by timrel

July 11, 2021

Tea tree oil has been used for decades as a natural remedy, largely favoured for its skincare and haircare benefits. But incorrectly storing this oil can reduce its effectiveness, or even cause it to turn rancid before its use-by date.

You may have read advice telling you to store your tea tree oil in the fridge to extend its shelf life. However, tea tree oil does not need to be stored in the refrigerator.

So, how should you store tea tree oil?

Tea tree oil is best stored in a cool, dark place, such as a cupboard or a pantry. Keep tea tree oil away from direct sunlight and high humidity. Many people store their tea tree oil in the bathroom, but this isn’t the best idea, as the heat and humidity from showering can damage the oil and reduce its lifespan. It’s also unwise to store your tea tree oil on a shelf near your window, because of sun damage.

Can tea tree oil go bad?

Like many essential oils, tea tree oil doesn’t really go “bad”, and it has a fairly long shelf life. But eventually, yes, tea tree oil can go bad. The typical shelf life of tea tree oil is 1 to 2 years, so if you’ve owned a bottle of the stuff for more years than you can remember, get rid of it. The exact lifespan of your tea tree oil depends on how well you store it.

It’s not always easy to spot when your tea tree oil is past its best. Some signs that your tea tree oil has gone bad include an unpleasant smell, a change in colour or cloudy appearance, or a change in consistency (i.e. the oil is thicker or thinner than when you first opened it). If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to throw out the oil.

Can you put tea tree oil directly on your skin?

oil and cotton pad

In its raw form, tea tree oil is considered possibly safe to apply directly to your skin. This means that it’s unlikely to cause irritation. However, it’s safer to dilute tea tree oil with a carrier oil, like almond or coconut oil, before applying it to your skin.

Mix every 1 drop of tea tree oil with at least 12 drops of carrier oil. Tea tree oil is incredibly potent, so don’t worry about reducing its effectiveness by doing this.

Keep in mind that the skin on your face is more sensitive than the skin on the rest of your body. You may want to do a patch test with a little diluted oil before you apply it fully on your face.

Can I leave tea tree oil on my face overnight?

person putting oil on face

Yes. Some tea tree treatments, such as acne treatments, work better if you leave them on overnight. This allows the oil to properly absorb in your skin. Just make sure you’ve diluted the oil with coconut or almond oil to prevent it from causing irritation. You should also wash your face thoroughly the following morning.

If you don’t want to keep tea tree oil on your face overnight, an alternative is to keep it on for a few hours while you’re at home. This will still give the oil plenty of time to do its work.

How long does tea tree oil last?

The exact lifespan of tea tree oil depends on its quality and the brand, as well as how well it has been stored. Typically, tea tree oil lasts for up to 2 years. After this time, it will begin to lose its natural properties, and it will eventually go rancid.

How long does tea tree oil last on skin?

There’s no set time for how long tea tree oil will last on skin – but you shouldn’t need to leave it on for more than 12 hours, anyway. Usually, it takes within 30 to 60 minutes for tea tree oil to absorb into your skin, but to reap the biggest benefits, you can leave it on overnight.

Is it safe to use expired tea tree oil?

tea tree oil

If you use tea tree oil that is just a couple of months out of date, it’s unlikely to have any effect on your skin. But you will probably find that the oil has little effect, as it will have lost some of its properties, and it may smell a little funny.

The good news is that expired tea tree oil doesn’t cause any serious dangers, and nor does it form mould, yeast, or dangerous bacteria. However, tea tree oil that is well past its expiry date may cause rashes or skin irritation. It’s not recommended to use expired tea tree oil for that reason.

Does unopened tea tree oil expire?

You might have bought a bottle of tea tree oil on vacation or received it as a Christmas gift, only to put it away in a drawer and forget all about it. Two years later, you’re wondering whether your unopened tea tree oil will have technically expired, since it hasn’t been exposed to oxygen.

Because tea tree oil has a long shelf life, you may find that the oil is still in a good condition when you eventually open it. Smell it and check its consistency before using it on your skin. If it seems a little off, it’s best not to use it.

About the author


I am passionate about health and wellbeing and have writing for over 10 years on the subject. I have a BSc Hons Degree and undertake vigorous research to help people improve their lives and live more a healthy and happy life.

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