.
  • Tea tree oil is anti-acne because it helps to dry up excess sebum from the skin.

To treat acne with tea tree oil, you can also mix it with other natural ingredients to help quickly get rid of pimples. For example, it can be mixed with coconut oil, aloe vera gel, or honey to soothe inflamed skin and kill bacterial infections. It can also be added to baking soda or oatmeal to help exfoliate dead skin cells, unblock pores, and reduce inflammation.

In this article, you will learn about the many different ways that tea tree oil can be used to cure acne on your chest, face, and even as a natural treatment for bacne (acne on your back). First of all, let’s look at the science behind tea tree oil to see why it is such an effective natural acne treatment.

Why Tea Tree Oil is an Effective Treatment for Acne

The research on why tea tree oil is an effective remedy for many skin conditions is well-documented. Scientists have found that among the many chemical components of tea tree oil is an antimicrobial one called terpinen-4-ol. This has been shown to effectively destroy a broad range of bacteria that cause skin infections and inflammation. It also contains antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antiviral properties.1

A study published in The Medical Journal of Australia found that the antimicrobial properties of tea tree oil can be used to treat mild to moderate acne. The researchers reported that when compared with benzoylperoxide (a popular pharmaceutical treatment for acne), tea tree oil was just as effective. The study also found that patients suffered fewer side effects from the tea tree oil acne treatment than from benzoylperoxide.2

Other studies have also confirmed the efficacy of tea tree oil for acne treatment. For example, when discussing effective over-the-counter acne treatments, The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology found that tea tree oil helps to reduce redness and inflammation in acne vulgaris. It also effectively reduced the number of pimples and helped to prevent further outbreaks of acne.3

Doctors at WebMD report that tea tree oil is used as a natural treatment for acne and “helps to reduce several acne symptoms, including acne severity.”4

Natural Tea Tree Oil Remedies for Acne

There are many different ways to use tea tree oil to help quickly get rid of acne and improve the condition of your skin. Tea tree oil can be used directly on pimples to dry out excess oil and reduce redness. You can also use tea tree oil along with many other natural ingredients that have acne-fighting properties. Please read on to find out more.

How to use tea tree oil for acne

Tea tree oil is one of the most effective essential oils to help dry out excess oil from acne pimples. This is also an effective treatment for cystic acne to reduce the swelling, pain, and inflammation from large, deep infected pores.

How to use tea tree oil on pimples and acne:

  • Apply 1-2 drops tea tree oil to a cotton swab.
  • Gently apply the essential oil to the swollen bump on your skin.
  • Repeat 2-3 times a day to help kill the infection that causes acne.

Tea tree oil can be used directly on the skin for very small infected areas (such as a spot treatment). However, to cleanse bacteria from the skin on larger areas, tea tree oil should always be diluted.

Tea tree oil facial cleanser for acne:

  • Mix 1 part tea tree oil to 9 parts water.
  • Using a cotton ball, apply the tea tree oil remedy to your chest acne, back acne, or face acne.
  • Leave on for 15-20 minutes before rinsing off with warm water.
  • Apply the tea tree oil acne treatment to the affected skin area in the morning and before going to bed.
  • Repeat daily until you no longer have any pimples.
  • Remember to shake the mixture well each time before use.

This is also an effective home remedy to use as part of your daily skin care routine to remove excess sebum from the skin and prevent outbreaks of acne. Always remember to use a natural skin moisturizer to keep your skin smooth and hydrated.

Coconut oil and tea tree oil for acne

Many people have found that virgin coconut oil and tea tree oil can help keep acne outbreaks under control. Virgin coconut oil is great for acne because it contains many antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to lessen the appearance of red inflamed pimples and pustules.

