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The 11 Best Essential Oil Brands for 2021

Essential oils have quickly made themselves a staple in many people's homes - as they sure have in ours! These oils carry with them an almost countless number of benefits and uses and can really bring positive changes into many people's lives. 

These powerful aromatic oils, distilled directly from many medicinal plants, were used in ancient times to cure all sorts of maladies, and today, many people are now realizing the therapeutic effects for personal care products, dietary supplements, and immune system boosters.

However, with their rising popularity, many new brands of essential oils have popped up, offering lower and lower prices, and taking advantage of consumers by using cheap, synthetic compounds in their essential oil bottles. These fake essential oils are not only lower quality when used, but can be potentially harmful to you as well. 

In this article, we review the most popular essential oil brands on the market and investigate their purity, quality control standards and pricing, to ensure you are only buying from safe, trusted companies.

A quick note: in order to avoid showing you tons of ads on our blog, this article contains affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links we may earn a small commission, at no cost to you.

What Are Essential Oils?

If you want to get technical, an essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile oils of the plant they were extracted from. These oils contain the "essence" of the plant and contain a wide range of therapeutic and medicinally relevant compounds. There's more to it than that, and a cool history as well which you can read more about in this article.

1. AETHOS Essential Oils 

AETHOS is a new essential oil brand that focuses primarily on sourcing the absolute purest, highest quality oils with a strong focus on sustainability. Their approach is to strike a balance between science and tradition (what they believe essential oils to do perfectly) and source oils that make an impact on our lives, without making an impact on the planet. We've been very impressed by AETHOS' quality and have been worth every cent!

Some of the Best Smelling Essential Oils

Quality Control, Purity & Quality

Quality essential oils begin at the source. AETHOS oils are produced by either distillation or extraction methods to extract the purest and highest quality oils possible. Their oils are GC/MS tested to verify quality, and they make a commitment to not only provide pure and quality oils (with no fillers, additives or nonsense, in their words) but to do so in a way that reduces our impact on the planet. It's a new company but we've been very impressed with the commitment they are making to quality and sustainability which is why they're our pick for best essential oils brand.  

Price & Selection

AETHOS doesn't have the largest selection of oils, being a smaller company. But, the way they source and what oils they choose to stock is quite unique. They take a science-backed approach to their essential oils. They aren't making ridiculous, unbelievable (or unlawful) claims about their essential oils, but they do their research and choose oils that have peer-reviewed publications to back it up. For example, studies have shown that lavender can support and promote better sleep. Rather than make that claim, they provide the research on their product pages for people to read. They call it their balance of science and tradition, which we love. Their prices are on the higher end, but they deliver on their quality with their high quality, sustainable oils. 





2. Revive Essential Oils 

Revive Essential Oils are newer to the scene, but they're making a big splash. Founder Alexandria George started the company to "provide customers with the highest quality essential oils while maintaining ethical farming practices." Since the raw materials for many essential oils are sourced from outside the United States, it's important to purchase from a company with ethical practices. On top of this, they skip the retail markup by providing their oils direct to consumers. These are great quality oils at great prices. Plus, our readers can get 10% off by using the code AROM10 at checkout. No-brainer!

Some of the Best Smelling Essential Oils

Quality Control, Purity & Quality

The most important thing to consider when buying essential oils is the quality and purity of the products. Quality starts at the beginning, by ensuring that the raw materials selected are of the utmost quality. Then, the distillation and extraction methods used to extract the essential oils need to be top-notch - which Revive guarantees. Quality Control and Quality Assurance is crucial and an integral part of Revive's business, even going so far as to making their lab reports publicly available. We've been really impressed with the commitment they are making to quality which is why they're our runner up for best brand. 

Price & Selection

Revive has established themselves as a high quality purveyor of essential oils through the ethical and sustainable selection of raw materials. They work with farmers around the world to produce high quality oils from high quality raw materials, but still keep prices down by providing the oils direct to consumer. We definitely see Revive as one of the leaders in this area. The best example is their Peppermint oil, which is sourced right from the United States, whereas other brands get theirs from China, India, or places where the quality of the plant is reduced. 





