In World War II, an outbreak of foot fungus hospitalizes hundreds of Australian soldiers. None of the modern medicines or ointments seem to have any effect on the fungus that is affecting so many. Finally, an aboriginal Australian applies a powerful substance to the men’s feet; within days the fungus has disappeared. Despite its powerful anti- fungal properties, the substance is completely natural and gentle on skin.
The substance isn’t a fancy medicine. It isn’t even a new technology. It is a natural oil that’s been extracted and used historically in Australia. It is known as melaleuca, or tea tree oil.
Tea tree oil is extracted by steam distillation from fresh leaves and wood of the tea tree shrub, which is native to Australia. The extracted oil contains a number of active compounds that can destroy microbes and fungi. The substance is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal, making it useful in medicine and healing as well as a powerful disinfectant.
However, unlike many detergents and antiseptic compounds, tea tree oil is remarkably gentle and can be applied directly to the skin. This makes tea tree oil useful in many household cleaners and detergents, but also in cosmetics and skin products. Its gentle disinfectant properties make it one of the best treatments out there for acne, eczema, nail and foot fungus, etc. It is even used to kill mold and insects, get rid of warts and cold sores, clear up sinus infections and earaches, or serve as a natural deodorant.
Pretty awesome, right? But we know you’re waiting… why is it useful for natural hair?
Tea tree oil’s anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties make it effective for treating dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. It fights the fungus that causes dandruff without drying out the scalp. It also moisturizes and soothes the scalp, reducing itchiness and making it less prone to flaking.
Dry skin and dandruff can clog your hair follicles, slowing hair growth. But tea tree oil can clear the follicles and allow your hair to breathe. It can also moisturize the scalp while preventing buildup of excess oil on the scalp. All this facilitates hair growth. Tea tree oil doesn’t cause hair to grow faster, but it improves the health of your scalp, creating better growing conditions for your hair.
If all this weren't enough, tea tree oil can also help with scalp eczema and kill lice! Ready to start using tea tree oil in your hair regimen?
How to incorporate tea tree oil into your natural hair regimen
Tea tree oil is extremely powerful and we don't recommend applying it directly to your skin or hair. Pure tea tree oil can irritate the skin, and you'll end up wasting most of the oil when you only need a tiny amount to see results. Dilute tea tree oil to 5-10% for best results.
Tea tree oil is gentle, but if you know you have sensitive skin, we recommend trying a small skin patch first. Make sure you buy pure, 100% tea tree oil, and store it in a cool, dry place. It is volatile, so seal well. Do not ingest tea tree oil.
Here are a few ways to mix tea tree oil with other products and introduce the benefits of tea tree oil to your scalp and natural hair.
- Mix a few drops of pure tea tree oil into a carrier oil like jojoba oil, olive oil, or coconut oil. Massage into your scalp several times a week to promote healthy scalp.
- Do a hot oil treatment once a week: heat up a few drops of tea tree oil in a carrier oil on the stove. Once the oil is warm (but not hot!), massage into your hair and scalp. Let sit for half an hour before rinsing out.
- Mix 5 drops of tea tree oil into a spray bottle of water. Use as a refresher and leave in your hair.
- Add 15 drops of tea tree oil to your shampoo bottle. Wash your hair as normal to treat dandruff!