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”
– doTERRA– “CPTG”
– 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 have been doing some re-thinking about 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.

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 Lilla Rose (see my Lilla Rose Review) and one other company that I am evaluating right now.  {UPDATE:  I am still with this company and LOVE them. Totally not pushy and “over the top” quality products. You can read about their probiotic here.}

But having devotion to a company that results in attacks of this sort 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

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.

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  1. Laurie Hale says:

    Hi Adrienne, I came on here tonight looking for answers and boy, did you ever deliver! I read through all of your segments on finding the best oil company. I never read blogs like this, I want you to know. Something about yours caught me. I’ve had it with MLM oils companies and wasting my time and family’s money building businesses that are going nowhere. I do not wish to rant or bash on the companies so I will just say that I am very grateful to you for the time and effort you have spent with your research. I came to essential oils several years ago and was able to leave pharmaceuticals behind that I was taking for bipolar disorder. I also have a son with Asperger’s whom I homeschool, and I have adrenal fatigue!! Sound familiar? Thank you for introducing NAN to us. To me! I am looking forward to using them to replace these other oils. I have a very larger network of holistic practitioners with our business, and wonder what the best way would be to get these oils into folks’ hands? You have said you are the first and only so far affiliate. I wonder if Paul would be open to others? No MLM set up of course.

    • Laurie Hale says:

      HI Adrienne,
      I went ahead an contacted NAN today to find out further about affiliation. Thank you so much for being here and doing what you do! I know it was no mistake I found you on here. Love and Light to you and your “boys!”.

    • Wow – thank you so much for your kind words!!! There are a few other affiliates but I heard they are not taking any more right now. I am sorry about that but perhaps that will change down the road. Thanks again!

  2. Have you checked out the new Ameo essential oil company? What do you think of this company? Thanks, Dale

  3. cheryl morrison says:

    Thanks for this very nice, unbiased, report. it answered a lot of questions for me. i am an essential oil user. i hate companies that use tear down practices to sell their product. many companies have good products and some times the companies are so close in what they offer it is nice to have a third party review. thanks so much

  4. Amy Maier says:

    Thank you so much for all your hard work & information! I am a massage therapist and have been using YL for 14 years, and DT for about a year and a half. To my disappointment, DT oils are not as good or as nice as YL. That said, I have been very disappointed with YL, as they have been out of the oil Valor for what seems like an eternity! Valor is an oil I use on all clients and have ordered at least 4 10ml bottles each month for 13 years. With no warning that supplies would be running low, they were OUT of STOCK! About 5 months later you could order 1 bottle, but it had to be a separate order, and you couldn’t use rewards points or have any other oils on the order. What a crock!!!
    So I have been trying to make my own with their recipe, not an easy task! I have finally decided to stop ordering from both of them & find another way! Last night I went on the internet and found your awesome blog! I have decided to go with NAN because of all of your information! Thank you again so much for all your hard work!!!
    Peace to you,
    Amy Maier

  5. Thank you so much for your research! It aids in my research as well. I have been using DoTerra and was kinda naive about it all thinking that it was safe since the class I had been to said to use them daily and ingest them. Luckily I don’t do either of those things but have been close to becoming a rep and have felt very hesitant about it all. I don’t feel qualified to teach about oils or their safety and frankly I don’t want to be held liable for anything happening to anyone under my teachings. I know it would be their choice on how to use them but I want to steer clear from any harm that could come from misuse of oils.

  6. Rebecca F says:

    Hi, I appreciate the info you are providing! I am looking for oils that I can trust, and you have done a ton of the investigative work for me! And I can follow up myself with any further question I have, or just take your word for it. No one should be saying anything negative about what you are writing! I just want you to know I appreciat the work you have done. Thank you!

  7. I would like you to clarify your comment that essential oils taken internally kill good and bad bacteria including, clove, oregano, cinnamon and citrus and you should be supplementing with a probiotic if using internally. I have not found ant credible information that this is true and would be interested to see where you obtained your information to make that claim.

    • I have read it in many places on the internet – well, I have read both sides. Folks saying that since it’s antibacterial is can kill good bacteria and others saying it’s “smart” and won’t do that. My current practitioner told me to be careful about taking too much oil of oregano b/c it could disturb the microbiome. hope that helps :).

  8. Susan, I know I emailed you about this, but could you share for our community whatever documentation, or lack thereof, that you have regarding this situation? Thank you. I don’t wish to have incorrect wrong information spread around about others.

  9. Thanks much. Disconcerting. I appreciate your reaching out.

  10. Thanks for the further clarification.