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How To Know If Your Essential Oils Are Top Quality?

 

Are essential oils just snake oil in a pretty bottle?

I’ve been digging into this for over a year now, beginning last summer when I noticed a new multi-level essential oil company sweep into my social media feeds. What struck my curiosity at first was less about the oils and more about the controversy that seemed to surround them – the lawsuits, accusations and most important to me, questions being raised about quality.

Even more curious about these claims is that as they came to a head, two of the largest companies – doTERRA and Young Living – who were accusing each other of the very same things (theft of trade secrets, mislabelling and adulteration being amongst the issues), suddenly dropped their claims at the same time.

I assumed this was just standard competition stuff that we’ve seen before with other big brands in Corporate America. Then I read this article on LearningAboutEOs.com last summer that showed ‘proof’ from a third-party lab that there were synthetic compounds found in several large and small essential oil companies. I highly recommend you read this in its entirety.

And that’s when I started looking into the whole industry that is currently blowing up in amazing and potentially dangerous ways. Wait, dangerous?

Truth about Essential Oils

The Environmental Implications

The global essential oil market is expected to reach 11.7 billion by 2022. There is a danger in the mass popularity of essential oils and not just because of the way in which they are being used (or in many cases, overused), or that they are being sold widely by people whose only training is from  the companies that stand to profit directly off mass consumption of these oils.  There is also the impact this production is having on the environment.

Essential oils were once a small market product available mainly through trained aromatherapists and medicine men and women. With the massive production scale we are now seeing in oils, many are being grown as mono-crops requiring heavy amounts of pesticides, mass harvesting and in some cases irresponsible harvesting. This can both endanger plant species and hike the prices.

Of course, it’s amazing to see essential oils go mainstream, but it’s the responsibility of the companies creating this mass market to ensure they are harvesting responsibly and sustainably. And unfortunately, this is not the case. Give back programs to support the environment are kind of the same as big oil companies having to pay after major spills. One positive action doesn’t undo a destructive one. Maybe this is just a different type of big oil.

 

The Purity Factor: Can Your Trust Your Supplier?

I emailed one of the aforementioned companies directly asking for one very specific thing: three consecutive months of third party testing that showed no adulteration of their oils. I was looking for proof of the purity of their product. The response I received was from their in-house legal counsel.

To be clear, contamination or adulteration – whatever you want to call it – happens. It’s happened with almonds, spinach, protein powders, supplements and seemingly daily with processed food. Obviously, we’d hope the brands we know and trust have systems worked out to ensure this doesn’t happen. But sometimes it does. The important thing to pay attention to when it does happen is how the company handles it. Do they own it, take responsibility, and put motions in place to improve, telling their customers how they are going to do better? Or do they deny it and start placing blame elsewhere?

Contamination or adulteration can happen in any industry. The important thing to pay attention to is how the company handles it.

In response to my request for testing results, the company I reached out to explained that they do testing each month, but if I wanted to review the tests I would need to sign a non-disclosure agreement owing to the proprietary information in the results. I am also guessing that they were not willing to share the results of their testing for other privacy reasons given how competitive this market has become. To receive this information, I would also be required to grant them access to a private Facebook group I manage where the discussion had first sparked my questioning. (I can only assume one of the members of this group approached the company directly asking the questions that were being raised.)

I looked into the proprietary claim a little further and there really isn’t much to it. Pure oil is pure oil. You would see the compounds of plant matter and maybe the location of origin. That’s pretty much it. The best oils on the planet, each specific one, typically comes from only a few locations, with each region having distillers that work with a specific plant. I sent the following email last year in response to their request for the non-disclosure in exchange for lab results, and their request to know how they were going to be used.

email on oils


I am working on an article about [company name] and what I have discovered about the oils, their sources and distribution channels. I am aiming to make this a very balanced article and having proof that the contamination as published on those other blogs has been addressed and that there are no longer traces of synthetics in your oils. 

Should you change your mind and wish to permit me to include three consecutive months of testing for your pure peppermint oil please send it to me this week. I will be very straightforward in saying that my intention is to share the results as if the results are what your trainers and trainees believe them to be, there would only be benefit to the company.

From what I understand of oils, testing for synthetics and those results would not denote the location of growth/harvest, though according to your sales reps, that information is disclosed anyway.


How To Choose Your Essential Oils

How to know if essential oils are top quality? via @MeghanTelpner

Because of email disclaimers, I cannot share the response I received without infringement. What I can say is that the company responded quickly, and included a proclamation from an apparent “third party expert”. I sent this to an essential oil expert I have worked with and trust who confirmed that much of it was fancy language to confuse consumers, but it didn’t respond to the query of whether a batch of their oils had been contaminated and what is being done to ensure this is no longer happening.

Despite them not answering the questions I had actually asked, I could see how a consumer who wants to believe in their supplier, might be swayed by the perception of transparency, when in fact, nothing of substance had been shared. The propaganda spun by these companies, really marketing and sales machines is very convincing.

In the follow-up email that I received, it stated that they have never found any adulteration in their oils, that perhaps a compound of the oil was misidentified, and that they couldn’t contact the lab that had done the testing and shown adulteration because they are located in France. I know they speak French in France, but they do have phones and email.

There is language on this company’s website that says that batches are tested on a regular basis but the company would not provide proof without my signing the non-disclosure, which I feared would further limit what I could share here.

