Hailing from Australia, tea tree oil is fast becoming a staple in many of our favorite skin and hair care products. Australian Aboriginals have known the healing powers of tea tree oil for thousands of years, boiling down the leaves and creating teas and poultices to heal cuts and wounds. And while we use it mostly in North America for its beauty and health benefits, Australians have still held onto its medicinal uses, even having supplied soldiers with it as part of their first aid kits during past wars.

Tea tree oil is composed of many natural chemical compounds that give it its anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is these properties that make this essential oil so beneficial to the skin. When applied, the oil kills microorganisms or fungi that are harmful to your skin, making it an effective treatment for acne, cold sores, burns, fungal infections such as athlete’s foot, or any other kind of inflammation.

Tea tree oil in a bottle

Tea tree oil is also an effective spot treatment for your face and skin. To use it on blemishes, dark spots, or pimples, simply dab a few drops on a cotton ball and apply it over the affected area. Studies have also shown that tea tree oil is just as effective as benzoyl peroxide in the treatment of acne, so it makes a great natural alternative that won’t leave your skin red or peeling. It is also said to prevent over-production of sebum, a naturally-produced oil that makes the skin and hair oily and can lead to acne when produced in excess. So not only will tea tree oil help get rid of your acne, it will make sure it stays away. However, if you choose to start using tea tree oil, make sure you ditch your benzoyl peroxide, as using both together can lead to skin irritation.

When used on its own, tea tree oil might be a bit too much for people with sensitive skin, so if you plan on using it regularly try adding a couple drops to some aloe vera gel, or add a couple teaspoons of oil to some raw organic honey instead of constantly doing direct to skin application. Be sure to only use it topically, as ingestion can be dangerous!