Consumer exposure to certain ingredients of cosmetic products: The case for tea tree oil

Food Chem Toxicol. 2017 Oct;108(Pt A):326-338. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2017.08.012. Epub 2017 Aug 14.


Reliable exposure data are essential to evaluate the safety of ingredients in cosmetics. The study reported here was carried out on behalf of the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association in order to support safety assessment of TTO in consumer cosmetic products. Data regarding the use of TTO-containing cosmetic products were collected through a web-survey among 2535 qualified users of validated TTO-containing cosmetics in 5 European countries. Data regarding the percentage of TTO present in the individual products (TTO-inclusion) were collected from the suppliers of those products. Beyond TTO exposure-measures there were several significant findings: One is a special "TTO-effect" for several categories of TTO-containing cosmetic products showing a positive correlation between consumers' strength of TTO-orientation and frequency of product use, combined with a negative correlation between frequency of product use and amount of product used per application. Another is significant differences regarding the intensity of product use between TTO-containing cosmetics and respective types of products in general. Thus it seems not to be appropriate to evaluate the toxicological safety of certain ingredients of cosmetic products from exposure data on "generic" types of cosmetic products.

Keywords: Cosmetics; Exposure; Melaleuca alternifolia; Online survey; Safety assessment; Tea tree oil.

MeSH terms

  • Consumer Product Safety
  • Cosmetics / administration & dosage*
  • Cosmetics / adverse effects*
  • Data Collection
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tea Tree Oil / administration & dosage*
  • Tea Tree Oil / adverse effects*


  • Cosmetics
  • Tea Tree Oil