Which Essential Oils Company is Best? Are Multi-Level Marketing Oils Worth It? – Part 5

The big names in Essential Oils are Young Living and doTERRA--but they'll set you back quite a few bucks. Are they worth it? Come find out what I think about that...it gets pretty dicey in the comment area--you've been warned :)!

If you’ve been thinking about, or already are using, essential oils, at one time or another you’ve likely wondered if you should be part of Young Living, doTERRA, or some other multi-level marketing (MLM) company to get “the best essential oils” at a discount.

Today let’s talk about these MLM companies up close to see the pros and cons of joining–and whether or not what they have to say is really true.

The Best Essential Oil Series continues.

The 3 “Heavy Hitters” in the MLM essential oils business are:

Young Living
doTERRA, with
Be Young having somewhat of a presence as well.

Now–I’m all about saving money.  So of course when I can either buy something at retail, or get the same things for 25-35% off (typical MLM rep discount), then you can bet I’m going to check into it.

Well, I’ve been an MLM rep for a number of different companies, including YL and doTERRA (DT), so here are my thoughts about MLMs–mainly regarding the oils companies, but some of my thoughts extend to other MLMs as well.  I did some research into BeYoung but chose not to become a rep of their company.

Multi-Level Marketing Dilemma – Young Living and doTERRA

Positives of the oil MLMs

1.  Education / Resources

I really like the support available with both YL and doTERRA.  I didn’t avail myself of all of it, but of what I did, I found doTERRA’s support network to be stronger.  Both companies had websites with treatment and/or testimonial resources available (actually, the most valuable resources were not but together by the companies, but by outside sources–likely reps high up in the business).  Smaller companies don’t have such opportunities, typically.  That being said, there are some negatives even to these resources and their recommendations (see internal usage below).

2.  Money Making Opportunity

Of course, you can save money by becoming a rep, but you can also make money when you share the products, and opportunity, with others.  I think, when done right,  MLMs are fine.  Reps are basically paid salespeople who get rewarded for sharing products with others.

Negatives of Oil MLMs

1.  Misleading marketing practices

(CPTG, Certified Therapeutic Grade, E.O.B.B.D.)

All 3 of the Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) essential oils leaders claim that they have a corner on “therapeutic grade,” but their names for it are different.

– Young Living calls their oils “Young Living Therapeutic Grade”
– BeYoung : “E.O.B.B.D.”  This certification appears to have roots in Europe, but some claims about it on the internet are not accurate and/or aren’t that meaningful.  After reading the details of E.O.B.B.D., I believe that any good oils company should be doing all of this.  And the “smart guys” in the industry can fool these GC/MS tests. Yes, that’s true. They know what the tests are looking for and they know how to get around it. Just like the athletes can fool the doping tests.

The gist of it is this:  YL, DT, and BY all say that only their oils are good enough for you to use because of the testing that they have done.

But the reality is this:  It looks like they’re all about the same–except that YL tests their own oils.

The YL and doTERRA names are basically terms made up so that they can have a label to put on their oils (except with Be Young, which actually is using an already determined standard).

2.  Pressure to buy more than you need

Like I said, I love saving money.  So every month, when I had the opportunity to get a freebie or earn 10-30% credit toward future orders, I felt the urge to buy.  And typically I did.  Get rep pricing without signing up!)

3. Possible Dangerous Recommendations

I am not up on the practices of Be Young, but I know YL and doTERRA both have a heavy emphasis on internal use of essential oils.  I wasn’t too concerned about this at first, but as I’ve learned more I have gotten more worried about this.

Both recommend internal use of oils liberally, with doTERRA even having a Slim and Sassy blend that they recommend taking internally numerous time per day, for a long period of time, in order to aid weight loss.  There are protocols on the internet recommending internal use of grapefruit oils by YL reps in order to lose weight.

I’ve used oils internally and felt that they were helpful (though the Slim and Sassy did nothing for me :-(), but I am changing my thinking on this. Oils are super potent.   It takes about 16 pounds of peppermint leaves to make 1 ounce of peppermint oil.  Wow.  (Source)

You really need to recognize that, when you use oils, you are using something super strong.  The owner of one oil company told me that, when using oils internally, especially “hot oils” like:

– oregano
– cinnamon
– clove
– citrus oils

you need to make sure to supplement with probiotics also because the hot oils destroy not only bad bacteria, but also the good. Makes sense to me.

