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