By Dr. Robert Pappas, Founder of Essential University
To help consumers I have put together this list of red flags to look out for when making buying decisions concerning essential oils, if it were me and I was a consumer in today’s market I would monitor these aspects closely:
1. Avoid any company that does not state the Latin botanical name of the plant from which the oil originates.
2. Avoid companies that don't share the country of origin that the product was produced in. The country in which the plant was grown is key to its chemistry and chemistry is key to its organoleptic and therapeutic value.
3. Avoid buying oils that don't state the method of production. This is important because the very definition of an essential oil depends on how it was produced. To legitimately be called an essential oil the product must be produced by steam/water distillation or, with the only exception being the case of citrus oils, cold expression of the citrus peel. Solvent extracted products are not essential oils, this is why it's so important to understand the fundamental difference between distillation and extraction and why you should never say "method of extraction" in reference to an essential oil
4. Because of the way things have evolved in the market, I would avoid companies that use the "Therapeutic Grade" lingo. More scammers than not are now using this term and it really is nothing more than a marketing term because there is no independent body certifying anything as "Therapeutic Grade." More and more reputable companies are getting away from this marketing lingo. It's unfortunate but this term has now, based on sheer probability, become a warning signal for companies that you will want to stay away from. Virtually every company I have exposed for selling fake oils uses some variation of the claim "100% Pure Therapeutic Grade." Sure there may be a few exceptions but why risk it if it's a company you are not familiar with, probability is now on your side to avoid such companies and eventually I think we will see a day when ONLY companies selling junk will use "Therapeutic Grade" because these companies are not well educated and/or don't care what aromatherapy or true essential oils are.
5. I would avoid companies that tell you they are THE ONLY source for pure essential oils in the world. Generally, companies that want to convince you of this, have to convince you of this, in order to justify their abnormally high prices and keep you brand loyal. And generally, the people who are the most zealous about convincing you of this are the people reselling the brand making the claim. The truth is, while there are more adulterated oils out there than not, there are still multiple choices available to deal with good and reputable companies selling pure, high-quality essential oils for reasonable prices. No single brand will be the best at every oil, find a few reputable companies you feel comfortable with and buy from each of them according to what their strengths are.
6. Avoid companies who say they own all their own farms for essential oils, especially if they sell a large variety of oils. For a large company to sell only oil from farms they own would be next to impossible for a variety of reasons. In general, the larger the company, the more quantity of the oil that will likely come through brokers and traders in order to meet demand. This may be counter intuitive to some; you might be inclined to believe that the more money a company has the more it would have the means to own all of its farms. But when a company has to secure hundreds of tons of oil each year to satisfy demand, the more challenging the task becomes to produce enough oil from production facilities they may actually own.
7. Avoid companies who claim to sell Organic Oils but cannot provide you with a copy of the Organic Certification for their facility. If they say it's organic but not certified then that could be valid but if they make a claim of CERTIFIED ORGANIC then the facility selling the oil has to also be a certified organic facility.
It should be noted that in many other countries, Certified Organic itself is a scam and just a matter of paying off the right people to get the certifications.
8. Avoid companies that tell you to use essential oils inappropriately. EOs should NEVER be used on the skin in undiluted form without a carrier oil. Even mild oils like lavender can cause sensitization reactions and you never know when these reactions can occur. Also the oils should not be ingested in pure form or by putting drops in water. Essential oils are not water soluble and they are excellent organic solvents which means they dissolve mucous membranes quite easily. Many essential oils can be ingested at very minute FLAVOR CONCENTRATIONS, in the right carrier, but these products have to be properly formulated by professionals who fully understand the chemistry.
9. Avoid AT ALL COSTS buying oils on Amazon, eBay or any of the big box retailers. When cheap prices are the primary motivations driving sales, quality will suffer and you will get ripped off.
10. Don't rely on education concerning essential oils or related products from the company selling you the oil. Many times, financial motivations to sell more product skew the education that you as a consumer will receive from a company that has a vested interest in selling you more products. As a result of this, proper safety and usage precautions can go by the wayside. For more info on the safe use of essential oils there are two major aromatherapy organizations that you can learn more from by becoming members (I wish they would unite to a single organization because I think they would be more powerful that way):
Alliance of International
National Association for
I would recommend people who want to learn more about these subjects join these organizations and rely on them and the schools who are members for their education on essential oils rather than rely on the companies who are selling them the products.
Hope these tips help,