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

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.

Benefits of Essential 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 put 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 opportunities, 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 being 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"
- doTERRA-- "CPTG"
- 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!

Now, to be clear, there are non MLM essential oil companies misleading as well--so this isn't just an MLM issue.

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.  Instead, with other companies, you can get rep pricing without signing up! I'm not averse to MLMs that have special products that you can't get elsewhere, but I don't see it being good to get roped in to end up even going into debt to buy more just to stay "active" with a company.

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 the 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 times per day, for a long period of time, in order to aid weight loss.  There are protocols on the internet recommending the 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 this seems confusing to me.  I get that there are fees for printing and sending a check (actually a small business owner commented on this post about needing special ink for check writing, which I didn't know about), but 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 your 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, is 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 an 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.

Which Essential Oil Company Did I Choose?

If you'd like to find out which essential oil company I went with at the end of this long search, read this post:

– Announcing “the Best” Essential Oils Company – Part 7 

you can also read the remaining parts of the series here:

- 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

Get My 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.

10 things you need to know about essential oils report in ipad

One Way to Take Your Oils With You

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.

16-Bottle Essential Oil Carrying Cases

So--what do you think? Are MLM Essential Oils Worth It?

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457 Comments

  1. Hi there! I was just re-reading your post about the different MLM essential oil companies. I understand why you don't necessarily recommend becoming a rep, but I wanted to ask you, if you don't mind, if you could give me an in depth look at your thoughts on YL's products? I'm in the process of starting an at home cleaning business and I have a friend that sells YL and wanted to be my rep. If you've used any of thier cleaning products, would you please be so kind as to share your thoughts? I would greatly appreciate your feedback. I really enjoy reading your various posts, and I thank you for at least taking the time to read such a lengthy comment.
    Have a blessed day,

    BV

    1. Hi there! I personally am not a fan of their business overall. Lots of reasons. I haven't used their cleaning products. Actually, that might not be true. I may have used some when I signed up years ago but I think I sold them before using them. I'm sorry but I can't go into all the reasons but one thing you might want to look at is that there have been citations of unethical exporting and other issues including adulterating. The company has responded to these accusations. You can find information on the claims and the rebuttals and see what you think about that.

      I hope that helps and of course I read it :). Thanks for taking the time to read my post!

  2. I enjoy your columns and read several while researching oils, etc. In reading your one about the MLM essential oils companies, I could truly identify with every word. In short, a young mother, and cash strapped relative, once posted on FB that she wanted to get some tea tree oil. School was starting and she had read that having it on hand would be beneficial should her young child have an encounter with head lice. She asked where she could get it and if anyone knew of a doTerra rep. Having already been a doTerra wholesale customer, as well as purchasing oils from other companies, I answered that it was easy to locate and even could be found at WalMart. Well....my doTerra rep saw my post and put a the little crying emoji in reply. That just didn't sit right with me. Where I spend my money is my choice. Be it a restaurant, store, movie theater...MY CHOICE. I was already on my way to finding my favorite oils via other sources and this little emoji was all it took for me to cross doTerra of my list of sources. Perhaps I would have continued to purchase a few oils from them that I cannot locate elsewhere, but now I don't purchase any.
    Now that I am somewhat comfortable with the knowledge of oils and their uses, I am beginning research on the CBD front. Thank you for all you do.

    1. Thank you so much! I hope to revisit this in the near future so stay tuned. You might want to subscribe for updates.

      I totally understand your thoughts about "my choice" about where to spend your money. I will say, however, that there are a lot of adulterated oils out there and I'm learning more and more about it. Not saying everything at Walmart is, but one needs to be cautious. It's hard to weed through all the information but hopefully I can be of some help.

      In the meantime, this post on lice spray might be of help for the future should that topic come up again for you :). https://wholenewmom.com/health-concerns/diy-lice-prevention-spray/

      Take care and hope to see you around again.

  3. Do you know anything about Plant Therapy essential oils. They say there organic and all the other good stuff. You can buy them directly from the store or Amazon at quite a savings compared to your top two companies. Isagenix has recently started selling essential oils. Do you know anything about them. I have heard good things. Thanks for your help.

    1. Hello there! Thanks for reading. I am going to be revisiting this topic hopefully soon. There are a lot of things that I consider like company ethics in addition to purity. I didn't know anything about Isagenix. It seems that everyone is getting into this business as well as into the CBD business. It doesn't mean that a company is an expert by any means. I guess there can be pure oils but I would prefer a company that has some kind of real knowledge in it. Isagenix, if I remember, has some ingredients in their products that I am not comfortable with so I personally wouldn't be interested in recommending them. Hope that helps.

  4. Thank you for sharing your research with us, I am deeply sorry you have received negative feedback, which I strongly disagree with. You've done a great job with staying positive with your theories and opinions, while maintaining an objective look. Thank you again.

  5. America has freedom of speech for exactly this. We should be allowed to investigate and tell he truth about this stuff and not just believe whatever a company who sells them says. If people want to believe their company, that is their prerogative. But you also have the right to disagree and report on it. I have been considering doing the research because I am tired of hearing 20 different opinions from uneducated people. I am looking for the person doing RESEARCH!! Thank you for all the time you have spent on this project. Be safe because when people could lose money, sometimes they do crazy stuff. God bless.

    1. Thank you! We have freedom of speech--but only to a point. If I write certain things, I could be sued even if it's as the subject of a frivolous lawsuit. There are ramifications for many things that go in print. I hope that makes sense. I did spend a lot of time and more since then. I wish I could write everything on my site that I know about all of the topics that I research but I cannot. And you are right--when faced with losing money people do weird things. Blessings to you as well. Love your email address :).

    1. Hi - thanks for reading and for commenting--the articles are all at the end of that post but I just put another link in there for you--thanks for asking!

  6. Hi Adrienne,
    I appreciate all of your research, honest writing and reporting. Yours in one of the first voices I have heard that offers a detailed look at many EO companies. As a nurse who is deeply interested in wellness and alternative therapies, you offer a valuable resource. Thank you! Annie

  7. I use essential oils from Zija.
    They are clinical grade. A higher standard than therapeutic grade.
    100% pure oils. And yes they are consumable!

    1. Can I ask what you think about their claims about their oils being special b/c of permeability? I looked into that and was told that all EOs can permeate cells and that EOs are not permeable so not sure what they are getting at. Thanks! And what does clinical grade mean?

    2. Great article - good points! I personally do not like to use the essential oils from companies that use aggressive MLM strategy.

      I recently discovered a good brand for authentic essential oils and massage oils - Aroma Tierra - have very big collection of oils including rare oils such as carrot seed, and prickly pear seed oil. Try their oils They ship to all over world - I order in Canada from this company - loved their oils

  8. Nice post, Adrienne! As a trained herbalist and aromatherapist, I have always found it amusing when certain companies claim their oils are superior to any other companies. The bulk of many essenial oils all come from 3 or 4 primary sources in the world. Large scale farming of sandalwood, rose, etc. for essential oil production is not happening in the USA. Some plants do grow well in the USA, but not all plants grow here. Peppermint does grow well here. Peppermint is extremely easy to grow, and also produces a lot of oil for the amount of plant material, so peppermint should not be expensive to purchase. Finally, I totally agree with Adrienne that it is risky to ingest essential oils. Hot oils can burn mucus membranes. In addition, for someone with delicate or sensitive skin, even "raindrop therapy" (the practice of dropping undiluted essential oils on the skin) can be ill advised.

    1. Thanks! I am sorry but I don't allow fake names in the comments so please use your real name should you come back again. Thanks!