Tea tree oil is the essential oil gathered from the Australian tree Melaleuca alternifolia, called by Captain Cook's English explorers the "tea tree." Australian aborigines have used leaves of the tea tree to treat skin infections for centuries. Today, Australia is the leading producer of tea tree oil. The oil itself is pale yellow or colorless and has a smell reminiscent of nutmeg.
Tea tree oil has been proven to have these properties:
Antiseptic - Tea tree oil is readily absorbed by the skin and alters the skin's chemical barrier, making it far less hospitable for bacteria and fungi. Thus tea tree oil reduces the numbers of bacteria on the skin. Because it is not an antibiotic, there are no concerns of creating resistant strands of bacteria on the skin.
Aids in healing - Tea tree oil promotes healing and reduces the likelihood of scarring. The mechanism by which this works is not yet fully understood, but researchers think that the effect is related to its antiseptic qualities.
Tea tree oil can irritate sensitive skin, though it is more gentle than most chemicals included in anti acne skin care products. Additionally, tea tree oil is for external use only and can be dangerous if ingested.
Absolutely. Tea tree oil is as effective as another anti acne standard, benzoyl peroxide, but lacks the same irritating and drying qualities. Studies have proven the effectiveness of tea tree oil against acne. Because of these excellent properties, including its antibacterial and healing characteristics, tea tree oil is one of the better ingredients currently in use in anti acne ingredients.
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