Where to Buy Essential Oils:
This question is commonly asked by people just getting into oils, as well as those who happen to be a bit more experienced in the field. Whether you’re brand new to essential oils or have been using them for quite some time, we can all agree that there’s an abundance of information related to the topic.
- Are You New to Buying Essential Oils?
- Are You a More Seasoned Buyer?
- 4 Common Misconceptions Among Essential Oil Users
- Keep a Clear and Open Mind
- A Beginners Checklist: Choosing Quality Essential Oil
- The Research Begins
- Bringing it All Together
- Quality Essential Oils: FAQs
- 1. Why is the quality of essential oils crucial?
- 2. Can I buy essential oils from any store?
- 3. How can I verify the quality of an essential oil before purchasing?
- 4. Why do the prices of essential oils vary widely?
- 5. Can I consume essential oils internally?
- 6. Are essential oils safe to use during pregnancy?
- 7. How should I store my essential oils?
- 8. Are essential oils safe for pets?
- 9. How long do essential oils last?
- 10. How do I choose a carrier oil to mix with an essential oil?
Furthermore, there’s a lot of great information, as well as a lot of not-so-great information all over the place. Therefore, when you’re weighing and researching where you should purchase essential oils or which brands are the higher quality brands vs. the lower quality brands, accurate and objective research will save you quite a bit of time. With all the amazing health benefits of oils, as well as their common use in aromatherapy, it’s great that you’re asking yourself this question because you realize quality matters.
Are You New to Buying Essential Oils?
Over the past decade and onwards, the popularity of essential oils has been intensifying exponentially and has cooled down a bit in recent years. After marketing experts realized just how much money could be made, essential oil companies started popping up all over the place. While more competition in the essential oil industry is actually probably a good thing, it can make your decisions more difficult to make when it comes to purchasing the “right” brand of oils.
As in any industry, especially the health and beauty industry, more competition also means more manipulative marketing strategies, an inundation of endless purchasing options, confusion among potential buyers (You!), and varying product quality. Not only do we see those differences, but we also tend to see a wide and varying range of prices from one brand to another. You’ve made the right decision in researching how you can use essential oils to improve your health, so don’t let all the confusion surrounding the market as a whole cause you to become a victim of “analysis paralysis”.
Don’t become a victim of analysis paralysis. We’re here to help you navigate the waters.
So, with all of these endless variables in the essential oil industry, you just want to know which essential oil is really the best option for you to purchase at a reasonable price. By the end of this guide, you will be prepared to know which brands of oils are “top-notch”. I recommend that you start your oil collection with high-quality oils that you won’t feel disappointed you bought down the road. In the oil industry, you can get good quality for a good price, period. I like to think of it the same way I would if I were buying my child their very first instrument: It’s best to start with quality.
So, The journey to a healthier and more relaxed you don’t need to be overly complicated!
Are You a More Seasoned Buyer?
Do you remember those blissful days when you first got into oils? Do you remember that very first diffuser you ever purchased? How about the excitement and anticipation you experienced the moment you smelled the aromatic scents of your oils for the first time?
Ah..those days were nice, weren’t they? Well, I’m sure you’re still enjoying your oils quite nicely. As you well know, the more you learn about oils and their amazing uses in regard to your health, the more exciting they are to use. That being said, you’ve probably heard all kinds of “buzz” about MLM oil companies (we’ll get there later), conflicting results about certifications, and differing opinions about the “good” brands. Whatever the case, you know just how important the benefits of essential oils are for your health because you’ve experienced those benefits firsthand. So, how have you been accessing which oils you should buy over the years?
4 Common Misconceptions Among Essential Oil Users
There are a lot of misconceptions among those who regularly use and purchase essential oils. While some of them may happen to be true from time to time, remember what you learned in science class: Correlation doesn’t equal causation.
#1 – “Higher priced oils are better quality.”
As with almost anything else, just because the price of any particular essential oil may be higher than others does not mean that the quality is superior in any way. Higher-priced oils may or may not be better than their competitors. So, price alone cannot be relied on as a way to verify quality. In some cases, more expensive oils may actually be of inferior quality without their customers ever knowing that they’re getting less than they’re paying for. As you shop for various scents and kinds of oils for your own personal use, do not assume that higher-priced oils equal higher quality.
Along these same lines, it goes without mentioning that if you see particular brands consistently priced far below other brands, expect quality to be lacking. The idea here is that you need to do your due diligence when you consider purchasing oils from any company. Do some research and find out about how they define their quality-related claims.
#2 – “As Long as my oil is “Therapeutic Grade” or “Food Grade” it’s of superior quality.”
There’s actually no such certification as “therapeutic grade,” and there’s also no reputable governing body that has implemented any kind of certification process whatsoever. This “quality seal” is purely a deceptive marketing ploy that holds no significance in regard to the quality of the essential oil in question. Furthermore, any company that does claim to be therapeutic grade may be referring to their own internal quality guidelines and assessments, but bear in mind that these claims by name are not regulated or verified by any governing body.
