Native to Australia, Melaleuca alternifolia is a species of tree or tall shrub in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae. It is commonly known as the tea tree. The leaves are smooth, soft, linear in shape and rich in oil. The oil and crushed leaves of the tea tree have been used as an alternative medicinal treatment for almost a century in Australia. The use of tea tree leaf oil is now becoming popular around the world, particularly for its skin benefits.
One of the main uses of tea tree leaf oil is for acne because it possesses anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Specifically, the water-soluble components of tea tree leaf oil can inhibit the lipopolysaccharide-induced production of certain inflammatory mediators. By reducing inflammation, tea tree leaf oil can help to minimize the appearance of blemishes and help them heal faster. Furthermore, tea tree leaf oil contains terpenes that provide antimicrobial activity. These terpenes have been shown to prevent the growth of Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria responsible for blemishes. Tea tree leaf oil can also help to balance the skin’s oil production. Lastly, tea tree leaf oil is used to soothe minor skin irritations.