Best Tea Tree Oil 2019 (Authentic & GC/MS Tested)

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You want the “best” tea tree oil, right?

You heard it’s an amazing natural remedy. Your friends and neighbors swear by it.

Clinical studies have even confirmed it. 

Tea tree oil helps everything from acne to dandruff to nail fungus. (1)

Unfortunately, you might not see any of these health benefits.

But why not?

Are You Really Getting 100% Tea Tree Oil?

It’s possible that your bottle of tea tree oil was adulterated.

This means it was diluted with cheaper substances like eucalyptus oil, other essential oils, or chemical synthetics. (2)

According to the American Botanical Council (a non-profit organization), tea tree oil adulteration is fairly widespread. (2)

Out of 43 commercial samples, researchers found that almost half did not meet international standards under ISO-4730. (3)

Why are sellers doing this?

Stefan Gafner, chief science officer of American Botanical Council, explains:

"With prices ranging from $30 to $34 per kilogram and an increasing demand, tea tree oil is a prime target for economically motivated adulteration."

In other words, profit.

Real tea tree oil is expensive. 

Blending it with cheap fillers like eucalyptus oil cuts costs and boosts the bottom-line.

Sellers also slash prices to capture market share. This undercuts legitimate producers and drives them out of business. 

But My Product Was Highly Recommended...

What’s that, you say?

Was your product highly recommended by a “Top 10” review site?

Let me tell you the truth about these sites.

They are written by freelance writers who do the bare minimum amount of work. 

They copy and paste from each other and end up recommending the same products. 

Don’t believe me?

Just search for “best tea tree oil” and you’ll see the same product recommendations again and again. Copy and paste.

On the other hand, if you want to learn about authentic tea tree oils and how to find them, then this guide is for you.

Tea tree oil is indeed an excellent natural remedy for many common conditions. 

But you must make sure that you’re getting the real deal.

Do You Need a Ph.D. to Buy Tea Tree Oil?

Can you tell the difference between authentic and adulterated tea tree oil?

You’ll likely need a Ph.D. and some special lab equipment.

Fortunately, we can rely on the work of independent experts who specialize in testing essential oils.

These include industry advocates such as Dr. Pappas at Essential Oil University and Robert Tisserand at the Tisserand Institute.

Thanks to independent GC/MS tests, many companies have been caught red-handed selling adulterated oils. 

You can find test results by Dr. Pappas here and additional data in this compilated list.

But what in the world is a GC/MS test?

What's a GC/MS Test?

Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC/MS) is a scientific method that identifies the chemical composition of a substance.

Essentially, a GC/MS test verifies if an essential oil is the real deal or not. It can detect the presence of any adulterants or contaminants.

According to Dr. Pappas, GC/MS tests should be performed by an independent facility, be relatively recent, and show no signs of adulteration or contamination. (4)

Best Tea Tree Oil

Criteria for Tea Tree Oil

Now let’s define our criteria for identifying authentic tea tree oils:

  • Country of Origin: Australia
  • Latest GC/MS Report: Passed
  • Terpinen-4-ol (%): at least 35%

Country of Origin

Tea tree oil originates from Melaleuca alternifolia trees in Australia. The oil is extracted through steam distillation of the plant’s leaves and branches.

Australian growers must meet strict quality standards and are overseen by the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association. This makes Australia an ideal choice for your tea tree oil.

Latest GC/MS Report

The company must provide a recent GC/MS report on its website or upon request. 

The report must confirm that there are no adulterants or contaminants.

Terpinen-4-ol (%)

Terpinen-4-ol is the largest chemical compound found in tea tree oil. 

It accounts for most of the oil’s benefits including its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. (1)

According to international standards under ISO-4730, authentic tea tree oil must contain at least 35% terpinen-4-ol.

And The Winners Are...

1. Plant Therapy

Country of Origin: Australia

Latest GC/MS Report: Aug 2018 (Passed) 

Terpinen-4-ol (%): 41%

Company Background

Plant Therapy is a family-run business focused on providing high quality products, affordable prices, and exceptional customer experience. 

Started in 2011 by a husband and wife, the company now employs a dedicated team of aromatherapists to educate customers on essential oil safety.

Plant Therapy gives back to the community through its foundation, Planting Kindness.

