Deemed “a medicine cabinet in a bottle,” Tea Tree oil has a rich history dating back to aboriginal times in Australia. Indigenous to Australia, the tree first came to the attention of Western Society in 1732 when Captain James Cook made his famous trip around the world.
Following the indigenous people, he brewed a spicy and refreshing tea from the leaves of the Melaleuca Alternifolia and thus coined the name “Tea Tree.” The aboriginal people shared with Cook their healing methods using this tree. Other than making tea, the locals used to crush the leaves and extract the liquid, which was then inhaled to treat colds and coughs.
They also used it topically for healing various skin conditions. Cook then brought back the tea tree oil and had a doctor test it, confirming its natural healing and antiseptic power that comes straight from its leaves. The doctor also confirmed it is more potent than the aloe vera plant.
Despite how beneficial the oil is, it can severely impact your skin and disturb other bodily functions if you don’t use it carefully. Carrier oils provide a proper, safer dilution of the oil and come with many different skin benefits. Choosing the best carrier oils for tea tree oil works to its advantage to increase its healing properties.
Why Do You Need a Carrier Oil for Tea Tree Oil?
Sensitization occurs when people use Tea Tree oil straight onto their skin without diluting it properly. Although, overusing Tea Tree oil or using older or improperly stored oil can also be n associated with adverse skin reactions.
Skin reactions are the most common adverse reactions to tea trees or essential oils. They include:
- Once you become sensitized to an oil, you are sensitized for life. You won’t be able to use your precious essential oils in any way in your lifetime.
- Irritant contact dermatitis is the least problematic type of skin reaction. Though the inflammation dies down quite quickly after the oil is removed from the skin, it’s still unpleasant and undesirable.
- Allergic Contact Dermatitis (delayed hypersensitivity) and contact urticaria (immediate hypersensitivity). In any of these conditions, the affected skin may be red and itchy, swollen and blistered, or dry and bumpy.
- You may also experience itching, burning, pain, and sometimes hives (tiny blisters).
- Carrier oils enable essential oils to absorb easily, thoroughly, and quickly into the skin, thus ensuring the maximum benefits from the essential oil used.
What are the Healing Properties of Tea Tree?
From ancient times till the dawn of the 21st century, Tea Tree oil has been top-rated in different nations. As a result, we’ve shed light on both the historical and the modern-era uses of this versatile oil.
In 1933, The American Journal of the National Medical Association, The Australian Journal of Pharmacy, and The British Medical Journal reported,
"Tea Tree oil is a powerful disinfectant, non-poisonous, non-irritating and has been used successfully in a very wide range of skin conditions and other bodily ailments.”
Tea Tree oil was the most dominant item in Australian soldiers' first aid kits during WWII. The oil’s antiseptic and wound healing properties reserved their place in that tiny box. Thousands of people became big companies producing the oil, ensuring sufficient supply to hospitals and first aid kits.
It’s been just over a century since Tea Tree Oil has been a popular antiseptic in Australia. However, it’s usually found in the US in health food stores and pharmacies.
The global pandemic helped scientists uncover some other excellent oil properties. Tea Tree oil makes for a perfect natural hand sanitizer. Some studies show it kills several common bacteria and viruses responsible for causing illness. These include E. coli, S. pneumoniae, and H. influenza. (C F Carson, 2006) Still, studies continue to confirm whether or not Tea Tree oil-based hand sanitizers are effective for hand disinfection, killing bacteria without antibiotics. (BH Youn, 2021) Additionally, a study testing several types of handwash shows that adding tea tree oil to the cleansers boosted their effectiveness against E. coli. (S Messager, 2005)
This oil is widely used in mouthwashes and kinds of toothpaste, believing it can help with some oral problems. Tea Tree oil may fight germs causing tooth decay and bad breath, but it’s also shown to be very effective against plaque-causing bacteria. (FC Groppo, 2002)
Tea Tree oil is also known to be effective for hair-related problems. The oil is added to shampoos to reduce dandruff because of its antifungal properties. Tea Tree oil is also considered effective against Another modern-day infection, a contagious fungal infection on the feet that’s likely to spread to the toenails and hands. (AC Satchell, 2002)
It Soothes Skin Inflammation
Tea Tree oil may help eliminate skin inflammation thanks to its primary component, ‘Terpinen-4-ol.’ The skin’s exposure to an allergen causes it to release inflammatory chemicals that lead to red, itchy, and sometimes painful skin. Research suggests that applying tea tree oil may help reduce the severity of these symptoms. (Z Khalil, 2004)
For another similar condition, contact dermatitis, tea tree oil reduced its symptoms by 40%. (Joanna Wallengren, 2011) In addition, a study found Tea Tree oil helpful in reducing inflammation and redness in rosacea. (Elnaz Ebneyamin, 2019)
The same anti-inflammatory properties of the oil benefit hair too. The oil is shown to help relieve inflammation on the hair scalp (both on the head and beard) and provide an extra soothing effect.
