Welcome to another Ingredient Spotlight! In World War II, an outbreak of foot fungus hospitalizes hundreds of Australian soldiers. None of the modern medicines or ointments seem to have any effect on the fungus that is affecting so many. Finally, an aboriginal Australian applies a powerful substance to the men’s feet; within days the fungus has disappeared. Despite its powerful anti-fungal properties, the substance is completely natural and gentle on skin. (Source.)
The substance isn’t a fancy medicine. It isn’t even a new technology. It is a natural oil that’s been extracted and used historically in Australia. It is known as melaleuca, or tea tree oil.
Tea tree oil is extracted by steam distillation from fresh leaves and wood of the tea tree shrub, which is native to Australia. The extracted oil contains a number of active compounds that can destroy microbes and fungi. The substance is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal, making it useful in medicine and healing as well as a powerful disinfectant.
However, unlike many detergents and antiseptic compounds, tea tree oil is remarkably gentle and can be applied to the skin. This makes tea tree oil useful in many household cleaners and detergents, but also in cosmetics and skin products. Its gentle disinfectant properties make it one of the best treatments out there for acne, eczema, nail and foot fungus, etc. It is even used to kill mold and insects, get rid of warts and cold sores, clear up sinus infections and earaches, or serve as a natural deodorant. Pretty awesome, right? But we know you’re waiting…
How does tea tree oil benefit natural hair?
Tea tree oil’s anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties make it effective for treating dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. It fights the fungus that causes dandruff without drying out the scalp. It also moisturizes and soothes the scalp, reducing itchiness and making it less prone to flaking.
Dry skin and dandruff can clog your hair follicles, slowing hair growth. But tea tree oil can clear the follicles and allow your hair to breathe. It can also moisturize the scalp while preventing buildup of excess oil on the scalp. All this facilitates hair growth. Tea tree oil doesn’t cause hair to grow faster, but it improves the health of your scalp, creating better growing conditions for your hair. Here are some more tips on keeping your scalp healthy.
If all this weren't enough, tea tree oil can also help with scalp eczema and kill lice! Ready to start using tea tree oil in your hair regimen?
How to dilute tea tree oil and use on your hair
Tea tree oil is extremely powerful and we don't recommend applying it directly to your skin or hair. Pure tea tree oil can irritate the skin, and you'll end up wasting most of the oil when you only need a tiny amount to see results. Dilute tea tree oil to 5-10% for best results.
Tea tree oil is gentle, but if you know you have sensitive skin, we recommend trying a small skin patch first. Make sure you buy pure, 100% tea tree oil, and store it in a cool, dry place. It is volatile, so seal well. Do not ingest tea tree oil.
Here are a few ways to mix tea tree oil with other products and introduce the benefits of tea tree oil to your scalp and natural hair.
5 Ways to incorporate tea tree oil into your hair regimen
1. Mix a few drops of pure tea tree oil into a carrier oil like jojoba oil, olive oil, or coconut oil. Massage into your scalp several times a week to promote healthy scalp.
2. Do a hot oil treatment once a week: heat up a few drops of tea tree oil in a carrier oil on the stove. You can use avocado oil, coconut oil, or olive oil as the carrier oil. Once the oil is warm (but not hot!), massage into your hair and scalp. Let sit for half an hour before rinsing out.
3. Make a tea tree oil refresher spray. Mix 5 drops of tea tree oil into a spray bottle of water. Use as a refresher and leave in your hair.
4. Tea tree oil can help treat dandruff because of its antimicrobial properties. Add 15 drops of tea tree oil to your shampoo bottle. Wash your hair as normal to treat dandruff!
5. Use NaturAll's Original Dry Ice Cream Treatment Deep Conditioner every two weeks. We use a small amount of tea tree oil along with other natural oils and fresh avocado to give your hair the best treatment!
Common questions about tea tree oil for curly hair
Can I apply tea tree oil directly to my hair? I've heard it's too strong.
You are right- pure tea tree oil is too strong to apply directly to your hair or skin. Not only can you irritate your skin or scalp this way, but you'll end up wasting the tea tree oil by using more than you need. To use tea tree oil on your hair or skin, dilute it to 5-10% with a carrier oil, such as avocado oil or olive oil. For example: mix one teaspoon tea tree oil with 9 teaspoons olive oil, for a tea tree oil blend you can use on your hair or scalp.
Can tea tree oil cause hair loss?
Tea tree oil can occasionally cause hair damage, such as temporary hair loss, if you are allergic or if you use it improperly. To make sure you are not allergic, mix the tea tree oil with another carrier oil (see above) and apply the mixture to a small patch on your skin. If your skin is not irritated after 30 minutes the mixture is safe to apply to your hair and scalp. And as we've mentioned, do not apply pure tea tree oil directly to your hair or scalp.
Will tea tree oil help my hair grow?
Tea tree oil alone does not cause hair to grow faster. However, that doesn't mean it doesn't help with hair growth! Dead skin, oil and product buildup, and dandruff can clog the pores on your scalp, keeping your scalp from breathing and hindering hair growth. Tea tree oil addresses these issues, allowing scalp conditions that are better for hair growth. Learn other ways to promote hair growth!