For anyone seeking a departure from harsh chemicals found in many skin and hair-care products, tea tree oil has proven to be a holy grail item for a number of reasons. While there are several formulas on the market containing the powerful oil as an ingredient, an affordable and effective natural alternative is to apply drops directly to the products you're using – namely, shampoo – to treat the condition at hand.
Tea Tree Oil Benefits
Tea tree oil has been used for centuries to treat a variety of health-related conditions ranging from acne to athlete's foot, coughs and congestion. Extracted from the leaves of tea trees, this naturally antifungal and antibacterial oil provides a gentle yet effective alternative to harsh chemicals that can irritate the skin.
Tea tree oil is often used as a spot treatment for acne symptoms, or an added element in baths to treat athlete's foot or other fungal skin conditions. When used on the hair, tea tree oil can provide relief from dry, flaky scalp, lice and possibly hair loss. Tea tree oil is known to stimulate blood flow to the areas on which it is applied, particularly on hair follicles, which are also known as pores. When pores are not clogged, the condition of the skin around it is ultimately improved and the risk of an inflammatory infection or buildup is reduced over time.
The Best Use for Hair
There are several shampoos and conditioners on the market that contain tea tree oil or oil extract in their formulas. If you're looking for a DIY option, there are a number of options that cost just a few cents. For an occasional scalp treatment, apply a few drops to jojoba oil and massage into the roots, rinsing away after five to 10 minutes. For more frequent use, add 1 to 2 drops of tea tree oil to a full bottle of shampoo and use as you normally would.
Things to Keep in Mind
Tea tree oil should not be ingested, but is considered generally safe when applied topically to the skin and scalp. Some people may experience irritation and dryness if the concentration of oil is too high, so it's always best to start slow when adding tea tree oil drops to any shampoo and increase if necessary. Because tea tree oil is naturally astringent, it can strip the hair of dyes, so if your roots and locks are chemically treated with color, it's best to steer clear of tea tree oil in order to preserve your hue.
If you're looking to purchase your own, tree oil can be found in most health-food stores and drugstores. Organic varieties will ensure that the highest concentration of the antiseptic properties tea tree oil is known for, and brands stored in dark brown glass bottles will afford a longer shelf life for your oil as sunlight can cause the main ingredient, called terpinen-4-ol, to oxidize faster.