Tea Tree Oil: My Latest Obsession

Recently, I started to realize most of the personal care products I use have one thing in common: they have tea tree oil! Although I bought them separately and did not think that they would fit a theme, I have to admit I love tea tree oil. Let's see: it all started with a tea tree oil face wash and went downhill from there. Now I use a tea tree oil shampoo and conditioner as well as that face wash. Also, I have a vial of The Body Shop tea tree oil to use as a pimple spot treatment as well. Can we spot the pattern here?
Picture of a branch of tea tree oil
Courtesy of Grenade Fishing

So what is tea tree oil? Tea tree oil is the extraction from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a native plant in the Queensland, New South Wales part of Australia. According to the USDA, M. alternifolia is also commonly known as narrowleaf paperbark or tea tree. However, don't be confused between tea tree plant and tea plant (Camelia sinensis) as the second one is the tea that we drink but the first one we can't make tea out of it.

Tea tree oil has antifungal and antibacterial activities. Native aboriginal Australian crushed the leaves, applied to their wounds and noticed its healing properties. In 1990, a study compared the efficacy of 5% tea tree oil to 5% benzoyl peroxide and noticed tea tree oil has the same effect, although the time to see the initial result is slower.

Moreover, tea tree oil has more usage than treating acne. It is also used to treat athlete's foot, dandruff, eczema, psoriasis, yeast infection, etc (About.com's Alternative Medicine) Like many other oils, tea tree oil is self-preserved and natural which is good for those who seek preservative-free products. Tea tree oil, however, cannot be drank or applied at 100% concentration as it is poisonous and may burn your skin. Dilution is necessary if you purchase pure tea tree oil.

Here is a list of products that I've used and enjoyed a lot:

1. The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil ($9 USD, 10 ml)

Image courtesy of The Body Shop

This product is one of the two that started my obsession with tea tree oil. The Body Shop has a good skin care line with tea tree oil that I've used for over a year and this product is effective. It contains 15% tea tree oil and is used as a spot treatment. I also use it as a scalp massaging oil and sprinkle some drops of it in my home-made oil cleanser. For $9USD, you get 10 ml of tea tree oil goodness that lasts for a long time. My only pet peeve of this product is the dropper tend to discharge more liquid than I need.

My Rating: A

2. The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil Facial Wash ($11.50 USD, 250ml)

Image courtesy of The Body Shop

This is my "in the shower" face wash and also one of my top-3 favorite facial washes of all time. The Body Shop has two types of tea tree oil facial washes: self-foaming and regular liquid cleanser (which is this one.) The first one is a bit more expensive and is gentler to use. However, as I have oily skin and at that time my zits were at full bloom, I needed something more than a gentle cleanser and this one fit the bill nicely. It is a deep cleanser but does not strip off the natural oil of your face. My face always feel nice and comfortable after washing and with the steamy shower, it makes a wonderful aromatherapy experience. Also, the new formula is paraben-free!

My Rating: A+, the plus is earned via the effort of eliminating parabens from the product.

3. The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil Face Mask ($15.50 USD, 100ml)

Image courtesy of The Body Shop

As we all know, I love face masques very much and when I saw this tea tree oil face mask, I had to get it. This face mask has a strong tea tree oil smell that is very soothing. It feels warm upon application and does not dry out if you leave it for 10 minutes, the recommended time. However, I always leave mine on longer and my face feels tighter afterward. It does give me a nice glow after each use and my skin feels really smooth. Compared to Queen Helene masque, this one does not crack when dried and the texture is silkier. The price, however, is much more expensive than Queen Helene's.

My Rating: B+

4. American Crew Tea Tree Shampoo ($8.99 USD, 250ml)

Image courtesy of Haircare USA

The cat is out of the bag, my hair shampoo is a men's shampoo! So what? American Crew has the best hair care products out there and the Tea Tree Shampoo is (a) cheaper than Paul Mitchell version, (b) cleans my oily scalp really well, and (c) is refreshing to use. On top of that, once rinsed, it does not leave a smell that indicated "shampoo for men" at all. The smell is very mild and once my hair is dried, I hardly smell anything. As my scalp is oily, it is hard to find a hair shampoo that does not turn my hair into an oily mess the day after. When I started using this product, it keeps my hair feeling clean for days! Also, I feel my hair has more volume and has less fall out than before, all thank to the tea tree oil.

My Rating: A+, recommend for those who have oily scalp.

5. Nature's Gate Tea Tree Calming Conditioner ($7.99 USD, 532 ml)

Image courtesy of Amazon.com

This is the one and only hair conditioner that I'm truly happy to use, serious. While most conditioners make my hair stick together and over-condition, this one gives me enough moisture and makes my hair look and feel smooth and luscious. After using this product, I notice 3 things:

1. I got more compliments on my hair: people even think I flat-iron my hair when I don't blow dry it. That's how smooth it has become these days.

2. My scalp does not feel itchy anymore: I don't have dandruff but my scalp always feel like it has ants running around. It stops when I use this product. Even when I use the shampoo with a different conditioner, the feeling started again.

3. Some small hair started to grow back: if you don't believe the healing power of tea tree oil, just use this product for a month or so and you will see the difference. The bottle is big enough to last you for a long time and a bit of product goes a very long way.

Currently, Nature's Gate products are sold in health food stores and they are very affordable. Also, their products are paraben-free. Again, this is my HG conditioner and I will not replace it anytime soon.

My Rating: A++, the bottle is HUGE!

If you notice, a body wash is missing from the list because I have no plan to tea tree-nize my shower :) That would be too excessive and I prefer my body wash to smell a bit differently. After all, tea tree oil tend to smell too medicinal sometimes.

That's all folks! If you haven't tried any tea tree oil products yet, now it's the time. The Body Shop's tea tree oil line uses the oil from fair trade sources while Nature's Gate has a more environmentally friendly formula. If you have already experienced tea tree oil, please do share it with me. I'd love to hear from you.

Have a wonderful week ahead.
Your Makeup Blogger

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