You know how your parents, teachers or whoever told you about puberty mentioned that you might get acne? Well, my acne hasn’t gone away. I’ve tried everything for it. I’m just like those people in the Proactiv commercials – except that Proactiv didn’t even work for me!

Along the way, I’ve been prescribed acne medications (and started taking the pill) which helped for the most part. However, what’s been most helpful is my regimented skin care routine with the very select products that work for me. My routine looks something like this:  


  1. Wash face with acne-targeting face wash (I like Biore Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser)
  2. Apply toner (I use Clean & Clear Essentials Deep Cleaning Astringent). 
  3. Apply salicylic acid-based moisturizer (Benzac Acne Solutions Blemish Clearing Hydrater works well for me)
  4. Apply primer and then makeup


  1. Remove makeup
  2. Wash face with exfoliating face wash (my current favorite is Alba Botanica Acnedote Face & Body Scrub)
  3. Apply toner
  4. Apply prescription Adapalene acne gel

Even with these routines, I still sometimes get bad acne flair-ups. I could get more prescriptions, but who wants to spend that much more money on fancy creams and gels? Not me, that’s for sure. Plus, if I’m being honest, I don’t do my nightly routine as strictly as I should. My nights are a little more along the lines of:

  1. Eat dinner.
  2. Watch Netflix.
  3. Fall asleep while watching Netflix.

I figured my skin could probably use a reboot from the all the Netflix and forgetting to wash my face, which brings me to a few weeks ago when I saw an article that reminded me of the wonders of tea tree oil.

tea tree oil
Photo: The Health Site

I had tea tree oil sitting in my room from using it to heal my cartilage piercing but decided to try out the article’s simple suggestion of adding a few drops of tea tree oil to my moisturizer to battle my latest breakout. Here’s what happened.

tea tree oil

I started my little experiment on a Saturday. I added three drops of tea tree oil to my Salicylic acid-based moisturizer in the morning and three drops to my prescription acne gel at night. There were four or so pimples on one side of my face and a few bumps on my chin that I was hoping that the tea tree oil would cure.  

On Monday, the bumps were still noticeable to the touch but not as visually prominent. My skin felt smooth but was much oilier — especially around my nose.

On Wednesday, I reduced the amount of tea tree oil I was using from three drops to one. I already have oily/combination skin and the tea tree oil was doing me zero favors.

By Friday, I had more acne than when I started using the oil. I was done. Adding any oil to my skin hasn’t worked for me in the past, so I’m not sure why I thought it might work out well this time.

tea tree oil
Photo: Giphy

The pros

  • Tea tree oil will make your skin smooth like a baby’s bottom.
  • It has a strong aroma that I find familiar and enjoyable.
  • It’s relatively cheap and a small bottle lasts a long time.  

The cons

  • Oil is oil. Tea tree oil might not help your acne if you have an oily skin type.
  • It has a strong aroma — which is great for me, but isn’t so great if you don’t like the scent.

Overall, tea tree oil didn’t work for my acne. But everyone is different, and it could be an amazing solution for someone with dry skin. Plus, tea tree oil has many other fantastic household uses. Try it out and let me know if it works for you! 

tea tree oil
Photo: Shawnee Moon

Do you use tea tree oil in your daily life? Share what you use it for in the comments below!

READ NEXT: Here’s exactly what the pimples on every part of your face mean via @Teen Vogue