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3. Simply Earth Essential Oils 

simply earth breathe easy

Simply Earth is one of our newest additions to the list, but is one of our favourites. Simply Earth has a strict focus on ethical sourcing of ingredients, and with no additives. Their Simply Pure Promise ensures that they put nothing but 100% essential oils in their bottles, and nothing else. We love Simply Earth's oils and also love their subscription box, which includes the materials and molds needed to produce your own DIY essential oil products like candles, soaps, beeswax and roll-on bottles (and of course, essential oils)! They've also given AromEssential readers an amazing offer of a $40 gift card and a $45 bonus box if you sign up!

Some of the Best Smelling Essential Oils

Quality Control, Purity & Quality

The quality of Simply Earth's pure essential oils are right up there with the best big players in the industry. Not only do they source the highest quality ingredients from around the world, but they also source these ingredients from ethically produced sources, as their way to give back. With their Simply Pure Promise, Simply Earth guarantees the 100% purity of each essential oil - with no synthetic additives or fragrance fillers, just pure unadulterated essential oil. Simple Earth publishes each of their GC/MS reports for every lot of oils as well, so you can rest assured knowing they're holding themselves accountable to this standard. Simply earth gets our runner up choice for best essential oils brand for all these reasons. 

Price & Selection

As they are a slightly smaller company than some others on our list, you may think their selection is impacted, but that being said you can find almost any oil you will need from their website. From basics like Lemon, Eucalyptus oil and Lavender, to more complex oils like Melissa, Neroli and Jasmine, you can find what you're looking for. Price-wise they're right in the middle of the pack - not the most expensive due to their direct-to-consumer business model, but not the cheapest, due to their higher quality oils. They also produce these amazing essential oil boxes, which you can subscribe to every month. It comes with essential oils and many different amazing little add-ons like soap molds to make your own. And, our readers can get $40 off and a bonus box using the code AROMFREE. Check it out via the link below 🙂





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4. Rocky Mountain Essential Oils

rocky mountain oils

Rocky Mountain Oils is another unique essential company. Unlike many others on the list, Rocky Mountain Oils purchases their essential oils in bulk, rather than manufacture the essential oil themselves. But, don't let that fool you into thinking they're any less quality than other essential oil brands. By having a business and supply chain focused around purchasing bulk orders of essential oils, Rocky Mountain oils needs to thoroughly vet their suppliers and constantly focus on quality above all else. Rocky Mountain oils focus on quality and purity, and their testing results are easily accessible, with GC MS Testing available right on their website for every product sold. Rocky Mountain Oils are some of the best high quality and pure essential oil products on the market. 

Quality Control, Purity & Quality

Rocky Mountain Oils is company operating in the United States, an essential oil company that purchases their products from wholesalers, rather than do the essential oil production in-house. However, Rocky Mountain oils still have all the same quality metrics and tests of the other essential oil companies on our list. They perform tests such as gas chromatography to ensure the quality and purity of their essential oils like any other essential oil brand. You can even see the test results on the Rocky Mountain oils website for yourself!

Price & Selection

Being an essential oil company that purchases their products wholesale, it allows them to keep their costs in an affordable range for the consumer. It also allows Rocky Mountain Oils to have a much wider range of essential oil offerings, since they're not limited to what they can produce themselves. Rocky Mountain Oils USDA Organic essential oils are some of the best you can get, their Frankincense being among the most premium options out there. 

rocky mountain oils





5. Plant Therapy Essential Oils

plant therapy oils

Plant Therapy is another large company in the essential oils industry that are really making their mark. They focus intensely on the quality of their oils, doing large amounts of in-house and independent testing to ensure every bottle sold is of the highest quality. As a result, Plant Therapy produces some of the best essential oil products. This includes getting test results from outside sources, using gas chromatography and other tests to confirm there's nothing but pure oils in each bottle. Plant Therapy oils consistently rank high in 10 best lists, and it's no surprise why. Plant Therapy has a commitment to purity and quality makes them one of the most reputable essential oil companies around today. Plant Therapy's high-quality essential oils are 100 percent pure, and well priced making them a great purchase. 