I recommend you consult with a professional before ingesting any essential oils.  Consult a Medical Doctor, Naturopath, or clinically trained Aromatherapist who knows you and is aware of your medical history, as well as any medications you are on.  With this information, the professional can tailor a regimen that works for your body.

A number of folks in the oils industry have suggested that the reason YL and doTERRA recommend so much internal usage of oils is to drive up usage and drive up sales.  I don’t know their motivation, but that would make perfect sense.

4.  Savings Not What They Seem

When I signed up with YL and then later, with doTERRA, I was really excited to get about

30% off retail prices
freebies each month (with a qualifying order) and
credit toward future purchases, provided you keep ordering monthly.  YL gives you 1 month off each year, but doTERRA has no such grace period.

Well, when it came time to cash in my points, I got a little surprise from doTERRA (guess I should have read the fine print).  There are fees for using your points.  $3 per $100 used.

YL takes $1-$4 off of each check–for “maintenance” to “figure out your commission” (quote from a CSR)–just to send you your earnings .  doTERRA charges $1.95 for each check cut.

I don’t mean to be too sarcastic here, but that would sure be nice to earn $1.95 for cutting a check.   I don’t see why there should be a fee to “figure out your commission.”  Doesn’t software do that?

Then, each year, doTERRA charges an annual fee ($25) to be a rep, but they send you a bottle of peppermint oil.  Again, I don’t mean to be too harsh, but remember my concerns about their peppermint oil?  I’m just not sure how much it’s worth.

Finally, everyone knows that a good bit of the pricing of MLM products go toward rewarding “top reps” with trips to Hawaii, etc.  One company told me that the percentage of their pricing that goes toward commissions and rewards is 40%.

5.  Privacy Issues

Some people don’t want to give out their SS# to become a rep.  The companies need these to file taxes with the IRS.  I understand concerns about keeping your SS# private.  One alternative is to get a Tax ID # from your state. (Update: One reader shared there is a way to get a discount from doTERRA without your SS#)

6.  Over-the-Top Devotion

I’ve been pretty disappointed with the response of some readers to Part 4 of this Best Essential Oils series.  There’ve been numerous attacks on my character, both here, on Facebook sites, and elsewhere. (Check out Part 4 to see comments and my responses.)

I’d really hoped to finish this series earlier this week, but responding to these attacks has taken a lot of time.

I’ve been accused of:

seeking to tear down doTERRA
profit-seeking (some said the motive behind this series will be clear when I share the “winner.”)
analysis totally lacking in science, being based only on “smell tests”

I assure you–none of this is true and this brings up my final concern about these MLMs.

I am NOT anti-MLM.  In fact, I’m a rep for NYR Organic / Neal’s Yard Remedies – update from 3/16) .

But having devotion to a company despite evidence that they are not telling the truth or that their products are not superior taints the reputation of all MLMs and their reps.  It’s frankly uncalled for.

I started checking out various oils companies because I didn’t want to recommend any company without fairly checking out the competitors.  I felt it would be a disservice to my family and to my readers.

I chose the oils company that I will recommend next week because I believe it’s a solid oils company with unwavering commitment to quality and purity.  As with everything on my blog, if I can make money appropriately from my recommendations, I will do it.  This is standard blogging practice.

There are things on my blog that I recommend that I don’t make any money from–but I recommend them because I believe in them (See my Heavy Metal Toxicity post).

I can’t promise I’ll always be right, but I can promise you that I will do my best, within reason (I do have a family with health conditions, and we homeschool and eat all whole foods) to get the best information to you and correct myself whenever I’m wrong.

So–are the MLM oils worth it?  I don’t think they are terrible products, necessarily, but I do think that you can get a better “bang for your essential oils buck.”  Stick with this bargain and quality-hunting mama– I hope to share early next week.

More Posts in the Best Essential Oils Series:

Which Essential Oils Company is Best? – Part 1
Best Essential Oils – What a Good Oils Company Should Have – Part 2
– Which Essential Oils Company is Best – Troubles with the Oils Industry – Part 3
Young Living vs. doTERRA – Part 4
– Distillation, Bias, Vomit and More Concerns – 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.**

Take Your Oils With You

{Please note that there are affiliate links following. If you click on them and make a purchase, I might make a commission. Your support means a great deal and helps keep this free resource up and running – thanks.}

Whichever oils company you decide on, one of the best decisions I made was to take oils with me wherever (almost) I go. This carrying case is the perfect size to take while on the go or traveling so you always have your oils with you should the need arise.

