The world of essential oils is so confusing--it's hard to know what's accurate information and what's not. There are so many essential oil myths out there, that it can really make your head spin.
Join me as we separate fact from fiction so you can be empowered to make the best decisions when it comes to both buying and using essential oils.
In recent years, it seems that everyone and his brother (or sister) is using essential oils for aromatherapy, therapeutic uses, and to make natural products for their families. However, the information out there about how to use oils and what to buy is so confusing.
Companies, essential oil reps, and consumers make claims about how you can know if what you have is REALLY a pure essential oil and they also give out a lot of advice about how to use them. While a lot of them are well meaning, some are not, and are merely out to make a buck (or two).
It's confusing enough trying to figure out how to use essential oils without all this nonsense, and frankly, these myths really muddy the waters and make the whole essential oil community seem unethical and illegitimate. It's a real shame, since many people already think that essential oils are a scam, and these myths just make it more likely to turn people off of something that could be a real help for their overall health.
So we're going to bust the essential oil myths and so that you can be empowered with accurate information as you shop for and use oils.
What Is an Essential Oil Myth?
A myth is a widely held false belief or idea, so an essential oil myth is a widely held false belief about essential oils, namely the purity of essential oils and use of essential oils,
There are shenanigans going on in the essential oil industry and it's time to set the record straight.
Following are some of the common myths that you are likely to run into during the course of your healthy living journey.
Dangers of Believing These Myths
While some of the problems related to believing this claims about essential oils are not that serious, some are.
Here's what can go wrong if you believe any of this misinformation about essential oils:
- Spend Too Much: You could spend way more on essential oils than necessary by thinking you need to buy from some more expensive companies over others
- Waste Oils: By being encouraged to use essential oils in certain unsafe ways, you could end up using way more than you need to.
- Side Effects / Reactions: Believing some of the myths in this post can easily lead to troublesome side effects and reactions, some of which can be severe.
- Buy Adulterated / Low Quality Oils: By believing some of the myths in this post, you could easily end up purchasing and using poor quality oils, therefore ending up wasting your money, not getting the results you want, and/or being exposed to even toxic ingredients.
- Misleading Others: If you believe any of the following myths and then share them with others, you could cause them to have the same problems.
Here are some more common myths about essential oils, as well as some less common, but also important ones.
15 Essential Oil Myths
There's Only One Brand Of Pure Oils
This myth is touted typically by reps of the larger essential oil companies.
And this myth 100% does not make sense.
Here's the truth.
Yes, there are some companies that distill some of their own oils. I'm not aware of any one company that distills all of their oils---it would be nearly impossible to do so.
There are "essential oil experts" that basically broker most of the essential oils in the marketplace so most of the oils out there are the same as what is being sold at least in one other place.
What differs is quality control and knowledge. Basically you want to purchase from a company that knows how to source and how to test, and does all of that with integrity.
You can read more about how to evaluate companies in this post about quality essential oils.
You Can't Have Allergic Reactions to Essential Oils
The truth is that anyone can be allergic to anything.
Many MLM reps will claim that rashes and other adverse reactions are just detox, and that allergies aren't a possibility since their essential oils are so pure.
Or they will claim that if you are having a reaction to an oil that it has to be due to the fact that the oil that you are using isn't pure.
Of course one can react to adulterants (ingredients that shouldn't be in the oils), but essential oils are made from plant material. Since the human body can react to plants, anyone can also experience negative effects like itching, hives, rashes, and more, in response to even unadulterated essential oils.
These reactions are your body's way of telling you that it's not happy.
The best practice is, as with any new product, to test an essential oil (properly diluted with a carrier oil) on a sensitive area of skin (like the inside of your forearm) and wait to see if there is any skin irritation before using it elsewhere.
Pure Essential Oils Don't Go Bad
This whole concept really perplexes me. While there are a few essential oils that get better with time, almost everything in the world expires / goes bad, especially something like essential oils that are created in a fairly simple manner (not heavily processed) from plants.
