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. This article is beyond dumb, apparently everything is a MYTH, nothing is real, all news is fake, and you have no real answers about anything.

    1. How rude. Instead of tossing around insults, please tell me what you think is inaccurate and I will address it. No, not everything is a myth and I spelled out what the truth is. Are you with an essential oil MLM where they taught you that these things are true?

  2. Hello,
    I just did a paper test to a local brand who produce essential oil and claim it as 100% pure.
    But, it leaves an oil mark even after 24 hours and the paper feel greasy. It's a lavender essential oil.
    I asked to them about the purity and tell them about the paper test i did. They said that their essential oil is pure but unrefined so it leaves an oil mark because it contains crude in it.

    They have Certificate of Analyst, the put the latin name, country of origin, extraction method, which part of the plant that extracted.

    So, is it real that it's 100% pure? Or they're lying about the 'crude'?
    I'm so confuse because i never heard about that before

  3. Have you done any research on revive oils? I have been seeing their ads everywhere, it claims to be pure at 1/2 the cost of young living (which I use now) but is this too good to be true?

    1. Yes, I have looked at them--it's confusing and all of these companies are complicated. Every company claims to be pure. Have you heard about a company that says "Hey there, buy our oils--we're not pure!" Stay tuned. I hope to update this topic in the future.

    1. Hi there. I have looked into them--I need to review this topic again soon and I hope to do so. Thanks for reading and sorry for the delay. Stay tuned!

  4. Thanks for doing so much research and being the voice of reason and sanity when it comes to essential oils! Your first post series on essential oil companies was so helpful, and this one hits all of the high points on what not to fall for in advertising. Well done!

  5. Since you have proven that these test are just mythh.. why not tell rather how to know if essentials oils are pure rather than promoting your trusted brand. .. That will be a better idea

  6. Hi I think I’ve read your articles before and enjoyed them. And I would like to believe that I don’t have to pay as much for good essential oil since I’m a massage therapist. But on reading your background I Kind of confused as to How you would verify that all of these things ARE Myths?

    1. Hi Louise - Thanks for the kind words. Are you saying that you think that my background isn't enough to verify that these things are myths? Or are you saying that you would like to know how I found it out? Let me know :).

      1. I would like to know more about how you found out? Do you have links to research that was done? Or any other links to research that you did? Thank you!

  7. Hi! I recently started using and selling doTERRA essential oils. It took a while for me to get educated on them to understand them. I like them now only because I have seen them actually work and experienced them myself. My wife forced the Deep Blue, which is one of doTERRA's proprietary blends, on me after a long week of putting in wood floors. I could barely stand up straight from the soreness. Once applied you could feel it immediately and within 2-3 hours all the soreness was gone and didn't come back. I also had a guy put this on his knee who has an old ACL injury that pains him from time to time because he did go to the doctor and his reaction was immediate. No more pain and not even the next day when I saw him. Another older lady with morphine medication for her arthritis that only lasted 15 minutes tried it and it lasted for hours up to the next day. Another lady who was having back pain because of an old care accident tried it and no more pain. This stuff is great and I'm amazed by it. I've also recently given their Breathe Touch to a person who was having asthma problems and had an oxygen tank she didn't tell us about. When she inhaled my wife walked away with another client only to have her turn around to see the lady crying in joy. She explained her situation to my wife and that the medication she was on was not working and the blend not only kicked in immediately but worked better. It completely opened up her air ways. I'm in the church and one thing I love is to see this actually helping people. I guess what I would like to ask with all this said is have you done any research on doTERRA and the quality/purity of their oil and pure blends? I'm asking because it's obvious this stuff works but I want to make sure I'm not missing anything about the product I'm promoting to people and it never hurts to ask. They seem to be one of the biggest if not the biggest oil company out there. I just want to make sure.

      1. That sounds like you are saying it was just " HEAR SAY", so why would you have anything to comment about something that you do not have any positive information on the subject?

        I have been with " doterra " now for going on four years and I love my oils!!!!
        So when and if you have any proof about the vanilla oil I would love to know.
        Thank you for your time.

  8. I would really like for you to point me in the right direction where you spent a lot of your time on chemicals in our daily products. I see you are very well informed so I assume you spent your time researching everything. Can you please give me the right links? I am interested in the big brands names: everything from toothpaste to cleaning supplies. Thank you.

    1. Hi there. Oh my that's a really big topic. Tell me what you would like to know. I haven't published details on companies that much due to various reasons but I hope to do more about that. What kind of products are you looking for? I have some trusted brands that I really love. Thanks for your kind words. I do have a research problem :). There's always something to be studying!

  9. I appreciate your post. I use a company oil that I really do believe in using. Yesterday a friend of mine kind of "attacked" me on why I am not using the same oil she uses because mine was "fake" Needless to say, this post helped me a think about things in a more practical way. Not saying one is "better" then the other, I just feel we should do our research and decide with facts. Thank you

    1. You are so welcome. There are for sure a lot of myths out there and a lot of it is centered on making people buy from only 1-2 companies. Thanks for reading! More to come :).

