By: Phillip Prather, Down Under Enterprises; Board Member, Australian Tea Tree Industry Association
Personal care and cosmetic products with synthetic ingredients have declined in favour of products with naturally-based ingredients. However, formulators often face significant challenges in incorporating naturally-derived ingredients due to a lack of in-vitro research, let alone in-vivo clinical data validating the potential therapeutic properties of natural ingredients.
Acne manifests from an interaction of clinical conditions, including hyperkeratinization, excess sebum production, presence and proliferation of Propionibacterium acnes, and inflammation. Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil provides a natural alternative for the treatment of these conditions due to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. In Europe, Tea Tree Oil has been approved by the European Medicines Agency, Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products, with the Indication “for treatment of small boils (furuncles and mild acne).”1
Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil offers proven, peer-reviewed published clinical data as an effective antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory agent – including many references on its efficacy against Acne. The Personal Care Products Council has given Tea Tree Oil the INCI designation of Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil.
A randomized clinical study by Enshaieh et al. (2007) concluded that topical 5% Tea Tree Oil is an effective treatment for mild to moderate acne vulgaris2. A total of 60 patients with mild to moderate acne vulgaris were divided into two groups and treated with Tea Tree Oil gel (n=30) or placebo (n=30).
The study was evaluated by the total acne lesions counting (TLC) and acne severity index (ASI). Tea Tree Oil gel was found to be more effective than the placebo – 3.55 times in terms of TLC and 5.75 in terms of ASI. The authors concluded that a topical 5% Tea Tree Oil is an effective treatment for mild to moderate acne vulgaris.
One clinical study to assess the efficacy of Tea Tree Oil for acne was conducted by Basset et al. (1990)3. The study performed a blinded, randomized clinical trial on 124 patients to evaluate the efficacy and skin tolerance of a 5% Tea Tree Oil gel against a 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion. Basset et al. concluded that both treatments had a positive effect in reducing the number of inflamed and non-inflamed lesions, yet the ‘onset of action’ for the Tea Tree Oil took longer to come into effect.
A study by Malhi et al. (2016), published in the Australian Journal of Dermatology also confirmed the use of Australian Tea Tree Oil products to significantly improve mild to moderate acne. In an open-label uncontrolled phase II pilot study, 18 participants were divided into two study arms applying Tea Tree Oil gel (200mg/g) and face wash (7mg/g) to their face daily. They were assessed after a 4, 8 and 12-week period. The authors concluded that the use of Tea Tree Oil products significantly improved mild to moderate acne and that the products were well tolerated.
A Note about Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil
All references in this paper have used 100% Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil. The properties of Tea Tree Oil are documented in the standard ISO47304. This standard details the acceptable percent range of the 15 most common components as well as physical parameters including optical rotation and specific gravity.
Research into this native Australian essential oil has determined a combination of 113 different compounds contribute to the many ways in which Tea Tree Oil yields its antimicrobial efficacy. Furthermore, bacteria are unable to adapt, mutate, and develop resistance to Tea Tree Oil’s many different mechanisms of activity (Thomsen, 20135).
As Tea Tree Oil has become more popular, adulterated versions of this oil have appeared on the market. These versions are often comprised of compounds from other industrial, sometimes waste, processes. There are documented safety issues, including burns and allergic reactions, with adulterated Tea Tree Oil which do not occur with Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil.
The Australian Tea Tree Industry Association offers a wealth of information on the beneficial use of Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil. Their Code of Practice (COP) is a documented GMP quality system covering the entire production, processing, and packaging of Tea Tree Oil. COP certified producers and distributors undergo annual audits.
Read other articles on anti-acne ingredients in the Knowledge Center.
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- European Union herbal monograph on Melaleuca alternifolia (Maiden and Betch) Cheel, M. linariifolia Smith, M. dissitiflora F. Mueller and/or other species of Melaleuca, aetheroleum [PDF]
- The efficacy of 5% topical tea tree oil gel in mild to moderate acne vulgaris: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study. Enshaieh S, Jooya A, Siadat AH, Iraji F.
- A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoylperoxide in the treatment of acne. Bassett IB, Pannowitz DL, Barnetson RS.
- ISO 4730:2004
- Effect of habituation to tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil on the subsequent susceptibility of Staphylococcus spp. to antimicrobials, triclosan, tea tree oil, terpinen-4-ol and carvacrol. Thomsen NA, Hammer KA, Riley TV, Van Belkum A, Carson CF.
The views, opinions and technical analyses presented here are those of the author, and are not necessarily those of UL, ULProspector.com or Knowledge.ULProspector.com. While the editors of this site make every effort to verify the accuracy of its content, we assume no responsibility for errors made by the author, editorial staff or any other contributor. All content is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without prior authorization from Prospector.