Choosing a great essential oil can feel a lot like buying a car or a TV. So many choices! So many promises! Once you cut through all of the sophisticated marketing and clever advertising, which product has the best quality for the cost? Where do you even start!? We are here to answer all of your questions and help you pick an essential oil you can trust.
Terminology: Essentials oils are a unique class of products since they aren’t typical medicines, they aren’t edible foods, and they aren’t official cosmetic products. They fall into a grey area that the FDA doesn’t govern, meaning there are no formal requirements or controls for labelling and quality. This means it is very important to do your own research before picking a product to make sure the company’s claims about their products aren’t unfounded. The biggest controversial term used right now in EO-World is “therapeutic grade”. Here’s what you need to know about it:
- The term “therapeutic grade” is a recent development.
- It was created and used by companies hoping to indicate that their product is meant specifically for holistic aromatherapy purposes and thus was carefully crafted to be of high quality.
- There are no standards required for a company to call their oils “therapeutic grade”, so do your own research to be sure the company is legitimate.
- Oils not labeled as therapeutic grade can still be of very high quality! With that said, most companies have started using the term “therapeutic grade” on their packing due to a growing common conception that oils must be labeled “therapeutic grade” in order to be worth using.
- TAKE AWAY MESSAGE: It’s important to use essential oils that are carefully grown, extracted, processed, packaged, tested, and stored. The term “therapeutic grade” implies that all of those things are done with the utmost care- but with no industry standards for the term currently in existence, there is no guarantee without further researching the company.
Purity: In order to use essential oils in holistic medicine, the oils must be complete and unaltered with the highest ratio of natural elements for therapeutic benefit. However, industries like the fragrance, cosmetic, and beverage industries often use essential oils that have been altered, adulterated, mixed with fillers and synthetics and overall changed from its natural, therapeutic form. For this reason, it is important to find an essential oil company that sells oils that are pure – no fillers, no artificial additives, and no changes to the chemical components. Only then will your money be well spent on a true product!
- TAKE AWAY MESSAGE: Make sure the essential oils you are using are truly and 100% essential oils. They should not be blended with less expensive ingredients, synthetics, or carrier oils.
Quality: It seems like quality would be the same thing as purity, but they are actually two very separate concepts. Let’s say you found an oil that is 100% pure – nothing about the oil was changed from extraction to packaging. Unfortunately, that oil can still be of very poor quality based on the soil in which the plant grew, weather and climate variables, harvesting methods, storage before and after distillation, the part of the plant used in distillation, the distillation equipment used, and packaging techniques. Phew, that’s quite a list, I know. That’s why it’s so important to do your research and find a company that works ethically and is willing to be transparent about their processes.
- TAKE AWAY MESSAGE: The internet is a powerful tool, so look at what others have said about the different brands you are considering. Research the companies. And of course, try it out for yourself to see if it meets your standards.
Cost: Ah, the wallet. I keep mine safeguarded as if I were surrounded by a gang of pirates. I hate, hate, HATE spending money when I don’t need to, and I know I’m not the only one! Essential oils are so adaptable, and a few drops go a long way, so your money is very well spent on a few bottles- as long as the company’s pricing is fair. If one company is light years cheaper than most others, it’s probably too good to be true. Low, low price equates to low, low quality. On the flip side, unless a company offers something outstanding that no other company does, a high, high price probably equates to… a rip off. You do need to pay for quality, but make sure it’s within range of other similar companies.
- TAKE AWAY MESSAGE: Rare oils, or oils that require significantly more plant to create the oil, will be more expensive. Common oils will be cheaper. A super low price is probably too good to be true (bummer, I know).
Testing: Figuring out the essential oil testing lingo can look a bit like alphabet soup, but the tests exist so that producers, suppliers, and customers can have quantifiable proof of an oil’s quality and purity. Gas Chromatography (GC) and Mass Spectroscopy (MS) basically prove that the elements within an oil sample are appropriate and untainted. You’ll see it referred to as a GC-MS test. The results are compared to reliable samples to check for true purity and quality.
- TAKE AWAY MESSAGE: If a company makes their GC-MS testing results available, use them in your research to help make an informed decision.
That summarises the major items to be considering when shopping for an essential oil, but don’t let it overwhelm you! Everybody has a different favourite brand. Have some fun experimenting!