  10. It's happening in the bottle. When the oil is almost out, there is about a 1/8" to 1/4" of congealed oil. I can't imagine how the diffuser could cause this, but I'll switch out the brand & see what that does. 🙂

      1. Well, then it's settled. It's something in the oil itself, apparently. Unless it's because I'm using a bottle that once had Lavender oil in it. But I washed it thoroughly & rinsed with alcohol...maybe that caused it somehow. (By the way, what does "subscribe to comment" mean? I always check it, but do I need to?)

        1. Hello there - sorry for the delay in responding. Dealing with a lot of things here both professionally and personally. Yes, I think that's it! About the "subscribe to comment"--that is so odd. It didn't used to say that that I remember. It means that you will get updates to comments on that post. I am working on this--can't figure out how to change the wording but we'll get it done--thanks for the heads up! We're working on redesigning the whole site so that is on the list!

  11. I have been using NOW peppermint oil in my Aromalux diffuser each night, as it's less expensive than the oils I use otherwise. After a few days, some oil is congealed in the bottom of the bottle. Any idea of why?

      1. I pour the NOW oil into an empty, clean, YL oil bottle which then fits into my AromaLux diffuser. When the oil gets low in the smaller bottle, it congeals. I've never seen this before, so thought maybe you'd have an idea on it. That's the only thing I use NOW oil for. I've used YL oils for years, & thanks to you am now using RMO. But with diffusing every single night, all night, & with my diffuser pulling directly out of the bottle of oil, I use the NOW oil that's more economical.

        1. Hi there. Just checked w/ an aromatherapist who said she hasn't heard of this. I would call the company and ask them what could be going on.

        2. I just talked w/ NOW - they think it would have to do w/ how it was stored or something like that.

          1. Interesting. Maybe how it was stored at Amazon, which is where I bought it. Here at home, it's stored in the original bottle in my kitchen cabinet. Except of course for the oil that I've poured into the (former) Lavender Oil bottle, which I use in my diffuser. This is the ONLY oil that has ever done this, so it seems very weird. Thanks for your help, anyway! 🙂

          2. You know, it makes me wonder if it's the AromaLux diffuser that I only recently bought. I'll try it with some Rocky Mountain Peppermint oil & see if it happens with that oil as well. Thanks!

  12. Hi,
    When I pick lavender in my French garden ( same as in your garden, the common Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia) and rub my hands around the stem and then smell it, it STINKS. The smell is overpowering, strong and really not "nice". That smell will also change whether I pick the plants growing South, West or in more clay soils.
    However, we buy Young Living Oil - And every single bottle smells the same, it smells "nice" almost pleasant - How is this possible? I cannot make a link in between the plant smell and the oils we buy...

    1. Hi there. Hmmmm..that's interesting. Every bottle should not smell the same. In fact, bottles that smell different is what should be expected I think. Is it angustifolia that YL is selling?

      1. Yes YL sell the Lavandula angustifolia, your common type you find in every garden around the world.
        But with a consistent, predictable sweet smell (?!) and I cannot explain it....

        1. Hmmmm... I don't know what to say but I think I recall that sweetness myself. There have been some concerns about YL testing in various places---with 3rd party testing, etc.

  13. Hi

    Thanks so much for this information. Where do you buy your essential oils please? I have been on the internet for hours searching to see which one I can trust. I am still undecided. Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi there. Sorry for the delay -I was ill through 9/19. I am finally wading thru all of these comments. You might wish to subscribe to my site b/c I will be revisiting all of this soon. I looked at PT but not the other. Never heard of them actually. Did you end up buying from one of those?

  14. Hi, Thank you for this insight you have shared. This is extremely enlightening and I feel I have a whole new sense of awareness when it comes to buying and using essential oils now.

    I would like your opinion on an essential oil company called plant therapy. I have been buying my oils from them, and their blogs seem to reflect some of your thoughts. Not sure if you have heard of this company or have an opinion on them. Just thought I would ask.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi there. Yes, I have heard of them and have some of their oils. I think they are pretty good - I just am needing to look at all of this again. There are some really stellar companies out there and my thoughts go beyond oil quality to company ethics, how they treat affiliates (not just how much they pay) and more. Hope that helps! (sorry for the delay - after years of being sick I'm going thru piles of comments!)

  15. I make & sell natural personal care products. Essential Oils are amazing and so yeah, the companies seem to be coming out of the wood work lately. I'm thankful for this part however because when the market is saturated, folks, for the most part, get a better product. Most companies want to provide a quality product so you return. Yet there is much malarky, as you say, just like anything else ~for a sale. I find this occurs more so in the multi level marketing companies (use to subscribe to these as well as distribute). Things like mamas using volatile orange E.O. s on their babies to supplement vitamin C makes me cringe!
    As for quality, one that I didn't see on your list is Jedwards International. Like I said, I formulate personal care products and have used many companies for E.O.s, always on the look out for a great one. And this company delivers. I can tell quality from my senses but they also include a certificate of analysis and the safety data sheet with each of their products. Even rosehip oil, Jo. (NO I'm not affiliated just sharing a top notch company. And one that sells more than a mere dram of any given oil.)

  16. Have you ever covered the topic of carrier oils?
    Overwhelming deciding which rosehip oil is actually what it claims to be.

    Thank you for your research on essential oils!