Why Martial Artists Want Tea Tree Oil in Their Soap: Skin Benefits and Uses - Spar Soap | Natural Soap for Combat Athletes

Why Martial Artists Want Tea Tree Oil in Their Soap: Skin Benefits and Uses

As martial artists and soap aficionados, we've suffered our fair share of nasty skin infections. We know a thing or two about mat-borne microbes. That’s why we’re excited to share about the benefits one of our “secret weapon” essential oils: tea tree oil. 

It may be less glamorous than other beloved oils. It may not be friendly and familiar like lavender, or icy hot like peppermint. But tea tree oil is a favorite of natural medicine enthusiasts around the world—likely because of its safety, low price tag, and science-backed benefits for our skin and hair. 

In this blog post, we’ll spill the tea (sorry) on tea tree oil. You’ll learn all about its:

  • Natural antimicrobial properties.
  • Effectiveness in treating acne.
  • Ability to soothe skin irritation.

We’ll also show you some ways to use tea tree oil in your skincare routine as well as how to stay safe while using it.

What is Tea Tree Oil?

Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia. It’s a tree native to the swampy southeast coast of Australia. And no, it’s not the same tree that gives us black or green tea! 

Indigenous Australians have used this plant as a traditional medicine for centuries. To access the benefits of tea tree, they would:

  • Soak the leaves in water overnight.
  • Rub the crushed leaves on the skin.
  • Inhale fumes from the crushed leaves. 

Today, we steam tea tree leaves to create its essential oil. 

Compounds in tea tree oil, including terpinen-4-ol, have been shown to kill certain bacteria, viruses, and fungi. They can also soothe skin irritations and inflammation.

tea tree flower and leaves

First, Some Tea Tree Oil Precautions

Tea tree oil can promote healthy skin, but it may also cause irritation for some. Before we jump in to the benefits of tea tree oil, let’s go over a few precautions:

  1. Do a patch test first. Before going all in with tea tree oil, apply a small amount to the inside of your elbow. Don’t continue using it if you notice itchiness, redness, swelling, or burning. 
  2. NEVER swallow tea tree oil! It can cause serious symptoms when taken internally. If you swallow any, call poison control or go to the emergency room.
  3. It’s not recommended to apply tea tree oil directly to skin. Instead, dilute the oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, almond oil, or jojoba oil. Use 12 drops of carrier oil for every 1-2 drops of tea tree oil.
  4. Don’t use tea tree oil around the eyes. This can cause redness and irritation.

Natural Antimicrobial Properties

The aboriginal people of Australia have long used tea tree leaves as a remedy for bruises, insect bites, and skin infections. They knew it was effective, and modern research is starting to show us why. Its active ingredients, terpinen-4-ol and 1,8-cineole, give it antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.1

Tea tree oil can inhibit the growth of the bacteria that cause infections like:

  • urinary tract infections.
  • respiratory illness and pneumonia.
  • sinus infections.
  • strep throat.
  • bloodstream infections.
  • impetigo.

As an antifungal, it may also fight or prevent fungal infections like ringworm, jock itch, toenail fungus, and candida.2 If you train martial arts, we know these words strike fear in your heart.

In a lab, tea tree oil’s active ingredient terpinen-4-ol has been effective against the viruses that cause cold sores and influenza.3

Interestingly, bacteria do not build up the same level of resistance to tea tree oil as they do to common antiseptics.1 This is promising in a world where antibiotic resistance is a serious issue.

Because of its antibacterial and antifungal benefits, tea tree oil is an excellent remedy for skin infections. When it fights off microorganisms, it also creates a healthier environment for your skin. This can reduce inflammation and prevent further infection.

Researchers aren’t sure exactly why, but tea tree oil doesn’t seem to clear up ringworm as effectively as over-the-counter creams.4 So don’t rely on it alone to treat active infections. But it may be useful in preventing those infections from taking hold in the first place!

