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Propriétés de l'huile essentielle d'arbre à thé.

What Are the Benefits of Tea Tree Essential Oil for the Skin?

The essential oil listed under the I.N.C.I. name "Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Oil" is a true ally for skin with acne, as it has purifying and antibacterial properties. In other words, it cleanses the epidermis.

The Tea Tree in a Nutshell

The tea tree, also called melaleuca, is a shrub native to New Caledonia and Madagascar, but the leading producer today is Australia.

The indigenous populations of the archipelago used this plant, and more particularly the leaves, to make poultices and treat infections. Nevertheless, it is only in 1922 that the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of the plant are demonstrated by the chemist Arthur DE RAMAN PENFOLD. Small anecdote, at the beginning of the second world war, the essential oil of tea tree was added to each first-aid kit of the army and the Australian navy because of its anti-infectious virtues.

Tea tree oil is extracted by hydrodistillation of the leaves, i.e. by steam distillation. This method makes it possible to obtain two extracts, namely the hydrolate and the tea tree essential oil. The essential oil of tea tree contains mainly monoterpenols (about 45% of terpinene-4-ol) and monterpenes (gamma-terpinene, alpha terpinene, limonene). These compounds are the reason for its purifying and cleansing properties detailed below.

What Are the Benefits of Tea Tree Essential Oil for the Skin?

Due to its biochemical composition, this essential oil is mainly known for the following two actions:

  • Limiting imperfections and regulating sebum.

This essential oil regulates the production of sebum and mattifies oily skin that tends to glow. This sebum-regulating action also helps to prevent clogged pores and therefore the appearance of blackheads.

Moreover, when present at a level of 1% or more in a care product, this essential oil has demonstrated excellent bactericidal properties (kills bacteria) as well as bacteriostatic (inhibits bacterial growth). Thus, it helps limit the proliferation of micro-organisms involved in acne such as Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis.

What is the way it works against bacteria? Studies have shown that it works by depleting the cell membrane components of bacteria. More precisely, the hydrocarbon structure and the lipophilicity (attraction for fatty substances) of the terpenes present in this essential oil lead to the lysis and thus the loss of functional integrity of the bacterial membranes. This destruction of the membrane causes a leakage of potassium ions, thus inhibiting cellular respiration. The compound 1,8-cineole present in this essential oil plays an important role in this phenomenon. It causes a permeabilization of the bacterial membrane, thus facilitating the entry of the more active bactericidal molecules such as terpinene-4-ol.

  • Soothe itching and certain skin conditions.

The essential oil of tea tree is also recognized for its strong anti-inflammatory power. It will act on the marks, to attenuate the itchings then the rednesses. It is thus recommended in case of certain skin diseases like eczema or rosacea.

What is the way it works as an anti-inflammatory agent? Research over the last decade has shown that this essential oil affects a whole range of immune responses, both in vitro and in vivo. For example, the water-soluble components of tea tree oil can inhibit the production of about 50% of certain inflammatory mediators such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-1 (IL-1) and IL-10 and about 30% of prostaglandin E2 after 40 hours. Further examination of the water-soluble fraction of this essential oil identified terpinen-4-ol, terpineol, and 1,8-cin-ole as the major components, but of these, only terpinen-4-ol was able to decrease the production of TNF-alpha, IL-1, IL-8, IL-10, and prostaglandin E2 by lipopolysaccharide-activated monocytes. Furthermore, work has also shown that terpinene-4-ol, but not 1,8-cineole or terpineol, modulates the vasodilation and plasma extravasation associated with inflammation induced by histamine release in humans.

In Which of Our Skin Care Products Can You Find This Natural Ingredient?

We have integrated tea tree essential oil for its purifying properties in the following four treatments.

The targeted blemish treatment Bakuchiol 1 % + extract of tea tree was formulated to dry imperfections and to support the renewal of the skin to limit the marks. Its texture calms inflammation and reduces the sensation of inflammation.

Sources :

  • HAMMER K. A. Treatment of acne with tea tree oil (melaleuca) products: A review of efficacy, tolerability and potential modes of action. Journal Of Antimicrobial Agents (2014).

  • KOCA U. & al. Tea tree oil and its use in aromatherapy. Current Perspectives on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (2018).

  • Mursleen Yasin & al., River Tea Tree Oil: Composition, Antimicrobial and Antioxidant Activities, and Potential Applications in Agriculture, Plants, (2021).

  • NIEL M., Traitement de l’acné par la phytothérapie et l’aromathérapie, Sciences pharmaceutiques, (2016).

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