Tea Tree Oil is widely used essential oil for hair problems. It helps to reduce dandruff, scalp infections, hirsutism and head lice. It has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic properties. So, it helps in almost all types of bacterial and fungal infections of the scalp.
What is Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree oil is a volatile essential oil, which is derived from an Australian plant named ‘Melaleuca alternifolia’. It possesses valuable therapeutic properties and it helps in the treatment of acne, inflammatory ailments, skin disorders, hair and scalp problems. Studies suggest that tea tree oil strengthens the hair and improves hair growth. Therefore, it is a part of various hair-care products like shampoos and oils.
Benefits of Tea Tree Oil for Hair
Let’s have a look at the advantages of tea tree oil on hair:
Tea Tree Oil for Dandruff
Yeast infection of the scalp caused by Pityrosporum Ovale results in dandruff. This further results in a collection of dry and scaly skin on the scalp. If not treated on time, such a build-up causes hair fall and interferes with new hair growth too.
An interesting research found that a shampoo containing 5% tea tree oil was effective against dandruff. Tea tree oil possesses anti-fungal activity that fights against Pityrosporum ovale.
In this study, 26 individuals used the shampoo containing tea tree oil daily for 4 weeks and the results showed 41% improvement. It was further reported that use of such a shampoo decreased the scaliness, along with greasiness and itchiness, which are the common features of the hair and scalp affected by the fungus.
Furthermore, it also prevents unwanted hair fall and hair loss. No side-effects or toxic effects were observed in the study, thus, it can be concluded that tea tree oil, when used in moderation, is safe to use.
Hirsutism is a clinical feature of PCOS, where excess hair is present on the face, chest, and back of the females. This is due to the presence of excess male sex hormones (androgens) in females.
A scientific study conducted in 2012 found that lavender oil and tea tree oil possess anti-androgenic activities. Applying these oils twice a day for 3 months reduced hirsutism or male pattern hair growth in females.
It reduced the hair diameter and females were able to get rid of unwanted hair. Another advantage of tea tree oil was that it did not alter the hormones or have a negative effect on them. Hence, tea tree oil can be considered safe and economical to use.
Treats Head Lice
Tea tree oil is effective against the lice and their eggs and is an interesting approach to limit the emergence and the spread of this parasitic infestation.
Application of tea tree oil kills the lice and their eggs and such an action is attributed to the insecticidal activity of this oil.
Tea tree oil is a natural product for lice control that promotes selective effects against resistant insects. Terpenoid components, plant chemicals present in tea tree oil kill the head lice by suffocation.
To further potentiate this action, apply this oil and cover your hair with a shower cap and let it stay overnight with the aim to suffocate the lice.
Protects Against Fungal Infections of the Scalp
Malassezia species cause infections of the skin as well as the scalp. A fungal infection of the scalp negatively affects the hair growth and causes itching, irritation and inflammation of the scalp. Such an infection of the scalp can even trigger premature baldness.
Tea tree oil contains compounds with antifungal activity. These compounds reduce the multiplication and spread of such an infection and interfere with the growth of such dangerous species on the scalp and the skin.
Application of the tea tree oil on the scalp is one of the natural and safe ways to overcome fungal infections.
Fights Bacterial Infections
Staphylococcus is a bacteria that causes infection of the scalp and skin. Such a bacterial infection can cause boils, which are tender and pus-filled, redness, irritation and inflammation of the scalp.
Tea tree oil is an essential oil, which is believed to have anti-microbial or anti-bacterial properties. Terpenes are plant chemicals present in this oil, which is responsible for the antibacterial action of the tea tree oil.
These terpenes destroy the pathogenic microorganisms, including staphylococcus bacteria. It prevents the multiplication as well as colonization of bacteria and completely eradicates them.
An infection caused by bacteria or fungus or an allergic reaction on your scalp can cause irritation and itchiness. Tea tree oil contains compounds with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal potential. Application of tea tree oil on the scalp helps to fight against these problems and infections.
Tea tree oil promotes hair growth and nourishes the roots by unclogging the hair follicles. It strengthens the hair, reduces hair fall and adds shine to your hair. It moisturizes the scalp so that the scalp is no longer dry and itchy. This amazing oil further helps in clearing up dead cells, which otherwise get accumulated on the scalp.
How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Hair
After learning the benefits of tea tree oil for hair, it is important to know how to apply this oil. The benefits of this oil can only be seen when it is applied regularly and in the correct manner. Here is how you can apply the tea tree oil:
- If you are using this oil for the first time, apply 1-2 drops of oil on your skin and wait for 5 to 10 minutes. If there is no redness and itching on that patch of the skin, you can go ahead with the oil. Tea tree oil is usually safe to use, but it is always better to check the oil before using it for the first time.