It seems that some MLM reps state this to get you to think that their overpriced oils are worth buying since they "don't expire."
Some of these people state that essential oils don't expire, but that they degrade, but then they go on to talk about how they oxidize. Huh? Oxidation is something that makes something not be as good quality, so of course at some point the oil isn't going to be a great thing to use.
The truth is, almost all essential oils change composition for the worse as they age, making side effects more likely.
Citrus oils, in fact, expire quite fast, within about a year or two.
This post about the shelf life of essential oils goes into more detail about this topic.
If There's Only One Ingredient on the Label, It MUST Be Pure
First of all, if we're talking about single oils, that might be true, but an oil blend has multiple oils. I know that's not the point that this statement is making, but it's true.
Also, some companies sell essential oils that are diluted with carrier oils. Doing such does not mean that you are getting an adulterated oil as long as that dilution is disclosed on the label.
Just does not mean that they are selling only pure oils. They put in synthetic fillers or other adulterants and of course they aren't going to list those on their label.
Can you imagine a label for a Lavender Oil that claims to be quality that says: "Lavender Essential Oil and Synthetic Lavender added" on the label? Well, if you see that--don't buy it :).
A company can write whatever they want on a label. That doesn't mean that that is what is in the bottle. A label is just that--a label.
"Internal Use" On the Label Means It's a Pure Essential Oil
Some MLM reps (and others) claim that oils are superior in purity if there is a label indicating that the oils are safe for internal use.
That is completely not the case.
Oils should be pure whether they are for internal or external use. In fact, most things get absorbed through the skin and bypass the liver, making it even MORE important that things on the skin are pure.
Certified Organic Oils Are Always Pure
If the essential oils are certified organic, are they necessarily pure?
In fact, it's not even crucial that you buy organic essential oils to avoid pesticides. The growing practices are what matter--not the certification.
There are some advantages to buying organic essential oils in some cases, but purity is not necessarily one of them. There are companies that have tested organic essential oils and found them not to be pure (and I have verification of that in my inbox.)
GMO-free Oils are Always Pure
While it's better to not buy essential oils distilled from GMO plants, first of all, when is the last time that you heard of GMO Melaleuca :)?
Basically there aren't really any GMO plants that are made into essential oils, so no worries here.
Second, just because an essential oil is marked as being GMO-free doesn't mean at all that it is for sure a pure essential oil.
Certified Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils Are Pure
There is no such thing as an industry-wide certification of essential oils, let alone any therapeutic grade standards anywhere.
So when a company states that they are therapeutic grade, or clinical grade, or whatever certification acronym they decide to put on their essential oils bottle, that certification is purely a marketing term. Nothing more and nothing less.
I could just as easily set up an essential oils company and put some purity designation together like "CBPEO" for "Certified Best Pure Essential Oil" and start selling my stuff.
But unless there is some sound science behind that name it means nothing.
The Best Place to Put Essential Oils Is On the Soles of Your Feet
This is another common misconception with the reasoning used being that there are larger pores on the soles of your feet so the oils can get into your body quicker and more easily. People who perpetuate this myth typically share reflexology images of feet which makes it all seem really convincing.
One post that I read even said that since the skin on the soles of your feet are thicker, your soles are the best place to put oils since that skin is tough enough to handle undiluted oils.
Please read that again.
So it's better to put oils on the soles of your feet because they can get into the body easier BUT it's also better because the skin is tougher and can handle undiluted oils?
Ummmm...those two statements contradict each other.
The truth is that pores don't absorb things--they push out things like sweat and oil. In fact, you have NO oil pores on your feet at all.
It's actually better to put essential oils on thinner skin for better absorption through the epidermis, but of course make sure to dilute them first.
Putting Essential Oils in Drinking Water Is a Nifty Idea
Some people recommend using essential oils in water on a daily basis to cleanse the liver or lose weight or get other benefits from oils.
This is 100% NOT a good idea.
Oil and water do not mix. The oil you add to water will concentrate in one place and can do some real damage to the mucous membranes of your mouth, throat, and more by doing this, leading to temporary irritation or even long term negative consequences.