Quality Control, Purity & Quality

Plant Therapy Essential Oils are certified pure, not just by in-house testing but also 3rd party laboratories. They've got an extremely thorough quality control department at their manufacturing plant. Plant Therapy oils are pure therapeutic grade, and they actually include the GC MS test results to prove the quality and purity with every essential oil bottle sold. The steps that Plant Therapy takes in their essential oil production, to produce quality and pure oils makes them one of the best essential oils brand you can buy, hands down. 

Price & Selection

It's not just quality and purity that Plant Therapy excels at. They've managed to keep the premium status while still maintaining an affordable product. Plant Therapy essential oils are some of the best you can get, but still well priced. Plant Therapy organic essential oils and blends are among the best in the biz. They've got top notch and friendly customer service, you really just can't go wrong with Plant Therapy! 





6. Eden's Garden

Eden's Garden is one of those essential oil brands you just can't get away from if you've done any amount of research into essential oil manufacturers. The company has been in business for almost 20 years, improving every year on their commitments to providing a massive selection of high quality, effective oils: whether they are single batch or blended. One of the most attractive reasons to chose Eden's Garden over some other manufacturers is actually their large variety of pre-blended "synergy" oils, specifically mixed by their experts to treat and remedy almost any symptoms and maladies. Edens Garden customer service is also top notch, with a thirty day no questions asked return policy. 

Quality Control, Purity & Quality

Eden's Garden made a promise to their employees and customers from the outset of their business and ensure that there are zero pesticides, herbicides or any other type of potentially harmful ingredients in their finished oils. They do this by employing their "E.D.E.N.S." core company pillars/values. Each letter representing a different core value within their commitment to quality. They are committed to producing Effective oils, Dedicated and Educated employees and customers,  and Natural, Safe products. All of Eden's Garden's oils are guaranteed pure and therapeutic grade, so you can rest easy knowing you're not just buying snake oil, but a product that actually works. The Edens Garden lavender essential oil is among the most pure that we've come across.  For this reason, Eden's Garden is highly a respected and popular essential oil company. 

Price & Selection

One of the greatest differentiators of Eden's Garden from the other options is their expertly curated blended oils. They do produce single-source oils, but they also possess the largest variety of pre-blended oils of all the companies on this list, or their "Synergy" blends, as they call them. If you're looking to boost your immune system, there is the "Immunity" blend. If you want to improve your mood they also offer Synergy oils such as "Energy Boost," "Be Still," or even "Aphrodisiac." Other Edens Garden blends they produce can help treat more physical disorders such as "Anxiety Ease" for anxiety, "Head Ease" for headaches, or "Cellulite" for a topical application to reduce cellulite. Each oil is specifically mixed using plant extracts that are shown to have specific therapeutic benefits - such as pine oil containing the terpene pinene to help invigorate your mind. And, best of all, because over the last 20 years of growth, they've honed their procedures and manufacture much larger quantities, Eden's Garden oils are some of the most affordable you can get your hands on. 





7. NOW Essential Oils

Now Essential Oils Review

NOW Foods is one of the biggest essential oil brands in the world, and for good reason. They've been producing massive quantities of high quality, pure therapeutic essential oils since the 60's! NOW embraces a five core values that aim to empower their customers to live healthy lives by focusing on their staff, quality, value, and a commitment to consistency and ethical practices. NOW employs GMP practices throughout their production, which is an extremely difficult certification to receive. To learn more about GMP, check out this article. NOW Foods ensures that every oil is pure, quality and free of synthetic compounds. As well, they also produce oils that are USDA Certified Organic -  For all these reasons, and more that we will outline below, NOW takes the #2 spot on our list for best essential oil brands. 

Quality Control, Purity & Quality

NOW produces some of the best quality essential oils and blends on the market today. Producing the best quality essential oil starts with the source: the plants the aromatics actually come from. NOW Foods has an extensive amount of resources available to them, being such a large and successful company, which allows them to purchase large quantities of some of the finest starting materials. Their size has not however, hampered the quality of their essential oil products, nor the values that the company abides by. NOW uses steam distillation and cold press extraction for most of their oil production but they also employ some solventless CO2 extraction as well. These methods have been honed and improved on for many years leading to the impressive consistent quality you would expect, verified using gas chromatography, the industry standard. These methods paired with strict and thorough quality assurance measures and controls have cemented NOW as one of the most trusted brands in the industry.