I apologize that this is vague, but again, when you email customer service and get a response from legal counsel, or have a phone call scheduled with their communications lead and the call is controlled by legal, well, it’s best to say less. And really, it’s not that important when we start to look at what we actually want in our essential oils: top quality, pure oil.

If there isn’t a grading system to oils, how can we know for sure our essential oils are top quality?

This is a tough question to answer, as you may have gathered. I’ve pulled together information from a variety of sources in the hopes that you will start asking the questions that will ensure your confidence in whatever oil products and brands you are using.

Approaching a company is our right. And getting answers to our questions in a clear and easy to understand way is the responsibility of the company.

Price Variance

This is an easy place to start. The pricing of oils depends on the yield of oil from the plant.  Some flowers like rose or neroli (orange blossoms) take loads more plant matter to make one drop of pure essential oils.  For example, it takes 60 roses to make one drop of rose essential oil.  For this reason, it would make sense that a more abundant oil like Lavender might be priced between $20 and $30 and a Rose Otto be closer to $80 for the same volume. Be wary of oil brands that are a single price across the board.

Fancy Names and Claims

“Nature Identicals” is a fancy word for synthetic so watch out for this on product bottles or websites. “Nature identicals implies that molecules of a synthetic odorant are identical to the make-up of natural odorants. In reality the composition of natural odorants is always more complex than the synthetic look-alike.” (source).

“Therapeutic grade” is a marketing label that means absolutely nothing.

Therapeutic Grade” or anything along these lines is another common term used to describe “top quality oils”. It sounds legit, but it is a marketing term that I am guilty of having used myself in the past when talking about oils. I thought it meant something. There isn’t a therapeutic standard for essential oils so the name and any emblem associated with it is virtually meaningless. It’s a self-regulated claim like many other healthwashing terms. Cropwatch explains here.

Botantical Names

Always use the botanical name for essential oils when ordering, or looking on the bottles/website.  The botanical name tells the genus and species of the plant and includes information about the variety, cultivar, chemotype and hybrid when needed. This often denotes the quality and ensures you are getting and using what you are expecting.

Parts Being Used

Know how the plant was distilled and what part of the plant is being used. Ideally, you’re working with a trusted and trained aromatherapist so they can do this digging for you. How an oil is distilled is important to the quality. As well, some distillers may use more abundant/cheaper parts of a plant, but you’re getting a subpar product. For example, you always want cinnamon bark, not cinnamon leaf. Another example is German Chamomile (Matricara chamomila). It is often adulterated with Blue Tansy (Tancetum annum), which is a lovely oil but it’s not German Chamomile. 

MS/GC Testing

This is something that should be readily available. For example, the company Aromatics International lists its oil data right on the respective product pages. Most often, you won’t often find this posted on websites, but upon request, you should be able to receive it. According to Aromatics, “Gas Chromatography (GC) is a method of separating the volatile compounds in essential oils into individual components and produces a linear graph that charts these components. Mass Spectrometry (MS) identifies each of these components and their percentages. This process is used to identify any adulteration of the essential oil tested. The precise breakdown of the chemical components in individual oils given to us by GC/MS reports are important as the therapeutic benefits and safety issues of essential oils are, in large part, determined by their chemical makeup.” (Source)

Trust Your Nose

When you smell oils alongside each other, the nose often knows. Comparing a cheap synthetic oil next to a pure oil, the difference is fairly obvious. The more practiced you are, the easier it becomes for your nose to tell you everything you need to know.

Take A Class

If you are seriously interested in diving into the world of essential oils, get trained. Start with a workshop in your local area taught by a trained aromatherapist. Whether you are using the oils purely for personal use or really want to get into the business of selling oils and sharing your knowledge, unbiased aromatherapy training from a certified aromatherapist and/or herbalist is invaluable.

Choosing A Supplier

These are some suggestions I found repeated from several sources. Not all of these requirements need to be met per se, but there are definitely some key ones here that may resonate with you.

Aim for suppliers that:

  • are dedicated to supplying essential oils to the aromatherapy practitioner market.
  • have close relations with their distillers.
  • are brands that are owned by an aromatherapy practitioner or essential oil specialist.
  • can readily and openly supply a batch-specific MS/GC spec report on each essential oil it sells.
  • are able to provide material safety data sheets (MSDS) as needed.
  • have a great reputation in the field and are well known to other aromatherapy practitioners or educators.

(Source)

Tips For Choosing Essential Oils

Cropwatch has this recommendation:

Potential essential oil buyers should independently check out the marketing information provided by essential oil traders – do not be put off asking for any extra information or reassurances that you are legally entitled to if the situation is not absolutely clear cut. The professional aromatherapist has a duty to be able to provide all relevant safety information relevant to to their clients’ treatment(s) and therefore it is part of ‘due diligence’ to ask questions, require any stipulated proofs, request an MSDS, ask for compositional data & certificate of origin of the batch of oil purchased and have their eyes wide open to marketing ploys & scams of all types – including providing GC’MS print-outs and other information which relate to other batches of oils entirely, and, of course, describing essential oils as ‘therapeutic grade’.

Why Does This Matter Anyway?

Due to the nature in which essential oils are used, they can be a powerful medicine and healing tool, or a dangerous chemical. Obviously, we all want to be buying what we think we’re buying, and be using them in safe, responsible, non-wasteful ways.

