15 Essential Oil Myths--Don't Fall for the Hype!

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.

essential oil bottles with cinnamon, frankincense, and lemon with text overlay for essential oil myths post

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."

Hogwash.

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?

Nope.

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.)

small essential oil bottles with flowers in the background

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.

3 essential oils bottles with anise and corks and lavender

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.

Malarky.

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.

Conclusion

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?

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112 Comments

  1. I write a blog called God's Miracles...for anonymity I will not add the entire site name. Based on the a miraculous healing my spouse of 48 years from an acvident wherein be shatered C3-7 into his spinal cord I recently received a word to study healing oils of the Bible. That said...I am researching companies and products. Having been a yeacher,and later a pharma rep...I am aware of terminology that alludes to or confuses the consumers. I am still in the process of reading your blogs. I wish I could talk to you but I know that is impossible. Do you mention whom you have aligned yourself with in future blogs and/or companies that more accurately produce pure oils? Sorry if I am putting the cart before the horse I want to help those who need healing including my spouse. I so believe in oils of the Bible. Recently went to a YL presentation? didn't want to rock the boat since my pastor was there and DT also. Questions not answered but a lot of smoke screens. Thanks...need some guidance. Your email will auto delete unless I add your email...got tired of tons of spam so computer does auto delete of spam.

    1. Hi Lizette. Yes, I am still taking to companies but I'm investigating all kinds of companies as well and I am just one person :). I went with this company: https://wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/natural-remedies/announcing-the-best-essential-oils-company-and-a-great-sale/ and they are having a sale right now.

      I personally left both Young Living and doTERRA for several reasons....mostly b/c of things you just mentioned. Not getting the answers that I needed. It's unacceptable. I have left other companies for that reason as well.

      Do that help?

  2. your article was interesting and ... not surprising.

    My question is:
    One would presume that you are being paid to "direct" us to the essential oils that "you buy".
    Are you being paid when we are directed to the oils that you like?

    We always must ask, like yourself ...
    "What's in it for them"?

    1. Hello Belinda,

      You are always welcome to ask me anything. I won't necessarily answer everything (some things are off limits), but overall I'm an open book. The truth is that I worked w/ Young Living and doTERRA for awhile but wasn't happy with the answers or lack thereof that I got from them. I was told that I could make about $8,000 a month with doTERRA given my blog's traffic. I wasn't going to be "bought" so I followed my instincts and started interviewing several (MANY) companies. When I found the one that I felt the best about, I asked if they had an affiliate program, but they didn't. They were willing to start one for me so that we could work together.

      So basically, I do my best to be honest but also to make an honest living. When I find a company or product that I love I try to find out if there is a way to make money with it because that is what blogging is about....it's about sharing and teaching and getting paid via ads and affiliate relationships.

      I have removed companies from my blog that have proven themselves to be not trustworthy and I will do it again if need be. I have lost money and lots and lots of time doing this but I have done it b/c it is the right thing to do. I can tell you that I have been on the phone and email and FB messenger sooooo many hours the past few months trying to investigate more companies, that my blogging is suffering and you can see that from how few posts I have published.

      There has to be a limit. But some violations are egregious.

      Are there other good companies out there? Yes. Many? The majority are not companies that I would work with. Some that might have quality oils are not an option for other reasons. Sometimes it's the marketing practice, sometimes it's another factor that I can't write about (I've had cryptic threatening emails before telling me not to publish certain things!).......

      I hope that helps. Please let me know if you have other questions.

  3. Love your blogs!
    I am new to EOs and wondering if you could comment on the distillery equipment and whether or not it is an issue. I recently heard from a YL rep their distilleries use stainless steel because aluminum and iron and toxic. The rep also said no other company can use stainless steel because YL has a patent. How does RMO test for these metals if the GC/MS test can’t check?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Lon - thanks for reading and for writing!

