How To Use Tea Tree Oil for Acne

Tea tree oil is hands down the most effective natural remedy I’ve ever tried for acne. It’s even effective against cystic acne, those underground monster zits that hurt so bad. As someone who used to suffer from pretty terrible acne, I know how frustrating it can be to try lots of different treatments only to find that the acne comes right back after a couple weeks. I found this to be true both with conventional and natural therapies.

However, this did not occur when I started using essential oils for skin care. And since I’m obviously always in favor of using natural remedies in place of the harsh chemical stuff, that was super exciting for me.

Methods I’ve Used

I used tea tree oil for acne and never looked back! So effective!

Here are a few different ways you can use tea tree oil for acne:

  1. Mix a few drops (2-6 or so depending on the severity of the situation!) with your regular moisturizer. Avoid your eyes!
  2. Add a few drops to your regular cleanser. Again, be careful not to get it in your eyes!
  3. Mix 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of sesame or olive oil, 1 tablespoon of honey and 10-ish drops of tea tree oil for a acne-fighting scrub. This is good for run of the mill breakouts, but could be a little too harsh for cystic acne. Tea tree oil and honey are even  natural preservatives so you can keep this in a jar right in your medicine cabinet.
  4. For acne on your body, you can add tea tree oil to your bath.
  5. Add 5 drops of tea tree oil to 1/4 cup of plain yogurt and apply as a mask. Rinse with cool water after 15-20 minutes. This is my fave! <3

How Tea Tree Oil Works

Tea tree oil (also called Melaleuca oil) has powerful antibacterial (and even antifungal and antiviral!) properties and is effective against MRSA, which is a strain of bacteria that has developed resistance to some man-made antibiotics. So it’s a natural product that can fight the spread of yucky sick germs. Its properties also make it useful in fighting acne. My skin is really fussy, but tea tree oil never fails to whip it into shape when I break out.

What Brand of Tea Tree Oil Should I Use?

I especially love that it’s a very affordable option for naturally clearing up my skin. A little bottle of tea tree oil only costs a few dollars and lasts quite a long time, since you don’t use very much at all at a time.
I’ve tried several brands of essential oils and find that they are definitely one of those things where you (usually) get what you pay for. Essential oil quality matters big time and they are not all created equally.
A lot of people will automatically go for the big name, top dollar brands doTERRA and Young Living. Those are fine, HOWEVER (and I’m sure I’m going to get some flack for this) they are, in my opinion, overpriced. When you can get the same results from a less expensive brand, and the product is pure, why wouldn’t you?

I’ve purchased some essential oils that ended up not being pure. It’s really annoying! Two brands that I have come to trust are:

  • Aura Cacia – Love them! You can also buy bulk tea tree oil from Abe’s Market by clicking here. This is the most cost effective option, especially if you love using essential oils for many different purposes like me, and it’s not as pricey as you’d think when you consider how much acne skincare stuff can cost sometimes.
  • Eden’s Garden – This is the first brand I EVER used and after experimenting quite a bit, Istill like it. I haven’t tried all their oils, but I can vouch for the Tea Tree Oil. Buy their oils from Amazon for the best deal. (Update 1/15/2014: It looks like there is even a 2-for-1 promo going on – no idea how long that will be available, but click through to see if it’s still active!)
  • Mountain Rose Herbs: The quality of everything I’ve gotten from MRH is unmatched. I highly recommend them for everything from essential oils to straight herbs and other natural products. They have everything you could possibly need for natural care products whether you want them premade or but the ingredients to make your own. MRH is by far my favorite source.
Be Safe!

It’s best to dilute tea tree oil with water or a carrier oil or water before using it to treat rashes, cuts or acne. Additionally, sensitive skin or not, it is possible to overdose with external use. Tea tree oil should be used sparingly no matter what the application is.

So, I hope you’ve found this info useful and that you’ll be on your way to clear skin soon. I know how frustrating and embarrassing acne can be, which is why I wanted to make this post as informative as possible. If you have any questions at all, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or come connect on Facebook. Take care!


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  1. says

    I might have to buy this for my daughter! I’ve been wanting to get her off of Acne Free for months!!! I don’t like all the chemicals…thank you!