- Do not apply this oil directly to your hair and scalp. You first need to mix it with the carrier oil. The carrier oil can be any healthy oil of your choice. Some examples include:
- Coconut oil
- Almond oil
- Olive oil
- Add 10-12 drops of tea tree oil to the carrier oil and mix well. The amount of tea tree oil, however, depends upon the length of your hair.
- You can even combine tea tree oil with lavender oil or peppermint oil to further enhance the benefits.
- For a dry and itchy scalp, mix a few drops of tea tree oil with jojoba oil. Massage this oil gently and leave it for 30 minutes. Wash your hair using a mild shampoo.
- For soft, smooth and lustrous hair, mix tea tree oil with warm olive oil. Apply this oil mixture on your scalp and hair and repeat this procedure at least for a month for amazing results.
- For long, strong and thick hair, mix tea tree oil with almond oil. Apply it properly on your entire hair and scalp and wash your hair after 30 minutes. Repeat this procedure at least 3 times a week for best results.
- To battle dandruff and flaky scalp make your own tea tree oil shampoo. Add a few drops of this oil to your existing shampoo. Shampoo your hair and leave this tea tree oil and shampoo mixture on your hair for 3 to 5 minutes. This will help the oil to reach your hair, its roots, and the damaged scalp. The oil will then fight against the fungus and work towards eradicating it. Rinse the shampoo from your hair and follow this procedure regularly.
Note: The above-mentioned procedures will show effective results only when they are done properly and regularly. Irregular application of tea tree oil will not show an improvement or any beneficial results. Tea tree oil is not helpful for individuals with hair loss associated with aging, chemotherapy or an autoimmune condition.
Tea Tree Oil Safety
Tea tree oil when applied topically is safe to use, but accidental ingestion of this oil can have serious negative effects on health. It may lead to confusion, inability to walk, unsteadiness and even coma. Contact your poisons helpline if required.
If the application of tea tree oil on the skin causes redness, burning sensation, inflammation, and itching, one should remove the oil and wash it off.
Allergy to Tea Tree Oil
- Individuals who are allergic or hypersensitive to tea tree oil must stay away from this oil and other products containing it.
- Studies have found that among all the essential oils, tea tree oil has caused most allergic reactions. Even products with a low concentration of tea tree oil appear to elicit allergic reactions.
- It is even reported that in rare cases, shampoo containing tea tree oil may cause eyelid dermatitis in sensitive individuals.
- Tea tree oil present in toothpaste may sometimes cause stomatitis in affected individuals.
How to Store Tea Tree Oil
- Once you have purchased tea tree oil, it is important to store it properly.
- Make sure the cap of the tea tree oil bottle is tightly closed after it is used.
- If this oil is exposed to the air for a longer period of time, terpenes, a group of plant compounds present in the oil gets oxidised. Oxidisation of these compounds causes loss of their beneficial properties.
- If the cap of the oil bottle is loose or broken, transfer the oil to another bottle with a tight cap.
- Keep out of reach from children.
- Satchell AC, Saurajen A, Bell C, Treatment of dandruff with 5% tea tree oil shampoo, Journal of American Academy of Dermatology, Volume 6, Issue 47, pp 852-855, 2002 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12451368)
- Di Campli E, Delli Pizzi P, Di Giulio M, Nostro A, Cellini A, The activity of tea tree oil and nerolidol alone or in combination against pediculus capitis (head lice) and its eggs, Journal of Parasitology Research, Volume 5, pp 1985-1992, 2012 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3480584/)
- Tirabassi, L. Giovannnini, F. Paggi, Possible efficacy of lavender and tea tree oils in the treatment of young women affected by mild idiopathic hirsutism, Journal of Endocrinological Investigation, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 50-54, 2013 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23211454)
- A. Hammer, C. F. Carson, T. V. Riley, In vitro activities of ketoconazole, econazole, miconazole, and melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil against Malassezia species, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 467-469, 2000 (http://aac.asm.org/content/44/2/467.full)
- Tea tree oil treatment of MRSA (https://microbewiki.kenyon.edu/index.php/Tea_Tree_Oil_Treatment_of_MRSA)
- Anton C. de Groot and Erich Schmidt, Journal of Contact Dermatitis, 75, 129-143, 2016 (https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/fa58/77aa4d3ff105078f525a57158e9f5aaebe32.pdf)