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 (as I’ll affectionately call them ;-)).

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 Plants – Many 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 

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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  1. Just stumbled upon your web site after doing a research trying to determine which essential oil is better Young Living or DoTerra. Well I can’t say I’ve yet been able to determine after reading all the posts you have I’m still going to have to research it more.Thank you for all your wonderful insights I did find them helpful I just have to research more.

  2. Mary Jane Brower says:

    Perhaps Dr Barrett’s comments had to be legally removed, meaning they were sheer speculation ; however he achieved his goal. The seed was planted in your mind there must be something truthful to it so working on this “gut” reaction and even though “the thieves worked really great for me” you stopped using it? You didn’t bother to document OSHA violations for other companies because “it would take to much time” thus your research on OSHA violations is meaningless. YL has farms they manage all over the world, so your comments about YL not using indigenous plants makes no sense. Smell test? Real science is crucial but most likely not affordable, however, perhaps performed by others? A link to scientific data would be nice. Personally I use YL as their process makes a better product – I prefer the first distillation over complete distillation and perhaps YL flunked your smell test because it’s not over processed. I have a problem with your comparison but respect your desire to provide some meaningful discussion. Thank you for that.

    • Hi there, Mary Jane. I don’t know why they had to be removed or were removed. But I do know that the big oil companies have powerful lawyers. I had concerns about different companies that had nothing to do with Mr. Barrett and I had concerns about essential oils in general that had nothing to do with him.

      As for the OSHA violations, of course I can’t look up every company. I have spent literally likely hundreds of hours responding to comments about other companies and there are countless companies to look up. I did look up doTERRA and Native American Nutritionals and a few others and found nothing on them. I don’t think the OSHA information is meaningless at all.

      As for the indigenous comments, my comment does make sense. I got a detailed report from Young Living about where their farms are and I think there were about 6 of them (perhaps 8…I can’t locate my notes right now so please forgive me for that). Contrast that to the approximately 50 farms that Native American Nutritionals sources their oils from and you can see that there is a huge difference.

      As for the scientific testing, I am not able to pay $1,000 per GC/MS test to test oil from every company. I wouldn’t think that a “not overly processed” oil would have a chemical smell. Again, that is subjective, but Native American does not process their oils so I am not sure what are you claiming, but I would be happy to get you whatever else you are in need of.

      As for the distillation, I don’t know what Young Living does. And that typically refers only to peppermint and ylang ylang.

      Let me know if you have any further comments or questions. Thanks!

  3. Hi Adrienne: I was an interventional doc who took a turn onto the non-interventional trail in 1995. I recently got hooked on lemon oil 1 to 2 drops in water internally to eliminiate my blood pressure poisons. All kinds of side effects disappeared since discontinuing them. The product I use is DoTerra and it is my first contact with an eo. I eagerly signed up as a distributor a few weeks ago, although since reading your excellent site and a couple others, I am having second thoughts about this Do Terrra venture. Earning extra income is not a high priority for me since I did very well as a holistic foot surgeon! I just want to point my patients -I do Bowen Therapy- in the right directions for their well being and health improvement. My question is; should I finish my DoTerra lemon, then try another brand such as Mountain Rose and see if it works as well? Someone said on a post that a drop of eo on a piece of construction paper will show the quality depending on the length of time it takes for the oil to evaporate and if there is any residue left on the paper. Any insights on this?
    Dr. Mosher, aka Mitchell

  4. DeeAnna Nagel says:

    Hi Adrienne,

    Just for clarity, sourcing from 50 farms and owning several farms are two very different things. Young Living owns farms and where they do not own the farm, they co-op or partner, meaning the farm must follow Young Living’s Seed to Seal process (www.seedtoseal.com) the same as farms owned outright by YL. When Young Living uses a 3rd party vendor, that vendor abides by the Seed to Seal process and the oils supplied by the vendors are thoroughly and rigorously tested. So when all is said and done, YL owns, co-ops, partners and has vendor relationships with more than 50 farms. .I also like the transparency of YL – we can visit and work the farms and participate in the harvests. Young Living is the largest distiller of essential oils in the world. They must be doing something right..


    • Hello DeeAnna. I guess it all depends what you want. I am very happy w/ NAN and RMO and their fair trade practices. I will be sharing more about that in the future. As for YL’s testing, it is all in house as far as I know. So that depends if you feel you can trust a company to test their own products or not. As for them allowing folks to visit the farms, in my opinion, that is a two-edged sword. Nice so folks can see it but I would think it would add a ton of pollution to the air and worse by having many people come and having trucks drive folks around on the farms. My understanding is that there aren’t trucks driving around on NAN’s farms so you can be assured that you are getting pristine plants without auto exhaust contaminating them.

      As far as them being the largest distiller, you are right that that can mean that they are doing something right, but there are plenty of “bigger” things that aren’t right. That goes for religions, churches, businesses….and governments. I am very unhappy with the larger gov’t we are getting in the US, with some of the wimpy churches that are growing like gangbusters, and some of the HUGE pharmaceutical companies. Bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better.

      I’d be happy to interact more if you have more thoughts. Thanks much.

  5. Peggi Billman says:

    How old are your Essential Oil posts? Young Living has farms globally, not just in the USA. Check seedtoseal.com. Some other information seems quite outdated, too. So, if using this blog as your “due diligence’ please do your own current research, too.

    • Hi there. I didn’t say that they didn’t have farms around the world….just that many of them are in the U.S. Is there a reason why many people are questioning me on this? I think the wording seems pretty clear.

      As for other outdated information, if you think something needs to be changed please tell me what it is. The posts were finished in 2013. I will look at putting something in the posts to show that. Thanks. Of course, with any blog information can become outdated. Thanks!

  6. mike biering says:

    Hello, Great article!! Have you heard of Ameo? I am are you have by now. I distribute them and would love for you to compare them and review. The quality they have and purity are amazing form which I can tell, and they release all the testing results to the public. They also prove and show the oils penetrating live human cells. How can I get you some samples fro you to review?

    • Yes, I have heard about them and looked into them but am not going to be recommending them for a number of reasons. I am not a scientist and only did a smell test (blind) and did digging into companies so my doing a review isn’t really what I am doing. I do appreciate your not posting your affiliate links here as other reps have done. Thank you for that :).