Skin Care MYTHS: Tea tree oil clears acne

Written by Catherine Atzen, M.B.A., CIDESCO, NCEA certified, founder of ATZEN

STATEMENT: Tea tree oil clears acne.

 Facts: Tea tree oil is an essential oil steam-distilled from the melaleuca alternifolia tree from Australia. It is an ancient remedy for nail fungus, lice, and acne. Used pure, it tends to irritate the skin and has a strong camphor-like smell. 

Tea tree oil has anti-P. acne bacteria properties similar to spirea ulmeria flowers. Either performs best when blended with ingredients that correct other causes of acne, such as hyper-keratosis, inflammation (resveratrol, allantoin, aloe, green tea), and prevent scars and aging (growth factors/peptides/cinnamon).

A study at the R.P.A. Hospital in Australia compared the effectiveness and tolerance of five percent tea tree oil gel with five percent benzoyl peroxide lotion in 124 people with acne. Both groups had a reduction in the severity of their lesions; in the benzoyl peroxide group, 79 percent of people had itching, burning, and dryness. There were fewer side effects in the tea tree oil group. Furthermore, benzoyl peroxide is a carcinogen while tea tree oil has no known toxicity.

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