Which Essential Oils Company is Best? Young Living and doTERRA – Part 4

The information provided in this post is for information purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice.
It is not a substitute for your doctor's care plan or advice.

Wondering Which Essential Oils Company is Best? What about the "Therapeutic Grade" claims the MLM/direct sales oils companies make? Come find out all you ever wanted to know about oils companies and more!

Post Updated 4/26/17:

Here we are again – moving toward finding the Best Essential Oils Company.

To clarify, what I'm after here is the Best Essential Oils Company for the money.

So you can work on natural healing without breaking the bank–and I think I've found a good one.

Just being realistic:

I'm one person looking into a bunch of companies–with some help.  So I'm leaving the door open to the possibility that I might be wrong.

I've had to admit I was wrong about things before.
–  My thinking that Lilla Rose Flexi Clips were a waste of money (see my “changed my mind Lilla Rose review” here).
– or saying my Natural Dishwasher Rinse Aid was a great idea.

We need to be willing to admit we were wrong.

Was I wrong about Young Living?  Remember my enthusiastic posts about their Thieves and Peppermint and Wintergreen?

Let's find out.

Today I'm going to share what happened as I looked into the “heavy hitters” in the Essential Oils Industry–

(Oh, and if you are jumping in in the middle of all of this, here is a link to Part 3.)

Wondering Which Essential Oils Company is Best? What about the "Therapeutic Grade" claims the MLM/direct sales oils companies make? Come find out all you ever wanted to know about oils companies and more!

Young Living and doTERRA.

If you've been looking into essential oils at all, chances are you have come across YL and DT.

You've had folks tell you “Young Living is the best!” or “doTERRA is the most pure”.

Or something like that.

I touched on some of these issues in Best Essential Oils Post – Part 1.  But here's more.

First up–Young Living

Young Living Review

1.  Reputation and Ethics –  There are some pretty not-so-savory things on the internet about D. Gary Young.  Of course, the internet can be full of truths and lies.  But I still think these things are worth paying attention to.  Dr. Stephen Barrett has written a load of unsavory things about D. Gary Young.  In fact, this information is a lot of what gave me pause when I initially was looking into signing up with YL.  I mean, the Thieves Oil worked great for me, but I really didn't like what I was reading.

Now, I do have my concerns about Mr. Barrett–mainly that he's basically an “anti-alternative therapy” hound.  And I like alternative therapies.  Most of them, at least.

I personally am very concerned about abuses in the alternative medical field.  But I'm also concerned about abuses in Western medicine.

My family and I have been harmed by the practices of traditional Western medicine (overuse of anti-biotics, over-use of prescriptions meds, doctors misdiagnosing acid reflux, etc.).  In some cases, we've been healed despite what mainstream doctors told us to do.

I know there are abuses on both sides.  But Quackwatch appears to be just targeting everything alternative:  Chiropractic, acupuncture, Chinese medicine….You name it.  If it's alternative, it's Barrett's target.

I could go on and on about his site, but suffice it to say that I am not sure of all of Barrett's accusations against Gary Young. (UPDATE – All comments by Mr. Barrett against Gary Young appear to have been removed so I can't cite them any longer.)

However, his writings about Young Living and Gary Young leave something to ponder.  Moreso in light of what else I found…

2. OSHA Violations – I found this interesting entry referring to Young Living OSHA violations.  I didn't find any by the other oils companies, although I didn't look all of the essential oils companies up, of course.  That would take a long long time and I couldn't find them all for sure.

Now, Young Living is the oldest oils company, so they've had more time for there to be violations, and all of the violations appear to be of the same incident.

Of course, OSHA violations don't mean that a company is bad.  If they cleaned up their procedures correctly, then possibly their new procedures are better than ever.

3.  Non-Indigenous PlantsMany A good number (updated 4/2015) of Young Living's farms are located in the U.S.  I think that's fine for a company being more “in control” of their product, but not great if you follow conventional wisdom that plants grow best (and have the best therapeutic qualities) when they are grown in their indigenous locations (where they are supposed to grow naturally).

If you read through the comments of Best Essential Oils Parts 2 & 3, you'll see that Young Living reps tout the fact that YL farms are in the U.S. as being an advantage–that it gives Young Living control over the whole process.  Maybe, but other companies like doTERRA and most of the other companies I've looked into have their oils sourced from wherever the plants grow naturally for higher quality.

4.  What's That Smell?

You know I like testing things before recommending them to you, like in my:

Best Cinnamon Sugar and
Best Eye Makeup Remover posts.

Then you won't be surprised to know that we did this with essential oils as well.

I purchased YL, doTERRA, Mountain Rose Herbs, Aura Cacia, and 2 other companies' oils and did a little “Smell Challenge” with my not-so-specially-trained Smell Testing Panel (a.k.a. my family).


We had a blind smell test of 3-5 brands of the same oil.

