Adult acne is the bane of my existence. Throughout high school and college my face was clear, even-toned and glowing. Then, one day, my skin betrayed me out of the blue. Monthly pimples, especially around your time of month, are common for most and they can be both seriously annoying. Really, acne? You had your chance in high school to ruin dates, proms, and birthday parties — the fact that you're making a comeback years later to spoil weddings, dates, and interviews is just offensive. My favorite weapon against this pesky beauty bummer? Tea tree oil!
Stemming from the coast of Australia, where over 300 species of tea trees grow naturally, this essential oil is made from boiling the leave of tea tree. Its antiseptic, antiviral, and antifungal properties make this oil ideal for topical skin treatment by fighting internal and external infections that are usually resistant against powerful antibiotics. In fact, the Australian army is given this oil in their first aid kit to treat infections and wounds; I'd be surprised if they weren't dabbing it on their blemishes too! Tea tree oil has been found to be as powerful as benzoyl peroxide, a common ingredient in acne medicine, sans redness, dry skin, or peeling.
Now, let's talk about possible side effects before you jump into bed with your new bestie. First, DO NOT EAT THIS. Unlike the other oils I've mentioned this week, this one will cause major complications if you ingest it. Also, if you suffer from eczema, check with your pharmacist or doctor to be sure tea tree oil is right for you. Always test the oil first by placing a few drops of oil on a cotton ball and placing it on your forearm. If after 15 minutes no rash develops, you're good to go. If you do have a tiny reaction, try diluting the oil with water and do another spot test.
Rash free? Then try some of my favorite ways to use tea tree oil.
For times when you're seriously suffering from annoying breakouts, mix equal portions of grape seed and jojoba oils — both are similar to the oil your skin naturally produces — then add a few drops of tea tree oil in a small bowl. Spread the oil mask all over your face, then rinse off after about 15 minutes.
Ingrown hairs are as evil as they are painful. I've found over-the-counter products for razor burn and ingrown hairs pricey and rarely effective, so I use this little trick instead. Use a washcloth soaked with hot water and tea tree oil and pat down on the ingrown hairs. Press pretty hard and leave on for 10-15 minutes. You'll start to notice the swelling and redness disappear almost immediately. Plus, you can dilute the oil in water and use it as an aftershave to prevent ingrowns from ever forming.
Blemish Spot Treatment
This treatment is especially great for reoccurring pimples that stubbornly come back in the same place every few months. Zap it once and for all by using equal portions of tea tree oil and either aloe vera or vitamin E. The aloe vera and vitamin E will treat scarring inevitably left behind by the pimple while the tea tree oil fights bacteria and redness. If you're diligent enough about your blemish treatment, that pimple wont dare show it's face in that spot again!