Tea tree oil may already sound familiar to you. It’s one of the most common essential oils on the market, and most people swear by its effectiveness in treating a lot of skin-related concerns!

If you are prone to acne breakouts and popular skincare products don’t work for you, then you may want to include tea tree oil in your skincare routine.

But we know you have plenty of questions:

  • When to use tea tree oil in skincare routine?
  • What does it do for your skin?
  • What are the dos and dont’s?

Read on for answers to these questions and more.

What is tea tree oil?

tea tree oil

Okay, let’s get the most basic question out of the way: what is tea tree oil?

Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant. It is sourced primarily from Australia and is known to have anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. These benefits make it an effective ingredient to eliminate acne and to prevent its reoccurrence.

However, not everyone with acne-prone skin love tea tree oil. The bad rep surrounding it mainly comes from its natural camphor-like scent, so if you’re incredibly sensitive to fragrance, then tea tree oil can be a little overwhelming for you. But if you have a good tolerance for scent, you may still want to go for it since its benefits outweigh the bad smell.

Tea tree oil benefits

tea tree oil (1)

1. It works on comedonal and inflammatory acne

Unlike some other anti-acne ingredients in the market, tea tree Oil is not picky on what kind of acne it purges.

Whether you suffer from comedonal acne (blackheads, whiteheads, small blemishes) or inflammatory acne (angry, big, red pimples), tea tree oil will work both of them.

In fact, it’s been studied that tea tree oil is as effective as one of the most common acne-fighting skincare ingredients, benzoyl peroxide.

A study published in Medical Journal of Australia compared the effects of 5% tea tree oil with 5% benzoyl peroxide. It found that the former has less drying side effects than the latter while delivering similar results.

2. Anti-inflammatory

The anti-inflammatory effects of tea tree oil help soothe the inflammatory cascades that stimulate redness and skin irritability.

According to research, tea tree oil effectively reduces inflamed skin that is caused by sensitivity to nickel. Note, however, the study used pure tea tree oil on skin while we usually would have diluted the oil with a carrier oil before application, so results may differ in reality.

3. Kills bacteria

Acne is caused in part because of the presence of p.acnes bacteria on the skin. Tea Tree Oil has a comprehensive antimicrobial activity, including being powerful against p.acnes bacteria, and even staphylococcus aureus (AKA staph)!

When to use tea tree oil in skincare routine?

when to use tea tree oil in skincare routine

There are already many tea tree oil-infused skincare products on the market, including spot treatments, cleansers, moisturisers, and toners. Once you use some of these products, remember to be consistent for six to 12 weeks to start to see the effects on your skin.

But when to use tea tree oil in skincare routine?

When used as an ingredient within one of your skincare products, you should use it just as advised on the product’s instructions. If it’s a toner, use it after cleansing. If it’s a serum, sandwich it between your toner and moisturiser.

For those who are using pure tea tree oil, there are a few ways you can use it.

The first way is to add a few drops into your moisturiser. For this method, you use it just like a moisturiser, as the final step of your skincare routine before you apply a sunscreen.

You can also use it as a spot treatment by applying it directly onto your blemishes using a cotton swab. If this is how you’re using it, apply right after toning.

For those who suffer from body acne, you can consider adding a few drops into your bath water.

What if your skin reacts badly to tea tree oil?

when to use tea tree oil in skincare routine - reactions

If it’s your first time using tea tree oil, always go for a patch test. Simply swab a small amount on either the inner side of your wrist or the area behind your ears. Leave it on for a few hours and check if there’s any redness, itch or irritation.

However, if you didn’t manage to do a patch test and your skin is having a bad reaction (burning, has a rash, itchy, swollen, red) from tea tree oil application, you need to immediately wash your face with cold water. If you wash your face using hot water, the heat will cause the product to penetrate the skin faster, increasing sensitivity.

Don’t use soap or cleanser to remove the product, and definitely don’t use a flannel or a washcloth. Too much rubbing of the skin can make your skin worse. Just splash your face with cold water to rinse it off.

After rinsing your face, it’s best to leave your skin and not put in any skincare product, even moisturiser. You don’t want to seal any tea tree oil residue on your skin. Let your skin rest overnight to curb any irritation tea tree oil left you with.

Best products with tea tree oil

The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil

The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil

If you prefer to use pure tea tree oil to combat blemishes and detox your skin, The Body Shop has the product for you. You can use it as a spot treatment, add it to your moisturiser, or mix it with your bath water to have a detoxifying and relaxing bath – a method that’s great for those who suffer from back-acne.

Retails for RM68.

The Body Shop

Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser

Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser

This low-pH gel cleanser with tea tree oil is formulated with natural BHA and other botanical ingredients to exfoliate your skin and unclog pores gently, without stripping your skin with the hydration it needs.

Retails for RM43. Click on link below to check for latest price.


COSRX Oil-Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion

COSRX Oil-Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion

This lightweight moisturiser contains Tea Tree Oil, Betaine, and 70 percent birch sap to fight breakouts, inflammation, and redness, made specifically for acne prone skin.

Retails for RM69.


Handcraft Antifungal Tea Tree Oil Body Wash and Foot Wash

Handcraft Antifungal Tea Tree Oil Body Wash and Foot Wash

If you suffer from body acne, then this tea tree oil body wash will save your life. It kills fungus and bacteria and fights body acne, body odour, nail fungus, and the athlete’s foot. It’s safe to use every day, including those with sensitive skin!

Retails for RM167. Click on link to check on promotions.


Featured image taken from BeautyFitnessFunda.