“Therapeutic grade” may also refer to general specification guidelines set forth by AFNOR (Association Francaise de Normalization). The key here is that AFNOR doesn’t regulate any company making this claim; they just set forth specifications for companies to follow as a guide.
So, before you jump to buy that “therapeutic grade” essential oil, there are other things you should consider as well, which we’ll address later. The Phrase “therapeutic grade” is absolutely not any sort of “silver bullet” when it comes to the quality of your essential oil buying choices because it can basically mean whatever the seller wants it to mean. So, it’s really about how each company, in particular, defines their use of the phrase and whether or not you’ll trust their adherence to those claims.
You may also see other grading systems like “A”, “B”, or “C”, “C” being the worst. Those designations also don’t have any concrete significance and aren’t regulated for quality either.
Furthermore, when it comes to essential oils, the quality of any given oil is also not merely based upon certain lab testing methods (MS/GC specifically) that some companies perform. Moreover, quality is also determined by cultivation processes, harvesting, distillation, extraction, packaging, and other factors. That being said, companies that do provide you with the MS/GC reports are taking an extra step to back up their quality claims, and that’s a plus.
All of this being true, that doesn’t mean that every single company using the phrase “therapeutic grade” is intentionally trying to deceive you. I would, however, like to see more transparency in this area in general.
The term “Food Grade“ basically means that the oil is “generally recognized as safe” for their intended food additive use (in small quantities).
You can view a list of “Food Grade”/”generally safe” additives here: FDA – Food for Human Consumption – Part 182: Substances Generally Recognized as Safe.
There are no regulated quality standards, only guidelines. Now, interpreting what exactly this means when it comes to choosing one particular brand over another is a different story. Remember, there is no grading or quality system in the essential oil industry. Thus, in the case of “food grade”, that simply means the oil has been redistilled to make it more suitable and “safe for human consumption”.
For example, peppermint oil with a “Food Grade” designation may have a sweeter candy taste than wholly distilled peppermint essential oil because the redistilled “Food Grade” oil has been distilled again to separate out more specific qualities preferable for food additive use.
Therefore, food-grade oils are actually less pure than essential oils that do not have this designation because they’ve been redistilled and even blended or diluted. For example, “100% Pure Food Grade” may simply mean that 5% of the blend is actually redistilled essential oil, whilst the other 95% is regular everyday vegetable oil. It gets a lot more complicated than that, but this is a simple way to comprehend it.
Some companies and sales consultants may casually recommend that oils be consumed for all manner of uses. Not only are those claims not regulated, but it’s downright irresponsible for anyone untrained to encourage someone to ingest essential oils, especially when that person has just been introduced to them. I’m not saying that there’s no reason to ever ingest essential oils or that there aren’t any healthy benefits to doing so.
However, what I am saying is that there can be serious health risks from ingesting oils incorrectly or irresponsibly. If you plan to ingest oils in their pure form, it’s best that you seek advice or administering guidelines from a certified aromatherapist first. Again, please seek advice from a trained and certified expert in the field before ingesting any kind of essential oil in its pure form.
#3 – “100% all-natural essential oils are the best.”
I have an assignment for you. Whenever you’re watching TV, going grocery shopping, or gathering new coupons for yourself, be on the lookout for this deceptive “all natural” phrase. Oftentimes when it comes to purchasing groceries, people tend to equate “all-natural” with organic, healthy, or high-quality.
In the food industry, all-natural doesn’t really mean anything special; it’s just another marketing ploy. Have you ever read an orange juice, butter, or egg label that says “all-natural”? Of course, orange juice, butter, and eggs should be all-natural! Or at least they better be! So, claiming that something already natural is actually natural isn’t really saying much at all. We’re so bombarded with advertising and marketing that we don’t even realize it when companies are merely stating the obvious to us, and we don’t oftentimes wonder why they’re doing it.
In the same way, in the essential oil industry, “100% all-natural” may not be that significant of a claim at all. For example, if you purchase an oil blend that’s not nearly as potent because it’s been diluted with weaker carrier oils, it can still claim to be “100% natural,” even though it falls reprehensively short of a pure essential oil.
As companies in this industry figure out how to gain an edge over their competitors, it’s sad to see how questionable marketing tactics are oftentimes utilized to gain extra profit. It’s also sad that these companies expect the customer to not know any better and, therefore, proceed with their deceptive strategies.
You can read two warning letters from the FDA sent to two very well-known essential oil companies here:
You will see that the warnings in the above letters are in reference to claims made by consultants and not claims made by the companies themselves. These letters from the FDA are somewhat reassuring because while advertising is quite convoluted in this industry, there are still many claims that are illegal to propagate. Specifically, these consultants made claims about their oils curing ailments, which is prohibited for any essential oil company marketing health products.
