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What is a Tea Tree Conditioner?

T. Briseno
T. Briseno

Tea tree conditioner is a hair treatment product that uses the oil from tea tree leaves in a moisturizing base. Conditioners generally are used to make hair soft and easier to comb, and tea tree versions may have added benefits in treating the scalp. Melaleuca, or tea tree, oil may have medicinal properties for calming inflammation of the scalp and relieving itching or flaking of the skin. It also can be effective in preventing tangles in longer hair and improving dry strands.

With origins in Australia, the tea tree and its leaf oils have long been considered useful in cosmetics and medicine. Though its usage and effectiveness have not been monitored or proven by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), tea tree oil has become more readily available in pharmacies and health food stores. There have been reports of adverse reactions to using high concentrations of the oil, though products for purchase typically contain very diluted amounts. Proponents of organic products have long sold and used tea tree products internationally.

A bottle of tea tree conditioner.
A bottle of tea tree conditioner.

Hair conditioners generally contain moisturizers and oils and include fragrances. Tea tree conditioner may be scented with additional natural or synthetic perfumes, or it may carry the aroma of tea tree oil, which is similar to strong menthol. Depending on the concentration of tea tree oil, the conditioner may be marketed for general hair care or for specialized treatment of scalp conditions such as psoriasis or dandruff. Oil and moisture are used to treat itchy skin, and tea tree oils can have the added benefit of producing a tingling or cooling fresh sensation when applied.

Tea tree conditioner may be effective in treating dandruff.
Tea tree conditioner may be effective in treating dandruff.

Some types of conditioning oils can be rubbed into dry hair and left to seep in before rinsing. Tea tree conditioner is often applied to wet hair and massaged through the scalp and hair itself. Instructions for use can include a period of leaving the conditioner to soak on the head before rinsing, which may allow time for improved saturation by the hair follicles. Additional time on the hair may also increase the staying power or throw of the conditioner’s scent.

Tea tree oil comes from a native Australian tree.
Tea tree oil comes from a native Australian tree.

Using conditioner to improve the look and feel of the hair is a part of daily grooming for many individuals, and finding products suited to specific hair needs can include trial and error. Tea tree conditioner may be one effective option for treating scalp discomfort and improving manageability of hair. Organic or synthetic brands can be found, and tea tree oil itself can be added to regular conditioners to create homemade versions.

Discussion Comments


@ZipLine-- If you have a fungal infection or issues like dandruff, itching and excessive oil, you should definitely use tea tree conditioner.

Regular conditioners often contain oils which will actually feed the fungi on the scalp. Tea tree conditioner has moisturizing properties but it's also an anti-fungal, so it cleans and moisturizes at the same time.

This is the only type of conditioner that doesn't aggravate my itchy, flay scalp.


@ZipLine-- I've used tea tree shampoo and tea tree conditioner to treat head lice before and it worked. I've never used them separately though, so I'm not sure if one is more effective. I think they are meant to be used together, so if you can get both, you should.

Tea tree shampoo is mainly used to treat scalp conditions and the conditioner is meant to be supportive of the shampoo. If you use tea tree shampoo and a regular conditioner after that, the shampoo might lose some of its effectiveness.

You could also make a hair and scalp mask with a few drops of tea tree oil and more of a carrier oil like coconut. You can leave this on your hair for a while, rinse and finish up with tea tree conditioner.

Which is more effective for a scalp fungal infection -- tea tree shampoo or tea tree conditioner?
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    • A bottle of tea tree conditioner.
      By: Irina Brinza
      A bottle of tea tree conditioner.
    • Tea tree conditioner may be effective in treating dandruff.
      By: Jasmin Merdan
      Tea tree conditioner may be effective in treating dandruff.
    • Tea tree oil comes from a native Australian tree.
      By: Lucie Říhová
      Tea tree oil comes from a native Australian tree.