As oils are commonly used for inhalation and in combination with carrier oils for transdermal absorption, meaning rubbed into the skin in diluted forms, they are bypassing many of the body’s natural protective mechanisms and detoxification channels. Substances rubbed directly into the skin can go straight into the bloodstream and begin circulating – the good and the bad. Ideally, we only want the good entering our bodies in this method. Let our beauty care become our medicine.

Additionally, inhaling scents bring the chemical – healing plant chemical,  or toxic synthetic chemical – straight into our lungs, while also bypassing the blood-brain barrier and this can have nearly immediate effects on our neurological health. Again, this is one of the reasons why oils can be so powerful. We are able to utilize their healing benefits without needing to digest and assimilate anything. Easy entry. This is also why I advise using top quality oils for all oil applications, whether it’s on your body or in your home.

Essential oils, when used correctly and are of top quality, are one of the purest medicines we have access to on the planet. They are distillations and high potency concentrations of plant medicine and must be used with awareness and guidance from a trusted source.

Are essential oils just snake oil in fancy bottles? via @MeghanTelpner
How to know if essential oils are top quality? via @MeghanTelpner

I invite you to do your own digging, and also your own learning to discover what you love and what works for you. You are more than welcome to post the brands that you use and trust. I kindly ask that you keep any affiliate links or personal sales pages out of the conversation.

I recognize that this is a heated topic, contradiction and constructive, informed debate is welcome but personal attacks on me or other members of this community will be deleted and you will be blocked from accessing this website.

References Cited In This Post

Burfield, Tony, and Chrissie Wildwood. “Threatened & Vulnerable Species: A List of Essential Oils Recommended by Cropwatch Not to Be Used in Aromatherapy.” The Cropwatch Series. N.p., Sept. 2004.

Burfield, Tony, and Kendra Kirkham. “The ‘Therapeutic Grade’ Essential Oils Disinformation Campaign“. Cropwatch.org. Adapted from “Naked Aromatherapy – the Truth Laid Bare” Aromatherapy Today 36, 28-33, as Further Updated in Cropwatch Newsletter August 2007. Web.

Crop Watch: Pesticide Database.” Pesticides. Cropwatch.org.

Essential Oil Market Size To Reach $11.67 Billion By 2022: Grand View Research, Inc.” Essential Oil Market Size To Reach $11.67 Billion By 2022: Grand View… PS Newswire, 8 Oct. 2015.

Getting Started with Essential Oils.” Purity Testing (GC/MS).

Harris, Lee. “Learning About EOs – Using Essential Oils Safely.” Learning About EOs Using Essential Oils Safely. N.p., 13 Oct. 2013.

Harvey, Tom. “Judge Dismisses Much of Lawsuit between Rival Utah ‘oils’ Companies.” The Salt Lake Tribune. N.p., 23 Oct. 2013.

Harvey, Tom. “Essential Oils Manufacturers Young Living and DoTERRA Battle It out in Court over Alleged Theft of Trade Secrets, Phony Lab Tests and False Advertising.” The Salt Lake Tribune, Aug. 2013.

Keeson, Arvid. “Damning Evidence That Young Living and DoTERRA’s Essential Oils Are Adulterated.” Utah Stories. N.p., 15 Aug. 2014.

Minor, Conan. “Essential Oil Safety.” The Epoch Times Essential Oil Safety Comments. N.p., 17 May 2015.

Scheer, Roddy, and Doug Moss. “EarthTalk: The Environmental Impact of Essential Oils.” Darien News. N.p., 17 Oct. 2013.

Schnaubelt, Kurt. “Medical Aromatherapy.” Google Books. N.p., n.d.

Shutes, Jade. “The Quality of Essential Oils.” The British Medical Journal 2.1042

Telpner, Meghan. “Healthwashing Makes Me Feel Dirty: 10 Tips To Avoid The Trap” Meghan Telpner. N.p., 10 Aug. 2011.


Disclosure: I have chosen not to disclose the company I was in contact with as I don’t think it’s particularly important. I want to leave it to you to ask the questions and get answers that make sense for you. I am by no means an essential oil expert and so I rely heavily on the decades of experience of the experts that I work with and consulted with for this article.  I am an affiliate of an essential oil company that I trust.  I am not using my affiliate link or naming names in this article as my intention is not to profit off sharing this information but to empower you to really dig in and find your own answers so that you can use oils you trust as part of your healthy life.

(Image Source)

 