      Here is the information that I can share with you:

      Young Living in fact does not appear to have a patent on the use of stainless steel in distilleries. It would obviously be very complicated for them to enforce that---there are very few essential oil suppliers there are in the industry and Young Living in fact gets some of its oils from the same place as other companies. I added that info this post: https://wholenewmom.com/what-to-buy/best-essential-oils-company-young-living-review-doterra-review/

      The US Patent states in Section 101 of the U.S Patent Act that an invention can only be patented if it meets the following four requirements:
      The invention must be statutory
      The invention must be new
      The invention must be useful
      The invention must be non-obvious

      When distilling essential oils there are two metals that can be used to yield premium quality oils. They are copper and stainless steel. Although copper is not as commonly used as stainles, it is still a metal that is safe.

      RMO has direct buying relationships with each of their suppliers. Each of them are required to meet stringent product and distillery guidelines before they consider buying the oil.

      Through their process of selecting suppliers and their commitment to stringent quality testing, they guarantee that their essential oils contain no adulterants and heavy metals are not usually a concern. However, if it is ever needed, questioned or required, they do conduct the heavy metal testing.

      I got this information from RMO and think I have represented them appropriately, however they will be coming out w/ an official statement on this.

      Does that help? Happy to answer any other questions you may have and thanks for the kind words!

  4. I just bought a 6 bottle kit from T.J. MAXX. ( I know, i know. You don't have to say it). The brand is Nature's Remedy from Pleasant Grove, Utah. States on the box gs/mc tested yet I can't find anywhere on the Internet a listing for this company. No home page. No business listing (yet there are other EO companies out of PG UTAH). I'm thinking I should return it and get my 20 bucks back. It also for external use only. Do they all? As a safety precaution? C Y A. type thing? Thanks so much for your blog. I just discovered it

    1. Hi Xena. Not sure what you think I was going to say - perhaps something like "Don't buy your oils from TJ Maxx :)?....but anyhow, I think it goes w/o saying that if there is not way to check on their info I wouldn't use it. No thanks. I have heard enough bad stories. They don't all say external only but it's typical in the industry - yes, could be CYA or could be b/c it isn't pure but truthfully internal use should only be recommende when under the care of a professional practitioner or aromatherapist.

      Welcome, by the way! More to come on oils (and more topics) - if you are so inclined you can sign up for my newsletter here: https://wholenewmom.com/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-essential-oils-before-you-buy/

  5. Great article, thank you. A few people have asked you about Dr. Axe and I don't really see an answer. Would your recommend the oils he sells?

    1. You are welcome. By reading the post you might be able to ascertain. However you could look at these as well.

      https://wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/toxic-overload-health-concerns/essential-oils-testing-is-it-reliable/

      https://wholenewmom.com/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-essential-oils-before-you-buy/

      GC/MS batch testing is a must and every test should have a chemist's signature on it as well.

      Also I could become an affiliate but I have not.

      I hope that helps.

  6. What an AWESOME post. Thank you for sharing this.

    I'm an EOs researcher myself, but have only been at it for a few years. There is always so much to learn, especially as new information presents itself and as the industry grows (and sometimes tries to get over on potential clients thinking we won't want to become informed purchasers.).

    I have learned some new information here on this post and this will inform me as I go forward in my own on-going research.

    Thank you so much.

    (P.S. I honestly cannot understand the OBSESSION with people trying to prove their BRAND is the best. It's very strange to me. It's almost like the people in my family with football teams and the like. But the researcher in me thinks their is something more to it. It kinda has something to do with perhaps when we were little and felt the need to be right. I'm not too sure, but I know I can remember being this way up until a certain age. I remember my peers at that age sometimes being that way. Some continued this way, some grew out of it. I still sometimes see little ones around me being this way. Anyway, long story short is I wonder if this obsession comes from some unintegrated young part of us. A type of immaturity. I don't say that to be mean, either, because I've lots of immature parts to myself that I'm always learning about. Okay, I'm done for now, LOL.).

    1. Oops...sorry for the mispellings. (I know that bothers some people.). I was typing fast without my glasses. Laziness on my part. : )

      Peace!

    2. Hi again, Deb. Well, I think w/ many Direct Sales companies (and I do work w/ some) that people's livelihoods are on the line so they have to prove it or they lose income. As for others, I guess it's their company so they want to make money. I know there are other good companies. I just was pleased to find what I found. Thanks again!

