Which Essential Oils Company is Best? Young Living and doTERRA – Part 4

Wondering Which Essential Oils Company is Best? What about the "Therapeutic Grade" claims the MLM oils companies make? Come find out all you ever wanted to know about oils companies and more!

Here we are again – moving toward finding the Best Essential Oils Company.

To clarify, what I’m after here is the Best Essential Oils Company for the money.

So you can work on natural healing without breaking the bank–and I think I’ve found a good one.

Just being realistic:

I’m one person looking into a bunch of companies–with some help.  So I’m leaving the door open to the possibility that I might be wrong.

I’ve had to admit I was wrong about things before.
–  My thinking that Lilla Rose Flexi Clips were a waste of money (see my “changed my mind Lilla Rose review” here).
– or saying my Natural Dishwasher Rinse Aid was a great idea.

We need to be willing to admit we were wrong.

Was I wrong about Young Living?  Remember my enthusiastic posts about their Thieves and Peppermint and Wintergreen?

Let’s find out.

Today I’m going to share what happened as I looked into the “heavy hitters” in the Essential Oils Industry–

(Oh, and if you are jumping in in the middle of all of this, here is a link to Part 3.

Young Living and doTERRA.

If you’ve been looking into essential oils at all, chances are you have come across YL and DT.

You’ve had folks tell you “Young Living is the best!” or “doTERRA is the most pure”.

Or something like that.

I touched on some of these issues in Best Essential Oils Post – Part 1.  But here’s more.

First up–Young Living

Young Living Review

1.  Reputation and Ethics –  There are some pretty not-so-savory things on the internet about D. Gary Young.  Of course, the internet can be full of truths and lies.  But I still think these things are worth paying attention to.  Dr. Stephen Barrett has written a load of unsavory things about D. Gary Young.  In fact, this information is a lot of what gave me pause when I initially was looking into signing up with YL.  I mean, the Thieves Oil worked great for me, but I really didn’t like what I was reading.

Now, I do have my concerns about Mr. Barrett–mainly that he’s basically an “anti-alternative therapy” hound.  And I like alternative therapies.  Most of them, at least.

I personally am very concerned about abuses in the alternative medical field.  But I’m also concerned about abuses in Western medicine.

My family and I have been harmed by the practices of traditional Western medicine (overuse of anti-biotics, over-use of prescriptions meds, doctors misdiagnosing acid reflux, etc.).  In some cases, we’ve been healed despite what mainstream doctors told us to do.

I know there are abuses on both sides.  But Quackwatch appears to be just targeting everything alternative:  Chiropractic, acupuncture, Chinese medicine….You name it.  If it’s alternative, it’s Barrett’s target.

I could go on and on about his site, but suffice it to say that I am not sure of all of Barrett’s accusations against Gary Young. (UPDATE – All comments by Mr. Barrett against Gary Young appear to have been removed so I can’t cite them any longer.)

However, his writings about Young Living and Gary Young leave something to ponder.  Moreso in light of what else I found…

2. OSHA Violations – I found this interesting entry referring to Young Living OSHA violations.  I didn’t find any by the other oils companies, although I didn’t look all of the essential oils companies up, of course.  That would take a long long time and I couldn’t find them all for sure.

Now, Young Living is the oldest oils company, so they’ve had more time for there to be violations, and all of the violations appear to be of the same incident.

Of course, OSHA violations don’t mean that a company is bad.  If they cleaned up their procedures correctly, then possibly their new procedures are better than ever.

3.  Non-Indigenous PlantsMany A good number (updated 4/2015) of Young Living’s farms are located in the U.S.  I think that’s fine for a company being more “in control” of their product, but not great if you follow conventional wisdom that plants grow best (and have the best therapeutic qualities) when they are grown in their indigenous locations (where they are supposed to grow naturally).

If you read through the comments of Best Essential Oils Parts 2 & 3, you’ll see that Young Living reps tout the fact that YL farms are in the U.S. as being an advantage–that it gives Young Living control over the whole process.  Maybe, but other companies like doTERRA and most of the other companies I’ve looked into have their oils sourced from wherever the plants grow naturally for higher quality.

4.  What’s That Smell?

You know I like testing things before recommending them to you, like in my:

Best Cinnamon Sugar and
Best Eye Makeup Remover posts.

Then you won’t be surprised to know that we did this with essential oils as well.