In each instance, Young Living was singled out as having a chemical (synthetic) overtone.

Does that mean there were synthetics added?

Not necessarily of course, but we still didn't care for it.

doTERRA Review

Besides buying the Young Living Starter Kit, I also bought a large kit of doTERRA's oils to try them out against YL.  I asked doTERRA reps and corporate employees tons of questions, and I even used their oils exclusively for awhile.

One thing I really like about doTERRA is their educational resources — and also, their oils smell great.

But their great smell is part of what concerns me.

One thing I really don't care for is that a lot of doTERRA reps (and corporate employees as well) say something like, “You'll know it works by its smell.”

This from doTERRA's website: “A 100% pure therapeutic-grade essential oil should have a balanced, broad fragrance profile and should smell crystal clean.”  I don't know about you, but I don't know what “crystal clean” means.

Before I go into more–I mentioned distillation techniques in one of my previous posts.  Basically, the going wisdom about essential oils is that you put the plant parts and water in a distiller and under low pressure and low temperature, you distill the essential oils out of the plant.

They travel down a tube and into a vat–along with the steam.  The oil collects on top of the water and is removed and–voila–you have essential oils.

The most coveted, and most expensive (and thought to be the most therapeutic) oil is that which is collected during the first part of the distillation period.  The resulting oil is called “first distilled.”

This “first distillation” only applies to ylang ylang and possibly peppermint, according to what I have learned.


doTERRA's peppermint smells good enough to eat–as in “candy cane” good.

But that might be a problem.  Here's why.

Most peppermint essential oils smell like the peppermint you find growing out in nature. Kind of herby and not really like a candy cane.

Candy-cane-smelling peppermint is apparently, according to several sources, possibly from a redistill.   The oils are either redistilled or some components are taken out to give the oil a clean pepperminty candy smell. (Source).

The other alternative is that someone did something else to the peppermint oil to reduce the herby smell.

This is exactly what doTERRA's peppermint oils smell like.  So yummy, in fact, that if you have kiddos in the house, you'd best keep it out of arm's reach.

Here is the response I got from doTERRA stating that their peppermint oil is a “complete distill”:

You can let her know that our Peppermint uses complete
distillation.  There is 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and complete and we use complete.  (Source:  my email.)

So if in fact, the first distillation of peppermint oil is the most valuable, then their peppermint oil might not be top quality.

Update 8/16:

If there is truly no such thing as more than one distillation of peppermint, as many say, then why is doTERRA stating that there is a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and complete distillation of peppermint?  Possibly it was an error.

Please note, this whole topic is very confusing and I am digging into it more and am going to be adding more information to this series about it and/or addressing it again in another post.  You can read some information in later posts about why one chemist thinks that doTERRA's peppermint mint smell this way.


doTERRA prides itself on selling the top of the line quality.  Their ylang ylang, however, is also a complete distillation.  Some may say that this is a matter of taste, but in the essential oils industry, the first distill of ylang ylang is more valued and therefore, a higher priced oil.  To their credit, doTERRA does call their ylang ylang a complete distill on their website.

Ylang Ylang first distill (which is referred to as “extra”) is typically considered to be the quality of oil that is most sought after / of highest therapeutic quality–not the complete distillation.


Thanks to Kitchen Stewardship, I realized that doTERRA doesn't disclose all of the oils in this bug repellant blend.  I will say that we have used this to treat after bite itching (and my son likes it), but I think that not including ingredients on a label is not preferable. (UPDATE – doTERRA now discloses the ingredients of their Terra Shield blend. I'm glad they are doing that.)

What I think is troubling here is that doTERRA makes a lot of claims about their oils being the best–top quality.  And their prices sure reflect that.  I don't think I would purchase complete, 2nd or 3rd distillation oil for more than other companies are selling 1st distill for–would you?

UPDATE 4/16: I will be updating this distillation information.

Of course, there are other things to think about–purity, etc.  So we'll keep the conversation going and touch on other companies as well.

I hope this all makes sense.  If not—ask away.

Thanks for your patience!  This has been a long road, but I promise, we are nearing the end.


This isn't necessarily a negative, but thought I should point it out since Frankincense is such a popular essential oil these days.

Most companies sell either just one variety of Frankincense Oil, or several varieties, but doTERRA's Frankincense is, at least as of the date I am writing this addition to this post (Aug 2016), a blend of different varieties (source):

– carterii (typically the least expensive)
– serrata
– frereana

The Rest of the Best Essential Oils Series:

– Which Essential Oils Company is Best? – Part 1
 – What a Good Essential Oils Company Should Have – Part 2
– Which Essential Oils Company is Best – Troubles with the Oils Industry – Part 3
– Are Multi-Level Marketing Oils Worth It? – Part 5
– Distillation, Bias, Vomit and Personal Attacks – 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.**

UPDATE: 2/7/16:

What About Other Direct Sales Oils Companies?