  2. Anonymous says

    Hey , I have a very bad acne whereby my entire face is full of reds and big pimples . I just want to ask , can I not dilute the tea tree oil and just take 2 drops of the tea tree oil and slowly massage it on my entire face ? thank you (: -Nabilah

    • says

      Hi Nabilah! That does sound like it would be helpful. I wouldn’t use that treatment more than once per day, though, since TTO can be harsh. Also you would want to stop if your skin gets irritated. I hope it helps!!

  3. Anonymous says

    Thanks for the ‘ways to fight breakouts’ will definately try them,to see if it will solve my acne, fingers cross!

  4. Selena says

    heyy thnx for the great info but is tea tree oil effective for blackheads too? i have acne but on my nose i have alots of blackheads they are soo deep

    • says

      Hey Selena, I know what you mean because I have the same issue! In my experience TTO is good for keeping them away, but not so much for getting rid of them. To get rid of them the only thing I’ve found is using one of those pore strip things… but I don’t know of any natural brands unfortunately. (If anyone does, please chime in!) And then you can use TTO in any of these ways (Especially number 4, the scrub) to keep them at bay. I hope this helps!

    • Anonymous says

      NO PORE STRIPS! 100% NATURAL REMEDY: To diminish the look of clogged pores on the nose, create a paste of baking soda and hot water (as hot as you can stand). Rub the mixture onto your nose and let sit for a minute or two. Rinse very well. The baking soda will soften your skin and it will help to dissolve the oil stuck in the pore. The hotter the water you use, the better the results, because hot water opens pores and will allow more baking soda into the pore. :)

    • says

      Hey Cheryl, great question! I will make a blog post out of this.. to be honest I’m doing a lot of product reviews right now so my skincare routine is a little all over the place. What I’m LOVING right now though is oil cleansing – I will write about this soon!

  5. says

    HI Kylie,
    interesting info! i have still acne even if i’m 24, :( and tried expensive commercial cleansers and cream but still the same. i’m gonna try this!
    but i have one quick question, can i use olive oil with TTO instead of water? if possible, how many drops of TTO and olive oil ? is this to be use after washing the face? and could stay over night and wash it in the morning?
    thanks a lot!
    looking forward to hearing from you! :)

    • says

      Hey Nica, I think I answered your question on Facebook but I will post here too: Olive oil should be lovely for your skin as long as it is extra virgin (refined as little possible) and organic is preferable. What I would do is mix 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and 2-3 drops of TTO and use it as a serum after washing your face both in the morning and at night. You could even wear this under makeup if you use it. Please let me know how it goes! I hope it helps.

  6. Anonymous says

    how long does it take to heal moderate acne with tea tree oil? i have demodex mites, they say it helps heal or kill the bacteria on my cheeks.

  7. says

    this was very helpful.. i am suffering from acne and trying my best to get rid of it.. if use tea tree oil with olive oil on my face.. how many drops of tea tree oil shall i put in it? and also how will i wash it? just rinse it off with water? or wash it using a face wash?

  8. Anonymous says

    My skin was flawless until 21 and then got gradually more and more horrible- I pretty much reached the point where I refuse to be seen without make-up by anyone outside of my immediate family several years ago. At the beach, in the pool, etc. It’s been so awful and I’ve tried everything- Proactiv, expensive stuff from Sephora ($70 a bottle was worth it if the promises came true! buuut they didn’t). I finally bit the bullet and started oil cleansing last week… and holy sh*t. I use 1 part castor oil to 3 parts grapeseed oil, and put between 5 and 10 drops of tea tree in. For moisture, I just pour a little pure grapeseed into my palm with 1 drop of tea tree. My skin is now in that lovely stage of massive whiteheads coming to the surface, but it already looks ten times better than it did last week- less redness, very little inflammation, and while the whiteheads are gross, they are coming up and disappearing in a matter of two days – WAY less time than the hormonal cysts I’ve been getting for the past give years, and healing much better. So many people online have complained about the initial “detox” stage with the oil cleansing, but I’m just relieved to finally see stuff coming to the surface instead of just having these massive bumps that haunt me for weeks at a time! I had a bunch of congestion around my chin/jawline that I just could not for the life of me get out and that’s where the whiteheads are coming up, so I don’t even mind.

