You’ll find that routine essential oil users have a preferred brand–sometimes two in case their favorite doesn’t carry or is out of a particular oil they want. Most of these people will spend hours sifting through information and clever marketing in search of the best essential oil distributor.
Things you should care about:
- Purity – it shouldn’t contain synthetics, fillers, or “cheaper” oils that smell the same as what’s on the label (i.e. you don’t want to buy cinnamon only to discover it’s cassia)
- Quality – it should be grown, harvested, and stored correctly so it’s medicinal value is as high as possible
- Reputation – what are the third party, non affiliated testing labs finding? Is this company respected in the professional aromatherapy and herbalism world?
- Sustainable Practices – essential oils are harvested and processed all over the world. We are either going to help others or hurt others with our purchases of oils, so you want to know that your company is dedicated to sustainable and responsible manufacturing of oils, both for the environment and for the communities involved in growing, harvesting, and producing these oils.
If you focus on those four areas, you will be well on your way to feeling good about your essential oil purchase. There are some myths though, that can get confusing.
- Myth: Essential Oil Grades. Fact: There are none. Essential oils are unregulated, therefor, there is no agency setting forth a standard of “grades” for essential oils. There is no A-B-C-D grades, no “therapeutic” grade, nada! Anyone can label their oils “grade A” or “therapeutic” or “pure”. You can’t rely on this title to tell you what’s in your bottle.
- Myth: GCMS reports are available. Fact: You need to know what you’re looking at. I do like when companies are transparent with their testing results. However, unless you are a chemist specifically trained in aromatherapy, you probably aren’t going to be able to really translate these reports into useful information. Some companies won’t release their reports for this exact reason. Others, I suspect, won’t release them because they aren’t positive that the GCMS results are good, or who knows, maybe they don’t even have test results! When a company does have GCMS reports available, though, you need to make sure that they have one available not for every oil, but for every batch of oil. There will be slight variations between batches of oils. If they aren’t available for every batch, you can assume that having the GCMS reports available is more a marketing ploy giving you a false sense of security rather than the company actually being transparent with their testing results.
- Myth: Independent lab testing results don’t matter. Fact: Yes, yes those results do matter. I have seen people argue that it doesn’t matter how many times their company’s oils test positive for synthetics or other problems when a non-affiliated lab tests their oils, because they are only going to trust what their company tells them directly. I don’t even feel a need to comment further on this. Let’s just leave it at: if multiple labs are finding problems with a company’s oils, do not buy their oils. Common sense.
- Myth: The FDA says my company’s oils are safe for internal use. Fact: The FDA doesn’t regulate essential oils. I see people misunderstand what the FDA designation of “Generally Regarded As Safe” (GRAS) means, and so they in turn state this myth. This topic is a separate post, really, but just know that the FDA is not affiliated with any essential oil company, they do not regulate any essential oils, and they have never stated that any oils are safe for internal use, nor that any oil company is better than any other company…because they don’t regulate oils!
- Myth: Because my oil company puts “nutritional information” on the oil bottles, that means they are better than other oils on the market. Fact: anyone can put nutritional information on their bottle if it’s a GRAS designated oil. I imagine most companies don’t do this because some people use the GRAS designation to imply you can use the oils as a nutritional supplement, and I’m pretty sure doing that will increase your company’s insurance costs. Some companies are okay with that, other companies are not. It *is* nice to know how many mg of therapeutic quality are in a given drop of essential oil if you are working as a clinical aromatherapist or herbalist, though, so I really appreciate this information! …but it does NOT mean that oils with nutritional information are a “higher grade” than one without that information.
- Myth: If it’s a MLM, I can’t trust the oils. Fact: MLM’s are just like any other company, they just use word of mouth to market rather than advertisements to market. You need to look at it like any other essential oil company and ask yourself the four questions in the beginning of this post. My favorite essential oil company is a MLM!
- Myth: Cheaper (or pricier) equals better oils (or more honest company). Fact: quality oils will cost more because it costs more to ensure correct growing conditions/harvesting/storing/testing/etc., but that doesn’t mean that just because an oil has a higher price tag, that it’s a more quality oil. Only testing can determine that! On the same hand, just because a company offers cheaper oils, doesn’t mean that company is “being more honest” by having lower prices. Maybe they have figured out how to cut cost, maybe they aren’t getting the best oils (plants grown in different areas or harvested at different times or grown in different ways will vary DRASTICALLY in therapeutic qualities), maybe, maybe, maybe! Before you look at price, really look at the four things in the beginning of this post. Additionally, I have noticed that some “more expensive” companies will offer deals, discounts, or buying programs that even allow you to buy at a discount and then give you product points back for your purchases. This changes the price point entirely. Where I buy my oils, for instance, I get around a 25% discount, and then I get 30% back in products points, and I get everything I spend in shipping back in product points when I order every month. Ultimately, this means if I buy $100 worth of oils, I only end up in effect paying $52.50 plus tax. Big difference.
Want to learn more about essential oils? Check out our free go-at-your-own-pace online Essential Oils and Herbs 101 course under the “education” tab!
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