I get asked all the time what I think about other direct sales essential oils companies.  And there are more and more of them coming out all the time….. including companies with other products at the forefront that are adding EOs to their product lines.

I looked at all of the Direct Sales Essential Oils companies (Ameo, Be Young…..) and didn't want to go with any of them for numerous reasons.

Well, I still feel the same way, but I have found a company that meets my high standards — and they happen have a nice essential oils offering.

So, if you REALLY want to make money and have essential oils as a part of that, I highly recommend you check out Neal's Yard Organics.

I'd heard of them before, and frankly, had “poo pooed” them – but only because I felt they didn't have a large enough of a selection of oils. Well, I recently ended up going with them for their personal care (including award-winning skincare) and am loving the aromatherapy side of their business.  I even got to talk to Susan Curtis, the author of this amazing book on Essential Oils just after I signed up.

Regardless of whether you are interested in having a home business, however, this book, Essential Oils, from Neal's Yard Remedies, is a must buy in my book.

Neal's Yard Remedies Essential Oils Book

Essential Oils is not brand specific and is really one of the best books on essential oils that I have found. It's organized well for the beginner, but with plenty of fabulous information for the more advanced user.  It's newly updated with new content and better organization.  Plus DK Books designed it.  If you know anything about DK Books, you know how lovely, in addition to informative, this book is.

The book has all of the following:

  • Understanding Essential Oils
  • Using Essential Oils
  • A-Z of Essential Oils (all about each oil in alphabetical order)
  • Base / Carrier Oils
  • Essential Oil Recipes
  • Healing Remedies

Just so much great information.

This is not the company that I ended up going with for oils, as they didn't have enough oils for those of us who want to use oils a lot when I was looking, but they do have a nice aromatherapy option in addition award winning skincare.  Update 5/1/17: They have added more oils to their site and plan to add more soon.

I'd love for you to join me with this fabulous company. No website fees and no huge minimums.

Anyhow, we're not done yet………

Keep reading to find out where I ended up as far as choosing as essential oils goes…….

Free Essential Oils Report and VIP Newsletter Access

Also, 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.

Wondering about essential oils? I sure was. Get this guide to buying the best essential oils from a mom blogger who dug deep into the industry to find out what's really going on. Fascinating information including some real debunking that saved me a ton of time and money.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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. You should check out Living Libations. Not cheap, but hands down the best wildcrafted, organic oils you will find. The cream of the crop?

  2. I use YL oils, but I have had some issues with them. Promised quicker shipping if you enrolled in the rewards program. It can take weeks for my shipment. In the beginning you could skip a month, not anymore. You get pushed back to new enrollee status. I’m really considering switching to dottera oils.

    • I’ll be interested in what you think after reading to the end. 🙂

    • I spent hours last night reading your blog, my goodness I wish I would have found this a year ago!! You answered a lot of questions I had swirling around in my head. I have made a decision to cancel my YL rewards to end my relationship with them and switch to Rocky Mountain oils. Thank you for all your research.
      How do it get blog updates?
      Ps I had repeatedly asked YL if there was a cleaner for the diffuser, they never heard of such a thing, use thieves was their answer. Hmm Rocky Mountain oil sells cleaning tablets for a diffuser. Yep that’s on my first order. And free shipping!!

  3. Any research on Ribby Rue Essential Oils. They have been recommended to me, but can’t seem to find any research or answers.

  4. I found this thread to be so helpful, I’m very new to essential oils. I tried a doterra blend from a friend ( I think for tension) and it helped my chronic tension headaches so much that I fell in LOVE with oils. I want to make a business out of this because I know it’ll help other people too. I want to try to become a rep for RMO but I didn’t see anywhere on the website where I can. Do you have recommendations on what company I can make a profit with oils? Any advice from you I would really appreciate 🙂

  5. Kim Edwards says:

    It’s great your not done yet!!! How about don’t ever be done??? Thank you so much for all your hard work. I am thoroughly enjoying all your info. Keep your head up you are LOVED!!!


  6. Sandra Stoppkotte says:

    I used to get my lavender oils at GNC, A brand called NOW. I LOVED that stuff, but recently decided to try some of this YL brand and lavender oils that I found at Walmart for giggles and grins. I have to say that I have never been so disgusted in my life!!!!! I just paid 15$ for something that smells like pure toilet water, with a hint of lavender!!! As luck would have it, the brand obtained at Wal-Mart smells even more Luke toilet water!!! I tried a drop straight on my hand, smelling from the bottle & diluted. Personally, I’m going back to GNC’s brand.

