So, since bacterial overgrowth and inflammation play a big role in most acne outbreaks, if these properties are valid, it is clear to see how Tea Tree Oil may be beneficial for pimples.
The Terpinen-4-ol compound is thought to be the main antimicrobial component of Tea Tree Oil.
One study looked into if Tea Tree Oil was able to kill a variety of bacterial strains in a laboratory setting, and found favorable inhibition of many common strains of skin bacterium, including those common in acne.
This points to Tea Tree Oil being a potential benefit in acne cases, but does what do the human studies say?
How effective is Tea Tree Oil for acne?
One study compared the effectiveness of 5% Tea Tree Oil versus 5% Benzoyl Peroxide for the treatment of mild to moderate acne in 124 patients. In both groups, the participants had similar and significant levels of reduced acne. The Tea Tree group had fewer side effects than the benzoyl, but it took a little bit longer to start working.
Another study with 60 mild to moderate acne participants, had 30 use 5% tea tree oil daily, and 30 use a placebo. After 45 days the Tea Tree Oil was found to be 3.55 times more effective at reducing the number of acne lesions, and 5.75 more effective at reducing acne severity than the placebo group.
So, while the evidence is lacking, and more studies need to be conducted, evidence suggests that Tea Tree Oil may be a safe and potentially effective addition to a skincare regimen in those with mild to moderate acne.