Which Essential Oils Company is Best? Are Multi-Level Marketing Oils Worth It? – Part 5

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

The big names in Essential Oils are Young Living and doTERRA--but they'll set you back quite a few bucks. Are they worth it? Come find out what I think about that...it gets pretty dicey in the comment area--you've been warned :)!

If you've been thinking about, or already are using, essential oils, at one time or another you've likely wondered if you should be part of Young Living, doTERRA, or some other multi-level marketing (MLM) company to get “the best essential oils” at a discount.

Today let's talk about these Essential Oil Direct Sales companies up close to see the pros and cons of joining–and whether or not what they have to say is really true.

The Best Essential Oil Series continues.

The 3 “Heavy Hitters” in the MLM essential oils business are:

Young Living
doTERRA, with
Be Young having somewhat of a presence as well.

Update 3/17: There are so many more on the market now, with most of them being companies that have other lines as their focus, but have added essential oils into the mix.

Now–I'm all about saving money.  So of course when I can either buy something at retail, or get the same things for 25-35% off (typical MLM rep discount), then you can bet I'm going to check into it.

Well, I've been an MLM rep for a number of different companies, including YL and doTERRA (DT), so here are my thoughts about MLMs–mainly regarding the oils companies, but some of my thoughts extend to other MLMs as well.  I did some research into BeYoung but chose not to become a rep of their company.

Essential Oil Direct Sales Dilemma

Positives of the oil MLMs

1.  Education / Resources

I really like the support available with both YL and doTERRA.  I didn't avail myself of all of it, but of what I did, I found doTERRA's support network to be stronger.  Both companies had websites with treatment and/or testimonial resources available (actually, the most valuable resources were not but together by the companies, but by outside sources–likely reps high up in the business).

Smaller companies don't have such opportunities, typically.  That being said, there are some negatives even to these resources and their recommendations (see internal usage below).

2.  Money Making Opportunity

Of course, you can save money by becoming a rep, but you can also make money when you share the products, and opportunity, with others.

I think, when done right,  MLMs are fine.  Reps are basically paid salespeople who get rewarded for sharing products with others.

In fact, though I have dumped a bunch of MLMs over the years, I do work with some that I consider to be superior in product and corporate policy.  Those are here, here, and here.

Negatives of Essential Oil Direct Sales Companies

1.  Misleading marketing practices

(CPTG, Certified Therapeutic Grade, E.O.B.B.D.)

All 3 of the Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) essential oils leaders claim that they have a corner on “therapeutic grade,” but their names for it are different.

– Young Living calls their oils “Young Living Therapeutic Grade”
– BeYoung : “E.O.B.B.D.”  This certification appears to have roots in Europe, but some claims about it on the internet are not accurate and/or aren't that meaningful.  After reading the details of E.O.B.B.D., I believe that any good oils company should be doing all of this.  And the “smart guys” in the industry can fool these GC/MS tests. Yes, that's true. They know what the tests are looking for and they know how to get around it. Just like the athletes can fool the doping tests.

The gist of it is this:  YL, DT, and BY all say that only their oils are good enough for you to use because of the testing that they have done.

But the reality is this:  It looks like they're all about the same–except that YL tests their own oils.

The YL and doTERRA names are basically terms made up so that they can have a label to put on their oils (except with Be Young, which actually is using an already determined standard).

You can read more in this post about Essential Oil Myths About Purity – Debunked!

2.  Pressure to buy more than you need

Like I said, I love saving money.  So every month, when I had the opportunity to get a freebie or earn 10-30% credit toward future orders, I felt the urge to buy.  And typically I did.  Get rep pricing without signing up!)

3. Possible Dangerous Recommendations

I am not up on the practices of Be Young, but I know YL and doTERRA both have a heavy emphasis on internal use of essential oils.  I wasn't too concerned about this at first, but as I've learned more I have gotten more worried about this.

Both recommend internal use of oils liberally, with doTERRA even having a Slim and Sassy blend that they recommend taking internally numerous time per day, for a long period of time, in order to aid weight loss.  There are protocols on the internet recommending internal use of grapefruit oils by YL reps in order to lose weight.

I've used oils internally and felt that they were helpful (though the Slim and Sassy did nothing for me :-(), but I am changing my thinking on this. Oils are super potent.   It takes about 16 pounds of peppermint leaves to make 1 ounce of peppermint oil.  Wow.  (Source)

You really need to recognize that, when you use oils, you are using something super strong.  The owner of one oil company told me that, when using oils internally, especially “hot oils” like:

– oregano
– cinnamon
– clove
– citrus oils

you need to make sure to supplement with probiotics also because the hot oils destroy not only bad bacteria, but also the good. Makes sense to me.