  7. Kathy Moore says:

    Who will talk with Dr. Robert Pappas of Essential Oils University who tests the Doterra oils independently, he will tell you that our peppermint oil is the purest nothing added nothing synthetic I think the YL peppermint did not test as high

  8. Used to be a consultant with one of the big two and I quit because of my own research into some shady things. As in contacting schools, etc. They have fantastic oils and lines but I couldn’t represent them any longer. Also doTerra is not a member of the DSA which I don’t care for.

    I am now a consultant with Neals Yard! LOVE their products. and they are a fabulous, transparent company that’s won awards for ethics! Which is BIG for me after working for the others. I do wish they had more oils and am glad they are adding more all the time.

    Thanks for this whole series. I have recommended it many times to others.

  9. Angela Murphy says:

    Hi Adrienne. What do you think about Eden’s Garden, or Plant Guru? Are they good brands?

  10. I just copied this from above.
    You are selling these right?

    “I’d love for you to join me with this fabulous company. No website fees and no huge minimums. Just $100 in a rolling 12 months.”

    • Yes, I started working w/ that company for their personal care / skincare but they have a lovely line of essential oils and they are expanding it this year. Happy to talk w/ you more about it if you are interested.

  11. I am not sure if you answered the question ….
    “Which Essential Oils Company is Best? Young Living and doTERRA ”
    I gather from you writing that you liked the education that doTERRA has. So which oil company is better, or/and which is better?? I want to know because I need to know if it is best to buy through a distributor or a store as far as 100% Pure and Organic ? What I like about 100% oils is, you can ingest a lot of them, and I feel there is a better chance to get better and faster results. So Adrienne, Which of those or any do you like the most?

    • Actually I would love to hear what anyone else thinks about it too.

      • Anita Lind says:

        Dana I have never used doTerra but I do use YL. I can tell you that YL does meet all FDA guidelines for ingestion of its oils. It uses different labels vitality and diffuser oils. They get all their oils from the first distillation. In my personal opinion. They are the best.

        • I would have to look into this more but my understanding is that the FDA has different labeling for topical and aromatic usages b/c apparently they can only have 2 usages on each bottle. So the FDA doesn’t test the oils to see if they are pure. What are their guidelines? It seems to me that the oils company discloses what is in the bottle and the FDA can then say if the label can go on it or not.

          As for the first distillation, I have gone back and updated the information on that as it’s complicated and was only meant to apply to a few select oils. Hope that helps.

        • I absolutely agree with you! 1st distillation and FDA approved for internal usage. My family and I love our YL oils and how they have changed our lives for the better.

          • My understanding is that 1st distillation only applies to a few select oils. And the FDA is not an approval – it’s a labeling issue. They don’t allow for more than 2 uses to be on a bottle. So the other oils are for aromatherapy and topical and YL did another line labeled for internal use. I don’t see anywhere on YL’s site that they are approved for internal usage by the FDA.

    • Hi there. Hard question. I left both companies for different reasons. Perhaps this post will help regarding the purity question. I will be writing more about organic in the near future, hopefully. https://wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/how-to-know-if-your-essential-oils-are-pure/

      I have never heard of 100% Pure and Organic. Just b/c a company says you can ingest their oils doesn’t mean that they are pure. And just b/c a company says that they don’t recommend it doesn’t mean that the oils aren’t. Hope that helps.

      • Can you explain more about why you left young living and Doterra?

        • Hi Lacey – thanks for reading. I am not at liberty to share all of the reasons but I was not happy with the answers that I did / did not get from both companies. I don’t like the aggressive recommendations of internal and undiluted oil usage and that the membership plans lend themselves (in my opinion) to overbuying and overuse of oils that I think has become a big problem regarding sensitization.

          I have been courted by reps to join their teams since leaving, and have had several untruths told to me that apparently came from corporate. No company is perfect but that all was enough for me.

          I hope that helps.

    • She didn’t, because this entire post was an ad for her consulting with a different oils company. A well-written ad, but still an ad.

      • Hi Jen. You are actually wrong about that.

        If you look at the comments in the posts (maybe I should put the dates back on the posts in that series), I started the whole thing at least 1 year before the end, if I remember correctly. I had no idea what I was doing w/ it and where it was going. No idea. I just wasn’t getting the answers that I wanted from the companies that I was with and wasn’t comfortable with that. When I did the post on those 2 I was just wanting to outline some things out them. I think there are plusses and minuses about both. As it turns out I wouldn’t be able to go with either of them at this point in good conscience. I could have written a bunch more and I have more thoughts now that I have seen other things about both of them and been heavily pursued again by reps of one of them.

        I appreciate that you said it was well written, but it wasn’t meant to be an ad. It was meant to be a documented journey and it ended where I didn’t expect it to be.

        And I do not get paid to consult with any oils company. I decided to become an affiliate for one and that’s all. It’s the same as being an affiliate for any company like Amazon or Squatty Potty, or others. I hope that helps.

        I did take a look at your site – love the travel focus. I traveled a good bit years ago and I miss it.