It Boosts Wound Healing
Tea Tree is also shown to disinfect wounds. Minor cuts, scrapes, and open wounds are the most accessible pathways for germs to enter your bloodstream and cause infections. Tea Tree oil is shown to heal and disinfect minor cuts and abrasions by killing infection-causing bacteria on wounds. (C F Carson, 2006) The credit mainly goes to one of its major chemical constituents, ‘Terpinolene’, that’s sedative and relaxing when used in isolation and has antimicrobial effects on the skin.
Apart from preventing infections in cuts and abrasions, this oil can also help encourage wound healing. Studies claim that the oil reduces inflammation and triggers the activity of white blood cells that are instrumental in the healing process. (S S Budhiraja, 1999)
It Fights Acne
Tea Tree oil helps reduce the amount and severity of acne (S Ahmad, 2019) and is suitable for almost all skin types, including oily/acne-prone skin. Acne is also caused by bacteria, which are resistant to conventional medications. Tea Tree oil’s antibacterial properties help it kill those bacteria in just a few hours. (A Esmael, 2020) Apart from helping with skin acne, Tea Tree oil is also believed to help fight beard acne and hair dandruff. Again, the credit goes to its antifungal and antibacterial properties.
A review on the efficacy of Tea Tree oil revealed its potency in killing a range of fungi and yeasts. The review was mainly focused on Candida albicans, a type of yeast that commonly affects the skin, throat, genitals, and mouth. Another study claims that terpinene-4-ol promotes the activity of fluconazole, a common antifungal drug, especially in cases of resistant strains of Candida albicans yeast. (A Mertas, 2015)
Besides eliminating skin fungus, the oil is also shown to kill nail fungus. In a study, one group was supposed to use a cream with a 5% Tea Tree oil composition, and the other was of placebo type. The participants in the former group benefited much more than the latter. (T A Syed, 1999)
Top 5 Advantages of Using Tea Tree Oil
- Tea Tree oil has a very safe profile, even for kids. According to the American College of Healthcare Sciences, Tea Tree oil can be safely useful for children with a sinus infection, nasal congestion, and bronchitis (source). Children above five years of age can inhale steam from water that has 3-5 drops of oil-around six cups of water ratio.
- No really dangerous “other main effects” like blood pressure issues.
- Sustainable crop with plenty of availability on the market.
- Very easy to get your hands on, and it is cheap. So when you have a bottle, you can use it for pretty much anything.
What Are The Best Carrier Oils for Tea Tree Oil?
Carrier oils allow for the safest use of essential oils. What’s more, they offer tons of skin benefits. These oils contain essential fatty acids, anti-inflammatory compounds, antioxidants, and skin-healing vitamins. So if you’re still indecisive about which carriers to choose from the best carrier oils for Tea Tree application, read through this list of carrier oils that can enhance your skin rejuvenation.
A Quick Synopsis
Suitable for dry, sensitive, acne-prone skin. Lightweight and absorbs quickly into the skin. The oil has emollient properties, which may help improve your complexion and skin tone.
Safety: Since Almond oil is a nut-driven oil, people with nut allergies shouldn’t use it.
The regular variety is best for body use on dry, rough, itchy, and scaly skin areas other than the face. Fractionated variety suits most skin types and creates a supple, smooth, and improved skin tone.
Safety: Since Coconut oil is a nut-driven oil, people with nut allergies shouldn’t use it.
Suitable for dry, acne-prone skin. The oil is highly moisturizing for dry skin and improves skin texture—ideal for dry areas on your face and cracked heels.
Suitable for dry, acne-prone skin. The oil hydrates your skin, speeds up wound healing, and helps to fight infections.
Suitable for most skin types, including acne-prone. The oil excellently maintains overall skin health and protects the skin from adverse sun exposure effects.