No bias is intended here regarding these companies themselves, it’s just another example of confusion in this industry, and it’s one worth reading about.
#4 – “As long as it’s all-natural, I can use it safely for whatever use I desire.”
Anyone ingesting essential oils would say the above phrase is blatantly wrong. However, while they’d say they disagree with the idea that “anything natural is always safe”, they practically use their oils with the very same presupposition every time they ingest their oils! Now again, I am not saying that anyone who ingests their oils is doing so irresponsibly. But what I am saying is that caution should be followed when doing so, especially for pregnant women or anyone with medical conditions.
Also, any kind of long-term treatment with essential oils should be done in partnership with a healthcare professional or certified aromatherapist. So, just because something is natural doesn’t mean that it isn’t toxic or will not eventually lead to toxicity over time.
You can read about more about injury reports and analysis by clicking on the links below:
After reading the above reports, you will see how acute reactions with improper essential oil use aren’t actually rare at all. Those who desire to learn more about essential oils do so because they want to improve their health. Therefore, for the sake of your health, do not use oils haphazardly because serious complications can and do occur. While the essential oil journey is enjoyable and intriguing, remember that you’re dealing with highly concentrated plant compounds.
There is a right way and a wrong way to use essential oils. The best road to take on your essential oil journey is the one that’s paved with caution and filled with curiosity, not to mention a lot of fun as well.
Keep a Clear and Open Mind
It’s OK if you feel a bit overwhelmed. I hope that after reading through the last 4 common misconceptions regarding essential oils, you’re not too overwhelmed. There are, of course, other ways people may confuse their decisions when it comes to essential oils in general, but the 4 ways we addressed are quite common. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s OK. If you’re not feeling at all overwhelmed, that’s great.
When it comes to buying essential oils, it’s crucial to simply remain objective. People who tend to be more objective aren’t opposed to any one thing immediately. Rather, they’ll consider the options carefully and in their own time, knowing that there’s no reason to have to make a decision immediately without gathering more facts first. So, that’s exactly what you need to do when weighing one essential oil brand with another.
Gather facts from each company you’re considering and see how they all stack up against each other. In your journey to find the best oils, also know that more research is a step in the right direction. But as we mentioned earlier, don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis!
The chances are that as you grow your essential oil collection, you will, from time to time, need to purchase specific oils from different companies. That means you will increase the likelihood of running across companies that don’t meet your own personal standards and preferences. Actually, as you expand your collection, I can almost guarantee you’ll face some disappointment at times, perhaps even from a company that you’ve been impressed with! The reason for this is because there really are so many variables that come into play in regards to quality. If you do, it’s not the end of the world.
As You Use and Buy Oils, You Will Begin to See Differences in Quality
Have you ever tried taking music or language lessons before? I remember the first time I played the piano and how exciting it was. I actually thought I played a few really great-sounding pieces and was surprised by how “good” I was. However, after I progressed through lesson upon lesson, what I once thought was “good” was far inferior to the new proficiencies I achieved over time. Now, there’s no reason why the entire journey can’t be enjoyable, and it should be!
So, as you begin your journey with oils, just know that years from now, you may look back and think to yourself, “I can’t believe I purchased oils from that company!” or “Why didn’t I notice the terrible and inferior smell of this oil?”.
The most important part of your journey at this stage is that you enjoy it! You should always enjoy any journey that begins with a desire to take a proactive step in the right direction in regard to your health and wellness. You will make mistakes, you will need help, you will have questions, and you will not always have the results you’d hoped for.
As you gain more and more experience and become more adept at buying and using oils, your senses will be better equipped to detect bad quality. So, just be patient in your learning journey, don’t do anything too rashly, and have fun.
A Beginners Checklist: Choosing Quality Essential Oil
As we’ve already addressed in many more ways than one, claims made by essential oil companies are not verified for quality in any way that’s standardized across the entire industry as a whole. Therefore, we can only differentiate between companies by “being on the lookout” for specific factors in the cycle of any company’s product as well as quality guidelines and practices.
Essential Oil Buyer’s Cheat Sheet:
You should consider purchasing from any essential oil supplier that meets a majority of the standards below:
- Dedicated to supplying oils to aromatherapy practitioners and those in the public who are more educated in the field
- Owned or operated by trained essential oil specialists and aromatherapy practitioners
- Maintain close relationships with their own distillers whenever possible
- Provide GC/MS spec reports for each oil they sell, specific for each batch
- Willingly provide MSDS sheets (material safety data sheets) when requested
- Companies that are known to be ethical and reputable
- Companies with a long track record and reputation among authorities in the field (aromatherapists, medical practitioners, educators, etc.)
