We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.
Created for Greatist by the experts at Healthline. Read more
While research suggests there are health benefits, the FDA doesn’t monitor or regulate the purity or quality of essential oils. It’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before you begin using essential oils and be sure to research the quality of a brand’s products. Always do a patch test before trying a new essential oil.
Acne scars can happen to anyone and you may not be excited to run to a dermatologist or aesthetician when their help (as awesome as it is) can be expensive AF.
Thankfully, there’s an inexpensive and natural remedy you can try. Tea tree essential oil might give your acne-scarred skin the comeback it deserves.
Tea tree oil for acne scars
There isn’t enough evidence to 💯 confirm that tea tree oil is an effective scar treatment. But don’t write it off just yet! Tree tree oil’s anti-inflammatory properties and acne-fighting super powers suggest it can be used on scars as well.
Pure essential oils are too concentrated to apply to your skin directly so make sure you always dilute them first. Here’s the deal:
- Mix pure tea tree oil with a carrier oil (e.g. coconut oil, almond oil, jojoba, etc).
- The ideal mixture is 12 drops of tea tree oil to one ounce of carrier oil.
- You can put this mixture all over your face once or twice a day.
- Don’t mix tea tree oil with products that have active ingredients like acids, retinol, or vitamin C. These can trigger irritation.
Tea tree essential oil is the bomb but it’s not magic. It can take several months (or even years) for acne scars to fade. Upping the amount of tea tree oil you use won’t help your scars fade faster. In fact, too much of this good thing can be damaging.
Using tea tree oil in excess can lead to inflammation and irritation. It can even break down your skin’s moisture barrier which may make your skin too dry.
Tea tree oil doesn’t usually cause allergic reactions, but it’s a possibility. Do a patch test before you rub it all over your face.
To do a patch test apply a small amount of tea tree oil on the inside of your elbow. Give it a day. If your skin doesn’t get irritated, it’s safe to use.
The overall risks for using tea tree oil topically are pretty low. Just be sure to follow the rules. Remember:
- Consult a dermatologist first if you have particularly sensitive skin.
- Always, always, always wear sunscreen! It prevents scarring.
- Dilute pure tea tree oil with a carrier oil.
- Don’t overdo it. Stick to twice a day max.
- Do a patch test before use.
- Don’t drink tea tree oil. Seriously.
- Don’t let it near your pets, it’s toxic to cats and dogs.
Stop using tea tree oil if you experience irritation or extreme dryness.
If tea tree oil isn’t your thing, you’re still in luck. There are lots of other ways to heal acne scars.
Keep in mind: Active ingredients shouldn’t be blended. Try them out one at a time.
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are chemical exfoliants. Some popular versions used in skin care routines are lactic or glycolic acid.
AHAs help exfoliate the outer layers of the skin so over time they can reduce discoloration or scarring. They can also prevent and treat active acne! These are a great option if you’re still dealing with breakouts.
Retinol (or retinoids) are awesome for anti-aging because they can help your skin regenerate. This also makes them a top contender for acne scar treatment.
You can get some retinoids over the counter, but to take it to the next level you may need an Rx. Your dermatologist can prescribe a cream with higher concentration.
FYI: It’s extra important to wear sunscreen when using a retinol-based product because they make your skin more sun-sensitive.
Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties that help fight acne. It may also heal scars because it stimulates collagen production in the skin. Try adding a vitamin C serum to your skin routine. It just might do the trick.
Microdermabrasion can be effective against superficial acne scars. It’s a treatment that gently exfoliates the top layer of your skin. Dermabrasion is another, more invasive, form that often requires local anesthesia.
You may be tempted to try these cosmetic procedures at home, but you’re better off going to a professional. A dermatologist has the specialized training to safely do a deeper exfoliation which makes the treatment more effective.
Chemical peels involve putting targeted ingredients on your face to remove the top layers of skin so that new, healthier skin growth can replace it. Studies have shown that glycolic acid peels have been effective in combating acne scars.
Your dermatologist can pinpoint the exact issues your face is facing and give you a recommendation for the ideal type of chemical peel for your specific scarring.
Microneedling has gotten trendy in recent years. It involves putting small punctures in your face which encourages the skin to produce collagen as it heals. Though it’s a newer treatment, it has some promising results for treating acne scars. It may also help with your overall skin appearance.
Tea tree essential oil is a great way to try treating acne scars without spending beaucoup bucks. But even if you’re not a fan, you still have lots of other options. It might take some trial and error but you’ll eventually find the remedy that works best for you!