I recommend you consult with a professional before ingesting any essential oils.  Consult a Medical Doctor, Naturopath, or clinically trained Aromatherapist who knows you and is aware of your medical history, as well as any medications you are on.  With this information, the professional can tailor a regimen that works for your body.

A number of folks in the oils industry have suggested that the reason YL and doTERRA recommend so much internal usage of oils is to drive up usage and drive up sales.  I don't know their motivation, but that would make perfect sense.

4.  Savings Not What They Seem

When I signed up with YL and then later, with doTERRA, I was really excited to get about

30% off retail prices
freebies each month (with a qualifying order) and
credit toward future purchases, provided you keep ordering monthly.  YL gives you 1 month off each year, but doTERRA has no such grace period.

Well, when it came time to cash in my points, I got a little surprise from doTERRA (guess I should have read the fine print).  There are fees for using your points.  $3 per $100 used.

YL takes $1-$4 off of each check–for “maintenance” to “figure out your commission” (quote from a CSR)–just to send you your earnings .  doTERRA charges $1.95 for each check cut.

I don't mean to be too sarcastic here, but that would sure be nice to earn $1.95 for cutting a check.   I don't see why there should be a fee to “figure out your commission.”  Doesn't software do that?

Then, each year, doTERRA charges an annual fee ($25) to be a rep, but they send you a bottle of peppermint oil.  Again, I don't mean to be too harsh, but remember my concerns about their peppermint oil?  I'm just not sure how much it's worth.

Finally, everyone knows that a good bit of the pricing of MLM products go toward rewarding “top reps” with trips to Hawaii, etc.  One company told me that the percentage of their pricing that goes toward commissions and rewards is 40%.

5.  Privacy Issues

Some people don't want to give out their SS# to become a rep.  The companies need these to file taxes with the IRS.  I understand concerns about keeping your SS# private.  One alternative is to get a Tax ID # from your state. (Update: One reader shared there is a way to get a discount from doTERRA without your SS#)

6.  Over-the-Top Devotion

I've been pretty disappointed with the response of some readers to Part 4 of this Best Essential Oils series.  There've been numerous attacks on my character, both here, on Facebook sites, and elsewhere. (Check out Part 4 to see comments and my responses.)

I'd really hoped to finish this series earlier this week, but responding to these attacks has taken a lot of time.

I've been accused of:

seeking to tear down doTERRA
profit-seeking (some said the motive behind this series will be clear when I share the “winner.”)
analysis totally lacking in science, being based only on “smell tests”

I assure you–none of this is true and this brings up my final concern about these MLMs.

I am NOT anti-MLM.  In fact, I'm a rep for NYR Organic / Neal's Yard Remedies – update from 3/16) .

But having devotion to a company despite evidence that they are not telling the truth or that their products are not superior taints the reputation of all MLMs and their reps.  It's frankly uncalled for.

I started checking out various oils companies because I didn't want to recommend any company without fairly checking out the competitors.  I felt it would be a disservice to my family and to my readers.

I chose the oils company that I will recommend next week because I believe it's a solid oils company with unwavering commitment to quality and purity.  As with everything on my blog, if I can make money appropriately from my recommendations, I will do it.  This is standard blogging practice.

There are things on my blog that I recommend that I don't make any money from–but I recommend them because I believe in them (See my Heavy Metal Toxicity post).

I can't promise I'll always be right, but I can promise you that I will do my best, within reason (I do have a family with health conditions, and we homeschool and eat all whole foods) to get the best information to you and correct myself whenever I'm wrong.

So–are the MLM oils worth it?  I don't think they are terrible products, necessarily, but I do think that you can get a better “bang for your essential oils buck.”  Stick with this bargain and quality-hunting mama– I hope to share early next week.

More Posts in the Best Essential Oils Series:

Which Essential Oils Company is Best? – Part 1
Best Essential Oils – What a Good Oils Company Should Have – Part 2
– Which Essential Oils Company is Best – Troubles with the Oils Industry – Part 3
Young Living vs. doTERRA – Part 4
– Distillation, Bias, Vomit and More Concerns – Part 6
Announcing “the Best” Essential Oils Company – Part 7

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.