Essential Oils Case

So–what do you think?

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.

These comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Whole New Mom, LLC.


    Speak Your Mind


  1. Hi! Is there anyway you can share which company uses 40% of prices for commissions and rewards? I can’t find this information anywhere but have been looking for it to help decide which company to go with!

  2. Hi! How can I get ahold of you via email?

  3. Thank you for this series – I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been attacked by MLM reps, etc!! I’m brand new to essential oils and have literally been researching day and night trying to find the right oil company for me and my family. I Would like to try and use them to alleviate a lingering ailment my son has. I appreciate all the time and effort put into researching and writing this post for moms like me, and I’m so thankful that you did!!! Keep up the good work! You are doing a great job!

    • You are so welcome. I don’t think all MLMs are bad. But many are not the way I want to go. They don’t answer questions and just encourage you to keep “spreading the message.” Thanks again.

    • Crystal says:

      I have made a complete 180 from using Young Living and I cannot say enough wonderful things about them, Ana. They only distill their plants, flowers, shrubs, etc. once and one time only. It is key to keeping the potency and purity. Distilling multiple times is dangerous to the consumer and you would never want to ingest those. YL distills at the peak times at proper temperature and for the precise time to insure its potency and purity. YOung living by far is the best essential oil company in the world. I love that it is a MLM because that way distributors are unable to teach classes to insure the consumer is using the oils properly and with confidence. I wouldnt know what to do if I just bought some random bottle off the shelf. It comes with no education , only fillers. Becoming a YL member is the best thing I did for my family. I hope this helps Ana.

  4. Have you heard of Living Libations? I use their essential oils and skin care. I have always heard that they use high quality ingredients. I am personally seeing great results with the skincare products that I buy from them, but wanted to see if you’ve done any research on them.

    • I talked to them but I honestly got mixed up with the information that I got from them. Sorry but I moved on and then forgot about them until a reader brought them up recently.

  5. Steven Jackson says:

    I have been in Doterra for a while, mainly because my wife was interested in the products and I have been doing MLM for the last 20 years I could see nothing in the company that gave me any red light.

    Once I had been through the information I decided to (link deleted by blog owner) and become a Doterra Distributor.

    At the moment I can only give Doterra 5 stars for there products and business plan.

    • Sorry but I had to remove your recruiting link from your comment. I would prefer readers not use my blog as a platform to build their businesses. Thank you.

  6. I’ve been buying my oils from Barefut for just under a year now. They aren’t MLM, however offer the option for an affiliate site. They are affordable and they work fabulously from what I have experienced so far. The smell of them isn’t overbearing like I have noticed with YL or doTerra. Here is their website. I’m looking for input from others about their oils!! Thanks
    (affiliate link deleted by blog owner)

  7. James Reilly says:


    Thanks for your write up. I am learning about Coconut Oil and wanted to try and find a company that I could buy from and promote as well. I hadn’t heard of the programs that you mentioned above but i will look into them more.



    • You are so welcome. If you mean Young Living and doTERRA, I left them both. If you really want an opportunity of a solid company that you can promote with confidence then I would recommend looking at NYR Organic – total transparency and quality. I can’t believe how good my skin looks and feels and they disclose EVERYTHING on their labels. They have oils as well – just they are not the main bulk of their business, though they should have more in the not too distant future: http://wholenewmom.com/neals-yard-remedies-nyr-organic/

      Happy to share more if it appeals to you.

      • Crystal says:

        What books have you read about YL? Did you ever own an EODR while in business? There is a lot of info in there about distilling. The way you wish for companies to distill is actually the way YL distills. Once. and they are the Only company in the world that own their own farms. Other companies claim to, but nobody has actually been there. Hmmm. Pick up Chemistry of Essential oils made simple by Dr. David Stewart or a EODR or better yet go to one of their farms! If that doesnt change your mind, sadly, nothing will.

        • Yes, I still own the book in fact. Are you sure that they are the only company in the world that owns their farms?

          Thanks for commenting.

          • Crystal says:

            yes ma’am

          • I guess in some ways that is very attractive b/c you have total control, right? But some might say it’s a concern b/c if you aren’t doing 3rd party testing then you could hide things. Of course not doing 3rd party testing can be a problem whether or not you are growing your own plants.

          • Hi, Adrienne. I just want to insert here that YL does third party testing.

