An Unbiased Review of Essential Oils
I receive most of my oils as gifts (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) from family members and friends. Not a single holiday goes by where I don't receive multiple new oils as gifts. I am lucky enough that all the oils pictured above didn't bring me to bankruptcy because of the generous gifts I have received from loved ones. However, I also spend almost all of my disposable income on health-related products, like essential oils. Health is my number one priority when it comes to spending my money.
I was at the POTS Treatment Center in Dallas, Texas when a patient's mom told me about essential oils. Well, I had heard of tea tree oil and lavender oil before, because my mom had bought me both from a health food store. But it wasn't until an encounter at the POTS Treatment Center when I really came to know them.
I was waiting for my appointment and a woman was there to pick up her kid from an appointment. She told me how her skin has never been softer since using Frankincense oil, that her oldest son has stopped snoring ever since diffusing Peppermint oil at night, and that her daughter-in-law didn't believe in the power of essential oils until she tried one for her back and experienced immediate relief. The next day, this same mom gave me a handbook about essential oils so I could learn more. I was intrigued, but incredibly overwhelmed. I had heard of essential oils here and there, but I didn't know where to start.
When I got home from the POTS Treatment Center, this mom added me as a friend on Facebook. She told me all about Young Living's starter kit where you can get an essential oil diffuser and a bunch of oils for a discounted price. She gave me her "sponsor ID" number (since Young Living is an MLM program) so I could purchase this starter kit.
When it arrived at my house, I was really excited but definitely still overwhelmed. I spent a lot of time looking on Google and Pinterest to find out how to use them. I started with diffusing lavender oil when I was having panic attacks (I first started having panic attacks in 2014 after some medical trauma, but thankfully don't have them any more).
I now use essential oils multiple times a day. I am incredibly grateful for the relief they provide, but I'd like to emphasize the fact that it is unethical for any essential oil distrubtor to claim these oils cure anything.
Since I am not sponsored or associated with any essential oil brand, but am simply a chronically ill consumer who has had the privilege to try many different brands, I thought I'd give my unbiased opinion on all the brands I've tried. I do have a "sponsor ID" number with Young Living, which means i guess I might get a discount or cash back if you create a program and use my sponsor ID number but (I don't actually know how this works because I've never given this number out before. I know there has to be some kind of incentive, I just don't know what it is. If you decide at the end of this blog post that you'd like to purchase the "starter kit" from Young Living, I'll include my sponsor ID for you to do so.
Today I'm going to share my honest review of brands I've tried, specific oils I've tried, where to start if you're new to oils, and tips and tricks I have learned over the years.
Young Living essential oils Pros: high-quality, "Vitality oils" are apparently FDA-approved for ingestion, my diffuser from them has lasted years with no sign of failing (my mom got a diffuser from a health food store that stopped working after a couple years), I love their NingXia Red drink (I am really skeptical about using essential oils internally, but I tried this drink recently because it came in my starter kit and it surprisingly increased my energy for a couple hours), they have a makeup line (I haven't tried yet), and they have an awesome and reasonably-priced starter kit.
Cons: can be expensive, an MLM company (multi-level marketing AKA pyramid selling) which can make their distributors extremely biased in their marketing tactics, the FDA also issued multiple warning letters to Young Living for their FDA violations due to unproven, incorrect, and unethical health claims by distrubtors (claiming their oils cure everything from everything to the common cold to Alzheimer's, I also find the websites of MLM companies confusing: I just want to purchase an oil but all of a sudden I'm giving my social insurance number (I'm not exaggerating) and signing up with a "membership" (sounds cult-like already haha).
Pros: their "past tense" blend is one of my all time favourites for pain, I feel like I'm getting more quantity for my money when I use DoTerra oils compared to Young Living's oils (my oils from DoTerra last longer), you can buy roller blends (in a roller bottle so you can apply topically, these can be a great option if you can't afford buying a carrier oil and roller bottle right away), and they're also high quality.
Cons: on their website they provide instructions on how to use oils internally but their oils are not FDA-approved for this (it even says so on their website), they're an MLM company, their distrubtors are also known for their biased and unproven claims, and their starter kits are more expensive with less to offer than Young Living's starter kits (I haven't bought one of theirs before, but I've bought 2 starter kits from Young Living over the years).
The Young Living starter kit comes with "Desert Mist™ Diffuser, 5ml bottles of Lavender, Peppermint Vitality, Copaiba Vitality, Frankincense, Thieves Vitality, Citrus Fresh, Raven, DiGize Vitaliy, PanAway, Stress Away, AromaGlide roller fitment, a sample of Thieves household cleaner, 2 sample bottles of NingXia Red, a product guide, 10 business cards, and 10 sample oil bottles" for $160 USD (apparently, I can only view it in Canadian dollars on my account, and you need an account to purchase the starter kit, but a couple blogs have said $160USD).
