Home > Beauty & Grooming > Skincare > How to safely use tea tree oil in your beauty routine, according to skin care experts
How to safely use tea tree oil in your beauty routine, according to skin care experts

If you have ever experienced skin and hair or scalp conditions like acne or dandruff, you’ve probably done some digging on natural treatment options and discovered a thing or two about tea tree oil. This ingredient is often touted for its anti-inflammatory properties, which can help remedy these exact concerns.

Ultimately, though, it’s an essential oil, which gives some of us pause. Using these types of botanicals correctly is paramount: Even when tea tree oil is administered properly, it can cause reactions for those with allergies or ultra-sensitive skin. To determine if this ingredient is right for you, we tapped several dermatologists and an esthetician. Ahead, they share how to safely incorporate this essential oil into your beauty routine to reap all of its skin- and hair-boosting benefits.

Tea tree oil 101

tea tree oil for skin and hair
Image Credit: Anshu A/Unsplash

Tea tree oil is made from the distillation of leaves from the tea tree, formally known as Melaleuca alternifolia, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. The essential oil is loaded with anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. These benefits make it an effective ingredient in skin and hair products, says Angelo P. Thrower, MD, PA, the owner of Dr Thrower’s Skincare. Lots of skin care companies have harnessed the healing properties of this multifunctional, naturally-occurring oil, he adds.


This ingredient should always be diluted. Tea tree oil alone can cause dryness, blisters, and rashes, says Dr Thrower. If you want to make your own tincture, he recommends a diluting ratio of 1 to 2 drops of the oil for every 12 drops of carrier oil, which should be mild, moisturising, and skin-safe.

Jojoba oil is a great carrier oil, says Tami Blake, an esthetician and the founder of Free + True. Pairing this ingredient with tea tree oil should prevent skin irritation.

Patch testing

Make sure to do a patch test, which should reveal any tea tree oil allergies or sensitivities. “Apply one to two drops of the diluted oil on your inner forearm, and if no irritation occurs within a 24-hour period, you may use it for your intended purposes,” says Dr Thrower.

Tea tree oil in skin care

tea tree oil for skin and hair
Image Credit: Chelsea shapouri/Unsplash

Since tea tree oil has healing and nourishing properties, it is best used as an acne treatment, notes Blake. The anti-staphylococci properties in the oil, which reduce bacterial colonisation, help heal scarring, scratches, and cuts—and can also reduce oil production, she adds.

The best way to work tea tree oil into your acne regimen is to buy skin care products already formulated with it. Salicylic acid gels, in particular, are often made with this acne-fighting botanical, says Nazanin Saedi, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Plymouth Meeting Dermatology. “It’s great for acne and unclogging pores, and the addition of the product helps calm down the inflammation associated with acne,” she says.

Tea tree oil in hair care

tea tree oil for skin and hair
Image Credit: Christin Hume/Unsplash

It can clarify your scalp by washing away excess oil, dead skin, and buildup, says Blake; it can also unblock your scalp’s pores. This helps prevent the accumulation of yeast, which contributes to dandruff.

You can add a few drops of tea tree oil to your shampoo to tend to your scalp—this will help maintain normal scalp flora, and prevent chemical buildup, and the accumulation of dead skin cells, says Dr Thrower—but it’s easier to purchase hair care products with tea tree oil in the formulation, says Dr Saedi. Consider products like the Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo and matching conditioner; both are suitable for all hair types and will refresh your scalp.

How long it takes to see the results

Tea tree oil skin and hair products can be used daily, says Dr Saedi. With consistent application, you’ll start to see the benefits of using this botanical ingredient after four weeks. Of course, this all depends on your skin type and lifestyle—and you should always consult with your doctor or dermatologist about treatment options if your ailment doesn’t resolve or improve.

Who shouldn’t use it

With that said, it isn’t for everyone. Those with active eczema she avoid it entirely, since “their skin barrier is compromised,” says Dr Saedi. “Tea tree oil might cause more inflammation and irritation when applied directly to the skin.”

This story first appeared on www.marthastewart.com

(Credit for the hero and featured image: ANNA EFETOVA / GETTY IMAGES)

© 2021 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. Licensed from MarthaStewart.com and published with permission of Meredith Corporation. Reproduction in any manner in any language in whole or in part without prior written permission is prohibited.

How to safely use tea tree oil in your beauty routine, according to skin care experts

Nashia Baker

Sign up for our newsletters to have the latest stories delivered straight to your inbox every week.

Yes, I agree to the Privacy Policy

Never miss an update

Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest updates.

No Thanks
You’re all set

Thank you for your subscription.