120 Responses to “How To Know If Your Essential Oils Are Top Quality?”

  1. Andy said…
    Hi Meghan - Thanks for this! Do you mind me asking what you use? I am frequently approached by YL or Doterra reps - but I keep getting conflicting information on the quality of these brands, so until I feel comfortable with a brand I am just avoiding using them other then for cleaning my house. Thanks!! :) Andy
    • Andy said…
      I just read your disclaimer and understand if you are not comfortable sharing publicly. Thanks! :)
      • Alex said…
        great article Meghan! Andy - check out Living Libations essential oils! I'm a holistic practitioner and I've done my research here...they're the best of the best! :)
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      If you dig around on my site, you'll likely find it. It's not doTERRA or Young Living. I started out with Young Living years ago but for many, many reasons I disassociated from the company and their products.
      • Andy said…
        Thanks found it!! :D
  2. Annie said…
    This was such an awesome post! My favorite essential oil company and one I completely trust as having pure oils (after having tried many other companies) is Living Libations.
  3. Gena said…
    Thanks for this info, Meghan! I'd also be interested in knowing what brands you use :) Thanks!
  4. Thanks so much for this Meghan! I had explored this topic and tried (unsuccessfully) to resolve some questions I had around oil purity a couple of months ago. It is an important question to raise, and I really appreciate the information you shared.
  5. Tanya Sullivan said…
    Thanks Meghan for this information. I read an article a number of months ago, that related more to the proliferation of use of such a concentrated substance and how indiscriminate use would affect availability of good quality raw resources. I lost track of the source, but it made me think twice before going full bore on the oils that I am using. I must continue my research before jumping on this band wagon.
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Our own research usually turns up things we never considered before. And yes, oils should be used mindfully.
  6. Jan Allan said…
    An interesting topic. If you are familiar with Wellness Mama, she has done research on companies (USA) and does make some good points. It's hard for the average person, gaining an interest in oils, to know the questions to ask and what to look for in a brand.
  7. Jo said…
    Hi Meghan, My favourite brand is Aura Cacia. They also have many organic oils & oil blends as well. :) Thanks for your info on this topic! :) Jo
  8. Pat said…
    Hi Meghan, thank you so much for this article. I wanted to start a business and was torn between choosing which one to get involved in. Your article got me thinking on the right track. Thanks again.
  9. Mary Anne said…
    Wonderful companies to research include Living Libations, Original Swiss Aromatics, Stillpoint Aromatics, Aromatics International and Floracopeia. Very reputable companies that research the sources, quality, extraction methods, etc. for the essential oils the sell.
  10. Frank said…
    Thanks for the article. Thanks for the warning I was just about to dive into the EO world my focus "therapeutic grades". My focus is on insect repellents. I am also interested in helping a MS sufferer with what (until now) I thought was a harmless but potentially beneficial process.
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Glad you found this helpful. There are some great brand recommendations in the comments here to help you narrow your research.
  11. Thanks for this article, Meghan. I appreciate that you included the sustainability issues in the discussion as well. For both health and sustainability reasons, I'm very concerned about the increasing number of people drinking essential oils daily, usually at the recommendation of network marketing sales reps looking for monthly autoship orders. Nothing wrong with the MLM model or monthly autoship orders IF things are run properly, with quality products and truthful claims, and recommendations to seek the professional guidance of a trained aromatherapist, nutritionist, or naturopathic doctor etc when necessary; but sadly, so many of them are run on business hype and misleading claims, and often washed in green these days too.
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      EXACTLY! Thank you for saying what I can't fully, at least not in so many words.
  12. Amy said…
    Hello Meghan and community, Has anyone done any research on Zayat Aroma in Quebec? I use their products and believe they are high quality but wondering if anyone out there has more information. Thank you!
  13. Super helpful and well executed - oils are SUCH heated topic aren't they. I bought some doterra one a year back but after more research won't be buying any poor plus i had some poor customer service experiences so super help in helping me find a brand I feel comfortable using but also recommending to my clients as oils can be so healing! I am UK based so not as much variety so any tips from fellow uk readers always helpful:)
  14. Elizabeth said…
    What an informative read! I went on a similar research path and read that article about companies like YL, DT, And many others containing synthetics, but I can't find a brand I've liked as much as those two and Plant Therapy. I read PT found the same synthetic in a batch of oil and as soon as they found that out, pulled them, which was super brave and probably costly. I just like several of the big oil companies' blends that I can't get replicate on my own, and I'm still unsure of alternatives. I've tried Aura Catia and they smelled different to me.
  15. Maggie said…
    Fabulous article Meghan. I am very much into essential oils at the moment so this was perfect timing! Great information for beginners too.
  16. Patti said…
    When I asked for a reference Meghan gave me Living Libations. I looked at their site and it was EXACTLY what I was looking for. I spent big money and it was WORTH IT ! They rock. Save yourself time and the headache of investigating. Living Libations is the place to go. Yes it is expensive BUT you get what you pay for. They are the real deal. I just received my order a couple of days ago and I decided to ditch my old skincare regimen that same day as my skin felt so good after using my new face products and still does. I can tell you I have dry sensitive skin and was concerned. You can make your own products for less money but that takes research and time. They have done it all for you. eventually I will order just the oils from them and make my own products. Thank you Meghan because I was becoming real confused and frustrated trying to find a company and I have a Pharm D .
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      You are so very welcome. And yes, they are great company, great products and very special people- the owners and their small and mighty team.
  17. Fernanda said…
