Tea Tree Oil & Apple Cider Vinegar for Acne or Pimples

Having to deal with acne or pimples is a rite of passage for most individuals. Most people tend to outgrow these common skin afflictions as they leave their awkward teen years behind, however, some may not be as lucky and these afflictions may continue well into their 20s.

Using synthetic products for treating acne may be necessary; however it is common knowledge that such products should always be used as a last resort. There are several natural home remedies comprising of tea tree oil and apple cider vinegar that can help people cope with acne, spots or pimples. However, before we delve into how they need to be used, we need to understand the nature of the problem first.

What Causes Acne or Pimples?

People in general, and teenagers in particular start getting depressed if they suffer from acne. [1] However the American Academy of Dermatology estimates that about 40 to 50 million Americans are suffering from acne at any given moment [2].

In a nutshell, our skin contains millions of pores. [3] These pores serve a lot of different functions, such as allowing for the release of sweat or allowing body hair to protrude from the skin. There are a couple of essential mechanisms that are happening around our skin pores at any given moment, which are:

  • Our skin cells are dying and they are continuously being replenished by new skin cells.
  • The sebaceous gland, [4] which is attached to our hair follicles [5] and thus placing them really close to the skin pores in our body is continuously secreting a waxy liquid called sebum, allowing our skin to stay hydrated at any given moment.

Just like any other creature in the animal kingdom, human beings shed their dead skin cells as well! However, sometimes these dead skin cells get trapped inside our pores and they combine with the sebum to form little clumps. As these clumps are larger than the individual dead skin cells, it becomes even tougher for these clumps to escape from the pores. Any bacteria in these skin pores remain trapped as well, thus allowing it to thrive, which would lead to an inflammation that we all know as acne!

Tea Tree Oil for Acne

Common anecdotal evidence suggests that there are potentially innumerable home remedies for treating your acne. However it is suggested that using tea tree oil or apple cider vinegar are two best home treatments to cure you of your pimples.

Why is tea tree oil an effective antidote for acne?

Tea Tree OilTea tree oil, which is also known as melaleuca oil [6] is effective for treating your acne because:

  • It is completely natural; hence you will not be exposing your skin to harsh chemicals. Tea tree oil does not drain the natural oils from your skin, thus protecting you from further skin blemishes.
  • It is a topical anti-septic, with antibacterial, [7] antifungal [8] antiviral [9] and soothing Also found effective for athletes foot, itchy scalp, dandruff and nail fungal infections.
  • It acts like a solvent [10] on dirt, grease and grime; hence it can reach the Propionibacterium acnes bacterium that is causing the acne infection and act on it! It unblocks and disinfects clogged pores and clears whiteheads, blackheads and red pimples.

Scientific studies have shown that tea tree oil is effective. One study conducted in 2007 used 60 people where a particular group was asked to use a gel containing 5% tea tree oil and the remaining members used a placebo over a period of 45 days. There was a marked improvement in the group that used the tea tree gel. [11]

Please note that when we say that tea tree oil is perfectly safe, it is under the assumption that you will be using it for topical applications only! Ingesting tea tree oil is incredibly detrimental for your health. Side effects due to oral intake include rash or a temporary loss of equilibrium. In extreme cases you may lose the ability to walk or go into a coma as well!

Using Tea Tree Oil for Getting Rid of Pimples

It is really easy to use tea tree oil to get rid of pimples. You can just use a Q-tip or a cotton ball or pad and apply it directly on the pimple. You should leave it overnight and then see a significant reduction in the inflammation by the following morning.

Some people find raw tea tree oil to be too harsh, especially if they have dry or sensitive skin. [12] They can still use tea tree oil to treat their acne; however they have to do so in a diluted form. Couples of options are:

Honey: Among all the various options for diluting tea tree oil, honey is the one that is most recommended because it is a strong antibacterial in its own right. [13] Hence by using it for diluting the tea tree oil, one is making tea tree oil easier to use on sensitive skin without it losing any of its antibacterial potency!

Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera is another diluting agent with antibacterial properties [14] that will make tea tree oil easier to use on sensitive skin while keeping its potency intact.

The ratio of tea tree oil to the diluting agent should not be less than 1:9, for the treatment to be effective.

You can also incorporate tea tree oil into your beauty regimen, which will make your skin look fresher and younger, while getting rid of your annoying pimples. One way to do that would be to add tea tree oil to your homemade face mask. Following are a few recipes that one can try:

Using Yogurt: This is probably the simplest recipe for a face pack that you will ever come across. Take a quarter cup of plain yogurt and add about 5 drops of tea tree oil to it. Now apply this mixture as a mask and leave it on your skin for almost 20 minutes, before you rinse it off with warm water.

Using green Clay Powder: Green clay powder is also known as French Green Clay, [15] and you can easily use it to create a highly effective face pack. Just take about 2 table spoons of green clay powder and add about 4 drops of tea tree oil to it. Now add a little water to the mixture to create a thick paste, which you would then apply evenly on your face. You need to wait for at least 20 minutes, or till the face pack dries (whichever happens later) before you rinse it off with warm water.

Using jojoba Oil and Tomato: Take a medium-sized tomato, a tablespoon of jojoba oil and three drops of tea tree oil and put them in a blender to make a fine pure. Now apply this to your face and leave it on for about 10 minutes before you rinse it off.