I purchased YL, doTERRA, Mountain Rose Herbs, Aura Cacia, and 2 other companies’ oils and did a little “Smell Challenge” with my not-so-specially-trained Smell Testing Panel (a.k.a. my family).


We had a blind smell test of 3-5 brands of the same oil.

In each instance, Young Living was singled out as having a chemical overtone.

Does that mean there were chemicals added?

Not necessarily, but we still didn’t care for it.


doTERRA Review

I also bought a large kit of doTERRA’s oils to try them out against YL.  I asked doTERRA reps and corporate employees tons of questions, and I even used their oils exclusively for awhile.

I really like their educational resources and their oils smell great.

But their great smell is part of what concerns me.

One thing I really don’t care for is that a lot of doTERRA reps (and corporate employees as well) say something like, “You’ll know it works by its smell.”

This from doTERRA’s website: “A 100% pure therapeutic-grade essential oil should have a balanced, broad fragrance profile and should smell crystal clean.”  I don’t know about you, but I don’t know what “crystal clean” means.

Before I go into more–I mentioned distillation techniques in one of my previous posts.  Basically, the going wisdom about essential oils is that you put the plant parts and water in a distiller and under low pressure and low temperature, you distill the essential oils out of the plant.

They travel down a tube and into a vat–along with the steam.  The oil collects on top of the water and is removed and–voila–you have essential oils.

The most coveted, and most expensive (and thought to be the most therapeutic) oil is that which is collected during the first part of the distillation period.  The resulting oil is called “first distilled.”
This “first distillation” only applies to a few oils – ylang ylang and peppermint, according to what I have learned.


doTERRA’s peppermint smells good enough to eat–as in “candy cane” good.

But that might be a problem in my book.  Here’s why.

Most peppermint essential oils smell like the peppermint you find growing out in nature. Kind of herby and not really like a candy cane.

Candy-cane-smelling peppermint is apparently from the second distillation or a complete distill (distilling for a long time).  The oils are either distilled for a longer time, or redistilled and some oils are taken out to give the oil a clean pepperminty candy smell. (Source).

The other alternative is that something else is done to the peppermint oil to reduce the herby smell.

This is exactly what doTERRA’s peppermint oils smell like.  So yummy, in fact, that if you have kiddos in the house, you’d best keep it out of arm’s reach.

Here is the response I got from doTERRA stating that their peppermint oil is, in fact, a “complete distill”:

You can let her know that our Peppermint uses complete
distillation.  There is 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and complete and we use complete.  (Source:  my email.)

So if in fact, the first distillation of peppermint oil is the most valuable, then their peppermint oil isn’t top quality.



doTERRA prides itself on selling the top of the line quality.  Their ylang ylang, however, is also a complete distillation.  Some may say that this is a matter of taste, but in the essential oils industry, the first distill is more valued and therefore, a higher priced oil.  To their credit, doTERRA does call their ylang ylang a complete distill on their website.

Ylang Ylang first distill (which is referred to as “extra”) is typically considered to be the quality of oil that is most sought after / of highest therapeutic quality–not the complete distillation.


Thanks to Kitchen Stewardship, I realized that doTERRA doesn’t disclose all of the oils in this bug repellant blend.  I will say that we have used this to treat after bite itching (and my son likes it), but I think that not including ingredients on a label is not preferable. (UPDATE – doTERRA now discloses the ingredients of their Terra Shield blend. I’m glad they are doing that.)

What I think is troubling here is that doTERRA makes a lot of claims about their oils being the best–top quality.  And their prices sure reflect that.  I don’t think I would purchase complete, 2nd or 3rd distillation oil for more than other companies are selling 1st distill for–would you?

Of course, there are other things to think about–purity, etc.  So we’ll keep the conversation going and touch on other companies as well.

I hope this all makes sense.  If not—ask away.

Thanks for your patience!  This has been a long road, but I promise, we are nearing the end.

The Rest of the Best Essential Oils Series:

– Which Essential Oils Company is Best? – Part 1
 – What a Good Essential Oils Company Should Have – Part 2
– Which Essential Oils Company is Best – Troubles with the Oils Industry – Part 3
– Are Multi-Level Marketing Oils Worth It? – Part 5
– Distillation, Bias, Vomit and Personal Attacks – Part 6
Announcing “the Best” Essential Oils Company – Part 7 

**Finally, you can get my Report on Essential Oils, 10 Things You NEED to Know BEFORE You Buy for FREE by visiting here and signing up for my newsletter.**

Helpful Books from Young Living and doTERRA

Regardless of what you think about either of these companies, each of them have put out quite helpful books on essential oils and their usage.

