Acne (acne vulgaris) is one of the most commonly experienced skin conditions during our teen years and young adulthood. Lately, as people have begun demanding more natural treatments for acne, researchers have turned to tea tree plants for solutions. Tea tree oil is an essential oil extracted from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia (AKA the narrow-leaved tea tree). This oil has both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, making it a great potential treatment for acne.
In recent years, two research teams have investigated the effects of tea tree oil on acne. In the first study, 124 participants were given either tea tree oil or the widely used acne fighting ingredient, benzoyl peroxide, to treat their acne. The researchers found that the natural tea tree oil solution actually improved acne to the same level as benzoyl peroxide. In a second study, a group of 60 participants with acne was split into two groups: one group received 5% tea tree oil gel and the other group received a placebo gel, which looked like the tea tree oil gel but did not actually contain tea tree oil. After six weeks of use, the participants that received the 5% tea tree oil gel had a 40% improvement in their acne, while those who took the placebo gel only had a 7% improvement. However, the tea tree oil gel was not entirely without side effects, as 10% of the tea tree oil group complained of itching.
While these two tea tree oil studies are promising, a larger study is still needed to truly confirm these findings. Nonetheless, if you’re over the chemical-laden acne treatments on the market and are looking for a more natural acne remedy, tea tree oil may be worth a shot!
Statistical significance: yes
Clinical significance: yes