How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Antimicrobial Purposes:

  1. Mix 5 drops of tea tree oil with 1 teaspoon of coconut or jojoba oil. 
  2. Apply to affected areas of the skin after getting out of the shower.
  3. For wounds: First clean the cut with hydrogen peroxide. Then apply the tea tree oil mixture to the area.
  4. For prevention: Use a gentle, natural soap that contains tea tree oil—like Spar Soap! Both our Platinum Bar and our Original Bar include tea tree oil as part of a powerful, antifungal combination of essential oils. 

bacteria, viruses, and fungus in petri dishes

Acne Treatment:

Perhaps the most popular benefit of tea tree oil is its ability to tame acne. Acne is a common skin condition that happens when hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. It shows up as whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples. 

Acne is not life-threatening, but it can be unsightly and frustrating! And unfortunately, you may find yourself struggling with it if you spend a lot of time sweating on the mats during martial arts.

Experts believe that bacterial growth in the pore may be one reason it gets clogged. Tea tree oil may be an effective natural solution.5 Its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties work together to fight acne-causing bacteria and reduce the red, swollen lesions. 

In a 2017 pilot study, participants applied tea tree oil to their faces twice daily for 12 weeks. Researchers found that acne lesions significantly improved with the tea tree oil treatment. Some people experienced mild peeling and dryness, which resolved on its own.6

Tea tree oil may also boost the effects of common acne treatments. One study found that a combination of tea tree oil and adapalene gel reduced acne lesions much better than adapalene gel alone.7

Although pharmaceutical acne treatments can be effective, they can be harsh on some people’s skin. By incorporating tea tree oil into your skincare routine, you can promote clearer, smoother, blemish-free skin.

How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Acne Treatment:

  1. Mix 3-4 drops of lavender oil with ½ teaspoon of coconut or jojoba oil. 
  2. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser and pat it dry.
  3. Gently apply the tea tree oil mixer by dabbing it on your acne spots with a cotton ball.
  4. Allow to dry. Then apply your usual moisturizer.
  5. Repeat morning and night.
acne blemish on a face

Soothes Wounds and Skin Irritations

As if tea tree oil didn’t have enough skin benefits already, it can also soothe dry skin by reducing itching and irritation. It may be able to offer relief from wounds and skin conditions like eczema, and dandruff. 

One study8 found it to be more effective than conventional treatments (zinc oxide and clobetasone butyrate) creams in treating eczema. 

Another study9 found that a 5% tea tree oil shampoo was more effective than a placebo at relieving dandruff.

Researchers also found that tea tree oil can reduce histamine‐induced skin inflammation.10

There is some evidence that tea tree oil can help heal and reduce the size of wounds.11 Because of its antibacterial properties, it may also be able to treat infected chronic wounds.12 

How to Use Tea Tree Oil to Soothe Skin:

  1. Mix 5 drops of tea tree oil with 1 teaspoon of coconut or jojoba oil. Optional: Add 5 drops of lavender as well.
  2. Apply to affected areas of the skin after getting out of the shower.


Tea tree oil is made by steaming the leaves of the Australian Melaleuca alternifolia plant. It has been used as medicine for centuries by the Aboriginal people of Australia. 

Tea tree oil is packed with skin benefits:

  • It has natural antimicrobial properties
  • It may improve acne by fighting bacteria and reducing inflammation in the skin. 
  • It can also soothe wounds and skin irritations like eczema and dandruff. 

It is promising as both a treatment and a prevention for many common skin ailments.

You can tap into the power of tea tree oil every time you use one of our natural antifungal soap bars! Order a Platinum Bar today to get the skin benefits of tea tree oil for yourself. 


  1. Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties
  2. In vitro activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil against dermatophytes and other filamentous fungi
  3. Screening for Antiviral Activities of Isolated Compounds from Essential Oils
  4. Tea tree oil in the treatment of tinea pedis
  5. Complementary therapies for acne vulgaris 
  6. Tea tree oil gel for mild to moderate acne; a 12 week uncontrolled, open-label phase II pilot study
  7. A topical gel of tea tree oil nanoemulsion containing adapalene versus adapalene marketed gel in patients with acne vulgaris: a randomized clinical trial
  8. Tea tree oil attenuates experimental contact dermatitis 
  9. Treatment of dandruff with 5% tea tree oil shampoo
  10. Tea tree oil reduces histamine‐induced skin inflammation
  11. Uncontrolled, open-label, pilot study of tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil solution in the decolonisation of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus positive wounds and its influence on wound healing
  12. Staphylococcus aureus and wounds: a review of tea tree oil as a promising antimicrobial