7 Benefits of Tea Tree Oil for Hair
Our hair is our crowning glory. A “bad hair day” can throw us off course in everything we attempt. We owe it to ourselves to make the best of what we have. Harsh chemical treatments and heat can damage our hair and scalp.
Many people are turning to natural remedies to restore health, luster, and volume to their heads. One of those natural remedies is tea tree oil, which has long been heralded as having medicinal properties. What is this “magic” oil, and what are the benefits of tea tree oil for hair? Keep reading to find out.
Origins of Tea Tree Oil
Australian aboriginals have been using tea tree oil for thousands of years. They would crush the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant (tea tree) and apply them to wounds. The oil that was released would disinfect and heal the wounds.
It was only in the 1920s that scientists officially confirmed the antiseptic properties of tea tree oil. The oil became a household staple and was even supplied to Australian troops in the Second World War. Forty years later, cheaper, synthetic alternatives had mostly replaced it.
Tea tree oil contains close to 100 different compounds, and its composition changes if it is exposed to air and oxidizes. Tea tree oil is poisonous if ingested but can be safely applied topically. However, it can cause allergic reactions or irritation in undiluted form, and it shouldn’t be used on children. Compounds like cineole, nerolidol, and eucalyptol are attributed with the oil’s hair and skin benefits, so what are these benefits?
Tea Tree Oil Prevents Dandruff
Dandruff is a skin condition that affects the scalp, causing flaky, slightly itchy skin. It typically starts at puberty and affects almost 50% of all adults, with men being more susceptible. There is a more severe form of dandruff, known as seborrheic dermatitis, that includes painful inflammation of the skin.
A not inconsiderable symptom of the condition is the shower of visible, white skin flakes that can be seen on sufferers’ shoulders. This can lead to social and self-esteem problems.
One study has found statistically significant results indicating that 5% tea tree oil effectively treats dandruff. This is most likely because tea tree oil has antifungal properties that act against the yeast Pityrosporum ovale, which is suspected to be one of the causes of dandruff.
The subjects used 5% tea tree oil shampoo daily for four weeks.
Tea Tree Oil Promotes Hair Growth and Reduces Hair Loss
There is no scientific evidence for tea tree oil promoting hair growth. However, it improves the general health of the hair and scalp, which facilitates healthy hair growth.
One of the ways it does this is by promoting blood circulation. Poor circulation is one of the causes of hair loss. Tea tree oil’s antifungal properties also prevent inflammation of the follicles caused by itchy scalp conditions. Healthy, well-nourished follicles combat hair loss, which usually results from these conditions.
Tea Tree Oil Prevents Bacterial & Fungal Infections and Other Itchy Scalp Conditions
Tea tree oil’s antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties prevent infections of the scalp that can cause itchy, flaky, and painful conditions. Without a healthy base, the hair can’t be healthy.
Tea tree oil will soothe and calm acne symptoms, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, folliculitis, rashes, hives, and inflammation. By unclogging the pores, it will hydrate and replenish the skin.
Helps Against Lice
Lice are small wingless parasitic insects that live on the skin of humans and some animals. Research shows tea tree oil can likely prevent lice eggs from hatching and that it can kill lice in the nymph and adult life stages.
This is thanks to compounds in tea tree oil known as terpinen-4-ol and 1,8-cineole, which possess insecticidal properties. They break down the “stickiness” of the lice, enabling them to be removed by simple combing.
Cleans Scalp and Hair and Prevents Excess Grease
Hair products can build up on your scalp and block hair follicles over time. Silicone is one of the worst substances for this, and it can be impossible to wash out with regular shampoo.
The compounds in tea tree oil can break down this build-up, allowing follicles to “breathe” and function as they should. Clearing pores and follicles will often solve overproduction by sebaceous glands, which are responsible for greasy hair, too.
How To Use Tea Tree Oil For Hair
Tea tree oil needs to be diluted for use and is best used in combination with other carrier oils. A general rule of thumb is to mix ten drops of tea tree oil with two tablespoons of carrier oil. Ideally, the oil mixture should be slightly heated in a bowl over hot water. Don’t overheat, or you will destroy nutrients and risk burning your scalp.
You can then massage the mix into the scalp and comb through the hair. It’s normal for your scalp to feel tingly. Wrap your hair in a heated towel and leave it for anything from 10 minutes to overnight. Then, wash your hair as normal. Repeat two to three times a week as necessary.
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Selecting a carrier that provides additional benefits for your hair type makes the most sense.
- Olive oil used as a carrier can be used by people of all hair types and will leave hair shiny and soft.
- Jojoba oil is very close to your hair’s natural oils and can help reduce excessive secretion by sebaceous glands. This makes it ideal for those suffering from oily hair.
- Castor oil is very viscous and is ideal for treating dry, damaged hair, bringing it back to health.
- Lavender essential oil has antimicrobial properties that can restore hair follicles and is known for its stress-relieving scent. As stress can lead to hair loss, this is an excellent combination for those suffering from hair loss. You will need to add a carrier oil like olive, castor, or coconut oil, as lavender oil must also only be used diluted.
I am sure there are many more benefits of tea tree oil for hair. If I have missed anything please leave a comment below.
You are now equipped to decide whether tea tree oil might be the solution your hair is begging for. Remember that the FDA does not regulate tea tree oil. Also, purchase your essential oils from reputable suppliers and consult a physician if you experience side effects.