    Great article. I don't know much about EOs, but because of a set of "coincidences" I had decided to get to know more about that and then I came across this article. Incredible, I have some bottle from Eden Organics and they were recommended by a person that I highly trust - she didn't make any money, she just ordered for me at the same time she ordered for herself. If anyone has any information on this company, that would be good to know.
  18. Alyssa said…
    Thank you for this. I am part of DoTerra and please do not think of me wrongly. I wanted to get into essential oils so I can provide safe ways for my family instead of all the chemicals. This article has definitely changed how I feel about everything. I started looking into the Living Libations and other companies others were talking about. I really wanted another income coming in so I could stay home and home school my children. I guess I will keep searching though and possibly get out of DoTerra. This article has some great information in it
  19. Thank you for an objective and non-confrontational article! There is so much tension around essential oils right now ... the market is exploding ... which is amazing on one hand, and a serious detriment to the credibility of the practice on the other. I've heard one to many horror stories of essential oils sales-pitches of oils from individuals who probably don't mean any harm at all - they just don't know any better. Unfortunately, the companies SHOULD know better, and it is disgraceful that sales have become more important than safety and quality, in a field about supporting peoples' health. I hope to be certified as an Aromatherapist by the end of the year, and look forward to further supporting this industry safely and knowledgeably!
  20. Linda said…
    Hi Meghan, Any research/scoop on the company Saje's oil blends from Vancouver? thanks! Linda
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Your best bet is to use the guidelines I provide and contact them with your questions.
  21. Adele said…
    Hi Meghan, This article is fantastic. Thanks know you. I have purchased from Aromatics International and their products are great. However with me being in Montreal, the shipping costs, insurance and customs duty charges added 50% to my total cost plus the exchange rate of 32%. So my question is do you know a reputable supplier close to Montreal? Or at least in Canada? Much appreciated. Thanks.
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Have you considered Living Libations? They're an Ontario based company and the only products I use. If you're ordering large amounts, you may be eligible for wholesale perhaps? Check them here.
  22. Kathy said…
    Hi Meghan, thank you so much for this excellent article. I'm finding it so daunting to research everything myself - supplements, protein powders, skin care, cleaners, essential oils, make up and on and on. Do you know of any reputable sources that have done research on specific essential oil companies that you can point me to? I really like a 'Consumer Reports' style of information. Thank you for your time.... Kathy
  23. Helen Song said…
    Great blog!
    • Jamie said…
      The link To the article you mention in the beginning I assume showing the results of adulterated oils is no longer there 😞 Do you have any links showing test results? Great article
      • Meghan Telpner said…
        I have been searching but it seems all bloggers who referenced third party testing have removed them. My guess, as has been my experience, the legal teams of the companies that showed adulteration in their oils (primarily Young Living and doTERRA) got to them.
  24. Jennifer said…
    Great Article!! Anyone know how pure Sage natural wellness products are?
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      You're best bet is to use the guidelines above and contact them. (Though they're not an essential oil I use or recommend)
  25. Katie said…
    The link provided above, to learningabouteos.com is no longer valid. Do you have a copy of the article, and if so, would you share it? I'm interested in reading it. Thanks.
  26. Krista said…
    Thank you for this article! Oils are so confusing. What brands do you use?
  27. Jackie Mangano said…
    So besides doterra and young living are there any companies that you like or use?
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Thanks for your question Jackie! I personally only use oils from Living Libations. You can check them out here:. You can also take a look at my latest blog post where I share some of my favourite oils for cleaning your home: http://www.meghantelpner.com/blog/5-essential-oils-clean-home/
    • Allison said…
      Just curious, do you receive an compensation from affiliate marketing? What about pay/click for this product?
      • Meghan Telpner said…
        I am an affiliate for a few select products, but there are no affiliate links in this post. What I wanted to do here is focus on educating people about essential oils and what to look for when they're evaluating brands.
  28. John L said…
    Your two links about CEOs and adulterated essential oils no longer work
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Hi John, thanks for your comment! The links have now been updated.
  29. APRIL said…
    So all in all the way to get the info for the oils that are best is through the fda website list that they have approved or though A list from A licensedaormotheropist
  30. Jennifer said…
    I enjoyed your article! I was curious as to why you said that doTERRA and Young Living were suing each other when in fact it was just Young Living suing doTERRA.
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      DoTERRA filed a countersuit against Young Living. You can read more about it here: http://archive.sltrib.com/story.php?ref=/sltrib/money/56660253-79/doterra-living-oils-lawsuit.html.csp and here: http://www.naturalnews.com/042030_essential_oils_doTERRA_court_battle.html.
  31. Lucija said…
    This is such a good post. I've always had a distrust of companies such as Young Living and doTerra due to their MLM and cult-like followings and in the past have purchased my oils from companies well known for quality soap making supplies or recommended by well-respected soaper makers. And I found it completely ridiculous when one of these companies trademarked the name of a old blend (Thieves); in my mind it tells me that you care more about marketing than the properties of your blends. And yes, trust your nose. I purchased "green tea essential oil" through eBay that was no essential oil at all. I sent it back.
  32. Kate Melville said…
    Hi Please tell me what brand of oils you personally use. Kindly, Kate x
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Hi Kate, thanks for your message! I use Living Libations oils.
      • Johanne said…
        Wow. Great article. I have discovered essentiel oils and love them. Have also noticed various prices on different companies. Would you recommend SAJE ?
        • Meghan Telpner said…