Price & Selection

As mentioned above, NOW is one of the largest companies in the space, and fittingly, they have the selection to back up their size. They've brought their experience of producing natural foods to produce amazing oils. From more commonly used products like eucalyptus oil and lemon, to more obscure scents such as pennyroyal and juniper berry, they've got an oil for it. As well, they've got some great pre-blended essential oil blends that are premixed by their aroma-experts for ailments such as headaches, insomnia and lack of focus. Of course, you always want to use a carrier oil for these type of uses unless you're diffusing. What really makes NOW Foods stand out from its competitors is their USDA Certified Organic oils, which are guaranteed pure, of the highest quality sources and are both made of certified organic materials and manufactured in the same manner - which means even their cleaning products need to be Certified Organic too. As far as price goes, these are the type of oils where you get what you pay for - their Organic oils may be slightly more expensive - but you are getting a great quality essential oil. Industry-wide, these are some of the best priced out there, too so you can't go wrong.





8. Aura Cacia Essential Oils

Next up on our list is Aura Cacia! Aura Cacia is a unique company compared to the others we are looking at because rather than their organization being structured either as a regular corporation or an MLM (every other EO company in the space), they are actually a subsidiary Frontier Co-Op, a member owned co-operative. Regardless, they're still one of the most popular essential oil brands out there. Founded back in the 70s, Aura Cacia has been producing great products for decades. They've got a massive selection of oils, sourced from impressive regions around the world and also produce Certified Organic oils. They're some of the best essentials you can buy, especially their organic oils. 

Quality Control, Purity & Quality

One of the most impressive things about Aura Cacia essential oils is their commitment to their craft. Every bottle of oils they produce are guaranteed to have not been tested on animals, contain no synthetic stabilizers, added colors, parabens or petroleum, and are all guaranteed to be 100% pure. Aura Cacia adheres to strict sustainable sourcing practices to ensure that the local communities thrive in the places they source their raw ingredients (from Spain to Australia) and that the plants have time to recuperate and renew. Once harvested, the quality of their finished products reflect the initial standard of their raw ingredients. Aura Cacia also employs impressive quality assurance/control, testing all oils using gas chromatography to insure the pureness, as well as subjecting the finished products to an expert sensory panel that decide whether or not the oil is up to their standard. We toured an Aura Cacia essential oils facility previously, and actually witnessed a batch of oil be rejected from the sensory panel, requiring them to adjust their production schedule in order to re-process and refine the oils to bring it up to the accepted quality. A huge extra cost to the company, but one they are willing to pay to maintain their reputation of quality.

Price & Selection

Aura Cacia has a great selection of oils at a price point many folks will be very happy with. Aura Cacia produces USDA Certified Organic oils, which do come with a bit of a stiffer price tag, but we always prefer an organic product for many reasons. First and foremost you know that the source materials were produced organically and even the cleaning products used in their facilities were organic too. Our favourite Aura Cacia essential product is their roll-on kit, which contains a group of essential oils with a roller in place of a dropper to easily roll onto your neck, behind your ears or on your aches and pains to alleviate pain and discomfort stress, or even to improve your focus. It's a super affordable option too!


100% PURE



9. Mountain Rose Herbs

Some of the large essential oil brands on our list tend to specialize in what they provide in their products. Whether that's affordability, organic/free trade products, or a just wide and varied selection of oils. Mountain Rose Herbs is unique in that they actually seem to have found a way to establish themselves as a leader in all three of those categories. Mountain Rose Herbs has made a commitment to the environment and their consumers by producing and sourcing ingredients exclusively from organic and free trade sources. They understand the importance of sustainable practices in all areas from seed to sale: the soil, water, plants and the farms that their raw ingredients are sourced from, and safe and sustainable production methods. But, none of this really matters if they aren't producing a quality product that works, so let's dive in to our review of Mountain Rose Herbs and you can see how they're producing some of the best essential oils available. 

