Tea Tree Oil (also called ti-tree oil & melaleuca oil) is an aromatic oil labeled under the blanket term “essential oils”. It’s produced from the leaves of the tea tree plant (Melaleuca Alernifolia).
The main source of production and harvesting of the tea tree oil is the Northeast coast of Australia.
When it comes to beard oil ingredients, tea tree oil is one of the more popular ones, as multiple of the big brands are using this essential oil in their formulations, most often to provide aroma to their product.
In this article we are going to examine the effects of tea tree oil for beard care and whether it is actually a viable ingredient in beard oils and facial hair care products.
- Tea tree oil is antibacterial and commonly used in beard oils.
- Some alarming studies showed that tea tree oil caused estrogenic effects in boys.
- Findings were confirmed as compounds of tea tree oil were found antiandrogenic.
- Because of this, applying tea tree oil to androgen-driven facial hair is a bad idea.
Should You Be Using Tea Tree Oil in Beard?
Below, we share some evidence as to why we think tea tree essential oil is not necessarily good for beard use. This is not conclusive evidence, as essential oil research is costly and not very profitable, but the results give some guidance about whether its a good or bad idea to use tea tree essential oil in facial hair products.
Tea Tree Oil, Hormones, and Facial Hair Growth
Many beardsmen will quickly shrug tea tree oil off as “probably good for the beard” when they realize that many of the industry leaders are using it.
So it must be great, right?
Not so fast.
Even though many companies claim that tea tree oil is antimicrobial and antibacterial, there’s actually no clear evidence that it helps in any bacterial infections or fungal issues of the skin.
To top this off, tea tree oil is fairly toxic, with just a few milliliters requiring a trip to the hospital if taken orally. For animals like cats and dogs, 1-2 drops can prove lethal. So you really have to be careful with the stuff, especially if you have any pets.
Weirdly enough, even the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health states that tea tree oil should not be used in or around the mouth. So if facial hair isn’t around the mouth, then what is?
When it comes to applying tea tree oil for the beard, the first thing we should always look for is how it impacts the androgenic hormones that fuel your beard growth (DHT and testosterone).
Surprisingly many compounds these days are put into beard oils without understanding that they can suppress these two powerful hormones, and directly hurt your facial hair growth rate and health.
And this is where things get really bad for tea tree oil.
In a study by Henley et al. tea tree and lavender oils were found to be linked to multiple cases of prepubertal gynecomastia (that’s man boobs).
The study lists a couple of examples where young boys were brought to a doctor after they developed visible moobs for no apparent reason, and after careful examination of their lifestyle habits and product use, it was noted that the likely culprit was skin lotions and essential oils containing lavender and tea tree oils.
In all of the cases, when the tea tree and lavender-containing products were discontinued, the gynecomastia was also reduced by several centimeters.
To further test this hypothesis, the researchers studied cell cultures in Petri-dished (in-vitro) while applying lavender and tea tree oil to the cells and examining the effects.
They found out that both oils powerfully activated the estrogen receptors (estrogen being the female hormone) and downregulated the androgen receptors (the receptor sites for male hormones).
This is a worrying trend, since the androgen receptors in your facial hair area act as crucial “gate-keepers” allowing testosterone and DHT to enter the cell and DNA and through that, fuel the growth of facial hair.
So when a powerful androgen receptor antagonist like tea tree oil is used as a beard oil ingredient, one has to wonder why? After all, facial hair is androgenic-hair. Tea tree oil is clearly antiandrogenic.
So if tea tree oil is that bad for beard growth hormones, why do big companies still use it in beard care products?
The answer is likely that they don’t know. Someone running a beard oil company doesn’t necessarily have the understanding of hormones and endocrine disrupting compounds, and likely doesn’t even think about researching effects like these.
I don’t think there’s any credible reason to use tea tree oil for beard care products after seeing the evidence above.
The main reason for its use anyway is to provide aroma and possibly antibacterial effects, but there’s multiple better smelling essential oils out there and for antibacterial effects; jojoba oil is superior due to the fact that it contains high amounts of naturally occurring iodine.
Conclusion on Tea Tree Oil for Beard Care
No. It’s not recommended to use close to the mouth, and there’s some credible evidence showing that it upregulates the estrogen receptor and downregulates the androgen receptors. Both of which is horrible news for the androgenic-hair on your face.
The amount of aromatic oils like tea tree used in beard oil products is usually just a few drops per bottle. Even though these pure oils are extremely potent, a grown-man with high testosterone and DHT production and naturally thick beard will not see his beard suddenly vanishing after applying products with tea tree oil.
However, it’s clear that the endocrine disruptor compounds in tea tree oils hurt the hormones and receptors behind the human facial hair growth, so why do something that potentially back-pedals your beard growing potential?