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Who doesn’t love a good multitasking beauty product? Lip balm that doubles as cheek stain, moisturizer with sunscreen, face wash that exfoliates and cleanses?! These are the goods that save both time and money.
Another multitasker to consider adding to your all-star lineup is tea tree oil, an essential oil with many uses that is sourced from tea trees, native to Australia. Tea tree oil has many uses in skin care, hair care, as bug repellent, and even oral hygiene. Keep reading to see a list of all the ways you can use this essential oil, according to dermatologists and scientific research.
16 Ways To Use Tea Tree Oil
1. Tea tree oil can tone down redness in the skin
Dermatologist Dr. Suzanne Friedler, MD, FAAD, says that one major benefit of tea tree oil is that it can help soothe inflamed skin. “When skin is inflamed, it can cause redness, so applying tea tree oil topically to the skin can help with that,” she says.
Whether you have dry, oily, or combination skin, Dr. Friedler says that tea tree oil can be helpful to integrate into your skincare routine. (If you have oily skin, she says it’s best not to use a bunch of different products with oils though.) As with trying any new skincare product, try just a small test patch first before applying it all over just to make sure you don’t have a bad reaction.
2. It can help with acne
According to dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey, MD, another big benefit of incorporating tea tree oil into your skincare routine is that it can help prevent and treat acne. One scientific study found that participants with mild to moderate acne who applied tea tree oil topically for 12 weeks saw their acne decrease over the course of the experiment.
Related: What Causes Adult Acne and What Is the Best Way To Treat It?
3. You can apply it to cuts
Dr. Friedler says that tea tree oil is antibacterial and antimicrobial, characteristics that make it helpful to apply to small cuts and scratches to help prevent infection. To use it in this way, wash the cut with warm water and apply one or two drops directly on the cut.
4. It’s a beneficial ingredient in hand soap
Tea tree oil’s antibacterial and antimicrobial properties make it a beneficial ingredient to include in hand soaps and hand sanitizers. As a bonus, it smells refreshing all on its own—no need for artificial chemicals or fragrance.
5. Tea tree oil can be applied to bug bites
If you’re spending a lot of time outdoors this summer, you’re bound to end up with a bug bite or two (or 10). This is yet another time when having tea tree oil on hand can be helpful. Dr. Bailey explains that bug bites can cause a histamine reaction, leading to skin inflammation. This can cause the skin to swell. Since tea tree oil soothes skin inflammation, this is why it can be used to treat the bites, helping to reduce swelling.
6. It makes mosquito bites less itchy
As Dr. Bailey explained, bug bites can cause a histamine reaction, leading to swelling. This is exactly what happens with mosquito bites. But good news: Tea tree oil not only can help reduce the swelling of mosquito bites, but can also make them less itchy. Her advice is to apply a small drop directly on the bite.
Related: How To Stop Bug Bites From Itching
7. Tea tree oil can be applied under the eyelids to treat eye infections
While tea tree oil should not be applied to the eyes themselves, research has shown that applying a tiny drop under the eyelids can help treat demodex, which is the buildup of yellow discharge at the base of the eyelashes. Another way it can benefit eye health in this way is to treat blepharitis, which is when the eyes become red due to dandruff-esque scales on the eyelashes.
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8. You can use it to clean your house
Tea tree oil can be used to make an all-natural cleaner because of its antiviral and antiseptic properties. Simply dilute several drops of it with water in a spray bottle. That’s it!
Related: 11 Cleaning Products That Will Make Your Life So Much Easier
9. Tea tree oil can be used to treat dandruff
“Tea tree oil has been found effective against [the type of yeast] that plays a role in dandruff,” Dr. Bailey says. She recommends using a 5 percent tea tree oil shampoo if dandruff is something you are experiencing regularly.
10. It may help prevent hair from thinning
While you’re lathering up with your tea tree oil shampoo, use it to give yourself a nice scalp massage. “A healthy scalp is essential for preventing hair thinning and using an [anti-dandruff] shampoo is one of the recommendations for people suffering from hair thinning,” Dr. Bailey says. This is just another way tea tree oil multitasks.
11. You can use it to show your heels some love
Many people are hard on our feet and heels often miss out on the moisturizing that the rest of the body gets. Tea tree oil is both moisturizing and has a powerful fresh smell—two qualities that make it perfect for helping to nourish cracked or dry heels. Simply apply a few drops directly on your heels and gently rub it in.
12. It can be used as deodorant
Tea tree oil is a common ingredient in many all-natural deodorants because it smells fresh, is antibacterial, and antimicrobial. You can even use it on its own too. Just apply a couple drops directly on your armpits.
13. Tea tree oil could help with asthma
If you or others in your family have asthma, it could be helpful to use a diffuser with tea tree oil. Remember how tea tree oil can help quell histamine reactions from bug bites? It can also help with histamine reactions caused by asthma-triggering allergens too. The anti-inflammatory effects of tea tree oil also contribute to its effectiveness in being used for asthma.
14. It can make your home smell nice
Simply put, tea tree oil smells refreshing. The scent has notes of pine and eucalyptus, a mixture of woodsy and fresh. Using essential oil in a diffuser can make your whole home smell great.
15. It can be used in body wash
Often, you’ll see tea tree oil as an ingredient in all-natural body washes. By now, you likely can guess why: It’s antibacterial, antimicrobial, and refreshing to inhale as you bathe.
16. Tea tree oil can support good oral hygiene
While tea tree oil isn’t meant to be consumed, scientific research has found that it can be beneficial to include in toothpaste or mouthwashes because of its antibacterial properties. If you do want to use tea tree oil in this way, it’s best to look for tea tree oil-containing oral hygiene products that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration so that you know they are safe.
Clearly there is no shortage of ways to use tea tree oil. Not many skincare products can claim to also belong in the shower, first aid kit, and in the cabinet with your cleaning products, but tea tree oil has bragging rights in all departments. In terms of oils, it doesn’t get more “essential” than this!
Next up, learn more about essential oils with this top 10 must-have list.