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Tea Tree Oil Face Wash Can Benefit Acne-Prone Skin: Lather Up With 10 Of Our Favorites

Last updated on September 28, 2022
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If you have oily or acne-prone skin, you likely know antibacterial, anti-inflammatory ingredients are your friends. Manuka honey or aloe vera? Yes, please. To keep breakouts at bay (especially those inflamed pustules), the key is to keep acne-causing bacteria in check. So let's add another one to your radar: Ever looked into tea tree oil?

Tea tree oil and acne.

Tea tree has both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory1 properties, making it an impressive and wildly popular treatment for blemishes. In fact, one study found that a 5% tea tree oil gel blend was an effective treatment for mild to moderate acne2. It's able to kill that acne-causing bacteria, all while offering soothing, calming properties for the skin.

But here's the skinny on tea tree: It's an essential oil, which you should always, always dilute before applying to the skin, which is why tea tree oil face washes have seen a boom in popularity; these typically come buffered with carriers and other hydrating ingredients to balance out the purifying properties. You'll still want to patch test before opting for a full-on cleanse, though, as essential oils can cause irritation on sensitive skin.

They're certainly not for everybody, but for some (mainly those with congested pores) tea tree cleansers are hailed as magic. Lather up with 10 of our favorites. 

How we picked

Type

We included a variety of washes here—bar soaps, foam cleansers, gel cleansers, etc.—to meet everyone’s unique skin care routines.  

Ingredients

Of course, tea tree oil is the main workhorse here, but we looked for other potent actives to exfoliate the skin, as well as antioxidant-rich staples for a calming experience. 

Testing & testimonials

Every cleanser on this list comes recommended by experts, real users, or editors to give you a thorough, honest review. 

Price

We chose cleansers with a wide range of price points, including both drugstore options and a few splurge-worthy picks. 

mbg's picks for the best tea tree oil face washes of 2022

Best smoothing: 100% Pure Tea Tree & Willow Clarifying Cleanser

Pros

  • Gentle yet effective

Cons

  • Smaller bottle
Type: Gel
Size: 3.4 oz
Considerations: VeganCruelty-free

If skin texture is your main gripe, perhaps reach for this clarifying option to gently exfoliate the skin smooth. It's also pumped with anti-inflammatory ingredients, like neem oil, algae, and turmeric, as well as glycerin to hydrate. It'll leave your skin feeling refreshed without any of that squeaky clean tightness. 

Best for active breakouts: Tula Keep It Clear Acne Foam Cleanser

Pros

  • Blemish-fighting actives

Cons

  • Can be drying
Type: Foam
Size: 6.3 oz
Considerations: Cruelty-free

With 2% salicylic acid, tea tree oil, and azelaic acid, this foamy cleanser nixes active pimples and prevents new breakouts from forming in the first place. Plus, there’s antioxidant-rich ginger and licorice root extract to simultaneously calm and brighten the skin. 

Best for oily skin: Dermalogica Acne Clearing Skin Wash

Pros

  • Eliminates excess oil without stripping skin

Cons

  • Not the best for super sensitive skin
Type: Foam
Size: 8.4 oz
Considerations: Cruelty-free

Excess oil, begone. This lightweight gel works wonders to keep shine at bay without sacrificing a healthy glow. Glycerin is also one of the very first ingredients, so you know it won't strip your skin dry. 

Best for the morning : OSEA Ocean Cleansing Mudd

Pros

  • Rejuvenates & cools the skin

Cons

  • Pricey
Type: Clay
Size: 5 oz
Considerations: VeganCruelty-free

A mud facial in a bottle, this cleanser is ultra-refreshing on the skin. Due to the clarifying nature of the wash, it's great for those with congested pores looking to purify the skin. The peppermint oil also provides an immediate cooling sensation upon application (perfect on a sweltering summer day).

Best Soothing : Dr. Jart+ Teatreement Cleansing Foam

Pros

  • Great for easily irritated skin

Cons

  • Some reviewers say it works up a minimal lather
Type: Foam
Size: 4.05 oz

On the hunt for an exfoliating cleanser? Look no further: This number is infused with salicylic acid in order to unclog pores and keep breakouts at bay, and the tea tree involved helps balance the skin's pH. But before you write it off in fear of being too exfoliating, know that the cleanser also has green tea, aloe, and chamomile extract to soothe any inflammation.

