I first started using essential oils when I became a yoga teacher; I always loved classes when the teachers walked around and offered adjustments during savasana, even more so when they used essential oils on their hands. When I started teaching, I’d use whatever oils I could get my hands on – mostly oils and blends from big chain stores or online retailers. It wasn’t until my students started asking me what kind of oils I used, where I sourced them and what was in them that I realized I was paying a lot of money for cheap carrier oils mixed with foreign compounds, rather than therapeutic quality essential oils.
Here’s the deal:
Essential oils are not all created equal.
In fact, a high percentage of oils sold are adulterated.
Click here to read more about adulterated essential oils from The Essential Family.
The importance of essential oil quality, especially if the oils are to be applied directly onto the skin or consumed, cannot be understated. Adulterants, such as additives, extenders, price-reducing ingredients, and carrier oils, in an essential oil can affect the physiological and psychophysiological properties of an oil, thus potentially affecting the therapeutic benefit of the oil for your treatment purposes.
You might be wandering:
How do I determine if my essential oils are pure?
There are a few simple ways.
Below, I explain exactly how you can test your essential oils at home by taking a look at the texture, smell, and disposition of your oils. Finally, I’ll give you a couple of tips on how to look out for fake essential oils when buying them online or at your local health store.
But first, one thing to note: with the growth in popularity of holistic healing and aromatherapy, countless essential oil distributors and manufacturers have launched into this relatively new retail space, willing to cut corners to turn a better profit. Unfortunately, there is no standardized grading system for essential oils, and when you start to dig deeper it becomes clear that the term ‘therapeutic grade’ is little more than a marketing tactic.
Read more about the ‘therapeutic-grade’ myth on Weed Em’ & Reap, here.
Now, just because ‘therapeutic grade’ is an advertising tactic, doesn’t mean that essential oil quality doesn’t exist. It does, you just have to know what to look for. Whether you’re trying to buy oils in a physical or online store, use the following simple tips to evaluate your essential oil quality before making an investment:
1. You Get What You Pay For. Quality essential oils are expensive, and there’s no getting around it. Some oils – like rosemary and lavender – are more abundant, making prices lower, but as a general rule you can expect to spend between $20-$100 for 1 oz, unless you are getting something rare like Bulgarian Rose or Tonka Bean, which go for about $250/oz. Once you start dipping into cheaper oils, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll end up with synthetic fragrances or diluted oils rather than the real stuff. Do a price comparison of your chosen oil on a few different sites. Some of my favorites sources are Eden Botanicals and Mountain Rose Herbs.
2. Sniff It Out. This tip works best if you’ve got a keen nose and can sniff out specific ingredients or artificial scents, but can be a useful clue no matter what. Essential oils are distilled, concentrated version of the plants, roots or herbs they come from, meaning they should have a pungent, distinctive odor. If your oils smell too mild, or they have any artificial notes conflicting with the main smell, it may be a sign that you’ve got a low quality oil.
3. Read Your Labels. For this method, you may need to brush up on your Latin. When listing ingredients, you’ll find that companies are required to use the botanical names of actual plant matter used in a product. For example, if your cedarwood essential oil lists ‘cedarwood’ as an ingredient, you’ve like got a dud. If, however, you find ‘cedrus atlantica’ on the list, you can rest assured that there’s true cedarwood oil inside.
4. Check the Texture. The term ‘essential oil’ is actually a misnomer, because essential oils aren’t oils at all. True essential oils are fairly thin liquids that will slip nicely when rubbed together, rather than other common oils like olive oil or coconut oil. Those oils are more viscous and fatty than essential oils, and that texture difference is a telltale sign of an oil that may be diluted.
5. Know Your Supplier. Because there is no official organization regulating essential oils, it can be very helpful to research your provider before making a purchase decision.
“I certainly would want a supplier who is dedicated to supplying essential oils to the aromatherapy practitioner market and educated public, that is on the small side and who has relations with his or her distillers,” says Certified Herbalist and president of the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy, Jade Shutes.
Whether you’re buying in store or online, research the company you’re considering buying from. Do they use lots of gimmicky marketing language, that you now know means little about the quality of their oils? Do they offer the ‘cheapest oils on the market, meaning they’re probably using additives you don’t want? Is there an FAQ page providing insight on where they source their ingredients from or what farms and farmers they work with?
6. Color of the Bottle. If the bottle housing the essential oil is not amber or blue, the heat and sun have a much easier access to the oil, which leads to faster degradation of it. A high quality, authentic oil will almost always be house in a dark-colored glass to protect it from harmful, ultraviolet rays.
Next time you want to stock up on essential oils, follow these six steps and keep an eye out for flashy marketing claims.
One of the things I love most about Nomaterra Fragrances is Aggie and Ben’s unwavering dedication to quality. With every new fragrance, Aggie and Ben smell and test countless oils, only sourcing the very best products that are vegan, sustainable and ethically sourced. This ultimately creates a final product that not only smells incredible, but is also one that you can feel good about using every day.
When you take the time to evaluate essential oil quality, you’ll be amazed by the effects these holistic tools can have on your health. Whether using lavender to help you sleep or keep calm during rush hour traffic, lemon oils in your water to detox, or diffused eucalyptus to encourage mental clarity, quality oils are an incredible tool to have in your back pocket.
For more information on how to incorporate quality essential oils into your life, visit www.wellsoul.co and sign-up for our newsletter.
About the Author
Chelsea Moore is the founder of the Well Soul Collective, where she uses health coaching and yoga to encourages women all around the world to develop an awareness of and connection to their health and wellness, taking responsibility for their happiness and building the life of their dreams.