The 7 Tea Tree Oil Products I Use for Managing Acne and Dandruff
I am not normally one to use “natural” or “herbal” skin-care products. I certainly don’t have anything against them, they just usually aren’t my favorites. But in my constant fight against acne and dandruff there’s one earthy ingredient I’ll basically lay down my life for: tea tree oil.
Tea tree oil is an oil harvested from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant, which is native to Australia. The oil doesn’t have a ton of conclusively proven benefits for treating any particular skin or hair issue, but research has shown that it has both antibacterial and antifungal properties, SELF explained previously. And some studies suggest that it may actually be helpful in managing things like acne, dandruff, ringworm, and athletes’ foot. So, it’s definitely not a miracle treatment, but I’ve had some success with it and I may not be totally imagining that.
As someone with skin too sensitive to handle the go-to acne-fighting ingredient benzoyl peroxide, I consider tea tree oil a welcome replacement for managing the bacterial side of my acne. And as someone prone to dandruff and an itchy scalp, I find that it helps soothe that itchiness and reduce the redness and flakiness that comes with it. To be clear, tea tree oil isn’t the only thing I use to help tackle these concerns, but it has become a real staple in my approach to managing them.
One important thing to know is that tea tree oil can be irritating and can cause allergic reactions. So if you, like me, have sensitive skin, it’s important to do a patch test before using it for the first time.
Below, check out the tea tree oil products I swear by for healthy skin and hair.
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Desert Essence Relief Spray, $7
Desert Essence products were my first entry into the tea tree oil world—and wow did they sell me! I started with their pure tea tree oil, which I would use by mixing a few drops into my skin-care products or just with water on a cotton round to use on my face.
Now, I love the convenience of using the (already diluted!) relief spray on both my skin and my scalp whenever there’s an issue to clear up. But beware: It does smell quite strongly of tea tree oil. It’s a smell I’ve grown to actually like, but maybe use it when your roommates are out or at least give them a warning.
Buy it: $7, amazon.com
Lush Tea Totaler Naked Cleansing Balm, $6
I’ve tried using classic tea tree oil toners on my face and they always seem to leave my skin feeling stripped and dry. But this naked cleansing balm is more like an oil cleanser, meaning it makes my skin feel super clean but also soft and moisturized after using it. Plus, I love that it comes without any unnecessary packaging!
Buy it: $6, lushusa.com
Lush Grease Lightning Gel, $16
This one is a relatively new addition to my tea tree arsenal, but it is quickly becoming a favorite! The gel texture is thin enough to spread easily and absorb quickly. And it also contains aloe gel, which I’m guessing contributes to the gentle nature of the product and the (very welcome) cooling sensation I get when putting it on irritated skin.
Buy it: $16, lushusa.com
Sunday Riley Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask, $55
This mask is expensive and definitely something I consider more of a treat a few times a month than rather than a part of my everyday routine. Plus, it smells very strongly of sulfur, which is not my favorite. But I like it because you can almost feel it drying out and treating any acne you have while using it. And I do genuinely feel like it clears up my skin pretty significantly.
Hot tip: You can get a sample size (along with the tea tree-containing UFO oil) in this gift set before deciding if you want to spend on a full size version.
Buy it: $55, dermstore.com
Jason Purifying Tea Tree Body Wash, $9
Okay, so, back acne is basically a permanent part of my life. I seem to get it mostly after I work out, unfortunately. But I’ve had some success using this body wash for the last few years. I love that, on top of the fact that it contains tea tree oil, it’s just a really nice, gentle formula that my sensitive skin seems to enjoy.
Buy it: $9, target.com
OGX Hydrating Tea Tree Mint Shampoo, $6
I’ve been devoted to this shampoo and conditioner for probably over four years now. I love the scent, which is definitely strong and minty so be forewarned! I also love the feeling of using it on my scalp—especially when it’s a little itchy or irritated—because it’s so tingly and refreshing. The two products together leave my hair feeling clean and my scalp moisturized. Plus, it’s extremely affordable and available in pretty much every drugstore near me. I’ve also tried the “extra strength” version of the shampoo and conditioner but honestly didn’t notice much a difference in results.
Buy it: $6, amazon.com
Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal +Tea Tree Treatment, $32
This is another once-in-a-while-treat type of product for me, which I used maybe once or twice a month depending on the state of my scalp. I find that if I’m sweating a lot more than usual (like I’m working out in the summer), I may get a little more buildup and, therefore, flakiness and itchiness. A few drops of this stuff massaged into my scalp usually makes it feel so, so, so much better even if it doesn’t completely solve the issue.
Like pretty much everything else on this list, this treatment has a strong scent. So I usually put it on after showering and before bed rather than wearing it during the day.
Buy it: $32, dermstore.com