Take Your Oils With You

{Please note that there are affiliate links following. If you click on them and make a purchase, I might make a commission. Your support means a great deal and helps keep this free resource up and running – thanks.}

Whichever oils company you decide on, one of the best decisions I made was to take oils with me wherever (almost) I go. This carrying case is the perfect size to take while on the go or traveling so you always have your oils with you should the need arise.

Essential Oils Case

So–what do you think?

These comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Whole New Mom, LLC.


    Speak Your Mind


  1. I think if you research Steven Barret, himself, you will find that his money is from western medicine entities that pay him to slam alternatives. He is a total discredit.

  2. I think YL no longer gives their members a free month off each year, as of the fall of 2016.

  3. Adrienne, Keep your chin up and thanks,

  4. Would love to see you add Ariix’s Priime Oils to this lineup and compare them as well. If you’d like to chat about trying them out feel free to message me, I shot you an email already about advertising as well! ~Jason Lee, Founder of Unleashing The Alpha Networker.

    • Hi there. Thanks. I’m pretty overwhelmed w/ professional and personal things. It seems to me that there are new companies popping up all the time and I would go crazy trying to evaluate them all. But thanks for commenting!

      If things change I will try to let you know – but I am making my criteria even more stringent now. Thanks!

  5. I am so glad I found your articles. I have been searching for quite awhile for a reputable company to purchase oils from that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I had many people suggest both Doterra and Young Living but they were just honestly out of my price range. So I went on a search to find another company! I read countless Amazon reviews and I also found a 3rd party testing site. The 3rd party testing site is funded by donations and their first round they picked 20 companies suggested to them by readers. They picked the same 3-4 EOs from each company and had them tested. The ones that failed, they contacted the company and gave them the chance to respond and published their response. They have not yet tested YL and doterra but I believe they are working towards that on the next round. I found this to be helpful when searching for companies since they were testing and it was essentially non biased.

    One immediately popped out to me when checking out the 3rd party site, Appalachian Valley Natural Products, all of their oils passed so I thought I would check them out and hopefully support a “local” business since I live in the Appalachian Valley (West Virginia). They are located in Friendsville, Maryland which isn’t too far from where I live so I thought I would give them a try. They do test each batch that comes in and will give you a copy of the results (after reading your articles I have realized how important this is). Most of their oils are distilled from organic or wild grown plants but they are not a “certified” facility which according to their site just means that if they get in a bottle of organic EO that they cannot label their bottles as organic because of the certification. They are very reasonably prices and most oils come in different size bottles. More of the common oils only come in one size (20ml). So far I have found their customer service to be wonderful and very responsive, especially at this time of year. I thought it may be one you want to check out or let me know what you think of them or any concerns that I may have missed. I recently placed a decent side order with them and I am hoping I don’t come to regret my decision with further research.

    I recently had a friend ask me if the oils I ordered from them were safe for consumption (she uses oils from YL and adds them to her tea, etc.) upon reading your articles and another ladys article I then learned that its not necessarily safe to ingest EOs and to do so under care of a medical doctor or other trained professional. She had told me this was one of the main reasons she bought their oils. I shared your article and the other article with her to share your concerns. 🙂 The other lady also mentioned that the oils being suggested for internal use by YL also had to deal with having to have a multi million dollar insurance policy and that just because an oil from another company doesn’t have that label doesn’t mean that they are safe to ingest.

    I will take a peek at NYRs site 🙂 I also looked into Edens Garden and was wondering what your thoughts on them were? They seem to be priced similarly to Appalachian Valley and have the same “positives”: organic as much as possible, test all batches, and their oils come from where they naturally occur.

    I am so glad I ran across your site as many of the questions and concerns you have had, I have also pondered. I knew before I was going to spend a good chunk of money I wanted to do my research as I am very frugal when purchasing too and like to do my research. 🙂

  6. Thank you for your dedication to educate and empower people. I gave a try to MLM a few years ago, and even though I liked the idea of making money by sharing a product I use everyday, I wasn’t able to become a “product of the product” – it was an instant coffee biz, and I loved my tasty lattés too much to pretend it was the same! That was for the background part 🙂
    In the last year, I have become more and more interested to EO. Inspired by a dear friend of mine who creates the most exquisite and potent beauty serum and cream, with precious EO from Brazil and the Amazonian Forest, I started to make my own perfume blends and face cleansing oil. It feels so rewarding to create what you need, and like to use!! So this friend, when she’s not buying her oils directly from the producers in South America, she’s all about Floracopeia (she also took several trainings with the founder). Have you heard about them? I just watched their wholesale video and the guy feels “real” – like authentic, honest, transparent.. I’d like to have your input as you explored the EO world in an extensive way 🙂 Thanks again

    • I did look at them years ago. I haven’t done much extensively again. I am looking at multiple companies and will have more to share hopefully soon so stay tuned :). Do they do batch GC/MS testing and have the chemist’s signature on the report? Thank you!