Research into coconut oil has confirmed its effectiveness in treating acne skin conditions. For example, the Journal of Dermatological Science found that two fatty acids in virgin coconut oil, lauric acid and capric acid, kill off the acne-causing bacteria Propionibacterium acnes. The fatty acids also have an anti-inflammatory effect of reducing redness in skin lesions.5

Another study reported that lauric acid from coconut oil could be used as an “alternative treatment for antibiotic therapy of acne vulgaris.”6

Boost the antibacterial power of coconut oil by adding a few drops of tea tree oil to make a home treatment ointment for acne. Here is how to make the coconut oil acne remedy:

  • Warm 1 tbsp. virgin coconut oil to soften it and add 8 drops of tea tree oil.
  • Mix well and store in a small glass jar.
  • Apply a very small amount of the coconut and tea tree oil remedy to the acne-affected area of skin.
  • Repeat this 2-3 times a day until your acne symptoms have gone completely.

Alternatively, you can use a combination of tea tree oil and lavender essential oil in the home remedy. Lavender oil also has powerful antibacterial properties that are useful in treating acne. To make the home remedy, you should add 4 drops of tea tree oil and 4 drops of lavender oil to 1 tbsp. virgin coconut oil.

Remember that you only need to apply a very small amount of coconut oil over a large skin area. However, if you find that coconut oil tends to clog up your pores, you should try one of the other natural acne treatments from this page.

Coconut oil makes a great natural skin moisturizer to help keep your skin looking and feeling healthy. You can also use coconut oil as a home remedy for acne scars. For more information on acne scar treatments, please read my article about the various natural ways to get rid of acne scars.

Aloe vera and tea tree oil acne treatment

Help get rid of acne quicker by using the antibacterial properties of aloe vera together with tea tree oil. Pure aloe vera gel helps to soothe inflamed skin and is a popular home remedy to treat skin burns. Aloe vera is very effective for both treating acne and helping prevent acne outbreaks.

The Indian Journal of Dermatology found that the many chemical compounds in aloe vera have an anti-acne effect. For example, aloe vera helps to tighten and shrink pores and at the same time softens the skin. Aloe vera also makes skin look better because it boosts collagen in the skin, making skin wounds heal quicker without leaving scars behind. It also has an overall anti-inflammatory effect on the skin.7

To make an aloe vera and tea tree oil remedy for acne, please do the following:

  • Mix 1 tbsp. pure aloe vera gel with 8 drops of tea tree oil.
  • Apply the aloe vera remedy to the acne and leave for 30 minutes.
  • Rinse with warm water and pat your skin dry.
  • Repeat daily to help get rid of acne-causing bacteria from your skin and prevent acne scars from developing.

When using aloe vera as a remedy for inflammatory skin conditions, remember to always use high-quality aloe vera gel with the least amount of additives as possible.

Baking soda and tea tree oil acne treatment

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is one of the many ways to get rid of acne naturally because it helps to unblock sebaceous glands. Baking soda also is a natural antibacterial agent which can help to clear bacteria that causes acne. The grainy texture of baking soda means that you can use it to gently exfoliate dead skin cells that block up pores.

Studies into baking soda have found that the antibacterial activity helps wounds to heal quicker and prevents the spread of infection.8

To use tea tree oil and baking soda as a natural acne remedy, you just have to make a simple paste using some baking soda, water, and tea tree oil. This is how to use the remedy:

  • In a bowl, mix enough water with 1 tbsp. baking soda to make a paste.
  • Add 2-3 drops of tea tree oil and mix well.
  • Apply the baking soda acne treatment to the affected skin area.
  • Leave for 15 minutes then rinse off with warm water.

Because baking soda can change the pH level of your skin, you should only apply the remedy 1-2 times a week. Always apply a natural moisturizer after putting baking soda on your skin to lock moisture into the skin.

To unblock dead skin from your pores to prevent outbreaks of acne, you can use the above baking soda and tea tree oil remedy as a natural skin exfoliator. All you have to do is gently massage the paste into the affected area to unclog pores. Rinse off with warm water and pat your skin dry.