- Wildcrafted, unsprayed, and certified organic products.
You can find a similar list at The East-West School for Herbal & Aromatic Studies. I modified their original list and created a few additions.
Now again, the above list is only a guide. Furthermore, if you really want to get down to exactly what quality standards any particular supplier follows, you’ll likely have to contact them because oftentimes, the general information on their respective websites is somewhat vague. So, don’t be shy at the beginning of your search for quality essential oils; send an email or call the companies you’re considering.
Any company that’s worth its salt will be thrilled that you called and even impressed that you have such a desire for real quality. If you can find essential oil suppliers that meet most of the qualifications on the list, you can feel good about your decision to purchase their oils. However, not any single factor that made it into the above list is reason enough to purchase the essential oil in question. Rather, think of the above list as a checklist of sorts; the more items that are true of an essential oil brand you’re considering, the better.
Here’s what I mean, let’s take a look at “organic,” for example. The government actually does restrict and regulate how this word is used. Whether a product is “100% organic, “organic”, “made with organic”, or contains organic ingredients, there are specific requirements for each designation. In this specific case, “100% organic” has the strictest standards. So again, there is no silver bullet!
Don’t be shy. Reach out to essential oil suppliers that look promising and get more details.
The Research Begins
Well, by this point, you should have a far more comprehensive understanding of how to select higher-quality essential oils. You also know that nothing should keep you from using essential oils in the near future along this exciting learning journey. Marketing tactics aside, you are now more fully enabled to scrutinize the various claims made by essential oil companies. Therefore, I’ll leave you with a list of a number of companies you should investigate further.
As time goes on, I may make changes to this list, individually review companies on the list, or add more details for each company appearing on the list.
My main purpose in listing these companies for you is to give you a few places to begin your search for quality essential oils. My purpose in this post is not, however, to recommend any one company over the rest because I really want you to make that determination for yourself. If I see certain companies that are really doing a great job with quality, it’s very likely I will recommend them in other future posts or pages. So, stay tuned. We’re in this journey together.
But it’s not my intention here to “sneak in” any kind of special endorsement in regard to any one company in particular. Remember, I want you to remain objective, learn how to research, and make great decisions for yourself. It really isn’t my place to make these decisions for you because I know how valuable the learning process will prove to be for you. That means I also want you to test what I write as well!
Essential Oil Companies to Consider
- Mountain Rose Essential Oils
- Rocky Mountain Oils
- Snow Lotus
- Healing Naturals Oils
- Starwest Botanicals
- Aromatics International
- Aura Cacia
- Now Foods
- Stillpoint Aromatics
- Aromatics International
- Plant Therapy
*The above list is in no specific order.
Bringing it All Together
You now have what you need to make the best buying decisions when it comes to purchasing high-quality essential oils. Take what you’ve learned here and put it to good use! If you’ve made it through to the end of this post, you’ve demonstrated that you really do care about what products you use in your home.
You now have a great checklist of factors for consideration when you purchase your oils, you’re better prepared to wade through deceptive marketing tactics, and you have a beginner’s list of great companies to consider researching for your purchases.
Quality Essential Oils: FAQs
Do you still have some questions lingering in your mind about buying essential oils? Here are the most frequently asked questions we’ve come across, along with their answers, to help you become an informed buyer.
1. Why is the quality of essential oils crucial?
Quality is of utmost importance when it comes to essential oils because the effectiveness of the oil is deeply linked to its purity. A good quality essential oil should be 100% pure without any additives or synthetic chemicals.
2. Can I buy essential oils from any store?
While you can find essential oils in many stores, it’s essential to purchase them from a reputable source to ensure the oil’s quality and purity.
3. How can I verify the quality of an essential oil before purchasing?
Key indicators of quality to look for might include:
- Certified organic or wildcrafted labels
- The scientific name of the plant on the label
- Purity statement
4. Why do the prices of essential oils vary widely?
The prices of essential oils can vary due to factors such as the rarity of the plant, the country of origin, and the difficulty of extraction.
5. Can I consume essential oils internally?
Most essential oils are not safe for internal consumption without proper guidance from a healthcare practitioner due to their high potency.
6. Are essential oils safe to use during pregnancy?
Some essential oils are not recommended for use during pregnancy. It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare practitioner before using.
7. How should I store my essential oils?
The ideal storage conditions for essential oils are in a cool, dark place. Sunlight and heat can alter their properties.
8. Are essential oils safe for pets?
Some essential oils can be harmful to pets, so it’s important to consult with a vet before using essential oils around your pets.
9. How long do essential oils last?
Typically, essential oils will last for 2-3 years if properly stored.
10. How do I choose a carrier oil to mix with an essential oil?
The choice of a carrier oil depends on your skin type, the therapeutic effect you’re after, and personal preference. Fractionated coconut oil, almond oil, and jojoba oil are great options to try.