Best scent: The Body Shop Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash

Pros

  • Mattifies excess shine

Cons

  • Not the best for sensitive skin
Type: Foam
Size: 8.4 oz
Considerations: Cruelty-free

This face wash is reminiscent of a spa day: Menthol, mint, and eucalyptus offer cooling and refreshing aromatherapy, while salicylic acid does the work to penetrate pores and clear oil and bacteria. 

Best scrub: Buttah Skin Tea Tree Exfoliating Scrub

Pros

  • Leaves an immediate glow

Cons

  • Smaller bottle
Type: Scrub
Size: 3.4 oz
Considerations: VeganCruelty-free

Fancy a physical exfoliator? You can’t go wrong with this tea tree-infused scrub, which includes fine, gentle granules and kaolin clay to absorb dirt and excess oil from your pores. Along with cooling tea tree and hydrating aloe, your skin will feel fresh and rejuvenated. 

Best bar soap: Meow Meow Tweet Tea Tree Charcoal Facial Bar

Pros

  • Environmentally-friendly

Cons

  • Bar soaps can be difficult to store
Type: Bar
Size: 4.5 oz
Considerations: VeganCruelty-free

If you're partial to washing your face with bar soap, this gentle, vegan option is a perfect addition to your collection. Activated charcoal effectively draws out impurities from the skin, while cocoa butter and castor seed oil hydrate and soothe. In addition to the tea tree, it also contains eucalyptus oil for an antifungal and anti-inflammatory supercharge (and a spa-like bathroom experience). 

Best for dry skin: Trader Joe's Spa Face Wash with Tea Tree Oil

Pros

  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Not the best for oily skin
Type: Foam
Size: 8.5 oz
Considerations: VeganCruelty-free

If you've never done your beauty browsing at TJ's, consider their star tea tree oil wash a sign you should start. It works up such a nice lather, without being too stripping of the skin. The only caveat to note is this option does include coconut oil as one of its main ingredients, which might not fare too well for some acne-prone individuals.

Best natural: Anne's Apothecary Black Honey Facial cleanser

Pros

  • Can use as a cleanser or leave-on mask

Cons

  • Not vegan
Type: Oil
Size: 2.5 oz
Considerations: Cruelty-free

This all-natural cleanser rocks beloved natural ingredients: raw honey, activated charcoal, and tea tree oil. Either use it as a rinse-off cleanser or as a purifying mask—simply slather on your skin for 15 minutes before washing off and following with your favorite moisturizer. 

FAQ

Can you use a tea tree face wash every day?

There isn’t one straight answer to give, as everyone’s skin is different; but generally, cleansers do include a lower concentration of actives, so you may be able to tolerate a daily tea tree wash. Just know that many tea tree oil cleansers feature other clarifying or exfoliating actives, so you’ll want to make sure other steps in your routine stay gentle and hydrating (over-exfoliation is not fun). And as always, listen to your own skin: If you notice any irritation or dryness, you may want to alternate with a nourishing cream cleanser. 

Are tea tree face washes good for oily skin?

Totally! Tea tree oil is anti-inflammatory, but it also has some clarifying properties. (That’s why you can find it in many clarifying shampoos.) The essential oil is incredibly effective at dissolving and removing oil and debris, in addition to balancing acne-prone skin.  

mbg review process.

At mbg, high standards are earned—and there are no shortcuts. Our beauty editors stay up to date on the latest ingredient research and innovation. It's a dynamic, continuously evolving space, and it's important we look into the science so we can make informed choices about which formulas earn our stamp of approval (figuratively speaking).

Our high standards also come from testing products—many, many products. Our editors and writers rigorously test and research the products featured in our roundups to offer you the best, most informed recommendations. When we write reviews, you can trust we spend quality time with the formulas: We don't simply rave about products we've slathered on the back of our hand. We endorse products we've tried and loved. 

Learn more about our testing process and clean beauty standards here

The takeaway. 

Tea tree oil is a skin care mainstay for its ability to clarify and calm your complexion. With anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties, it’s no wonder you can find it in a load of beauty staples. On that note, it’s a hero ingredient for hair care, too—check out these tea tree oil shampoos for a shiny, healthy mane.

Want to turn your passion for wellbeing into a fulfilling career? Become a Certified Health Coach! Learn more here.

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Meet The Experts

Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and wellness. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.