As always, I can’t endorse everything in either of these books and if you read the reviews of each of them you will see that there are some who think that a good bit of the contents are not helpful.  And of course, each book is geared towards those who purchase their oils so there are numerous references to their exclusive blends.

But if you put that aside, you can get some helpful information from both.

(Please note that the links to these books are affiliate links. If you click on them and make a purchase I might make a commission. Your support is greatly appreciated and helps keep this free resource up and running.)

Modern Essentials – doTERRA Essential Oils Book

Modern Essentials - Essential Oils Book by doTERRA

Essential Oils Desk Reference – Young Living

Essential Oils Desk Reference Book - Young Living Essential Oils Book

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The information here is for entertainment purposes only. Please consult a medical professional before changing your diet, exercise program, or before trying any natural remedies.

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    Speak Your Mind


  1. crosswind says:

    Thank you, Adrienne. You brought up some excellent points, especially with the 1st, 2nd & 3rd distillation process. My esthetician friend did not like the Frankincense she ordered. The scent was awful to her. I have been buying my organic pure essential oils from a local herbalist shop. I need a good back up supplier, but I’m just starting to research all the brands. it certainly is overwhelming, but should not be. there shouldn’t be so much hidden info that we have to research for days & weeks. what are they hiding? Jeesh. The prices of the MLM oils shock me too. I’ve been following facebook walls by 21 drops.com and Jade Bloom. Their oils look really nice & prices cheaper. I’m looking to find focus & calming blends sometime.

    • Hi there. Thanks for the encouragement. Which Frankincense are you talking about – from NAN / RMO? Please let me know and I will do what I can to help.

  2. stephanie says:

    Some of your information is incorrect. YL only has 3 farms/distilleries the u.s. (2 in Idaho, 1 in Utah). They in fact do not force things to grow out of their element. They also have farms in the following countries; Canada, Peru, Equador, France, Israel, Oman.and Taiwan. No where near “most” or a great deal. Which was your major concern with this company.

    • Hi there. I appreciate your comment. I updated the post to have more accurate information. When I posted this I was going off what they had on their site – and since made more phone calls to find out more. I don’t think I found out the acreage, however, which I guess would be the most accurate thing to have. Thanks! Oh, and it was not my major concern – it was just one of them. Thanks!

  3. I thank you…looks like I’m sticking with the purity and 1st distill of the purest oils…young living. They are no doubt the purest, having farms in many places not just the US and serving seed to seal!

  4. tobor8th says:

    @ELIZ1212 Call you card company now and dispute the charge. Most card companies say you must dispute within 60 days. If you wait two months to see if you get your refund it may be too late.
    @ADRIANNE My wife just discovered essential oils about a month ago and is looking to join one of the companies you researched. I decided to do some research and your blog was the second item I read(first was company website).
    I appreciate your honesty and the work you have done. From your articles and from your readers posts I have learned there is much research we need to do.

  5. Hello,
    Here is another site that talks about peppermint distillation:
    As you can see, 2nd distillation does not always mean a “sweeter” aroma than 1st. Also, if you want an effective peppermint, wouldn’t you want more menthol?? Personally, I’d prefer both the sweet aroma AND a good amount of menthol. That means it’s effective not only to my mental and emotional wellbeing but physical as well. Isn’t that the best of both worlds? Isn’t that what most customers want?? I’m confused as to why it is NOT a good thing to be a complete distill when all the desirable qualities are there!! Just some thoughts…. thanks!

    • Hi and thanks for commenting. Here is a reply from NAN/RMO that I have edited a bit:

      All desirable qualities are not there. It’s a tradeoff.

      This is a common confusion among customers.

      When an oil is tested and a costituent profile is created, we get a list of the main constituents with percentages next to them.

      Most people look at it and say, “oh wow this peppermint is 98% menthol. What a great deal. More is better, right?”

      Sort of… You want more of certain constituents, but when you get too high in one constituent then you sacrifice others. If you have 98% menthol then that sounds nice and high, except that now you only have 2% remaining for all the other constituents. So now all those other ones will be extremely low. This includes the compounds which give it a more delightful sweeter smell.