The DoTerra "Home Essentials Kit" (the kit most similar to Young Living's starter kit) comes with "Frankincense, Lavender, Lemon, Melaleuca, Oregano, Peppermint, doTERRA Breathe®, DigestZen®, doTERRA On Guard®, Deep Blue ®(5 mL)," a diffuser, and an essential oil booklet for $366.67 USD retail price and $275.00 wholesale price.
Both Young Living and DoTerra have other kits, but this Young Living kit is one that I've bought and enjoy. It's also the most popular one from Young Living. I chose a DoTerra kit that was most similar to compare. It's crazy how different the prices are for Young Living's kit vs. DoTerra kit considering single oils (like Peppermint oil) are very close in price on both websites.
If you're looking for a blog post comparing DoTerra and Young Living, click here.
Saje Natural Wellness
Pros: not an MLM company, a chain store with many locations near me, more accessible (you don't need to be a member of anything and you don't need to purchase through a distrubtor), they have a bathroom air freshener that my church uses in their bathrooms that has a fresh (and not overwhelming) scent, I have this diffuser from them as well as my one from Young Living (my Saje one is less powerful and also quieter, so it's perfect for my bedroom), Peppermint Halo is one of my favourite pain blends (it comes in a roller bottle), reasonably-priced, Saje makes essential oil sprays which are great for when you don't want to get up, clean your diffuser, and start diffusing an oil for the whole house to smell, their sleep mask is the comfiest thing I've ever worn (I can't fall asleep most nights without a sleep mask), and they have a lot of beauty, skincare, and household products.
Cons: according to Saje's website, there are currently only 3 store locations in the States (but they are expanding), and their single oils (meaning one-ingredient oils) don't seem to be as concentrated as Young Living or DoTerra.
Jolene's Natural Soap shop
Jolene's Natural Soap
Jolene's Natural Soap is a store local to me. It's located in New Westminster, BC at the New West Quay (also known as the River Market). I could've sworn the name of the store was called "Tiny," or the brand of the oils were, but either they changed the name of the store or I'm imagining things. Either way, I love this store. The oils are high-quality, but cheappppp (NOW oil cheap), you can buy containers and carrier oils to make your own products, and they have countless options.
When I made a post on Instagram asking for people's favourite essential oils, I received an overwhelming amount of messages from people who swear by Rocky Mountain Oils. I personally have yet to try it, but it's on my list thanks to all the positive feedback I have received about this company. For one, they're not an MLM company, their oils appear to be high quality, and their oils also appear to be much cheaper than average. However, I have yet to try this company.
When I mentioned above that I had only heard of oils like Lavender and Tea Tree before my encounter at the POTS Treatment Center, both of those oils were from the NOW brand.
Pros: ridiculously cheaper than other companies, their chemist does more testing than other companies (I was surprised to learn this fact as well!), not an MLM company, some say high quality while MLM companies insist not, and are easily accessible at health food stores.
According to Modern Alternative Mama's article about NOW oils, who was able to see inside NOW's headquarters, "NOW is not an essential oil company. Essential oils are just one of the products that they sell. They can, and have chosen, to take much smaller margins on their essential oils because they can make it up in other areas of the business. That’s a big reason why they are cheaper — their profit margins are much smaller!
This is one of the core values of the business — good value. Their mission includes being the most affordable (not the cheapest in all cases!) for the product that they have. They don’t do big bonuses for the upper management like other companies do. In fact, the CEO told us he was pretty excited with his $5000 bonus last year — which is the exact same bonus that every employee in the company got, from the janitor on up!"
Cons: "None of the bad actually deals with the quality of the product. Rather, I think that their labeling and marketing do not accurately reflect what they’re actually doing.
Not enough safety info.
NOW doesn’t provide a whole lot of specific safety info on their labels. They simply provide standard FDA disclaimers, warnings to consult a health professional if pregnant/nursing, and not to use the oil internally.Other brands are giving detailed information on proper dilution rates, whether it’s safe for kids (and at what ages), whether it’s best diffused or used topically, and more. NOW’s lack of safety information and data has been interpreted by some as them not having/knowing/caring about that information, but that isn’t actually the case. I wish that the labels better reflected what they know and the testing they do." -Modern Alternative Mama's article about NOW oils.
I'm not sure how accurate this 2017 chart is from Modern Alternative Mama but it does justice to show the difference between NOW essential oils and other brands. Besides buying 2 starter kits from Young Living, I have only bought Panaway essential oil from Young Living separately. So I am not completely aware about the costs of a single bottle of oil from Young Living. However, when I compared a bottle of Peppermint essential oil from Young Living to a bottle of Peppermint from DoTerra (of the same size), DoTerra was actually a couple dollars more expensive. Each oil price varies significantly.
