Tea tree oil is a type of essential oil that has antiseptic properties for skin. Its official name is Melaleuca alternifolia, from the Myrtaceae or Myrtle family. It has a camphorous scent, a bit like eucalyptus or rubber. The plant has thin, oval-shaped leaves and a white trunk with thin bark. Most of the plants for tea tree oil are grown in South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. This type of oil has many practical uses to benefit hair, skin, and aromatherapy, and it’s packaged into small glass bottles for sale around the world today.
What Makes Tea Tree Oil So Effective?
Tea tree oil has a long and traceable history. In the 18th century, the plant grew prolifically in Australia. When British explorers arrived on the continent they discovered that the aboriginals brewed the leaves of the plant for use as an antiseptic and antibiotic for cuts. The leaves were also made into tea blends to be given to sick people. The explorers collected cuttings of the tea tree plant and brought it back to the western world.
In World War II, bottles of the oil were placed into medical kits for soldiers heading into battle. It was perfect for first aid and could be used to clean cuts and abrasions.
The commercial history of tea tree oil dates back to the 1920s when Arthur Penhold, chemist, first considered the business potential of the plant, and wrote several papers on it. The business thrived in the 1970s and 80s, with large commercial plants being set up. Today, there are many more species of Myrtle plants used for the extraction of the oil.
Tea tree oil is actually poisonous when taken internally. It should only be used topically on skin or hair. It contains over 98 different compounds which can all be beneficial for health and beauty care. Its main component is terpinen-4-ol. It also contains cineole content. These compounds are what gives it astringent properties.
How is Tea Tree Oil Made?
Tea tree essential oil is made by steam water distilling the leafy parts of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant or other strains. The oil is then bottled up and distributed for sale. Depending on which part of the world it’s from will depend on which type of Myrtle plant that it’s been made from.
Benefits of Tea Tree Oil for Your Hair Health
Tea tree oil has many beneficial properties that can specifically benefit your scalp and hair. Here are 7 to help you get started.
1. Encourages longer, lusher hair growth.
Tea tree oil will help to encourage hair growth by healing up damaged or clogged hair follicles. Dandruff can also play a factor in clogged hair follicles, so the oil will help to clean out hair roots and prevent any itching or inflammation that will cause your hair to prematurely fall out. The compounds in the oil will restore hair follicles to a healthy state, which naturally encourages hair to grow in lusher and fuller.
2. Effective dandruff control.
Many people don’t want to wash their hair with a dandruff shampoo that’s going to make their hair and scalp dry. Tea tree oil is an effective way to treat the scalp, as its antiseptic and antibiotic properties can kill the fungus that causes dandruff. Using tea tree oil is a perfect solution, as it can be directly applied to the scalp, while avoiding the hair. It also has minor moisturizing properties that will leave the skin in a healthy balance. The oil will also help to ease the itchiness that flakes can cause. The oil can also be added to shampoo for people who want a faster treatment.
3. Effective treatment for itchy scalp conditions.
It’s not just dandruff that can cause scalp itchiness. Skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, folliculitis, and even allergies can all cause itchy skin conditions. There may be rashes, hives, or inflammation on the skin. Tea tree oil can help to calm and soothe these itchy skin conditions. The healing compounds in the oil will help the scalp to heal and restore a healthy skin balance.
4. Banish head lice.
No one wants to think about head lice, but they can affect many people, including younger children. According to some studies, tea tree oil has been effective in killing off adult lice, as well as their nymph stages of life, and can reduce the number of eggs that will hatch on the head. Many other studies have concluded that tea tree oil is more effective than the usual lice treatments, including pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide. The two compounds in tea tree oil that are most effective in killing lice are 1,8-cineole and terpinen-4-ol. The oil’s properties can also remove nits and eggs, as the oil dissolves the gummy texture that allows them to cling to the hair shaft. After the oil is applied, the eggs can easily be removed from the hair.
5. Use to clean scalp and hair.
Over time the hair and scalp can accumulate a build-up of products. Silicone is one of the worst culprits of shampoos and conditioners that can plug your hair follicles over time. Hair styling products, gels, and even hair sprays can also build up in your hair and on your scalp, and are hard to wash out of the hair with regular shampoo. Pouring a few drops of the oil into your shampoo will increase its cleansing power so your hair will become bouncier and look thicker.
6. Fights acne.
People can get acne on every part of their body, and that includes the scalp and neck region. Tea tree oil can be used to help clear up this annoying skin condition. The antibiotic properties of tea tree oil will help to kill the bacteria that causes acne. Your scalp will feel much better, and not have the small itchy sores that can result from acne. And once your scalp condition has cleared up, future use of the oil can help prevent further breakouts.