Ingesting Essential Oils Is a Great Therapeutic Option
Undiluted Essential Oils Work Best
Actually applying essential oils directly on your skin without diluting (called "neat" is dangerous.
Essential oils are really strong, and
Even oils that have been considered for a long time to be safe to apply "neat" should be diluted with either a carrier oil or vegetable oil or butter before applying to the body. This includes frankincense oil, tea tree oil, and lavender.
Robert Tisserand has sounded the alarm about an increase in sensitivities to oils in the recent past, indicating that it's better to use oils more sporadically and with more care.
The White Paper Test Myth
Something people (from the larger MLM companies) say that you can easily test your essential oils at home by putting a drop of the oil on a plain piece of white paper, letting the essential oil sit for several hours and observing. The story goes that if it disappears slowly and doesn't leave a ring, then the oil is likely pure.
First of all, some oils are heavier and will leave residue. Furthermore, adulteration isn't typically done by adding carrier oils any longer--the dishonest companies are getting smart, adding things that wouldn't be picked up by such a simple test.
So save your paper.
The Freezer Test Myth
Another essential oil myth is that pure essential oils don't freeze--so that if you place your essential oils in the freezer and if they freeze, you have impure oils.
Again, not true.
Yes, some oils will not freeze in a typical household freezer, but all liquids will freeze at some temperature. There are some oils that will freeze in a household freezer, some will freeze in the refrigerator, and some are solid even at room temperature. The issue is the components of the essential oils which will crystalize at different temperatures depending on the amount of that component in the essential oil.
Here is an explanation of the freezing of peppermint oil by Robert Pappas:
The menthol in peppermint can range from 30-50%. Mint oil that has menthol content in the upper 40s (getting close to 50%) can crystalize in a household freezer, while cheap 33% menthol Indian peppermint, like the one that the MLM reps are saying is the good peppermint, can't crystalize because its so inferior in its menthol content that it would take a much lower temperature to solidify.
The Dissolve in Water Myth
This myth states that true essential oils will not dissolve in water and that when companies adulterate oils they add emulsifiers and surfactants to stretch out the oils, making them not mix in water.
Well, newsflash--neither do vegetable or other carrier oils that might be added to an essential oil to extend its volume. That being said, most adulteration isn't done with carrier oils any longer. The alteration is more sophisticated now. These adulterated oils will not dissolve either.
So save your essential oils and don't put them in water to test them.
The Supplement Label Essential Oil Myth
This myth states that if an essential oil has a supplement label on the bottle, that that proves that it is pure.
Think about this--I'm sure you've heard about supplement companies being caught with undisclosed or impure ingredients in their products, right? Some of them are only selling RICE FLOUR masquerading as vitamins!
The Supplement Facts Label sure didn't stand for purity there.
And it doesn't with essential oils either.
The Supplement Label means that the ingredients listed on the bottle are GRAS (generally recognized as safe) by the government. However, that doesn't mean that that is what is in the bottle. Essential oils that a company recommends for ingestion should have the supplement label on the bottle, but labels aren't regulated unless complaints or injury reports cause the FDA to intervene.
There are tons of things floating around out there about essential oils that are just not true.
I hope this post has helped you sort through the marketing nonsense. Stick around to find out the truth about how to really know if you have pure essential oils.
You can always consult with a certified aromatherapist as well.
And if you'd like to know the company that I trust to supply my family with quality essential oils (and no hype) you can go here to read about my search for the "best" essential oils. Or you can skip to the end here.
Free Report On Oils with Newsletter Access
If you go and grab my Free Report on 10 Things to Know About Essential Oils Before You Buy, you will not only get more myth-busting essential oils information, but you'll get access to my VIP newsletter as well--complete with updates, great healthy living offers, of course new posts on essential oils, and more.
Enough of the lies.
Let's get the truth out there.
Did you believe any of these common essential oil myths before reading this post?
Which one(s) and what do you think now?