Quality Control, Purity & Quality

We also say that the final quality of any pure essential oil starts from the raw materials used. This is where Mountain Rose has a huge advantage compared to other companies: they employ a strict organic program to ensure only the highest quality of sources. Mountain Rose Herbs uses several different methods to extract their distillates including steam distillation, cold press extraction and CO2 extraction, and employ an uncompromising quality assurance and quality control department. Their resulting oils are 100% pure, aromatic oils from a wide variety of different source plants to provide what we believe is the largest selection on the market. Mountain Rose Herbs is one of the most respected and popular essential oil companies in the game. 

Price & Selection

Despite their commitment to organic and fair-trade production practices, Mountain Rose Herbs is still able to provide a huge array of products at a reasonable price. You name the plant and MRH likely has an essential oil for it. From the more common extracts like lemon, lavender and pine, to more unusual plants like Hyssop, Manuka or Vetiver, Mountain Rose likely produces it. While their prices for the more uncommon oils are slightly higher due to their limited availability, Mountain Rose Herbs does a great job at keeping prices in affordable ranges for their customers. They don't have beginner or starter kits like many of the other companies on the list, and they don't really produce pre-made blends, but we've put together a good place to start in our full review which should be completed shortly!





10. Young Living Essential Oils

And now we've come to Young Living essential oils... Young Living is an interesting company.. If you've done much research into learning about essential oils, you have likely come across their organization, or perhaps you know personally one of their sales reps. Young Living is a multi-level-marketing company (or MLM), also known as pyramid selling. Sales reps for Young Living have to buy the products from the company, and are not paid until they either a) sell a product and receive commission or b) recruit other reps to distribute their products. So, as you can imagine, there is some pretty aggressive marketing behind their brand and why you've likely heard of it. Now, as we will get to below, Young Living's products are actually pretty high quality, they've just performed some fairly questionable business activities: like losing a lawsuit to doTerra over trade secret theft, and direct warning from the FDA for claims their products were possible treatments for symptoms like autism, diabetes, PTSD, MS and even ebola... We certainly believe pure essential oils can have impressive and often seemingly miraculous effects, but they do have their limitations. We're not trying to drive anyone away from this company, we actually really like a few of their products. But, we think it's important to know about the companies you support and their actions, so you can choose where you spend your money. 

Quality Control,  Purity & Quality

The one thing we will say, is that Young Living cannot have survived so many warnings and hiccups without the best quality product to stand behind. The founder of the company actually used to cultivate lavender, peppermint, sage and other herbs and distill them himself! So needless to say, the company has an imbued culture that revolves around a deep commitment to quality.  The company has in place many quality standards focusing around the procurement of all raw materials from the agricultural practices to the processing practices. Uniquely, Young Living actually directly owns a lot of the farms they source their ingredients from which allows them even more control of the quality of their finished products: it all starts from the source. Young Living employs a variety of refining and distillation techniques, depending on the type of plant to be extracted from. To be completely honest, the more we researched them.  we are actually very impressed with how thorough their science and quality teams have honed and audit their processes. One thing that they are still missing however is an Organic Certification.

Price & Selection

Being one of the larger essential oil brands, Young Living has been able to diversify greatly, and now produce a wide variety of pure essential oils, both pure single extracts and expertly pre-made blends. Unsurprisingly, based on their founder's history with the plant, in our opinion the best oil they produce is their lavender single extract. Some of the less common oils like Black Pepper, Angelica, and Kunzea are also a few we love the smell and therapeutic effects that we don't find elsewhere. One of their most popular oils and one of our favourites is their Thieves oil, which is a perfectly balanced blend of Clove, Cinnamon, Lemon, Eucalyptus oil and Rosemary oil. It's got a ton of benefits and can be used topically or by diffusion. If you're using it topically, you'll need to use  carrier oils, but diffuse away with a little water. As far as price is concerned, Young Living actually sits on the pricier end of the other brands on our list. As with most products these days, you pay a premium for quality.