      A constituent profile is basically a pie chart. You can’t have more than 100%. So while some constituents are great, it’s possible that too much will push other desireable traits lower.

      There is a balance, you don’t want too little and you don’t want too much.

      You can not naturally get a sweet peppermint and a high menthol peppermint without additives. Menthol is not a sweet smelling compound. It is bitter. So if you have 90%+ of menthol and it still smells like candy then you have an almost certain chance that someone has added cornmint or ethyl vanillin to it. Both are generally synthetic compounds. Cornmint could potentially be produced naturally but for it to show up in peppermint would require adulteration (even if it’s natural cornmint and not synthetic) from another plant.

      The last confusion by this customer is that she is thinking that if a second distillation pulls out new constituents then that’s awesome to just add those to the ones pulled out before. This is another common point of confusion. What happens is that many of the most valuable constituents in plants can not survive multiple distillations. So they burn off and are gone. So you aren’t adding new constituents to your old ones when you do this, you are actually replacing them. Again this is a common point of confusion. Most constituents are extremely volatile. Which means they evaporate easily. So it’s another balance gAme between enough heat and pressure to extract the compounds, but not too much so that it dissapears.

  6. Shabnam says:

    I have recently started reading about the different companies providing essential oils and I decide which company I’d like to purchase oils from. I was a bit taken back when I read your comments about distillations. As an experienced chemist who doesn’t like to use harmful chemicals in my home, I can tell you that the information you’re providing about distillations and the “quality” associated with it, are incorrect. Generally speaking and in overly simplified terms, when you double, triple, etc distill things you are doing it to remove certain compounds out of the final solution. I will also note that GCMS testing isn’t as straightforward as it may seem. When you run analytical tests on an analyze, you are comparing it to a control or “standard”. The results of the data and the percentages you receive are based on the control. I’d be interested to see what analyses were conducted on the control they used for the assay, and where they obtained the control. If they are using their own oils to compare it to, then GCMS data is skewed. Since essential oils are not regulated, I will definitely be requesting the GCMS data to analyze for myself. Thank you for your reviews on these companies, it has been helpful in digging deeper.

    • Hi there. Thanks for writing. What are you saying is wrong about the distillations and I am happy to check into it for you. I know and agree w/ you that GC/MS is that way. There are different standards and of course they can be monkeyed with. Still, for better or worse, it is what more people use as a standard.

      If you want more information from NAN / RMO I can try to get it for you.
      Thanks so much.

    • Hello,

      I am actually pretty excited right now to be a representative for a trusted company called Melaleuca that recently has added Pure Essential Oils to their list of healthful products ! Tea tree oil is their claim to fame and a great deal of the products have this ingredient. They have been in business since 1985 and have taken pride in the fact that they have taken the toxic chemicals out of their products and replaced their ingredients for their cleaning supplies based on herbs and lemon. There are no child proof caps- not needed. Their nutritional products are third party tested and everything is fully money back guaranteed ! I can’t wait to try these oils and hope everyone who is interested will do the same.

      • Hi there, Tina. Hi there. Thanks for commenting. I have looked at them before but my opinion is that I wasn’t thrilled w/ some of their ingredients. Just looked again and after a quick look, I see this in their Luxury Serum Concentrate. I would have to spend more time but I am thinking that I still am not happy w/ their ingredients. http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/700872/LILIAL/

        Let me know what you think about that. Thanks again for commenting.

      • Hi again. I just noticed something else – their drink mixes contain sucralose and some have acesulfame potassium, both of which are sweeteners that I am concerned about. Did you notice that? Thanks again.

  7. Have you heard of Melealuca Co, they just added Essential oils…wonder what you think of that Co.?

    • Hi there. Thanks for commenting. I have looked at them before but my opinion is that I wasn’t thrilled w/ some of their ingredients. Just looked again and after a quick look, I see this in their Luxury Serum Concentrate. I would have to spend more time but I am thinking that I still am not happy w/ their ingredients. http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/700872/LILIAL/

      Let me know what you think about that. Thanks again for asking!

  8. Oh, and one other thing, a ‘complete distill’ doesn’t mean a ‘longer’ distill than it normally would be . It just means that the steam distillation runs until all the essential oil from that plant is collected (this will be characteristic and expected for that plant). Again, all essential oils are ‘complete distills’!