          I would not, I'm afraid for many of the reasons I outline above in the criteria I use to choose essential oils
      • Annette Stewart said…
        I’m so glad I found this article. I have been trying to do research in the purity of oils as I had ordered some peppermint that had an extremely bad smell , then reordered it and it had the same bad smell. Very very interesting article!
  33. Susan said…
    Essential Oils WORK!! I have severe chronic pain...i was on most of the popular opium derived meds...almost died....from the meds... Not the disease... Long story short... I detoxed off all...at the age of 53....searched for answers, lots of prayer.... A friend sent me her homeade bottle of EO's for muscle pain... I felt immmediate relief...tho temporary... But the more i usedd them the longer they worked.... That was almost 2yrs ago.....now i have my on recipee, and many more....plus several oils for other needs.... They are Gods medicine & I thank Him daily...💜
  34. Charity DeVries said…
    Thank you so much for this great article. I really enjoyed reading it! We use essential oils every day in our family and we've experienced time and time again the great benefits of Eo's :)
  35. David Hicks said…
    Great article, should be read by all users of essential oils. So glad you took the initiative and did the work to research it all. This is probably a continuing story, however, and we will learn more as the industry itself continues to change.
  36. Theresa Edwards said…
    Thank you for sharing such a thorough article! As a soon to be Registered Aromatherapist (in 27 days haha) I am constantly explaining to friends, family and customers why all essential oils are not alike and that they get what they pay for! I do use the term "therapeutic grade" not because of cheesy marketing tactics but because I truly believe that if we are using essential oils in a therapeutic manner (not just to make our home smell pretty) that we need to choose the highest quality oils possible! I recognize that the term has been coined by some MLM companies but I like to explain it in more detail when assisting someone with an ailment. Thanks again and I'm so glad I found your site!
  37. Susan McDonald said…
    Thank you for this great informative article. I've wondered about harvesting massive amounts of plant material around the globe and the devastating ripple effects mono cropping can have in sensitive areas. I plan to do further research as I use essential oils a lot.
  38. Kristi said…
    Hi Meghan, Fabulous article. Thank you for sharing. I 100% agree with everything you have stated. I avoid MLM companies because of things like this. I’m curious, have you looked at New Diewcrions Aromatics in Mississauga? I recently ordered form them and would love to know your thoughts. Many thanks.
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      I'm not familiar with them. I'd start by seeing if they meet the tips and criteria that I've mentioned above when it comes to choosing oils and suppliers.
  39. SallyS said…
    I am a medical professional that was being wooed to join DT. I was interested and started to read up and use them. I asked for the GC/MS results and was essentially refused. That told me all I needed to know. (the caricature MLM aspect was also a turn off...) There are EO companies who are so proud and confident of their products that they post every batch's GC/MS next to the product on the retail website! Thanks for this article.
    • A said…
      SallyS, could you tell me which companies post their GC/MS on their website?
      • Rachel said…
        I would love a good trust worthy oil company that does not run on Mlm big turn off and they are not educated enough for me.
        • Anna said…
          Florihana and Rocky Mountain oils post everything.
      • Hilary Lucas said…
        Apologies ... didn't realise this comment would post directly to thread so this is my response 😊 Jade Bloom publishes their reports at point of sale ... click on the product then scroll down to certifications I thought Bulk Apothecary did also (they offer certified organic oils) but I'm not finding it from my phone. These are the two companies I am considering as I am moving away from YL & DT ... I love some of the blends but am not convinced of the purity of the oils.
  40. Amanda said…
    I've recently have started using essential oils. I was wondering if you would reccomend Eden's Garden? I see they have the gc/ms on their website for their oils. Does that mean they are pure?
  41. William said…
    Hi Meghan, which kind of EO do you think is good for testing the quality by smell?
  42. Ann said…
    Hi Meghan, which kind of EO do you think is good quality. I've been thinking about Young Living and Edens Garden.
  43. Julie Spencer said…
    Hello, I’m studying to become an aromatherapist and this article has excellent information! Thank you so much, I’m excited to dig through more of your writing!
  44. Amy said…
    Hello, Great article. I’ve just recently been using some essential oils and am worrying that I’m overpaying for what I’m getting. Which smaller company would you trust? I appreciate any help/advice. Thank you!
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      I use Living Libations for all of my essential oils and skincare, I trust them completely.
  45. Sheena said…
    Hello, I've only been using essential oils for the last year and I've been doing a lot of research trying to buy from the safest place because I know the Sham on the grades and how therapeutic is just a term. My question to you is do you know anything about (Bulk Apothecary) brand? I was buying from them for almost a year and then it was recently I asked them for three of their C of A's they sent them to me, but he gave me a problem when I told him one of the brands they sell of henna was bad. I don't know what I'm supposed to look for on this certificate which I'm trying to research to find out. One of the essential oils it says that complies all the way down the other two it says it complies and then it gives it some type of percentage. I guess I would just like to know if you think that they are real or if you've heard of them they do offer all of the information like you say in your blog to look for, such as the bontanical name how it's been distilled and even the history. I know the smell on every single essential oil we've gotten from them has been very potent. Thank you and anything would help even linking me to the right direction.
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Hi Sheena. I am not familiar with that brand and haven't done any research on it. In terms of the testing for oils, you might find this article helpful: https://tisserandinstitute.org/highs-lows-gc-ms-essential-oil-analysis/
  46. patti said…
    Hi Megan I just started using Frankincense oil I bought from Walmart the Guruanda brand. I bought it for focus and memory. I have a test coming up this week and started using the oil for concentration. I believe its been helphing me but I have been told that Rosemary oil is better. What do you think of Guruanda. Recently I attended our Az State Fair and ran into a doTerra rep who swears their product is the best.