100% PURE




11. dōTerra Essential Oils

Similarly to the previous company we just provided an overview for, Young Living, we have an equally ambivalent opinion of doTerra. The reason being, doTerra (founded in 2008) is also an MLM (multi-level-marketing) company, but they also produce a wide array of great quality essential oils. Many folks don't really have an issue supporting MLMs, and of those many folks, several have either themselves worked for an MLM company, or perhaps know a close friend or family member who has. MLM companies make money by selling their products to sales reps, who then distribute those products directly, entirely based off commissions, taking no regular salary from the company. This can lead to aggressive sales tactics, and often the recruitment of friends and family into also selling these products. However, doTerra is somewhat unique in that unlike many MLMs, it is possible to purchase their oils from independent retailers online, like through Amazon. doTerra was actually issued a warning from the FDA a few years back for claiming their essential oils could possibly treat or cure ebola, cancer, autism and some other conditions and diseases. While essential oils certainly can produce amazing improvements in various conditions, we only stand by their effectiveness for certain conditions - definitely not an ebola virus or autism. 

Quality Control, Purity & Quality

doTerra claims that all of their essential oils are of Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade, or CPTG. This certainly sounds both very official, and impressive, however unfortunately it's all marketing fluff. The CPTG Certification is not one that is awarded by a third party group, but one that they apply to their products internally. Now, the criteria by which they require their oils to be CPTG is still quite impressive and thorough, but it is important to understand it's not an official certification granted by a third party, such as Certified Organic certifications. In order for a doTerra product to receive its CPTG certification, the oil must be 100% pure (compounds extracted only from the specified plant), free of contaminants, fillers, artificial components, chemicals and pesticides. As well, all doTerra essential oils are tested using mass spectrometry and gas chromatography which are techniques used to validate the purity and composition of the aromatic compounds and essential components of the oil. Now, while doTerra doesn't have its oils tested by a third party doesn't mean you shouldn't trust what they're doing internally, since most essential oil companies aren't required to have these tests done. We know from first hand experience that their oils are great quality! We just don't personally support MLMs, and to each their own!

Price & Selection

Being a larger manufacturer, doTerra provides a large selection of oils, more than 50 single extract oils, in fact. These single extract oils are sourced from all over the world, in order to procure high quality raw materials for their processing methods. This includes sandalwood from both Hawaii and India (which we prefer to the Hawaiian) and even Siberian Fir. In addition, doTerra also produces a number of pre-blended oils that can be used for a variety of uses from cleaning to diffusing to topical use. We absolutely love their Breathe respiratory blend in the winter when feeling a little congested, and their Motivate encouraging blend is great to diffuse in the office to promote creativity and focus. We love diluting it with a little olive oil as a carrier oil and dabbing for a little energy boost. All of doTerra's thorough sourcing, procedures and testing do add up operationally, resulting in a more expensive oil than some other companies on the list. But, like we have said many times before you get what you pay for. Since we all look for something slightly different in our oils, and have different budgets, if you're torn between doTerra essential oils and another company, we suggest buying one of each and comparing which you prefer yourself!





How did we Evaluate These Essential Oil Companies?

With so many different companies trying to stake their claim in this booming industry, some are cutting corners in order to save costs. This may involve diluting the oils, or using synthetic compounds, some with harmful side effects. That is why it's so important to choose a trusted brand. The two biggest things to consider are Quality & Purity. Though, there are some other factors as well like if they have ethical and sustainable practices. And of course, none of that matters if the customer reviews are poor - if the people buying them don't even like them! Here's how we evaluated the companies on our list. 

1. Quality & Quality Control

Quality control (QC) is an integral part of many industries, and it's no different for essential oil manufacturers. It's absolutely crucial for companies to have quality assurance and control, with checks in place at various points of the manufacturing process to ensure the final product is of the utmost quality. However, none of that matters if you aren't starting with the best raw ingredients. Here's some things we look at to determine quality:

1a. Quality of Raw Ingredients

One of the most important predictors of a good essential oil is the source plant. Where these plants are harvested, what part of the plant is harvested, even where and how the plant was grown will ultimately have an effect on the quality of the resultant final product. Does a company use the twigs of a cedar tree to produce their Cedarwood oil? Or are they using the needles, where all the terpenes and other valuable compounds are? There are more than 40 species of Lavender in the world, and each one will technically produce a different distilled oil. Look for the latin name of the plant species used, and the exact source of plant when researching a specific essential oil: you want plants sourced from areas of the world they are actually native to. You can use the labels or contact the manufacturer to determine the source plant.

