Pros: Claims it's organic
Cons: Bottled in clear glass, does not list Cineole and Terpinen levels
I was introduced to Melaleuca Alternifolia, or Tea Tree Oil, about eight years ago. I happened to use an ointment that contained Tea Tree Oil, and not only did it relieve my pain, it also caused my sore to heal much more quickly.
Since that time, I have purchased Tea Tree Oil numerous times, in different forms and from different companies. I like the Desert Essence brand, and use several of their personal care items, one of which is their Organic Tea Tree Oil.
This oil comes in a clear glass .5 ounce jar. The label is quite plain, it simply says DESERT ESSENCE Organic Tea Tree Oil.
It's back label reads Desert Essence Organic Tea Tree Oil is an inherently antiseptic essential oil organically grown in Australia, free of herbicides, pesticides or chemicals.
It is an essential oil, and contains no other trace ingredients. It is 100% Pure Certified Organic Australian Tea Tree Oil (Melaleuca Alternfolia).
History of Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree Oil was first introduced to Western culture when Captain James Cook and botanist Joseph Banks sailed to Australia in the late 18th century. The Aborigines made poultices from the leave of the Melaleuca Alternifolica tree, and used them to heal a variety of external skin problems.
Tea Tree Oil is considered to be one of the most natural antiseptics and fungicides. It was heavily used on troops during World War II and was dubbed a "Medicine Chest in a Bottle".
After the introduction of penicillin, the use of Tea Tree Oil declined, but has been revived in recent years.
Meeting Basic Requirements
Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil must meet three requirements:
* It must contain 48 compounds as they come from the tree
* The terpinene-4-ol content must equal at least 30%
* The Cineile content must not exceed 15%
Comparing Desert Essence to Other Brands
Desert Essence is the first brand of Tea Tree Oil that is not packaged in a dark brown bottle. A friend told me that this essential oil should always be packaged in a dark colored bottle. I looked into this, and I found a fair amount of information defending this claim.
The Australian Tea Tree Industry Association (ATTIA) have developed standards to protect the quality and safety of this oil. They warn that 100% tea tree oil should be stored, transported, and sold only in dark glass bottles.
According to ATTIA, any tea tree oil packaged in a clear glass or plastic bottle that holds more than 15ml or one half ounce of oil is not 100% pure tea tree oil. For the record, I have also purchased Desert Essence 100% Pure Tea Tree Oil (not organic) in 1 ounce bottles.
The ATTIA goes on to say Pure tea tree oil should only be stored in clear glass containers for limited periods of time, as over-exposure to light will degrade its quality.
I actually have three bottles of Tea Tree Oil in my medicine cabinets (2 downstairs and 1 upstairs). Both bottles are dark except for the Desert Essence brand. One of the dark bottles was purchased from my local family owned pharmacy, the brand is Herbal Harvest .5 ounces, and the other was purchased from the Melaleuca Company, 1 ounce.
When I open all three bottles, the two dark colored bottles have a much stronger terpentine like smell than the Desert Essence which is packaged in the clear glass bottle.
Some companies have gone even further than the minimum standards set by the ATTIA. Melaleuca's Tea Tree Oil contains no less than 40% Terpinene-4-ol and no more than 7% Cineole. Herbal Harvest states that their oil is a superior grade, and is composed of less than 5% Cineole and over 35% Terpinene-4-ol, which qualifies it as a pharmaceutical grade oil.
The Terpinen-4-ol is the main anti-microbial component, while the Cineole gives the oil it's unique penetrating properties. Cineole can also be irritating and drying to sensitive skin, so the lower levels are preferable. Desert Essence also fails to tell what the percentages of these two components are in their Tea Tree Oil.
The Desert Essence oil retails for around $9.00, and I picked up my larger 1 ounce bottle of Herbal Harvest for not much more. The Herbal Harvest oil also has an expiration date on it, which the Desert Essence fails to do.
I use Tea Tree Oil in many different ways. It has been used successfully in our home for cuts, scrapes, bruises, acne, burns, ringworm (one of my daycare children), chest congestion (adding to water in a vaporizer), cold sores and fever blisters. Just sniffing this oil will open your sinus cavities, (much like a menthol product like Vicks Vaporub).
I am prone to those nasty fever blisters on my lips from time to time, and I have had much better results using my tea tree oil from my dark bottles than from my clear Desert Essence bottle. I believe what I have read about the dark glass bottles helping to keep the oil from degradation. I will never buy Tea Tree Oil in a clear glass bottle again, and do not recommend Desert Essence for this reason.