Quality

The essential oils are first tested by Robert Tisserand, an expert in aromatherapy, and then sent to a third party lab for verification (PhytoChemia).

The latest GC/MS report for tea tree oil showed no signs of adulterants or contaminants. All of the key components were within the ISO-4730 range.

Price

At the time of writing, you can find a 1.0 oz bottle for under $10 on Amazon. 

This is one of the most affordable brands that does not compromise on quality.

Overall Review: 5/5

Plant Therapy sells an authentic tea tree oil at an affordable price.

2. Edens Garden

Country of Origin: Australia

Latest GC/MS Report: Aug 2018 (Passed) 

Terpinen-4-ol (%): 42%

Company Background

Edens Garden started in 2009 with the vision of making quality essential oils affordable. 

The company stands behind its E.D.E.N.S. pledge (effective, dedicated, educated, natural, and safe) and offers a loyalty program.

According to its website, Edens Garden was voted the #1 non-MLM (multi-level marketing) essential oil company. 

Quality

The essential oils are tested by Dr. Pappas, also a leading expert in aromatherapy, who runs an independent testing facility at Essential Oil University.

The latest GC/MS report for tea tree oil showed no signs of adulterants or contaminants. All of the key components were within the ISO-4730 range.

Price

At the time of writing, you can find a 1.0 oz bottle for under $20 on Amazon.

Overall Review: 5/5

Edens Garden sells an authentic tea tree oil and offers a loyalty program.

3. Rocky Mountain Oils

Country of Origin: Australia

Latest GC/MS Report: Jun 2017 (Passed)

Terpinen-4-ol (%): 41%

Company Background

Rocky Mountain Oils was founded in 2004 by a group of wellness enthusiasts. 

The company has a rigorous quality framework called S.A.A.F.E. (satisfaction guaranteed, authentic, analysis, free of adulterants, and effective)

In particular, Rocky Mountain Oils offers a hassle-free 90 day return policy, even for opened bottles, and pays return shipping.

Quality

The essential oils are first tested by a third party lab (PhytoChemia) and then inspected in-house for its physical properties.

The latest GC/MS report for tea tree oil showed no signs of adulterants or contaminants. All of the key components were within the ISO-4730 range.

The GC/MS report is a bit older but the company confirmed by email that it’s for their latest batch.

Price

At the time of writing, you can find a 0.5 oz bottle for around $20 on Amazon.

For reference, that’s almost 4x as expensive as Plant Therapy (under $10 per oz).

Overall Review: 4/5

Rocky Mountain Oils sells an authentic tea tree oil with an excellent return policy. 

Watch Out For These Brands...

You’ll find dozens of essential oil brands on Amazon. 

Some have thousands of positive reviews. All of them claim to be “100% Pure”.

I’m not saying that these companies don’t sell high quality oils. Many of them do.

But some of them have been caught in the past selling fraudulent oils. 

I wouldn’t buy them myself, so I won’t recommend them to you either.

Here are 5 popular brands to watch out for:

Benefits of Tea Tree Oil

Antiseptic

Most of tea tree oil’s benefits are due to its antiseptic properties (it kills many types of bacteria, viruses, and fungi). (1)

This makes it a great remedy for common issues like acne (bacteria overgrowth), athlete’s foot (fungal infection), and cold sores (virus transmission).

Anti-inflammatory

Tea tree oil is also anti-inflammatory. This means it can help with minor cuts and wounds, as well as inflammatory diseases like eczema.

Studies show that tea tree oil can reduce redness and swelling associated with histamine-induced inflammation and nickel-induced contact dermatitis. (5, 6)

15 Incredible Uses of Tea Tree Oil

The following is a condensed version of my full article on tea tree oil

1. Home Remedy for Acne

Tea tree oil is an excellent natural remedy for acne:

  • Antibacterial: it keeps P. Acnes bacteria under control, and 
  • Anti-inflammatory: it reduces redness and skin irritation

A study at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital found that 5% tea tree oil was just as effective as 5% benzoyl peroxide at reducing acne lesions. (7)

Another study noted that tea tree oil was 3.5x more effective than the placebo at decreasing acne lesions and almost 6x better at improving acne severity. (8)

2. Cures Athlete's Foot

Research shows that tea tree oil can also treat athlete’s foot (fungal infection).  