1b. Processing Methods

How a company processes a plant into essential oil will have a major effect on the final product. What method of distillation are they using? Steam distillation? Cold-Press distillation? CO2 extraction? Do they use solvents? Some solvents can be left behind in the final product and produce unwanted side effects. Some plants produce better oils from different extraction methods, so that's something else to consider too! Most oils these days are produced via steam distillation, which produces the best quality oils at a reasonable cost. Watch for if a company is using solvent extraction methods!

1c. Storage

Unlike wine, essential oils do NOT get better with age. Unfortunately, the complex organic compounds found in essential oils do degrade over time, and are also accelerated by a few different factors too. There isn't much you can do about a company's internal storage methods, but you can check the labels when you receive your oil and if it's not a relatively fresh/recent batch, you may want to consider contacting the supplier for an exchange. Essential oils also degrade from heat, light and oxygen. So, oils should be stored in a dark container, with a pour stopper and lid (limits oxygen contact) and in a cool place. If your oils arrive in a clear container, that's a big no-no on that company's side. 

gmp certificate

1d. GMP Certification

GMP, or Good Manufacturing Practices Certification is a set of standards and systems that ensure products are always made according to a set level of quality standard. This is a system set in place by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and require manufacturers with the certification to have in place strict guidelines, protected by the law, for SOPs, record keeping, sanitation, hygiene, equipment verification, process validation and complaint handling. 

GMP standards are incredibly difficult for companies to put in place, maintain and sustain, but they ensure the highest quality product possible. Many essential oil companies don't even bother with trying, or they can't achieve it. We'll point out which essential oil companies have achieved GMP certification, as they undoubtedly will have the highest quality oils as a result.

usda organic seal

1e. USDA Organic

While many people still think that "organic" is another buzz word so that companies can charge more money for their products, that's just not the case. Similar to GMP, USDA Certified Organic is a set of standards put in place to ensure that certain standards are adhered to, and just like GMP, it's extremely difficult to obtain. 

If an essential oil company has achieved USDA Certified Organic certification, then right off the bat, you know that the company is using organically harvested raw materials. These must be grown in a very specific way without harmful pesticides, with a focus on soil fertility and sustainable practices. Then, every other part of the distillation process, not just growing the plants, even the cleaning solutions used in a processing facility, must also use Certified Organic products. Companies with USDA Organic certification produce some of the highest quality product you can get your hands on. 

1f. Other Certifications

There are many other quality certifications that essential oil companies may obtain, or develop on their own, GMP and USDA Organic are just the most significant two. We'll point out any notable certifications the companies may have when we evaluate them. These may include ISO, AFNOR, ECOCERT and more. 

2. Purity & Quality Assurance

So, we now know that it's important to consider the quality of essential oil brands in regards to their SOPs, record keeping, and raw material acquisition. But, during the processing of essential oils, some companies are using cheap, synthetic compounds to keep their costs down. How can we verify that these companies are making what they say they are? There are a couple different ways to assure quality.

2a. GC/MS Testing

You may have seen this term, GC/MS, and wonder what on earth it is. Several companies also release the results of their GC/MS tests to show you how pure their oils are.

Let's see if we can define GC/MS without getting too science-y so you know how to evaluate the quality of essential oils yourself. Gas Chromatography & Mass Spectrometry (too science-y already for some of you?) are two analytical chemistry tests used to determine the chemical composition of things. They're mentioned together always since you can't do one without the other. 

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Staying relatively simple, as well as staying in the realm of essential oils, a Gas Chromatography machine separates every single one of the different compounds in an essential oil, while it also converts them from liquid to gas, hence the name. A single essential oil may contain more than 100 different volatile compounds, with the exact ratios of each compound contributing to the specific smell (ex. why lime and lemon smell different with many of the same compounds). 

