The Tea Tree Oil Hair Products Experts Love
If just reading about tea tree oil makes you suddenly smell it, I get it. Tea tree oil is powerful, and I'm not just talking about the fresh, herbal scent. Tea tree oil has been utilized medicinally in Australia for over a century and is revered for its ability to reduce scalp inflammation and dryness.
But is tea tree oil really the best natural remedy for dandruff and an itchy scalp? To gain insight, we sought the opinion of LA-based celebrity hairstylist Bradley Leake and board-certified dermatologist Jeannette Graf on the use of tea tree oil for hair.
What is Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree oil, also known as Melaleuca oil, is an essential oil derived from the leaves of the tea tree, which is native to Australia. Tea tree oil can be found in skincare, haircare, and aromatherapy as it has a very calming, fresh, medicinal scent.
What Are the Benefits of Tea Tree Oil?
Tea tree oil is known for its natural antibacterial and anti-fungal properties and has a host of benefits for hair. “Tea tree oil can help reduce the appearance of dandruff, reduce scalp irritation, and help reduce the production of excess sebum,” explains Leake. “It is especially beneficial for those with a dry, itchy, or oily scalp, or who are dealing with dandruff or hair loss. Its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties can help to fight the fungus that causes dandruff while helping to soothe an itchy scalp.”
Additionally, tea tree oil can support a healthy scalp and clear blocked hair follicles. Its refreshing scent can also help to soothe anxiety, which is perfect for anyone who has ever had a sit-down-in-the-shower panic spiral.
Who Should Use Tea Tree Oil?
“Anyone can benefit from tea tree oil, although it is important to note that it should not be applied directly to the skin unless diluted first,” says Graf. You can experience irritation, flaking, and dryness from tea tree oil if you apply it directly onto the scalp without diluting the product or if it’s a higher concentration. “Those with sensitive skin should try to avoid using tea tree oil," she says. Always spot-test a small amount on your hand or arm to avoid negative effects.”
How to Use Tea Tree Oil For Hair
According to Leave, tea tree oil can be used in several ways: “If you’re looking for a scalp treatment, mix a few drops of tea tree oil with a carrier oil, like almond or jojoba oil, and massage it into the scalp.” Leave it in for 15-30 minutes before washing your hair. Tea tree oil is generally safe for use on the scalp, but it is important to test a small amount on the skin before use to ensure you don’t have a sensitivity or allergic reaction. “For a deep-cleansing shampoo, mix a few drops of tea tree oil with your regular shampoo and massage it into the hair and scalp," Leave adds. "Remember to rinse thoroughly!”
Tea tree oil works well with other natural ingredients like aloe vera or coconut oil. “It should not be used with products containing harsh chemicals or those with high alcohol content,” warns Leave. If you have dry or fragile hair it’s important to use tea tree oil in moderation. “Excessive use of tea tree oil can strip the hair of its natural moisture, leading to damage. People with thick, coily hair types should be particularly cautious as their hair is more prone to dehydration. Using a diluted form of tea tree oil in small amounts can still provide moisturizing benefits for these hair types.”
How Often Can You Use Tea Tree Oil?
The frequency of use will depend on your individual needs. For those looking to reduce scalp irritation or dryness, “tea tree oil can be used daily on a damp scalp,” explains Leave. Those looking to reduce the appearance of dandruff can use tea tree oil weekly, as part of their regular hair care routine.
What Are The Best Tea Tree Hair Products?
Meet The Experts
Bradley Leake is a professional hair stylist, based in Los Angeles, California. His celebrity clients include Chrishell Staus, Michelle Young, and Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy.
Jeannette Graf, MD, is board certified, clinical, and research dermatologist with a private practice in Great Neck, New York.
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