    • Kym Krizek says:

      Hi Celia,
      I’ve been using Floracopeia products for a couple years. I’ve really enjoyed them & find them to be high quality. I’ve taken their aromatherapy certification program & have gotten an acupuncture treatment from Sara Crow. While I can’t speak to the testing of their products, I have been really pleased with them & find their founders to be legitimate. For the record, I purchase essential oils & botanicals from a number of different companies.

  7. Shirley McNabb says:

    Hi Adrienne
    Thank you for this site and your honesty with your experience with essential oils.

    I have found that most of the essential oils applied topically, even diluted, cause itching that lasts several days. A friend who tried to use diluted frankincense had the same experience even though she had been using frankincense in a less expensive brand from the health food store. Can this happen because the oil is so much purer and needs to be diluted more or perhaps the cheaper oil didn’t really contain frankincense?

    Also, I’ve stopped using any oils internally. I may be the only one this happens to but a drop of lemon or fennel added to water both cause my nose to bleed.

    I do use oils in a diffuser every day, in my bath, for cleaning and love using them that way. The more we can cut down on our use of harmful chemicals the better.

    Please sign me as: curious

  8. hi adrienne

    – oregano
    – cinnamon
    – clove
    are indeed phenols so super strong and can be hard to your liver
    – citrus oils, especially lemon, are protecting on the contrary

    that’s why when you have to kill and infection with internal oregano oil, you need to take lemon oil at the same time for the protection effect.

    • Hi there. I am very very concerned about internal use of essential oils. This is the official statement of one of the companies that I work with:

      We recommend you consult with a professional before ingesting any essential oils. Consult a Medical Doctor, Naturopath, or clinically trained Aromatherapist who knows you and is aware of your medical history, as well as any medications you are on. With this information, the professional can tailor a regimen that works for your body.

  9. Jessica Ainsworth says:

    God bless you or whatever your beliefs are, but what you are doing exactly what I want to do not just oils but many other things I’m sorry to hear you got so many attacks you know what IDK if you are a stay at home mom or run a multimillion dollor company but what I do know is that when I started reading your blog it was like reading the thoughts that go threw my head I have a very lengthy story that brought me to EO but people don’t like to hear the truth they want to keep believing the bs that marketing tells them! Doesnt matter what your intentions are which I believe was a mom trying to get the most out of her money and health products and started researching and like you said led you to a very long rabbit whole and if people wanna hate let them you are doing this for you & being kind enough to share with other moms like me and I appreciate it

  10. I was looking into purchasing essential oils when i stumbled onto your website. was wondering if you’ve heard of EpochEssential Oils by Nu Skin? it’s also an MLM company. Hard to find reviews by users, not sellers.

  11. Andrea Torres says:

    i am using doterra, i LOVE to earn free products and income for life for sharing… gives me purpose to my life, meet tons of great people i would never had done it without this kind or distribution. You never talked of the co-sourcing with doterra and the growers..You never mentioned their videos with the growers nor the numbers the bottles will have to trace their bottle to the source… the land that grew the plants.. you never mentioned that we help growers get a better life, that the company gives hope to those families, that they can have an income that their governments would have never given them, and that we are doing something for this dying planet and the ecocide we are doing. You did not mention all these women getting together and learning how to clean houses with essential oils and getting rid of clorines and plastic bottles… you never mentioned that more and more women are getting on top of this NOAH S ARCH and feeling our task is most important because you educate a woman, you can change a society, a country…because YOU HAVE NOT LIVED THIS AMAZING EXPERIENCE.. you just smelled many bottles of different brands and emited your lame opinion… I invite you to go to co-sourcing doTERRA, but maybe… not… interesting for you. keep on using your whatever products you have bee using and see if they give you back everything that doterra gives back… i challenge you to show me something better than your household products.

    • It’s very clear you haven’t read this entire review, meaning Parts 1 – 6. She signed up to be a rep and has used many different oils from a number of companies, not just one, and she has personally used different oils.

    • The doTerra church!
      This really weirds me out…. Sadly, we need to find a way to do these things without exploiting our friends for money…I do appreciate the perspective…