Tea tree oil is an essential oil extract from a tree native to Australia which is used as an herbal treatment for everything from cold sores to acne to skin inflammation.
It’s usually applied directly to your skin, usually (but not always) diluted with a carrier oil like jojoba oil or olive oil.
Our research team set out to review and rank the best tea tree oil supplements on the market, and came up with these rankings of the highest-quality tea tree oils.
1. Eve Hansen Tea Tree Oil
Eve Hansen Tea Tree Oil, like many other tea tree oils on this list, is 100% pure and steam distilled, but what sets it apart is its organic certification.
With that, you can be sure that there are no traces of pesticides or synthetic fertilizers that make their way into the solution, which makes this an excellent choice for aromatherapy.
The four fluid ounce size also makes this tea tree oil well suited for topical users, even if you are treating a large area of your body on a daily basis.
2. Handcraft Blends Tea Tree Essential Oil
Handcraft Blends Tea Tree Essential Oil is a pure and well-designed tea tree oil that comes in a large four-ounce bottle, making it a good choice for people who use tea tree oil frequently.
If you apply it to large swaths of skin or scalp, or have multiple uses for tea tree oil, this is a good option.
3. Now Essential Oils 100% Pure Tea Tree
Now excels when it comes to simple and straightforward herbal products, and their tea tree oil is no exception. It’s 100% pure and comes in a large four ounce bottle, making it good for frequent users of tea tree oil.
4. Maple Holistics Tea Tree Essential Oil
Maple Holistics Tea Tree Essential Oil is a tea tree oil that’s particularly popular for its antifungal properties.
People have found it especially helpful for nail and scalp conditions, and like many other tea tree oils on this list, it’s a 100% pure steam-distilled essential oil, which makes it an excellent overall pick.
5. Artizen Essential Oils Tea Tree
Artizen Essential Oils Tea Tree is designed specially for aromatherapy, but since it’s a highly pure steam-distilled tea tree oil, it will work well for topical applications as well.
Each bottle contains one ounce of liquid, which is good but not great when it comes to quantity.
6. Pure Body Naturals Tea Tree Essential Oil
Pure Body Naturals Tea Tree Essential Oil is a pretty good tea tree oil, derived from steam distillation, that comes in a one ounce bottle.
Without any particular features to distinguish it from its competitors, though, it’s hard to rank this product any higher.
7. First Botany Cosmeceuticals Australian Tea Tree Essential Oil
First Botany makes a tea tree oil that the company claims is higher than competitors in a compound called terpinen, which is thought to be at least one of the active compounds in tea tree oil that is responsible for its efficacy.
However, First Botany supplies no data to back up this claim, so it’s hard to take this claim at face value.
8. Healing Solutions Tea Tree Oil
Healing Solutions Tea Tree Oil is a highly pure tea tree oil that’s subjected to stringent quality standards.
It’s well-loved by users for its ability to clear up skin conditions and facial redness, and people report very few problems with it. The only drawback is the fairly small bottle size of 10 mL.
9. Plant Therapy Organic Tea Tree Oil
Plant Therapy Organic Tea Tree Oil is another tea tree oil that sports an organic certification, and the oil is pure and of high quality.
However, the small bottle size (only one third of an ounce) will make this a poor choice for frequent or high volume users.
10. Hollywood Beauty Tea Tree Oil
Hollywood Beauty Tea Tree Oil makes a popular tea tree oil, but it’s dispensed in a large and pretty haphazard plastic bottle that may not protect the delicate organic compounds in the tea tree oil from being damaged by exposure to light.
Most other brands keep their tea tree oil in an amber glass or amber plastic container. The lack of light protection doesn’t combine well with the large bottle size, so even though this product supplies quite a lot of tea tree oil, many people would be better suited with something else.
Tea tree oil benefits and side effects
It’s derived by steam distillation of the raw plant material of the tea tree, which is native to Australia. The result is a highly concentrated and highly pure herbal liquid that’s useful for a wide variety of conditions—tea tree oil.
Tea tree oil can be used as a treatment for cold sores. Cold sores are painful and often embarrassing spots of inflammation and swelling on the lips that are caused by a virus.
Some people who contract the virus experience recurrent cold sores throughout their life, especially during periods of stress or conditions that lower the functioning of their immune system.
Tea tree oil has long been a folk remedy for cold sores, but recent scientific research has started to shed light onto its role in fighting the virus that causes cold sores.
Initial research focused on studying the antiviral activity of tea tree oil against viruses on petri dishes. A study published in 2001 in the journal Die Pharmazie investigated the effects of different concentrations of tea tree oil against the herpes simplex virus, which is the one responsible for cold sores (1).
Even at very low concentrations, the tea tree oil inhibited the activity of the virus. Discoveries like this led to small-scale pilot studies using tea tree oil in people with chronic cold sores, such as one study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (2).
