Melaleuca alternifolia is a species of tree that goes by many names. Two of the most common names used to describe melaleuca alternifolia are narrow-leaved tea tree and narrow-leaved paperbark. This native Australian shrub grows best in swampy or damp conditions. Melaleuca alternifolia is most often used to make essential oil. Sometimes called melaleuca oil, it is better known by the name tea tree oil. Melaleuca oil is used topically in its pure form and also appears as an ingredient in a number of skincare, hair care, and beauty products. In its pure form, melaleuca oil is pale yellow in color.
Melaleuca oil has anti-fungal and antibiotic properties, making it a popular ingredient in various products. This simple but powerful ingredient can be used to treat various skin issues and can work to improve the overall health of skin. Though tea tree oil can be found in a wide range of formulas, it is particularly common in natural and herbal products. Some brands base their entire collection on products containing melaleuca oil as it can be beneficial in many different ways and can be applied to different types of skincare needs.
As an antiseptic, tea tree oil can help to fend off infection and kill germs. It can be applied to minor cuts and burns to keep them clean as they heal. Natural athlete’s foot and insect bite treatments often include tea tree oil to reduce the likelihood of infection and to kill germs. Its antiseptic properties make melaleuca oil a common ingredient in treatments for various other skin irritations such as bacterial infections, gum infections, acne, eczema, and more.
Many natural deodorants include tea tree oil as an ingredient. The melaleuca oil offers a fresh scent but also can help to prevent odor from developing. Sweat and other toxins released through the pores can cause odor when mixed with bacteria on the skin. Tea tree oil’s antibacterial and antimicrobial properties work to kill odor-causing bacteria, making it a popular choice for natural deodorant products.
Similarly, tea tree oil is an excellent ingredient in soaps and cleansers. When used as a natural hand wash, melaleuca oil soap helps to kill germs that may be on the skin. Likewise, facial cleansers that list tea tree oil as an ingredient help to keep skin clear and healthy by fighting off harmful bacteria and toxins that can cause breakouts, inflammation, and other skin irritations. Tea tree oil is also slightly astringent, which can help to cleanse and tighten pores. With regular use, tea tree oil cleansers are thought to improve one’s complexion, reduce redness, and prevent future breakouts.
Many lotions include tea tree oil as an ingredient to refresh and invigorate skin. The scent is one that many people find pleasant and crisp. When used in lotions, melaleuca oil is often combined with moisturizing ingredients to provide a rejuvenating effect. The tea tree oil helps to reduce inflammation and other issues related to bacteria while other ingredients work to hydrate the skin.
Shampoos often include tea tree oil to cleanse the hair. Beyond its antibacterial and antimicrobial benefits, it provides a natural solution to dandruff. Studies have shown that tea tree oil shampoo formulas help to reduce dandruff symptoms with regular use. For this reason, tea tree oil is included in many natural hair care products. Due to its success in fighting dandruff, melaleuca oil has also been used in product lines that do not use strictly natural ingredients.
Aside from its topical applications, tea tree oil can be found in many cleaning products. There is a growing movement surrounding natural and safe alternatives to traditional household cleansers. Tea tree oil provides cleansing properties without the potentially harmful ingredients found in other cleaning products. Further, melaleuca naturally helps to prevent and kill mold. Many users also enjoy the smell of tea tree oil.
In its pure extract form, tea tree oil can be diluted with water or used at full strength. The oil can be applied directly to skin to skin to treat various skin conditions or infections. Tea tree oil can be toxic when ingested in large quantities and is not recommended for internal use. However, adding tea tree oil to a vaporizer when sick can help to soothe irritated nasal passages.