7. Promotes overall healthy hair & scalp.
Even if you have none of the above hair or scalp conditions, tea tree oil is still beneficial for everyone. It will help to maintain a healthy balance of natural organisms on your skin. It can prevent fungal or bacterial infections from starting. It’s a good way to prevent the loss of hair that can result as we age. Tea tree oil will help to make your hair look shinier and fuller.
How to Apply Tea Tree Oil to Hair
There are a few different methods when using tea tree oil on your hair. You can pour a 5% proportion of oil to shampoo in your shampoo bottle. Let it naturally mix together, but never shake. You can then wash your hair as you would normally. Ensure that you rinse out your hair thoroughly after use. You can can use a good conditioner after your treatment.
Another way to use tea tree oil is as a massage oil on your scalp. You need to dilute it first in a carrier oil to avoid causing irritation. The best carrier oils to use are almond, olive, or coconut oil. Place a small amount in your hand, then pour a few drops of the oil on top. Massage it in the palms of your hands, then apply directly to your scalp. Focus on the problematic regions of your head.
Wrap your head in a towel to keep the oil in place, and to keep your eyes from watering. Wait ten minutes for the oil to absorb into your scalp. Then wash your hair normally, and use conditioner if you wish.
Begin by doing these treatments about two or three times a week. Once you start seeing results, you can cut back to once per week.
Can You Leave Tea Tree Oil in Your Hair Overnight?
You can try an overnight treatment of tea tree oil on your hair. You’ll need to use a carrier oil and keep a wrap on your head though. Use a small travel-sized bottle of around 100 ml, and fill it 3/4 full with a carrier oil. Choose jojoba oil, almond oil, olive oil, or melted coconut oil. Pour in 15 drops of the tea tree oil and shake well. Take several minutes to apply the tea tree oil directly to hair and scalp. Ensure that your entire scalp is covered with the oil, as well as your hair.
Cover your head with a plastic shower cap or a thin towel. You need to avoid getting the oil on your pillowcase. Sleep on it, then in the morning, remove your cap, and shampoo and condition your hair as you would normally.
Other Beauty or Health Benefits of Using Tea Tree Oil
- Tea tree oil can be used for more than hair and scalp, it can be used for other parts of your body too. It’s a good item to keep in your first aid kit for using as an antiseptic if you have small cuts or abrasions. The oiliness of it will provide a barrier from allowing bacteria to get under the surface of your skin.
- The oil can be applied directly to pimples, and can also be used as a preventative for acne. The antibiotic properties of the oil will help to kill the bacteria that cause acne. The oil can even be used as a preventative, keeping the skin clear by preventing the bacteria from growing on the skin. The oil is also beneficial in helping old acne scars to heal up, and to prevent new ones from occurring. Tea tree oil can be used to treat every part of skin for acne.
- You can also add a drop or two to your mouthwash for those times when you have canker sores or tooth pain. It can promote overall good gum health and combat the bacteria that cause gum disease.
- The oil is also beneficial for other types of skin infections, including Candida and athlete’s foot. Besides killing lice, it can also kill mites. It’s also good for all viruses that cause herpes sores on the mouth or skin.
- The compounds contained in tea tree oil can also be beneficial for healing. They’ll help provide a boost to the body’s immune system in healing up eczema, psoriasis, and other annoying skin conditions.
- The tea tree oil can generally be used for an all-purpose healthy skin oil and moisturizers when diluted with a bit of carrier oil.
Precautions When Using Tea Tree Oil
When used properly, tea tree oil can be extremely effective for treating scalp and skin conditions, but there are some precautions you need to know before using it.
- Never ingest the oil as it’s highly toxic.
- Do not use tea tree oil on children under aged 5.
- Do not use if you’re pregnant.
- The oil is highly toxic to pets. Ensure you wash your hands after handling the oil. If you’ve done a hair treatment, keep your pets away until done.
- Do not use the oil directly out of the bottle. The only instance is if you want to use a q-tip and apply a small drop to a spot of acne or a cut. You don’t want to pour the oil liberally from the bottle and onto your skin. For most hair and scalp treatments, the oil needs to be diluted in shampoo or a carrier oil.
- Keep the oil stored safely out of reach of children and pets.
- Pay attention to the expiry date on the bottle and discard when expired.
Final Thoughts on Using Tea Tree Oil for Hair
Tea tree oil is an effective treatment for hair and scalp. It can help to reverse many skin conditions of the scalp, and encourage lush hair growth. You may need to purchase a larger bottle as you’ll find many more uses for this health oil for your personal and health care needs. Instead of reaching for the antibiotic or prescription ointment next time round, tea tree oil will provide a safer alternative for all your beauty care needs.