You’ve probably come across tea tree oil in one form or another. It’s now a popular ingredient in shampoo, hand soap, skin toners, and even deodorant due to the refreshing “tingle” it leaves behind on the skin.
Tea tree oil offers a multitude of potential benefits for your hair. So much so, that this powerful essential oil could well become your hair’s new best friend.
What Is Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree essential oil is derived from the leaves of a native Australian tree called the Melaleuca alternifolia, aka the broad-leaved paperbark tree, or (most popularly) – the tea tree.
Oil from the tea tree has long been associated with “bush medicine” in Australia – traditional Aboriginal medicine that relies on native plants and herbs. The ancient Bundjalung Aboriginal people crushed the leaves into a paste to treat wounds and brewed it into a tea to soothe sore throats.1
But tea tree oil has also been used by much of the modern Australian population for well over a century as an effective antiseptic in the home.
So, Is Tea Tree Oil Really A Medicinal Plant?
In multiple studies and clinical trials, tea tree oil continues to display antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiprotozoal properties.2 It’s an essential oil to have on hand for many ailments.
Tea tree oil has shown itself to be helpful in:
- Fighting the flu3
- Defending against athlete’s foot4
- Repelling insects5
- Killing mildew in the bathroom6
But did you know that tea tree oil for hair can also benefit your scalp?
Using Tea Tree Oil For Hair and Scalp
No matter how you’ve been using tea tree oil in the past, this oil may be one of the most useful ways to get healthier, more luscious locks.
1. It’s a Dandruff Fighter
Dandruff can leave you with an incredibly itchy and inflamed scalp, and all that scratching may cause hair loss or breakage.
Because dandruff is often caused by a fungus, it responds well to tea tree oil for hair. Studies have shown that the oil can improve scaliness, itchiness, and greasiness of the scalp. In one particular study, participants who used a 5 percent tea tree oil shampoo showed a 41 percent improvement in their dandruff compared with a placebo group.7
2. It Cleanses the Scalp and Helps Clears the Pores
Tea tree oil for hair is an effective cleanser, as it rids your skin of any nasty microbes with its antibacterial properties. Your scalp is an area which can become easily neglected. As a result, bacteria and fungus can thrive in the often dark, oily environment. An unhealthy scalp could lead to dandruff, fungal growths, and clogged pores, preventing efficient hair growth.
3. It Can Help Control Oil and Acne
If you’re prone to pimples around your hairline, tea tree oil for hair can lend a helping hand. It’s pore-cleansing abilities extend to also fighting acne. In one study of 124 patients, the oil proved to be equally as effective as a popular acne ingredient in reducing pimples. It also had fewer side effects.8
4. It Can Soothe An Itchy Scalp
Sometimes, a dry itchy scalp isn’t dandruff related. Low-humidity, heaters, or drying shampoos can all trigger flaky, itchy scalps. Even if it isn’t dandruff, tree oil for hair can still be beneficial.
Tea tree oil, with its anti-irritation properties, is known as a soothing oil. Because of this, it’s often recommended to people suffering from itchy skin conditions. One study concluded that tea tree oil seemed to be more effective than a traditional topical agent after it appeared to reduce allergic contact dermatitis by over 40 percent.9
5. It Can Help To Eradicate Lice
When the kids get lice, the whole family goes on alert. These insects can spread from person to person easily, and they can be incredibly difficult to get rid of. Usually, the most common, effective, options available to you are chemical solutions, but science suggests tea tree oil might give those options a run for their money.
On study found that tea tree was more effective than a popular lice treatment, killing 100 percent of the lice in just 30 minutes. Both products proved equally effective at attacking licOnee eggs and preventing them from hatching.10
6. It Smells Amazing
The last thing you want in your shampoo or conditioner is chemical fragrances, but at the same time, it’s always nice when someone says, “Wow! Your hair smells amazing!”
Tea tree oil has a smell that’s a little like eucalyptus – a little menthol-ish. It smells clean, refreshing, and is reminiscent of time spent in the outdoors. It also leaves a wonderfully fresh, tingly feeling on the scalp.
DIY Tea Tree Oil Scalp Treatment
So, how do you actually use tea tree oil on your hair and scalp? Here are a couple of super easy ways to get you started:
Make your own shampoo by adding 3-4 drops of tea tree oil to your regular shampoo. Massage into your hair, and allow the shampoo to sit for a good 3-5 minutes. Then, rinse as usual.
For a dry, itchy scalp, add a few drops of tea tree oil to a good carrier oil, like jojoba, and massage into your scalp for around 10 minutes. Then, you can wash as normal.
Is Tea Tree Oil Safe?
Tea tree oil is considered one of the safest, and most useful, of all essential oils. However, it is definitely potent. You should:
Never ingest tea tree oil. It can be toxic if swallowed.
Always dilute the tea tree oil with a carrier oil if you intend on putting it directly onto the skin as it can irritate sensitive skin. In fact, it’s always best to do a spot check on a small patch of skin first before trying any new essential oil.
Give That Scalp A Good Massage
Aside from massaging in your tea tree oil, a good head massage can bring about its own benefits.
Massaging your scalp increases the blood flow to the hair follicles which can benefit hair loss. This is because increased blood flow brings more nutrients to the area and hair follicles need these nutrients to help them to grow. A good scalp massage can also reduce stress levels which are another major contributor to hair fall.11
A Final Fun Fact:
When Melaleuca leaves fall into nearby lakes and decay, they turn the water a deep reddish color as they infuse the tea tree oil into the water. Aboriginals call these waters “healing lakes,” and it’s little wonder why locals, and visitors to Australia, love to bathe in them!
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