Choosing where to buy your essential oils can be a minefield. We know the market is tainted with synthetic and adulterated oils.
Cheap fragrance oils are being sold as “aromatherapy”. Brands are slapping the meaningless term “therapeutic grade” onto everything. Customers are being conned. They are left feeling confused over who to trust. Some become suspicious of the entire industry. It’s not surprising that my most-viewed YouTube video is “10 Ways to Spot Fake Essential Oils”.
In the meantime, the big two MLM brands use this fear to their advantage by claiming their oils are the ONLY ones that are 100% pure. Cleverly, they use scaremongering tactics about adulteration to justify their outrageous prices.
A Happy Medium
Luckily, there is some middle ground. You CAN purchase good quality essential oils without paying MLM prices. There are lots of reputable aromatherapy companies out there.
I am asked – virtually on a daily basis – to recommend essential oil companies. So far, I’ve published brand reviews for Plant Therapy, Florihana and Base Formula. I’ve also collaborated with Edens Garden and Neal’s Yard Remedies. These are all fabulous brands that I am more than happy to recommend.
I’m hoping to publish more brand reviews in 2018 – particularly UK brands, as it’s not always convenient for us to order from the US.
Is this brand ok?
All the time, I receive emails from people asking “Is this brand ok?”
It’s often an obscure brand I’ve never heard of before. If I’ve never used the products, I can’t really comment on their quality. All I can tell you is whether I’ve heard anything “good” or “bad” about them.
I can take a look at their website and do a little snooping around online. But the only accurate way to measure the purity of an essential oil is to have it GC/MS tested by a third-party. Obviously, this isn’t something that’s available to the average home user – but there ARE some useful warning signs to watch out for. I have already covered some of these in 10 Ways to Spot Fake Essential Oils.
As I’m asked this question so often, I thought it might be useful to share the advice I give to people who ask “Is this brand ok?”
1. Do they promote unsafe advice?
Any recommendation to ingest or use neat on the skin (without dilution) is an instant red flag. Check their Lemon essential oil – are they encouraging you to add a drop to your glass of water? Is there any advice about dropping essential oils under your tongue, or into cupped hands? Are there any mentions of taking oils internally to improve immunity or general wellbeing? If so – AVOID! This is not the sign of a professional or ethical aromatherapy brand.
2. Don’t buy from Amazon or eBay
There are many things you can buy from Amazon and eBay, but essential oils shouldn’t be one of them! Seriously, there’s a lot of junk on there.
Don’t assume that an essential oil brand is good quality just because it’s a high-seller on Amazon. What’s the first thing people do on Amazon? Sort by Lowest Price. This means the cheapest products will always sell the most.
Thousands of 5-star reviews are NOT an indicator of quality. Lots of ratings are “paid for” positive reviews, and loads of people leave positive comments before even trying the product (Ever spotted those comments like “Haven’t opened it yet, but it looks great! 5 stars!” or “Delivered on time, well packaged – 5 stars!”)
Many people won’t even realise they’re using essential oils that are fake or poor quality. You might wonder “Does it matter, if you can’t tell the difference?” Yes, it does. Synthetic essential oils will not have the same therapeutic value as pure essential oils. Not to mention the risk of skin irritation or unknown side-effects.
3. Suspicious prices
Compare the prices with 3 or 4 other reputable brands. Are they suspiciously cheap? Are all the oils priced the same? These are both warning signs. Check the prices of Rose, Jasmine and Neroli – these should all be significantly more expensive than oils like Lemon and Orange.
- In the UK, the Aromatherapy Trade Council provides a useful list of members who adhere to their professional code of ethics, so this can be a good place to start.
- In the US, several brands have recently been outed as fake by independent expert Dr Robert Pappas. Follow Essential Oil University and Essential Oil Analysis Foundation on Facebook to keep up to date with the latest independent reviews.
So far, the following brands have been found to be fake or adulterated:
Please note this list is not exhaustive. I know there are PLENTY more, but these are the ones with evidence I can link to. I’ll add to this list as and when new reports are published.
Overall, my advice would be: if in doubt, don’t buy it.
Stick with a reputable brand that you know you can trust. There are plenty of good, reasonably-priced aromatherapy companies out there. Why take a risk on a cheap unknown brand?
If you’re putting essential oils on your skin, or hoping for a therapeutic effect, you need to be using 100% pure essential oils. Let’s support reputable aromatherapy brands who are committed to sourcing quality oils. And next time you spot some “pure lavender oil” at a bargain store…keep on walking!
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