Please make sure you also do your own research before deciding on a company to use. Don't just compare the length of the pros vs. cons sections that I wrote up. I personally use DoTerra, Young Living and Saje equally as much. I have a couple bottles from Tiny that I love, a couple bottles from NOW that I didn't completely trust until doing some research for this article, and am hoping to try some Rocky Mountain oils in the future.
Single Oils I love
If I'm purchasing single oils, I'll usually get them from DoTerra. I have many single oils from Young Living as part of my starter kit. I also have single oils from Saje, but I prefer their blends. Since I usually get oils as gifts, I'll take whatever I can get haha!
Peppermint: I love using Peppermint in a roller bottle with fractionated coconut oil and applying it topically for pain relief (especially headaches), heat intolerance (it'll cool you down quickly, especially if you use a lot of Peppermint), and diffusing it to improve my energy and concentration.
Lavender: Lavender has a calming effect. When I had panic attacks, I would diffuse Lavender oil to help calm me down. Lavender can also be put in a container of epsom salts to help soothe sore muscles (always put oils in epsom salts or a carrier oil before putting them in a bath, never put plain oils in a bath, I'll explain more below), and diffused to help with insomnia.
Frankincense: Frankincense also has many possible uses, but I use it most often for acne and all skincare concoctions I make (lotions, scar creams, etc.). Frankincense can help with many skin conditions.
Lemon: I use lemon oil in my homemade soap and in a spray bottle with distilled water and vinegar as a surface and microwave cleaner.
Basil: Basil is a great essential oil for acne. Tea Tree oil is a more common oil used for acne, but it's one that is toxic for dogs so I tend to use Basil instead.
Black Pepper: I use this in my pain bath recipe (baking soda + epsom salts + whatever essential oils I decide to use that day).
Cedarwood: I hot boxed myself in my bathroom with Cedarwood when I had post-concussive syndrome a couple years ago. Once I learned about the use of Cedarwood
Copaiba: It's great for pain. I just started using this oil recently as many people swear by it.
Ginger: An oil that's great for nausea and inflammation.
Roman Chamomile: A calming essential oil that is safe to use around dogs.
Lemongrass: I use this in many pain blends I make.
Tea tree oil: Many people swear by the use of Tea Tree oil for acne. I have used it, and it helped at one point, but my acne has sine become resistant to it.
Essential Oil Blends I love
Blends I love from Young Living:
Panaway: this stuff is really great for scalp/head pain. Besides using Tea Tree Oil undiluted once (I had a bad experience I describe below), Panaway is the only essential oil I've used undiluted multiple times on the top of my head in pure desperation. I don't recommend this, but it has been amazing.
Thieves: Thieves can be used as a DIY surface cleaner, used in hand sanitizer (Young Living makes and sells their own Thieves hand sanitizers and household cleaners, but you can also make your own), and immune support.
Purification: For the past 2 Augusts, Northern British Columbia has been having a lot of forest fires. Southern British Columbia's air quality was also declared a severe health risk during this time. I've personally really struggled symptomatically these past Augusts as a result. This August, I decided to diffuse Purification oil, on top of having 2 air filters going at all times, and wearing a mask outside. Diffusing the Purification oil helped make the air in my apartment feel less stale and more fresh/clean.
Joy: Joy is an oil that I received in my 2014 starter kit but didn't start using until this month. When I decided I wanted to ditch conventional perfumes, I was busy researching how to make my own perfume. A lot of posts on Pinterested recommended using Joy essential oil as a perfume roller blend. I love the idea of a perfume that could also help to lift my spirits and those around me, so I've been using it most days this month.
Stress Away: I put a couple drops of this on my necklace when I made an award acceptance speech this past September. It helped a lot.
*Valor is a popular essential oil blend from Young Living that I haven't yet tried but I've heard great things of.
Blends I love from DoTerra:
PastTense: I received a roller bottle of PastTense from a follower and I used it all up within a month. PastTense relieved my tension pain (in my neck and tension headaches) significantly. I love this stuff.
Deep Blue: a pain relieving blend that's known to also cause skin sensitivities. I find this one to be powerful but not as effective as PastTense.
OnGuard: Many people swear by this for immune support. I have recently bought a bottle of this and made a roller blend that I've been using frequently. It's hard to tell how much it's been working.
Motivate: DILUTE THIS STUFF MORE THAN NORMAL. This stuff is powerful. Effective, but intense. One thing I love about DoTerra is that they often say directly on the bottle when an oil is known to cause skin sensitivities (to my knowledge, Young Living doesn't do that). I listened to the instructions and chose to dilute it instead. Even when just using 5-8 drops in a diffuser, this stuff is overwhelmingly powerful. I tend to only use it when I'm cramming before an exam or really desperately need to concentrate. I used only 3 drops in a roller bottle, in opes that I could bring it to school, but my skin felt hot and tingly and so I haven't used it topically again since.