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Hi Patti! I'm not familiar with that brand, best to do some investigation using the tips that I've included in this blog post. Hope you find something that works for you!
  47. kathy said…
    Meghan, so glad you're still responding to comments in this thread - I wanted to know if you'd still recommend Living Libations and saw from your Aug 18 comment that you do, thanks!
  48. Debi Pretty said…
    Thanks so much...been on Doterra for several years as a consultant and have just quit and switching to Living Libations !
  49. Lisa said…
    Hi Meghan! Thankyou so much for all your work. I just recently found you through a podcast about crohns! I’m trying to understand the EO world to see if it will help my husband with his crohns and really appreciate this article. Living Libations seems amazing but is also a bit out of my budget. Curious if you encountered Revive Essential Oils during your research? They seem to pass a lot of the tests you mentioned, but at a lower price point. Any thoughts would be much appreciated!
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Hi Lisa! I am not familiar with Revive Essential Oils so I can't comment on their quality, but it seems like you've looked into them further using this article as a guide and that's wonderful. My intention here was to help people like you be able to dig in and do the research, so you can figure out for yourself if this is a product you're comfortable using.
  50. Vanessa said…
    Hi! I have trusted young living and young living only until today I am digging into it. I purchased a bottle of rose for 190$ from young living a week ago. Today i signed up for aromatherapy school and was reccomended www.aromatics.com. aromatics rose oil is 77$ and actually has the GC/MS test results listed for the current batch as well as the previous batches they have sold to compare. I sent an email to young living asking for the GC/MS results for their rose oil. I want to know why rose costs so much more from young living! It seems that aromatics cares just as much if not more about quality and they also provide many more products at better prices.
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      It's great that you are digging in to this! Let us know, if you'd like, what you find out.
  51. Tiff said…
    I am very new to the EO world, so I enjoyed reading your article. Are you familiar with the company Vitality Extracts? I read an article about them Having great oils, so I jumped in and placed an order, as their prices were great. Now I’m second guessing and wondering about their quality. On top of that, they don’t typically do returns...which seems a little weird to me.
  52. Alicia said…
    Viality Extracts oils are NOT 100% therapuetic grade EO. I have also ordered from them, and not only did I get sick from diffusing some of them (patchouli, orange, rosemary, peppermint, spearmint) but they went rancid in my bottle(amber glass) and they should NEVER go bad. Carrier oils do though. so keep that in mind. I also attempted to get money back, and not only did I NOT have anyone contact me back, I never got to return anything or get any money back. However, I found that it was because how I ordered my oils. I went through Groupon, not directly through the company. I have a company I go with and trust. And I have tried over a dozen different EO companies.
  53. Abigail Fed said…
    Thanks for your article, I appreciate your common-sense approach to essential oils. It is interesting that they have become such a "fad" and I am sure it will pass, as all other fads eventually do. I have been using essential oils for years and have been doing research all that time and it amazes me that people would use these natural products with little or no regard for the huge impact they have on ones life or even on the environment. I am a firm believer that with proper education and diligent research we can incorporate oils into our lives in a safe and constructive manner. So, I will say thank you again for your wise advice and hope that people will learn from your article and be encouraged to do their own research before using essential oils.
  54. Carey said…
    Thank you for posting this. I’ve recently gotten into essential oils. I’m very interested in oils and not brand loyal. I signed up with a company after attending a “pyramid party” give by a close friend of mine. I used and started seeing the benefits of oils soon after getting them. The cost of the oils was hard for me to stomach—especially given the MLM set up of the company. I struggled to believe that they were more expensive because of quality and not because of money needed to feed the pyramid. Led by this thought I have done lots of research. Found out that this company does not post their GC-MS results, which is troubling. All anyone can tell me is that the oils from this company meet their own self proclaimed standard of excellence, yet no one has any numbers or scientific evidence to prove it. They are all experts on the pamphlets distributed to them by the very company they are so loyal to. So, I reached out to customer service through the chat feature on their website, asking where I could find the third party test results. I was told I would have to email customer service. I did. Never heard back. I asked friends about another company I found who has testing done by Dr. Pappas and publishes test results for all batches. The response was that Dr. Pappas is a fraud and liar who manipulates test results. I found nothing on the internet to support that claim. The whole thing is clear as mud. My questions- Can gc-ms results be manipulated to show or hide adulteration? Have you ever reviewed Revive EO? Can distillation/grow methods and growth locations be revealed through GC-MS results? Thanks for your help! It has been shockingly difficult to find valid information about any EO companies that don’t have someone pushing an agenda behind the keyboard. I appreciate your authenticity!!
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Hi Carey! Great questions. I suppose any company could manipulate their GC-MS results, and there wouldn't be a way for you to know by looking at it. It goes without saying this is highly unethical. I imagine a company would probably not post the results or not do third party testing, as you discovered, rather than fake a GC-MS test. I'm not an expert in the testing, but I don't believe that the results can tell you the grow location or methods. This is where company openness and honesty comes in - a good company would be proud of their products and happy to tell you exactly how they grow and distill their products. You can find out more about GC-MS testing here: https://tisserandinstitute.org/highs-lows-gc-ms-essential-oil-analysis/
  55. Carey said…