  8. Priscilla says:

    Hi love your sight,but I do have a question, one of your earlier recommendations for pure oils was eden gardens, do you still recommend,I just made an order with them and read excellent reviews. I also love their prices.

  9. Jessica L. Ellis says:

    Your post was decently explained, but when comparing these companies YL, DT, and YB.. you failed to mention that YL is different than these other companies in MLM, YL has the seed to seal promise, has been in business for 20 yrs, you can go visit their farms, doesnt come from a third party company, and thats a company I trust. I would recommend. 83% of the members in YL labelled ” distributors ” don’t have anyone signed up under them. YL has so much more to offer this world than just oils, and products, and business. They have a top of the line educational opportunity. To learn from from the best in the industry. Check out the seed to seal site. Yes, YL is using the business model of the MLM, but there is more to be shared here on YL behalf that leads a lot of people astray in the field when its not being spoken about. These other essential oil companies your recommending, or others are posting about.. have no farms. They can NOT supply the user within first hand knowledge and experience. So, this is crucial. Yl leaves their fields open, for the critics, and skeptic. Anyone with the brains to do so, would use YL because they know where its coming from directly, and can even distill their own oils when a harvest is going on. Thanks for sharing, but whether you had the full YL experience or not. You’re failing to mention that YL has went over and beyond ALL of these companies, and is actually doing the JOB! It makes me sick when people group Young Living up with these other companies that have no depth beside their oils they are selling… Young Living is doing the (deleted by blog owner) thing, and are getting people PURE oils, they can trust! Not to mention a SOLID education in the field<3

    • HI there. Do you mean the “job” is that they own some of their farms or that they are having fields open? And the “depth” you are talking about is the same thing? Thanks.

    • Crystal says:

      Not speaking for you , Jessica. Just trying to help. I think she means doing their job as far doing everything precisely and correctly. The other companies should doing so as well. That what i gathered from it anyway.

  10. what do you know about simpler’s botanicals ?

  11. Love this post! I tried a MLM company once, it was essential oils, it was It Works. I also got attacked because I realised it was a scam and It Works distributors are pretty much trained to tell you how wrong you are if you say anything bad about a product and some people can get vicious. But anyways, I see plenty of Doterra and Young Living distributors that claim any other brand of EO, no matter how reputable the brand it, is “dangerous” and it’s “scary” that they can sell EO that’s so cheap because it must be low quality, even though a lot of brands are very reputable and have just as good quality and any MLM EOs. I’m sure Doterra and YL aren’t in any way scams like other companies, they sell quality products, I’m just tired of people saying they are the only quality oils out there.

    • Thank you!!! It Works just added their EOs recently, right? I know they are mainly wraps.

      • They did start selling EOs. Even Scentsy started selling them too. I don’t know much about either of the company’s EOs but I’ve read that they’re not pure at all!

        • I saw that about Scentsy. Everyone is getting into the business. You read that Scentsy’s aren’t pure?

          • Their oils are for aromatherapy only. So it seems that if thats the case, they can’t be as pure as other essential oils if they’re only for fragrance. I don’t really understand why they would advertise them as essential oils if they don’t do half of the things essential oils are supposed to be for. :\

          • Well technically aromatherapy is the use of oils for emotional and physical well being so that doesn’t mean they aren’t pure. However, I am very careful about where I purchase from.

  12. I saw that you mentioned that you are a rep for NYR Organics, I’m curious as to to why you didn’t included their oils in your quality test?

    • Hi Rosie!

      Good question. What happened was, when I was first looking for another company to recommend, I did look at NYR briefly, but I didn’t feel they would have enough of an oils offerings for my readers, or for myself. That may have been shortsighted, however. I ended up going with the company that I chose which I am still thrilled with, and am glad that I went in that direction. What happened later was unexpected. I have had a long path regarding skincare and personal care, but after a long path, I had landed with Ava Anderson (now Pure Haven Essentials), but had to leave due to labeling concerns and other issues. I ended up choosing NYR Organic after a LOT of investigating. Their oils are high quality and I do recommend them and I think you would be pleased with them – but RMO has many more offerings, of course different blends, and quality tracking that is I believe unparalleled in the industry.

      I hope that helps!!

  13. Judy Rosenberg says:

    I have been using Butterfly Express almost exclusively over the last year but have tried many other companies. In your blog I noticed that you did some research on Butterfly but I didn’t see your results. Can you tell me what you found?