This pilot study assigned 20 people to either apply a 6% tea tree oil gel daily, or a placebo gel that contained no tea tree oil.
Though the trial was quite small, and one subject had to withdraw because of irritation caused by the tea tree oil, the researchers found that the people who received the tea tree oil fared better than those who did not.
They were less likely to get a cold sore during the study’s follow-up period, and those who did recovered more quickly, though (possibly because of the very small sample size) these effects did not rise to the level of statistical significance.
The results of this trial combined with the multiple strands of evidence showing a direct effect of tea tree oil against the herpes simplex virus suggest that tea tree oil could be a very useful cold sore treatment, and does not need to be applied full-strength to be effective.
Tea tree oil can be used to reduce acne. Since tea tree oil is an effective antimicrobial against the herpes simplex virus, researchers wondered if it could have similar antimicrobial properties against the kind of bacteria that contribute to acne.
Again, herbal and folk use long presaged modern clinical trials into the efficacy of tea tree oil to treat acne, but modern research provides the strongest insights into its potential.
One clinical trial published in 2007 in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology used a group of 60 people divided evenly into an experimental group and a control group (3).
The experimental group applied a tea tree oil product to their face on a daily basis, while the control applied a placebo gel.
The experiment lasted 45 days, during which the subjects were followed up every 15 days. WHen the researchers compared the experimental group to the placebo group, they found that the incidence of new acne marks decreased significantly in those who were using tea tree oil.
The acne marks that did occur were judged to be less severe, on average, in the group using tea tree oil. A different study conducted by researchers in Australia compared tea tree oil to benzoyl peroxide, one of the standard heavy-hitting anti-acne treatments (4).
The study used 124 patients who were randomly assigned either a 5% tea tree oil gel or a benzoyl peroxide gel. The results showed that the treatments were similarly effective, although the tea tree oil treatment took longer to start working.
The patients who received tea tree oil scored slightly worse on an index for skin oiliness, which would make sense given the oily nature of tea tree oil.
On the other hand, the tea tree oil experienced fewer side effects than the benzoyl peroxide group.
This means that tea tree oil could be an especially useful acne treatment for people who have not had success with benzoyl peroxide because of its tendency to cause redness, scaling, and other undesirable skin side effects.
Tea tree oil can be used to treat fungal infections of the toe nails and scalp. A clinical trial published in 1994 compared tea tree oil to one of the standard antifungal agents used to treat onychomycosis, the medical term for a fungal infection of the nails (5).
The six month long study used two groups of equal size, and randomly assigned the subjects to either the traditional medical treatment or the tea tree oil treatment. Unlike other studies on acne and cold sores, this study used full-strength, 100% pure tea tree oil.
The results showed that the tea tree oil and the traditional antifungal cream were equally effective. Though not all patients were cured, none experienced side effects that were enough of a problem to discontinue the protocol.
Though this study did not directly explore the mechanism behind how the tea tree oil helped fight off the fungal infection, the evidence we’ve already seen suggests that it is because tea tree oil has broad-spectrum antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal activity.
With regards to its use in other fungal conditions, a review article published in 2006 in the journal Clinical Microbiology Reviews notes a number of studies showing efficacious use of tea tree oil in treating dandruff-causing fungal infections of the scalp, though at a 5% concentration as opposed to full strength (6).
As with any plant-derived essential oil, one potential side effect with tea tree oil is an allergic reaction. It’s wise to test tea tree oil in a low concentration in a small area first.
The risk of developing an allergic reaction is reduced if you use a dilute solution, according to researchers in Australia who authored a review article on tea tree oil (7).
In addition to the potential for allergic reactions, some people develop redness, irritation, and mild inflammation. Despite these adverse effects, tea tree oil typically fares better when it comes to side effects than traditional treatments.
Acne is a good example: though tea tree oil takes longer to start working, it is associated with a reduced risk of adverse effects compared to the usual treatments.
When it comes to using tea tree oil to treat cold sores, acne, or fungal infections, dosage really comes down to concentration.
For treating acne, cold sores, and the scalp, most studies use tea tree oil diluted to 4-6% concentration using some type of carrier oil or gel.
You don’t need to get fancy with this; something pure and natural, like jojoba oil or even olive oil, will work just fine.
For fungal infections in your nails, though, you shouldn’t dilute the tea tree oil at all: apply it full-strength to the affected area, twice per day.
Tea tree oil is an herbal compound that boasts a wide range of antimicrobial properties.
Its antiviral abilities make it a good cold sore treatment, while its antibacterial properties help fight against acne. Further, the antifungal properties of tea tree oil can help you defeat toenail and scalp fungal infections for good.
In most cases, you should dilute tea tree oil with something like olive oil or jojoba oil, but you should apply it full strength for treating toenail fungal infections.
Always test a small area with a dilute concentration first to make sure you aren’t allergic to tea tree oil.
When used correctly, tea tree oil is a great all-natural treatment for a broad range of skin and nail conditions.