Suitable for dry, irritated skin. Works best at hydrating and healing cracked elbows and heels. The oil is thick and has a greasy texture, hence providing prolonged hydration.
Suitable for most skin types, significantly scarred and sensitive ones. The oil is best known for its wound healing and scars-reducing abilities. In addition, this oil is often used for easing sunburns and minor burns.
For Acne Moisturizers
For acne as the primary concern, there are a few worth-noting aspects of carrier oil used with Tea Tree. First, the carrier should have a low comedogenic rating, meaning it isn't likely to clog pores and cause further acne breakouts. Second, it should be high in linoleic acid and other similar oily skin-friendly fatty acids. And third, it should have the potential to hydrate the skin and remove the appearance of scars and dark spots.
The ones meeting these criteria from our list of the best carrier oils for Tea Tree oil include Sunflower, Tamanu, Olive, and Fractionated Coconut oil.
For Foot Balms
Tea tree has antifungal properties, so foot creams greatly help people struggling with Athlete's Foot.
Some carrier oils keep your feet hydrated, nourished and moisturized. They lock in moisture in the layers of your skin and form a solid protective layer over your feet to prevent them from getting dry or cracked. They also restore lost moisture and make your feet soft - in simpler terms - beautiful!
The best carrier oils for Tea Tree foot balm include Coconut (regular variety) and Sesame oil.
Coconut oil is naturally rich in fatty acids making it a superior foot moisturizer and ideal for cracked heels. Apply a Coconut oil-Tea Tree oil mixture overnight on your feet for best results.
Sesame oil has a warming effect that helps reduce muscle pain. It also works wonders during winters when the feet are often cold.
To Soothe Inflammation
Olive oil works best on inflammation on the face caused by acne breakouts, fever blisters, chicken pox, etc.
Coconut oil also helps not only reduce inflammation but the pain in the affected area as well. What’s worth noting here is regular variety for other body parts, whereas for facial skin, use the fractionated type of Coconut oil.
Carrier oils like Tamanu or Sea Buckthorn are also remarkable for inflamed joints.
Wound Healing Properties
To target wounds onto or near the face, opt for sunflower oil which is least likely to cause acne and has a slow-absorption rate. This makes it stay longer on the wound, thereby having a prolonged antibacterial effect.
Avocado oil is another to help encourage wound healing but is best to use on the body other than the face. Don’t miss out on Tamanu here. From minor injuries to sunburn, this oil helps with reducing the appearance of post-healing scars.
As Bug Repellent
The only of the best carrier oils for Tea Tree oil as a bug repellent is Tamanu oil. Tamanu Oil works excellently alone, or even better with Tea Tree oil to repel bugs. Pesky bugs like mosquitoes and black flies don't even hover around the sprayed area.
Best Practices For Using Tea Tree Oil With Carrier Oils
Before choosing one, consider:
- Nut allergies - Avoid using tree-nut-driven oils if you’re allergic to tree nuts. This includes Sweet Almond, Coconut, Apricot Kernel oils, etc.
Patch test: Though most carrier oils don’t cause adverse reactions, you should always do a patch test before using.
- Odor - A few carrier oils have a robust and distinct fragrance. When added to the Tea Tree, it may alter the aroma.
- Absorption - Some carriers absorb into the skin better than others. An oil’s absorption rate can also be affected by skin type.
- Skin type - Depending on your skin type, some oils can better serve your skin than others do. Also, some may irritate or worsen a skin condition such as acne.
- Shelf life - Some carrier oils can be stored longer than others without going rancid.
When diluting Tea Tree oil:
- Use a 3% dilution for adults
- 0.5 to 1% dilution for children.
Is There Something About Tea Tree Oil That Doesn’t Involve a Carrier Oil?
Yes, inhale it. A recent trend of aromatherapy also uncovered many hidden properties of Tea Tree oil. For example, when inhaled, the oil’s calming fragrance naturally supports healthy immune function.
Aromatherapists also use Tea Tree oil as a natural deodorant, antimicrobial, and non-toxic air freshener, helping remove bacteria, viruses, and environmental mold. Additionally, inhaling Tea Tree oil helps with cold and cough and opens nasal pathways for clearer breathing.
So now you have a good grasp of using Tea Tree oil. Introduce it to your skin or let the tiny droplets surround you. You’ll always love whatever you get from the oil. And with the must-have carrier oils for Tea Tree oil, you have the opportunity to groom your skin and hair properly.