    • I am working when I have time to check on other brands. I didn’t go w/ Butterfly when I did this series for several reasons. Companies change what they are doing and there are so many out there. I’m doing what I can to figure out more and share with you all when I can, but it takes hours just to look at one company…or more. Please stay tuned. Thanks for reading.

  14. Thank you!!!! I can hear your honest, well thought out opinion and appreciate you taking the time to put it out there. As one just learning about essential oils, with doTerra as the MLM to spark it but also doing some (unaffiliated) book reading and looking of my own, I’m tending to agree with you … but with much less experience to back it up. Thanks for this series!!!!

  15. Thanks so very much for even venturing into this difficult quest. I singed up with YL in the beginning and must say that my gratitude for these oils is immense because I was nearly blind from contracting menegitis and encephalitis (viral) with unbearable pain. Healed in two weeks. That said I have watched the business model going so corporate over 20 odd years and any personal interaction has become awful….especially when they make mistakes. I am very disappointed and thus I started searching and found your articles…Thanks so much for your even handed evaluation. I have not come to a final decision yet, but will give RMO a try.

  16. Jenny beasley says:

    How,can oils grown in their native environment be organic certified when that’s not done in most countries?
    Where can I find third party testing done on Neal’s Products?

    • Hello Jenny. Great question! Apparently the testing is done in other countries. The organic industry is pretty prolific now so even if a country doesn’t have it there all the time the certification companies can get there, but especially in Europe there are numerous certification companies there.

      As for Neal’s Yard Remedies, they test every batch. At present they are not publishing results but I know that they have passed third party tests with flying colors and have no interest to risk their stellar 30+ year reputation with substandard essential oils.

      I am happy to inquire about more details if you would like.

  17. It is disconcerting to me, to say the least, when someone grasps at things to blog about, for personal gain, not having all of their facts straight first before dangerously leading or, in this case, misleading, people in circles. Investigative reporting investigates all avenues before reporting. Being a skeptic about everything doesn’t constitute good investigative reporting. It just means you’re grasping at something, anything, to blog about…and from the results of it people have wasted money, and likely ingested toxins rather than purity for their health
    People, if you’re going to follow someone’s advice follow someone who with certainty has delved into and can say, without a doubt “this is what I found to be factual…I’ve Guinea pigged myself to know that it is factual….these are my personal results”. Otherwise, you’re doing nothing better than consuming OTC, following someone who’s simply advertising products they’re selling.

    • Hello Tessa.

      I’m sorry but I don’t understand your comment. I will go through it point by point and ask if you can clarify things so that perhaps I can respond more appropriately.

      1. Are you saying that I set about to write this series by grasping at things and that I did it for personal gain? To the contrary – I was told by a rep at doTERRA that I could make $8K a month with my readership by going with them, but I went with a company that had no affiliate program at all.

      2. You state that I didn’t have my facts straight at first. Can I ask what facts you think I should have had straight when my purpose was to find a company that was the best value and quality for my family?

      3. I don’t think it’s possible to investigate all avenues before reporting. Many — yes. All? No. Do you think it’s possible?

      4. I don’t think that anyone can say without a doubt that many things are factual. And are my personal results factual? I did state some of that. I talked about my experience with the oils and what answers I got from some companies. There are scientific “facts” as many of those are proven to be wrong later when other “facts” are found. Of course, there are things that are true and things that are not.

      5. I’m not sure what you mean by “consuming OTC” – could you explain please?

      6. Are you claiming that the company that I recommended (or companies) are adulterating their oils with toxins? It sounds like you are making that accusation when you say that “people have wasted money, and likely ingested toxins rather than purity”. Furthermore, I don’t recommend that people ingest essential oils unless they are under the care of a professional medical practitioner or aromatherapist.

      Finally, can you tell me if you work for doTERRA? You don’t need to think I am an investigative reporter, or call me one, but after a quick internet search I thought I should ask that.

      Thanks for reading and I hope to hear back from you.

  18. Have you heard of ‘Wisdom of the Earth essential oils? What do you think??

  19. Hi Adrienne,
    I am pretty new to essential oils, and find your information very useful. Currently I’m with YL, and as much as I like their products, and enjoy the help network I have with them, I don’t like the fact that everything seems to be sales pitch oriented.
    I always look for my products on the EWG, just as a reference, but haven’t been able to find any YL product listed there. Do you know why? I read that you found some products rated with a 3, but I haven’t been lucky finding them. I was hoping you could help me?
    Thank you