One study found that 10% tea tree oil reduced patient symptoms on par with 1% tolnaftate (antifungal cream). However, it was no better than placebo at eliminating the fungal infection. (9)

A follow-up study found that 25% and 50% tea tree oil cured 68% and 72% of patients with athlete’s foot, respectively. (10)

3. Removes Nail Fungus

Tea tree oil can also remove nail fungus.

Researchers at the University of Rochester reported that patients using 100% tea tree oil or 1% clotrimazole both showed roughly 60% partial or full resolution. (11)

Separately, researchers at the University of California discovered that 5% tea tree oil alone was not effective for nail fungus but a combined 5% tea tree oil and 2% butenafine chloride cured 80% of patients. (12)

4. Antibacterial Hand Wash

Tea tree oil is a great addition to hand washes as it kills common bacteria like E. Coli.

One study found that handwashes with 5% tea tree oil were more effective against bacteria and increased handwashing compliance. (13)

5. Improves Wound Healing

Studies also indicate that tea tree oil promotes wound healing.

In one study, patients treated with a tea tree oil infused dressing achieved slightly better results than a conventional dressing. (14)

In another study, patients with staph infections recovered faster using dressings coated with tea tree oil fumes. (15)

6. Eliminates Head Lice

Tea tree oil has been proposed for lice treatment given its antimicrobial properties. 

One study showed that 0.5% tea tree oil with 1% nerolidol eliminated both lice and eggs. (16)

7. Controls Dandruff

Tea tree oil may control dandruff by preventing yeast growth. 

In one study, researchers found that a 5% tea tree oil shampoo reduced dandruff by 41% and significantly improved itchiness and greasiness. (17)

8. Natural Deodorant

Tea tree oil has a strong medicinal smell that can mask unpleasant body odors. It kills the bacteria that releases bad odors when mixed with chemicals in your sweat. 

9. Relieves Eczema

Some believe tea tree oil can relieve eczema symptoms (dry, itchy skin).

One study found that tea tree oil reduced contact dermatitis (a form of eczema) by 40.5% compared to 23.5% for clobetasone butyrate and 17.4% for zinc oxide. (18)

10. Eradicates Scabies

Tea tree oil can also kill scabies, an infestation of tiny mites on the skin. 

A study at Flinders University noted that 5% tea tree oil was “highly effective in reducing mite survival times”. (19)

11. Prevents Cold Sores

Tea tree oil can prevent cold sores as well. 

Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), which is responsible for cold sores, is effectively inhibited by tea tree oil at a concentration of 0.003%. (20)

12. Treats Yeast Infections

Tea tree oil may help eliminate yeast infections.

Early studies suggested tea tree oil was toxic to Candida albicans. More recently, however, its effectiveness has been in question. (21)

13. Gets Rid of Ringworm

Ringworm is a fungal infection with a red circular shape that may feel itchy.

Since tea tree oil works on other fungal infections, it may also work on ringworm. (911

14. Alleviates Congestion

For hundreds of years, Australian Aborigines used tea tree leaves for coughs and colds. 

The next time you feel sick, add a few drops of tea tree oil to a hot bath to relieve congestion and cold symptoms. 

15. Fights MRSA Infections

Antibiotic-resistant super bugs like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) are a growing concern. 

Researchers at the University of Western Australia found that 21% of patients using tea tree oil products were cured of MRSA compared to 23% for those using conventional products. (22)

Aromatherapy Bottle

Safety of Tea Tree Oil

All essential oils are highly potent and may cause severe damage if used incorrectly.

Avoid using the oil neat (undiluted) as this may cause skin irritation and sensitivity.

Make sure to discard opened bottles after 12 months.

How to Use Tea Tree Oil

You almost always want to dilute tea tree oil first to avoid skin irritation. Carrier oils such as jojoba oil are a good choice. Aloe vera and honey are also recommended for additional anti-inflammatory benefits.

Before trying any DIY recipes, do a patch test first to check if your skin reacts to tea tree oil. Remember, just because it’s “natural” doesn’t mean it can’t damage your skin or body.

References

(1) Carson, C. F., Hammer, K. A., & Riley, T. V. (2006). Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: A Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties. Clinical Microbiology Reviews.