      1. Could be that with all of the shenanigans in the industry, they believe those marketing terms are what they need. Not all marketers seriously take the consumer into account. They believe what they believe.

  7. Hello,

    I've always been interested in perhaps using essential oils for my family. I noticed that one of the popular brands in my country of Malaysia is Young Living. What is your opinion on the below product?
    (Young Living Lavender Oil - link removed by blog owner)

  8. I have been reading your blog for a year now and truly appreciated the amount of research you do!
    I have been purchasing RMO and have been very happy with their products. That being said, they are pricey and I am not objecting to that as I know from your research that I am getting great product.
    Would you please give me your opinion on Eden's Gardens oils as I am thinking of buying larger bottles of some things.
    Thankyou again for your time!

  9. I started with DoTerra they are expensive. I now use oils mostly from Tropical Traditions. Go to their site and read about their oils. Not as expensive and good. No blends.

  10. I read through your posts and alllllll the comments and questions and answers several years ago when I was on a quest for the right EO company. Thank you for all of your extensive research! I have been buying from RMO ever since and have loved everything! People have tried to sway me to other brands but I'm very loyal to RMO. Looking forward to your future articles!

  11. I used to buy oils from the health food stores then someone showed me Doterra oils I used to use them but I found them too expensive for the amount that you would get so someone else introduce me to Young Living I found no difference in them they were exactly the same and the prices were 50-50 they're cheaper by couple of dollars on some things and some things they were the same amount to more than I went to escents and they are way cheaper to use Canadian brand only I love escents. Health food and escents are my only go to! Nothing else

  12. There are several companies that I would trust other than the two MLM's. Your preferred co, which merged after your blog, and a couple other smsller one with less oils to offer. However, with your preferred Co merging after you wrote the 7 part series, would that change your position, as you did not mention the second co in your blog when I read it 2 years ago when I started my research and journey into EOs.

    1. Hi John.

      I take it that you are asking if I still am comfortable with the company that I chose since they merged? I am very confident in their purity. In fact, moreso now. I didn't mention the 2nd company at the time.....it all came together later and they were talking about merging so I guess it just didn't come up as being necessary since they had the same oils. That was my understanding. I hope that helps. Let me know if you meant to ask something else.

  13. <> if this is free why does it say add to cart $2.95?
    Thanks for the information you do share though -I appreciate it...

    1. Hi Kathleen,

      So sorry about that - the wrong link was in the post. It's fixed now and it is free for those who want to subscribe to my newsletter. Thanks for reading and for alerting me!

  14. I have always used Doterra Oils. Just love them and I have never heard anything negative about them.
    Curious what you've heard?

  15. I personally who have used oils for 40 years..find the best quality and price online at BulkApothocary. They are the real deal

    1. Thanks for sharing. I will be sharing how to find pure essential oils in the very near future. That post should be of interest.

  16. I have found a company that is really intriguing-- Floracopeia. They have loads of videos and courses on their site and they have a lot of interesting oils that I haven't seen anywhere else. I haven't ordered anything yet because our Canadian dollar is so low right now. It just makes US purchases prohibitively expensive. But I am biding my time.

    1. Living Libations in Canada I highly recommend, if you don't want to go with a MLM company such as Do-Terra or Young Living (I buy Young Living and Living Libations oils only; I don't know much about Do-Terra, but Young Living I am very happy with from a MLM perspective). ALL Living Libations products are amazing, and Nadine and Ron are ethically-minded, trustworthy, and beautiful people inside and out.

    1. Thanks for reading and for sharing. I will be addressing concerns of this nature in future posts.

  17. Thank you for bringing up all of those valid points! So what brand of essential oil do you recommend?

      1. Yes you raise good questions regarding the efficacy of EO's. I love my oils and they have been tested for purity. They are from DoTERRA. The company uses the tag "certified pure Theraputic grade". However in Canada as the oils are again put through rigorous testing we can only say that they are" certified pure grade". There are many oil companies in business. It is up to consumers to learn what they are buying. I read science so only will go with tested products. On FB there is a page that deals only with this. It is Essential Oil Consumer Reports.