In many of the ads that you see on TV, people keep stating that using facial scrubs will open up your pores. It is true for the most part and you can create a natural and highly effective facial scrub using tea tree oil at home! Following is the recipe:

Take one tablespoon of honey and a quarter cup of olive or sesame seed oil and add it to half a cup of sugar. Mix it thoroughly and then add about 10 drops of tea tree oil to it and then stir it again. Now, use a very mild face wash to wash your face. Then use this scrub to gently massage your face via circular motions for about 5 to seven minutes and then wash it off.

If none of the above treatments work, then you can add tea tree oil to benzoil peroxide, which is one of the most powerful synthetic treatments for acne. [16] The usual ratio is 10 drops of tea tree oil for about 4 oz. of benzoil peroxide (make sure that it is in an aqueous form where the concentration of benzoil peroxide should be about 5% of the solution by weight) to make a really potent concoction. Apply this to your face, leave it on for about thirty minutes and then wash it off.

If you are not inclined to try any of the previous concoctions then you may just purchase skincare products such as spot gets, cleansers or moisturizers, which uses tea tree oil as a base and use it regularly. Your local health store will probably carry a few options or a simple search on the internet will probably provide you with an overwhelming number of options!

If the above treatments fail to resonate with you, or if you are unable to get easy access to tea tree oil, then you should consider using apple cider vinegar to get rid of your pimples.

ACV as a Cure for Pimples

Apple Cider VinegarApple cider vinegar has been used by mankind throughout the ages as an antidote for curing a wide variety of ills. Discussing all of its glorious history as an elixir is beyond the scope of discussion here, however it is an effective cure for acne because:

  • It is completely natural, hence you can get clear skin without being exposed to harmful chemicals.
  • It contains malic acid and acetic acid, [17] which gives apple cider vinegar its antibacterial, [18] antifungal [19] and antiviral [20] properties.

Please note that using apple cider vinegar is not a magic wand that will permanently get rid of your pimples. People who are in the habit of using it keep doing so regularly to prevent future outbreaks!

What to Use: Natural or Synthetic Apple Cider Vinegar

One should always use completely organic apple cider vinegar which is unfiltered and unpasteurized.

This is because unfiltered and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar contains that ‘mother of vinegar’ a natural substance consisting of cellulose and Acetobacteraceae (apple cider bacteria) [21] , which is the source of all the benefits that apple cider vinegar provides to your skin!

Using Apple Cider Vinegar to Get Rid of Acne

Unlike tea tree oil, apple cider vinegar isn’t as versatile in terms of the ways that you can apply this treatment. You would need to create a tonic and apply it topically on the affected area. Following are the steps that you should follow:

  • Mix apple cider vinegar with water on a 1:1 ratio. Please note that one should not apply undiluted apple cider vinegar on the skin because the high concentration of acetic acid makes it extremely corrosive. However the skin gains tolerance overtime and after few weeks the ratio can be increased. This will accelerate cell turnover making way for better results.
  • Apply this tonic on an unblemished area of the skin. There should be a slight stinging sensation on the skin, which should go away quickly. If the pain is persistent, then your skin might be sensitive to apple cider vinegar and you may need to dilute the solution even further. Try a 1:1.5 ratio or a 1:2 ratio. If your sting is still persistent and is accompanied by an itch, redness, scaling or peeling, then you may be allergic to apple cider vinegar and you may need to seek a different treatment, like the tea tree oil treatments we mentioned earlier.
  • You can now apply the tonic all over your face with a cotton ball or pad. Make sure to apply an extra amount on the pimples. When you apply it on your pimples, you will feel a mild stinging sensation, however it should not be intolerable.
  • Leave it on for as long as you can tolerate it, the bare minimum would be for at least thirty minutes.
  • Wash it off with water and then use a soothing natural moisturizer like coconut or jojoba oil.
  • Some can make the tonic even more potent by adding some additional ingredients such as aloe vera, green tea or witch hazel.
  • Using apple cider vinegar can be part of your beauty regimen first thing in the morning or night before you go to bed. However, it is advised that you wash your face with a mild face wash before you start the treatment.

It is suggested that one should use an exfoliating scrub a few days after starting the apple cider vinegar treatment. This is because while your skin is adjusting to the treatment, you will build up a lot more dead skin than you do normally and using the scrub will let your pores stay open, while accentuating the growth of fresh and healthy skin cells!

Safeguards while using Apple Cider Vinegar

Although apple cider vinegar is highly effective for dealing with your acne, you need to implement the following safeguards:

  • Protect your Eyes: Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic, with some brands having a pH level of less than 3! Albeit the tonic that you created has diluted the apple cider vinegar, it would still be acidic and can damage your retinas if it reaches your eyes. In such an eventuality, you need to rinse your eyes thoroughly with water and then moisturize your eye balls with a soothing eye drop. If there is persistent blurred vision after such an incident, you should seek the help of a qualified ophthalmologist!
  • Use Sunscreen: One side effect of using apple cider vinegar is that it leaves your skin incredibly sensitive to the UV rays of the sun. Please make sure that you use sunscreen with a high SPF value before stepping out!

Apple cider vinegar will allow you to achieve an optimal pH balance on your skin (the perfect sweet spot between dry and oily skin) and is definitely more preferable over synthetic cosmetics. However the amount of oil that your sebaceous glands produces is dependent upon the genes you are endowed with and not your beauty regimen. If you keep applying this treatment then you will see a drastic decline in your pimple outbreaks.

A final word of caution; both tea tree oil or apple cider vinegar should have a visible impact on your acne within a period of two weeks. If you do not see any positive effects within this timeframe then there might be a different underlying condition that could be causing the affliction and you should seek the help of a qualified dermatologist.

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