(2) Botanical Adulterants Program Publishes Bulletin on Tea Tree Oil Adulteration. (2017). http://cms.herbalgram.org/press/2017/BotanicalAdulterantsProgramPublishesBulletinonTeaTreeOilAdulteration.html

(3) Bejar, E. (2017). Adulteration of Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia and M. linariifolia). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319535839_Adulteration_of_Tea_Tree_Oil_Melaleuca_alternifolia_and_M_linariifolia

(4) Pappas, R. (2017). How to Identify Fraudulent or Meaningless Essential Oil Analysis Reports. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-identify-fraudulent-meaningless-essential-oil-pappas-ph-d-

(5) Koh, K. J., A. L. Pearce, G. Marshman, J. J. Finlay-Jones, and P. H. Hart (2002). Tea tree oil reduces histamine-induced skin inflammation. British Journal of Dermatology.

(6) Pearce, A., J. J. Finlay-Jones, and P. H. Hart (2005). Reduction of nickel-induced contact hypersensitivity reactions by topical tea tree oil in humans. Inflammation Research.

(7) Bassett, I. B., D. L. Pannowitz, and R. S. Barnetson (1990). A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoyl peroxide in the treatment of acne. Medical Journal of Australia.

(8) Jooya, A., Siadat, A., Iraji, F., & Enshaieh, S. (2007). The efficacy of 5% topical tea tree oil gel in mild to moderate acne vulgaris: A randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology.

(9) Tong, M. M., P. M. Altman, and R. S. Barnetson (1992). Tea tree oil in the treatment of tinea pedis. Australasian Journal of Dermatology.

(10) Satchell, A. C., A. Saurajen, C. Bell, and R. S. Barnetson (2002). Treatment of interdigital tinea pedis with 25% and 50% tea tree oil solution: a randomized, placebo controlled, blinded study. Australasian Journal of Dermatology.

(11) Buck, D. S., D. M. Nidorf, and J. G. Addino (1994). Comparison of two topical preparations for the treatment of onychomycosis: Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil and clotrimazole. Journal of Family Practice.

(12) Syed, T. A., Z. A. Qureshi, S. M. Ali, S. Ahmad, and S. A. Ahmad (1999). Treatment of toenail onychomycosis with 2% butenafine and 5% Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil in cream. Tropical Medicine and International Health.

(13) Messager, S., Hammer, K., Carson, C., & Riley, T. (2005). Effectiveness of hand-cleansing formulations containing tea tree oil assessed ex vivo on human skin and in vivo with volunteers using European standard EN 1499. Journal of Hospital Infection.

(14) Tea Tree / Hydrogel Dressings Used in Wound Care (Rep.). (2005). Retrieved January 27, 2019, from Australian Government Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation website: https://www.agrifutures.com.au/wp-content/uploads/publications/05-114.pdf

(15) Chin, K. B., & Cordell, B. (2013). The Effect of Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) on Wound Healing Using a Dressing Model. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

(16) Campli, E. D., Bartolomeo, S. D., & Pizzi, P. D. (2012). Activity of tea tree oil and nerolidol alone or in combination against Pediculus capitis (head lice) and its eggs. Parasitology Research.

(17) Satchell, A. C., Saurajen, A., Bell, C., & Barnetson, R. S. (2002). Treatment of dandruff with 5% tea tree oil shampoo. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

(18) Wallengren, J. (2011). Tea tree oil attenuates experimental contact dermatitis. Archives of Dermatological Research.

(19) Walton, S.f., Mckinnon, M., Pizzutto, S. (2004). Acaricidal activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil: in vitro sensitivity of sarcoptes scabiei var hominis to terpinen-4-ol. Archives of Dermatology.

(20) Schnitzler, P., K. Schön, and J. Reichling (2001). Antiviral activity of Australian tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil against herpes simplex virus in cell culture. Pharmazie.

(21) Can You Use Tea Tree Oil for a Yeast Infection? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/tea-tree-oil-for-yeast-infection

(22) The Effectiveness and Safety of Australian Tea Tree Oil (Rep.). (2007). Retrieved from  https://www.agrifutures.com.au/wp-content/uploads/publications/07-143.pdf

Best Tea Tree Oil 2019 (Authentic & GC/MS Tested)

Just search for "best tea tree oil" and you'll see the same product recommendations again and again. Copy and paste.

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Tom Qiao

I solve skin mysteries using simple science to provide you the best skincare advice!

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