Baking soda and tea tree oil are also great natural ingredients to treat pimples that stay under the skin and don’t come to a head. To find out more, please read my article on natural methods to get rid of blind pimples.

Witch hazel and tea tree oil for acne

Use the anti-inflammatory properties of witch hazel and tea tree oil together to reduce swelling and redness in inflamed pores and kill off bacterial infections. Witch hazel acts as a natural astringent to treat acne because it dries out excess oil in pores and helps to lessen the appearance of large red bumps on the skin.

Research has found that tannins in witch hazel contribute to its anti-inflammatory effects in treating acne-related conditions.9 It also acts as a natural antiseptic that disinfects the skin from bacterial and viral infections.10

Make a natural witch hazel toner with tea tree oil to reduce acne breakouts and keep your skin clear of pimples. To make the witch hazel anti-acne toner, this is what you should do:

  • In 1 oz. witch hazel, add 3 drops tea tree oil and 3 drops lavender oil. Mix well.
  • Using a cotton ball, apply the home remedy to the affected area to cleanse impurities and bacteria from your skin.
  • Repeat the application 2-3 times a day until the redness and swelling in the pimples has gone completely.

Use the witch hazel toner to prevent acne outbreaks by using it as part of your daily skincare routine.

Honey and tea tree oil for acne

Raw, natural honey helps to kill bacteria on the skin that cause acne pimples. It also helps to provide relief from itchy and inflamed skin which very often accompanies pustules and large acne pimples.

Scientists looking into the antibacterial effect of honey remedies on the skin found that it is effective against a broad spectrum of bacterial infections. This is due to hydrogen peroxide that forms in wounds when honey is applied.11

Even doctors are starting to recommend Manuka honey as a natural treatment for acne. For example, WebMD reports that, although no scientific studies have proved or disproved honey’s effectiveness in treating acne, many patients report positive results. Manuka honey is also being used in hospitals to treat wounds and prevent further skin infections.12   

Add a few drops of tea tree oil to Manuka honey to make a great topical ointment to treat the symptoms of acne. Make the honey remedy with tea tree oil by doing the following:

  • Mix 2-3 drops of tea tree oil with 2 teaspoons of Manuka honey. If you don’t have Manuka honey, you can use raw, organic honey.
  • Using a cotton ball, apply the honey mixture to the affected skin.
  • Leave for 30 minutes to one hour before rinsing off with warm water.
  • Repeat the treatment 2-3 times a week to improve the appearance of your skin and get rid of acne blemishes.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) and tea tree oil acne treatment

A simple ingredient like raw unprocessed apple cider vinegar (ACV) can help to disinfect pimples, pustules, and cystic acne from acne-causing bacteria. The low pH level and acidic content of apple cider vinegar help to destroy and prevent bacterial infections. In addition, there are many other benefits of washing your face with apple cider vinegar.

The antibacterial effect of apple cider vinegar is due to its high acetic acid content. The journal PLOS One reported on the fact that acetic acid prevents bacterial infections from developing in wounds. It also helps to inhibit the growth of other infection-causing pathogens.13

Use raw apple cider vinegar to help get rid of acne fast by adding a few drops of tea tree oil to it. Here is how to make the apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil acne remedy:

  • Mix equal parts of water and raw unprocessed apple cider vinegar.
  • Add a few drops of tea tree oil and mix well. You should use about 6-8 drops essential oil for every 1 oz. liquid.
  • Use a cotton ball to apply the anti-acne remedy to pimples on your face, chest or back.
  • Apply the mixture in the morning and in the evening until you no longer have acne lesions on your skin.

Oatmeal tea tree oil scrub for acne

Oatmeal is a gentle acne treatment that helps to remove dead skin cells from blocked pores and, at the same time, cleanses your skin. By using oatmeal on skin affected with acne, you can help to get rid of the appearance of pimples quickly and easily.