    So… long story short (too late)… OIL CLEANSING METHOD ALL THE WAY for hormonal acne. I’m loving my blend but I want to add a little lavender too for the wound-healing properties. Seriously though. Everything I’ve read, and now my personal experience, is that the OCM works wonders for people with the hard-to-treat hormonal, cystic acne. Love it.

    Thanks for sharing about the other ways you use tea tree- i wanted to use it undiluted as a spot treatment but have heard mixed messages on using it neat. I’m going to use this on my remaining spots tonight and see how it goes!

    • says

      Love it! I hope the transition period doesn’t last too long for you and that you have clear skin in no time. I really love OCM too – amazing how the most gentle way of cleansing is also so effective against acne.

      Thanks for commenting!

  9. Anonymous says


  10. says

    hello~! thanks for your useful posting. i have five acnes on the same spot for more than month. it usually goes away within couple days or week but these one came out a month ago still there on my face~! I am directly apply on those spot morning and night. would this be enough?

  11. Anonymous says

    Hi Kylie, I have a son that is 15 years old and has been dealing with terrible acne since he was 12. I have tried almost everything under the sun to help him. I recently bought Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Soap for him to use. He has been using it for 2 weeks now. So far, it seems that he is getting more whiteheads coming to the surface on his face, chest and back. Is that suppose to be happening? Or is it a bad thing? Should I stop him from using the soap? Your advice would be most helpful.

    • says

      Often there is a transition period when you start using different types of products.. I get whiteheads when I try new products sometimes but they only last a few days. My advice is to drink lots of water, don’t pick, and give it a couple more weeks. Please stop back and let us know how it goes!

  12. says

    Hi, I’m not sure if you got my last comment but I was wondering how many times a week do you put tea tree oil on your face and you also put it mornings and nights? Thanks so much for posting this blog it was really helpful.

    • says

      Hey! When I’m clearing up my skin I use it daily each morning. You can use it at night but tea tree oil has stimulating aromatherapy properties so it might keep you up…!

  13. shivani says

    Hi! I just stopped using BP and I am having a really bad breakout, so I ordered tto and I tried spot treatment and it worked, however, do you recommend anything for the whole face? Also how long did it take before the tto worked? I tried the yogurt with tto and it was quite soothing! Any help would be great, thanks!

  14. Anonymous says

    Hello, can I use 100% tea tree oil and vitamin e oil to cure the white head breakouts on my face?

  15. Anonymous says

    Hi, I’m struggling with acne like crazy, and I can’t seem to find any of those brands from above at my local stores. Is it still okay to use lesser known brands (such as Cococare, the only one that is available at my store) if it’s said that it’s 100% Tea Tree Oil?

  16. says

    Great article! Tea tree oil is probably my favourite natural acne remedy, took me a long time to discover tea tree oil as I though that putting oil on my oily skin would be counter productive. How wrong I was!

  17. Brenda says

    I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?
    Plz reply as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like
    to find out where u got this from. many thanks

  18. says

    This is an excellent article about using Tea Tree oil. My son and I lived on a yacht in Fiji and the South Pacific for awhile. I “knew” I needed to take some medicinal things with us when we headed there and tea tree was one of those I felt I should bring. While we were gone, my son got chicken pox. Between the antibacterial cleanser I also had and the tea tree, after one cleansing and tea tree application, all the itching stopped – and never came back. Things started to immediately heal. Tea Tree is quite strong and its a bit too much for me personally. But, its definitely a medicine chest in a bottle and I take some everywhere – because you just never know when you might need it. My son is now dealing with acne. We will definitely try your suggestions. Thanks again!

  19. says

    I’ve had problems with cystic acne for almost 20 years and tea tree has been my savior! I like to add it to coconut oil and scrub my face with that mixture and some baking soda. Works like a charm!

  20. Alex says

    I use tea tree oil from Nature Made from Walgreens to treat earaches, do you know if this brand is good quality for facial use? Thanks!


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