Why Homemade Tea Tree Oil Recipe May Not Be Working

Tea tree oil has become known as one of the leading methods of managing eye area concerns, including dry eye and blepharitis. However, recent research has shown that pure tea tree oil is not the most effective treatment for these conditions. This, combined with the fact that tea tree oil has long been known to have irritating qualities to the eyes and skin, could be keeping you from seeing the relief you’re looking for by using homemade tea tree oil recipes alone. Here’s what you need to know.

Homemade Recipes Can Be Tricky

Homemade Recipes Can Be Tricky

If you’re planning to make your own tea tree oil eyewash, there are a few very important factors to consider first. Because tea tree oil can be irritating to the eyes and skin, you should never use pure undiluted tea tree oil in or near your eyes. If it accidentally gets in your eyes, tea tree oil will burn and sting and can actually increase your symptoms of dry eye, blepharitis or other similar eye conditions. 

Another consideration is that not everyone will respond to tea tree oil in the same way, so even diluting the tea tree oil in your homemade eye wash could result in irritation, increased eye sensitivity and other unwanted effects.

Side Effects of Pure Tea Tree Oil

Side Effects of Pure Tea Tree Oil

Although tea tree oil has strong antibacterial properties and has traditionally been used to treat various types of infection on the skin, this ingredient is also a known irritant. Thus, some of the most common side effects of using pure tea tree oil on the skin or eye are:

  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • Burning
  • Stinging 
  • Redness
  • Temporary blurring of vision
  • Excessive watering 

Also, tea tree oil should never be taken by mouth because orally ingested TTO can be toxic and may result in stomach problems, decreased white blood cell count and impaired function of the nervous system [1]. 

4-Terpineol Is More Effective Than TTO

4-Terpineol Is More Effective Than TTO

There is one active compound, called 4-Terpineol, found in tea tree oil that has been shown to be the most effective ingredient for eliminating demodex mites. This particular type of eyelash and skin mite is linked with eye and skin conditions like blepharitis, dry eye and rosacea. Contrary to previous thought, pure tea tree oil is not as effective at killing these microscopic mites [2]. The research verifying the greater effectiveness of 4-Terpineol is published in Translational Vision Science and Technology.

The compound 4-Terpineol has numerous benefits over pure TTO for managing eye conditions. First, because it is more effective than TTO at killing demodex, a lower concentration of this ingredient can be used in eye cleansing products. This results in a gentler product and fewer incidents of irritation as compared to application of pure TTO.

Secondly, other active compounds found in tea tree oil are responsible for many of the adverse side effects resulting from using TTO as a whole. When 4-Terpineol is isolated from these antagonistic compounds, the resulting product can be much gentler on the delicate eye area and surrounding skin [2].

Currently, Cliradex is the main commercially available eyelid cleanser that isolates 4-Terpineol from pure tea tree oil, making it an effective, yet gentle eye area cleanser. Because it is non-irritating, Cliradex works best as a daily eye area cleanser to improve your overall eye hygiene, relieve uncomfortable symptoms of dry eye and help to prevent signs of eye infection down the road. 

The Bottom Line

Whether you’re struggling with a chronic condition such as blepharitis, dry eye or rosacea or are simply looking for ways to improve your everyday eye hygiene, trying a homemade tea tree oil recipe may not be your best bet. Instead, rely on a gentle eye area cleanser like Cliradex that contains advanced 4-Terpineol to minimize eye irritation and other adverse side effects that can come along with pure tea tree oil.