Blends I love from Saje Natural Wellness:
Peppermint Halo: an effective topical pain reliever, especially for headaches and migraines. I find this stuff really soothing, unlike Panaway from Young Living which does help with decreasing pain but doesn't feel immediately soothing.
Quick study: I often use this stuff, instead of Motivate, for a normal day of studying. However, when I'm really tired/have issues concentrating, I usually find plain peppermint oil more effective.
Energy: I have a roller bottle of this that I find effective when I'm crashing really hard, but I usually find peppermint oil more effective.
Immune: a blend for immune support.It's always hard to tell how much immune support roller blends are helping me, but I continue to use them in hopes that they're providing support underneath the surface.
Zap: Zap is a roller blend for acne. I find it quite effective to use for pesky zits that won't go away, but my skin gets use to it if I use it all over my face every day (my skin gets used to products easily though).
Where to start?
If you're completely new to oils, I'd recommend starting with a single oil with many possible uses. I often recommend Peppermint or Lavender for people to start off with, because both have countless uses.
If you want to jump right in, I'd recommend getting Young Living's premium starter kit because it's genuinely an amazing deal. I bought one one in 2014 and some of the oils from that kit have lasted me this long (ones I don't use as frequently). I recently bought another starter kit just this year.
Don't apply an undiluted oil directly to your skin. Always dilute oils with a "carrier oil" like fractionated coconut oil (coconut oil that keeps as a liquid and doesn't turn into a solid). Olive oil, or regular coconut oil, can work just as well, but I find fractionated coconut oil less messy, and better for diluting in a roller bottle.
When you're trying an oil for the first time, use a lot less than the recommended amount, to make sure you don't have a sensitivity to the oil first. So put just a couple drops in your carrier oil if you're applying it topically or use just a couple drops in distilled water in your diffuser.
- Don't put drops of oils directly into a bath. I did this with Peppermint once for sore muscles and I became FREEZING cold, shaking, and my skin became numb. Yup. Essential oils do not dilute in water. Instead, put a couple drops in a container of epsom salts, and dump the whole container in your bath. Or, mix it with a carrier oil and put it in your bath. My favourite thing to do is to get any container lying around, add baking soda, epsom salts, and around 15-20 drops of a couple oils for pain. This helps me so much.
- Get a pack of empty roller bottles on Amazon for a reasonable price. This pack of roller bottles that I bought from Amazon comes with labels.
- If your pack of roller bottle doesn't come with labels, purchase some separately or make your own. You'll want to remember what's inside each bottle you make. You can buy labels separately on Amazon (I have done this), but I also put a layer of tape over top to keep them from peeling off or getting ruined.
- Get fractionated coconut oil to dilute your oils. I first bought a bottle from DoTerra years ago, but once that was done, I bought a cheaper bottle from Amazon.
- If you have a cat: please note that essential oils are toxic to cats. The liver of a cat cannot process essential oils like ours can. Please research on how to best use essential oils around cats.
- If you have a dog: some essential oils are toxic for dogs. If you'd like to diffuse one of these oils, dilute it significantly, and do it in a room where the dog doesn't go or is free to leave. Tea tree oil is known to be toxic to dogs so I personally don't use it in my home. However, I do have an acne roller blend with Tea Tree oil in my car that I only use if I'm not going to be around Fozzy for a couple hours.
- If you have Epilepsy, please look into oils that are not safe for epileptics. Rosemary is one of them. Rosemary is an ingredient in many pain blends. Since my EEG's have always been abnormal, and I used to have seizures, I use only a tiny bit of Rosemary in pre-made pain blends. Thankfully I haven't had an issue but I am very careful with this oil.
- If you have a Mast Cell condition, use oils with caution. I applied undiluted Tea Tree oil to my skin once, as I had a friend who found this to be effective in treating her acne (and I was desperate), and it basically burned my skin. Undiluted oils shouldn't be used on the average person, but with Mast Cell conditions, you should dilute them significantly more.
If you're interested in purchasing the Young Living starter kit, you can create an account by using my Sponsor ID code (it'll ask you for 2 different ID codes, and you'll just put this same one in twice): 16594456.
Like I said above, this is my first time ever giving it out, and I am assuming I'd get an incentive, but I'm not actually sure what that looks like. I do genuinely like Young Living oils, but as you can tell, there are pros and cons of oils from many different companies. Do what's best for you!
Do you have any favourite essential oil brands, blends, tips, or recipes? Let us know in the comment section below!