Tea Tree Oil is an essential oil that is obtained by steam distillation of the leaves and terminal branches of a small tree or tall shrub, Melaleuca alternifolia. Endemic to Australia, it is part of the myrtle family where it grows along streams and swampy flats in southeast Queensland, the north coast and New South Wales.
Over years, it is demonstrated to be effective in a variety of skin infections and plays a role in the management of inflammatory and immune disorders affecting the skin. Tea Tree oil has many benefits:
It calms inflammation as well as protects and repairs the skin from photo damage. Photo damage is characterized by the visual changes of dyspigmentation, fine wrinkles, and tactile roughness. One of the main causes of photo damaged skin is too much exposure to the sun. Furthermore it promotes even skin tone and reduces the appearance of wrinkles and acne.
Tea Trea oil is effective against some bacterial infections of the skin. Its component, terpinen-4-ol exhibits strong anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. A study showed 10% tea tree oil has effects comparable to mupirocin, a topical antibiotic. It is also effective in treating methicillin-resistant Staph aureus, a bacteria that is resistant to many antibiotics.
It was demonstrated to have potent virucidal activity (capacity to or tending to destroy or inactivate viruses) against herpes 1 and 2 and is also proven to be an effective treatment for hand warts.
At concentrations between 25% and 50%, in a double blinded study it proved to be effective against interdigital tinea pedis (Athlete’s Foot). It has also shown to improve the appearance and symptoms of nail fungus.
• Seborrhoeic dermatitis
It has shown to have an antifungal activity against Malassezia furfur (a species of fungus that is naturally found on the skin surfaces of humans and is associated with seborrhoeic dermatitis) and its anti-inflammatory properties make it effective in the treatment of this dermatitis. A 5% concentration is well tolerated and effective.
• Acne treatment
As a potent antibacterial, it is also effective against P.acnes (slow-growing, typically aerotolerant anaerobic, gram-positive bacterium linked to the skin condition of acne). Its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce inflammatory papules and pustules. Studies proved 5% tea tree oil gel to be effective and comparable to 5% benzoyl peroxide.
Salicylic acid is a 2-hydroxybenzoic acid commonly referred to as a beta-hydroxy acid. It is derived from a willow bark, wintergreen and sweet birch plants. It is also a phytohormone plant that acts similar to a hormone to regulate cell growth and differentiation. It has actually been used for over 2000 years to treat various skin disorders.
In 0.5-10% of cases it’s used for acne treatments, 3-6% for treating hyperkeratotic disorders like psoriasis, keratosis pilaris or ichthyosis (a family of rare genetic skin disorders characterised by dry, thickened, scaly skin) and 5-40% for treating conditions like warts and corns.
It is however more renowned for its uses in cosmetic dermatology, mainly for acne treatments. It can be used as a cleanser for example a scrub, as a toner or in moisturisers.
The fact that it’s safe to use in all skin types makes it one of the popular ingredients to use in cosmetics.
It can also be used as a chemical peel for acne, hyperpigmentation and for post acne erythema. It enhances penetration of other topical agents and is therefore often used with other skin products like retinoid and glycolic acid.
How does it work?
It is a keratolytic (agents that are applied on the skin to soften the keratin. They loosen and assist exfoliation of the skin cells) or exfoliant as it solubilises the cement holding the skin cells together disrupting their adherence to each other. This leads to dead superficial cells being released easily and subsequent skin renewal. The end result is a smooth skin with improvement of fine lines and wrinkles with prolonged usage. The shedding also removes pre-existing pigment clumps, reducing skin imperfections and hyperpigmentation.
Furthermore, it is lipophilic which means it is able to dissolve fats and is therefore comedolytic (inhibits the formation of comedones, blemishes that form when oil and skin cells become trapped in the pore). It penetrates deep into the sebum filled pilosebaceous unit (hair follicles and sebaceous glands) and dissolves the sebum and cellular debris that forms a comedone (open comedones are blackheads, closed comedones are whiteheads). It also increases exfoliation within the follicle, reducing impaction and microcomedo (clogged hair follicles) formation by unblocking the pores. To a certain extent it reduces the amount of sebum produced by the sebaceous glands. All this leads to mattified skin (less shiny), reducing or eliminating black and whiteheads, reducing the size of the pores and preventing acne formation.
It is also bacteriostatic which helps in eliminating P acnes bacteria that play a role in acne formation.
Finally, it has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the size and number of inflamed papules and pustules. Inflammation is minimised as well as dark scars and blemishes, especially in people with dark skin types who are prone to acne.
It is however important to note that as safe as salicylic acid and tea tree oil generally are, a few people will still react to it or may experience some side effects. Always see your dermatologist first before self-medicating to see if these ingredients are suitable for your skin.
Oxy Products which contain Salicylic Acid and Tea Tree Oil:
Oxy Cleansing Toner – Salicylic Acid
Oxy Zit Blitzer – Tea Tree Oil
Oxy Cleansing Soap Bar Regular – Salicylic Acid
Oxy Cleansing Soap Bar Tea Tree – Salicylic Acid & Tea Tree
Oxy Daily Sensitive Moisturiser – Salicylic Acid & Tea Tree
Oxy’s Regular and Sensitive Face washes contain Salicylic Acid