Tea tree oil is made by steam distilling the leaves of the tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), which is native to Australia. Using a product that contains oil to treat a problem that is usually caused by excess oil may seem like a contradiction, but according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, tea tree oil treats acne just as effectively as benzoyl peroxide and causes fewer side effects. Pure tea tree oil is 100 percent natural and is a great alternative to harsh chemicals on your skin. Some find tea tree oil to be irritating, so do a skin test before applying it directly to the face.
Do a patch test on one area of your skin to see if you are sensitive to full strength tea tree oil. Put two drops of tea tree oil on a sterile cotton swab, and apply the oil to the inside of your forearm. If your skin does not burn, itch or turn red within two hours, you can use tea tree oil full strength. If you experience slight irritation, you will want to dilute the tea tree oil by at least 50 percent by mixing five drops of oil with five drops of warm water.
Wash your face with a gentle cleanser, and rinse it well.
Saturate a cotton swab with tea tree oil and apply the oil directly to the acne breakout. Do not rinse. Perform this process morning and evening.
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Make an astringent rinse by adding four drops of tea tree oil to a cup of water. Use the rinse no more than once per day.
Make a facial acne mask by adding four drops of tea tree oil to one egg white. Whisk well, and apply the mask to a clean face. Leave it on for 15 minutes; then rinse well with lukewarm water. Use the facial mask no more than once per week.
Use only 100 percent tea tree oil. If you purchase tea tree oil that has other ingredients blended with it, it could irritate your skin further.
You can also add a few drops of tea tree oil to your shampoo to treat scalp issues.
Discontinue use of tea tree oil if your skin begins to redden or appear irritated.
A certified nutritionist who majored in health, fitness and nutrition, Traci Vandermark has been writing articles in her specialty fields since 1998. Her articles have appeared both online and in print for publications such as Simple Abundance, "Catskill Country Magazine," "Birds and Blooms," "Cappers" and "Country Discoveries."