Studies into oatmeal’s antibacterial activity have shown that it is an effective home treatment for acne, pustules and cystic acne. The journal Clinical and Experimental Dermatology found that various chemical compounds in colloidal oatmeal (ground oatmeal) have an anti-inflammatory effect. It can reduce the appearance of rashes, red skin, and other inflammatory skin conditions.14

Make a gentle oatmeal scrub to get rid of blackheads, whiteheads, and unblock pores from dead skin and excess oil. To make the natural scrub, please do the following:

  • Mix equal parts of ground oatmeal and natural raw honey.
  • Add a few drops of tea tree oil and mix well.
  • Massage the oatmeal remedy into the affected skin and leave for 20 minutes.
  • Rinse off with warm water and pat your skin dry.

If you have large areas of acne on your skin, for example, acne on your back or on your chest, you can get a relief by soaking in a bath that has colloidal oatmeal in it. To find out how to make an oatmeal bath to help treat acne naturally, please see my article on how to treat back acne (bacne) naturally.

Egg whites and tea tree oil to reduce acne

Another natural treatment to reduce the appearance of acne and shrink enlarged pores is to use egg whites together with tea tree oil. The egg white helps to draw out excess oil from pores and the antibacterial effect of tea tree oil kills the acne-causing bacteria.

To make a face mask for acne using egg whites, lemon juice, and tea tree oil, this is what you should do:

  • Whisk 2 egg whites until they form stiff peaks (it makes the egg white acne remedy easier to apply).
  • Fold in the juice of half a lemon and add 2-3 drops of tea tree oil.
  • Apply the remedy to your face and leave to dry.
  • Rinse off with cool water.
  • Apply the face mask 2-3 times a week to get rid of acne pimples from your back, face, or chest.

Natural scrub with tea tree oil for acne

You can also use a sugar scrub to unblock pores naturally and get rid of excess sebum and dead skin cells that are causing acne. The natural scrub for acne also uses tea tree oil for its antimicrobial properties and lemon juice to help peel off dead skin cells.

To make the sugar scrub to help clear up your skin and get rid of acne quickly, this is what you should do:

  • Make a thick paste by adding 1/4 cup of brown sugar, juice from 1/2 a lemon, and 1 tbsp. raw honey. Adjust the quantities so that the scrub is thick.
  • Add a few drops of tea tree oil to boost its antibacterial effect.
  • Massage the sugar scrub onto the affected skin area.
  • Leave for 5-10 minutes before rinsing off with warm water.

The most effective way to use the natural scrub for acne is to exfoliate your skin 1-2 times a week. This will help to keep the pores on your skin free of dirt, impurities, dead skin cells and excess sebum.

Practical Advice when Using Tea Tree Oil for Acne

When using tea tree oil as a natural acne remedy, there are certain precautions that you should keep in mind.

  • Always use tea tree oil topically on the skin.
  • Unless you are using it as a spot treatment, tea tree oil (as with all essential oils) should always be diluted before putting on the skin.
  • On rare occasions, tea tree oil can cause allergic skin reactions. If you notice this, then stop using tea tree oil immediately.

Read my other related articles:
1. Baking Soda for Acne and Pimples – The Complete Guide
2. Why You Should Wash Your Face With Apple Cider Vinegar
3. The Best Essential Oils for Acne
4. Witch Hazel for Acne – The Ultimate Guide
5. Coconut Oil For Acne – Does It Really Work?

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2 Responses to How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Acne: The Ultimate Guide

  1. lyn says:

    My skin color is chocolate but the color is not even, can turmeric mask help, can it smoothen laughter lines?

    • Jenny Hills says:

      The turmeric face mask (recipe here) helps to create a more even skin tone, but it takes time to see results. It’s not a quick fix and patience is required. It may take several weeks before you see improvement. As for smoothing fine lines, I’m not sure about it. I believe using essential oils and natural oils will provide better results in this case – see more information in this article.

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