    Have you ever heard of or used Revive essential oils? They share their test results, which I like. It’s not an MLM company, which I also like. However, I’ve been unable to find unbiased third party reviews. All the 3rd party reviews I can find end with a link to the reviewers MLM sales page. I ordered them and they smell just like the MLM oils I have. The prices are less expensive than MLM companies, but not dollar store cheap. I just wish I could find some unbiased reviews. Any guidance would be appreciated! I just want to be sure since I’m using them with my young children too!
  56. Jenna said…
    Hello, Thank you for this review and your time. I am curious if you are still recommending living libations and why. I am also curious if you know why their gc/ms is over 2 years old? Thank you, Jenna
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Hi Jenna - yes, I am still a fan of Living Libations. They make very high quality products that I trust.
  57. Dan said…
    This is a great article - thank you! But I was looking for some recommendations... are there any brands you do recommend?
  58. Tracy Vallejos said…
    I looked at the living libations website and it appears that their essential oils are in bottles that are clear instead of dark? Do you know what the reason behind this is?
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Hi Tracy! I'm not sure which product you were looking at, but the pure essentials oils I've bought have always come in dark glass bottles. Some of the beauty care products do come in lighter bottles.
  59. Suzi said…
    Hi! I was wondering your reasons for trusting living libations. Have you had their oils tested?
  60. Mary said…
    Hello. I love living libations and trust their quality so much. I was looking for essential oils more local to me so that I wouldn't have to wait for shipping from Canada. After reading your article, I will stick to LL. Thank you for the information.
  61. Don St.Clair LMT said…
    Thank you for this article. I am a professional clinical herbalist with an interest in essential oils, and I met and did a training with a representative of the long established French aromatherapy company Aroma Vera decades ago and learned a lot. I have worked in the nutritional/natural products industry and I know of certain companies that are absolute crooks right here and um Now that I will not mention, but I have to say, the big popular MultiLevelMarketed ones all seem to my nose to be utter poorly made crap. Just saying it so you don't have to. I would say, avoid MLM. I know too much about that industry, from the wholesale manufacturer supply side, to ever back it.
  62. Jessica said…
    Thank you for your unbiased and informative article. Could you recommend or refer an online essential oil course? I would like to learn more about essential oils but am I sure of a reputable educator. Thank you!
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Hi Jessica! I'm not aware of an online course that I would recommend, unfortunately.
  63. Joshua said…
    Hi Meghan, Thanks for the well researched & detailed article. The bullets mentioned for finding good quality essential oil are really practical. While i go online for buying a particular essential oil, sometimes there is huge price gap for same quantities. And the websites have lots of reviews and 5 star ratings which only god knows are true or fake. Its indeed difficult to choose the right product in our times but your guide is definitely helpful.
  64. Alex said…
    A very interesting article. A friend of mine started to use essential oils for health problems. She begun to treat everything with these oils (from a normal flu to dermatological problems or to straighten the inmunsystem). She uses a brand that you mentioned in the post. From all your research can you tell if the oils from those brans are safe to use internal and external. Thank you!
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Hi Alex! I'm not sure which brand you are referring to - safety will depend on which brand you are talking about.
  65. Sherry said… July 4, 2020
    I've become quite fond of using essential oils. And while an admitted novice, the results I've seen make it hard to deny their usefulness in health and beauty applications. Additionally, my use of essential oils has helped reduce my use of more chemically derived products. Being a novice, I do alot of research in an effort to educate myself on the safety and efficacy of oils. UnfortuI've come across alot of useless self promoting fluff during my research, but must say that I found your article educational and quite informative! I'm looking forward to checking out more of your content...
  66. vpeavy1 said… July 23, 2020
    This article is amazing. I've been doing research on essential oils, and this by far is one of the best ones I've read. I checked out Living Libations, and I can see why you choose this brand. Are there any other brands you recommend? Thank you!
  67. Trinity said… October 7, 2020
    I really loved reading this article! I am just getting started in the essential oil world and have been testing to research as much as possible to use the oils responsibly! There are no children in my home, only 1 pet. Would you recommend Revive essential oils (if you’re comfortable answering that question) and are there any oils to avoid with pets in the home? Thank you so much! Stay safe friend!
    • Hi Trinity! I don't have pets, so I'm not an expert for what to use/avoid with them. I'd check in with your veterinarian. I found this blog article that you may find helpful, but it's always best to check in with an expert: https://www.saje.com/ca/blog/essential-oils-and-your-pet.html.
  68. Michele N said… December 27, 2020
    Hi.. what brand of essential oils do you recommend.
  69. Connie said… February 21, 2021
    A very informative article...thank you! I did an online workshop a few years ago that had a chemist do tests on peppermint and lavender oil for 4 of the top known sellers. The results were astounding. One of the oils (don't recall which) was more pure in the common cheap brand than the MLM brands. I think something to remember is that if a company is MLM...by the very nature of that business model it is profit based for multiple levels and therefore it isn't surprising they are very expensive. But that isn't a guarantee that it's better quality. I have recently started using Revive oils and find them to be lovely and they actually post their GC/MS reports so you can view without asking them for it. To me that speaks to transparency right there and gives me a level of trust. But no matter who you order from I think it's hard to know if they are already diluting it with another base oil when packaging. The report only gives you the purity of the feature oil but doesn't guarantee that they aren't secretly cutting it to make more money, which you'd never know.
  70. This post is really informative! I had no idea that MS/GC testing should be available for reputable oils. Good to know! The big MLM companies certainly have a lot of theatrics to get around sharing lab results.

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