Once the oil has been run through chromatography, a Mass Spectrometer can be used to identify all of the molecules we just separated out, and turned into gases. The way it does this is a little more complicated than we need to worry about for our purposes. But, at the end of all of this testing, what we have is a good of if the oil contains any contaminants, or if it's been adulterated in any way with synthetics. It's not a perfect test, and there are some limitations to the information we gather from this test, but it's really the best tool we've got to confirm purity. Here's an example of what a simple GC/MS report may look like. 

gc/ms report

2b. Other Purity Tests

There are a few other tests that may be used to determine the purity of essential oils.

FTIR, or Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy is a test used to evaluate the purity of batches. Infrared light is shone through a sample, the relative absorption of light from the other side is measured and compared to historical data and standards. 

Chirality tests may also be used to evaluate purity and confirm the presence of synthetic additives. Many molecules, such as limonene are chiral, meaning they exist in a "left-handed" and "right-handed" version. In nature, lemons contain mostly (90%+) the "right-handed" version. If synthetic limonene was added, the ratio of left to right would be more like 50%.

Heavy Metal and Pesticide testing are two other tests that may be carried out to determine if there are any harmful contaminants present in the oils. Certified Organic oils won't have any risk of these types of contaminants, so if you're worried about that, just make sure you go CO.

2c. How to Test Purity on Your Own:

Like we discussed above, determining purity even with a $90,000+ gas chromatography machine isn't always perfect. In general, you'll want a product that claims it is "100% Pure" to be sure it hasn't been diluted. Although even then, we've seen companies falsify that labeling. 

2ci. Paper Test

The "Paper Test" is the quickest an easiest way to tell if your essential oil is pure and undiluted. Essential oils aren't actually oily in the same sense that other oils like coconut, olive or grapeseed oils are. 

Take a piece of paper and put a drop of cooking oil in one spot, and a drop of essential oil on the other end of the page (label or circle where you put the drop). Leave it overnight and come morning, if you've got a pure essential oil there should be no oily mark or ring where you dropped it because all of the volatile compounds should have evaporated, compared to the greasy ring left from your cooking oil.

If your essential oil leaves a mark, it's likely been diluted with a carrier oil of some sort. Again, this is not a perfect test, and can vary depending on the essential oil (some are greasier than others) but it's a quick and easy way to check. Below you can see the comparison of two oils, with the top one clearly being pure, while the bottom one was adulterated with some other oil. 

essential oil paper test

2cii. The Smell Test

This might be obvious, but a good way to know if you're oil is pure is how it smells! Diluted oils won't pack nearly the same punch as a pure oil does. So if your chosen oil doesn't really deliver in the aroma department like you thought it would, it's worth considering it may not be as pure as you wanted it to be. Essential oils are highly distilled and concentrated and so are quite powerful. If you need more than just a few drops in your diffuser it could be a sign you've got poor quality oil.

3. Ethical & Sustainable Practices

While related to Good Manufacturing Practices, Sustainable and Ethical Practices don't always come along with GMP. Ethical and sustainable business practices typically relate to two main areas of the business: the ethical growing and sourcing of the raw materials inputs, as well as the environmental impact of their operations.

There are a few third-party ethics and sustainability certifications available, such as Fair-Trade, Cruelty-Free or Non-GMO. Some other companies have their own internal sustainability practices, such as Young Living with their Seed to Seal promise. We'll point out if the company makes any claims for sustainability and ethics, so you can be sure you're buying from a reputable company. 

fair trade
cruelty free
non gmo

4. Brand Reputation & Customer Reviews

Because the essential oil industry does not currently have a universal governing body, brand reputation and customer reviews reign supreme these days. Most (hopefully all) essential oil companies do have their own internal quality control operating procedures, and some claim to have their products tested for quality and purity by third party laboratories. At the end of the day, you want to buy from a reputable essential oil company. Here's a few more things we consider when shopping for our oils, to ensure you're buying from a trusted and reputable essential oil brand. 

Customer Service & Guarantee

This can be a make or break for us when buying our health and beauty products. Even a reputable company can produce a low quality product once in a while, or deliver the wrong item, and can slip through the quality control cracks. Customer service is a crucial part of any business, and the essential oil biz is no different. If you have a problem with your product, you want to have a company that has a customer service department that's keen to make sure you're a happy, returning customer, and not a customer service department that is trained to avoid a return at all costs!

5. Price & Selection

Price is always a talking point with a product like essential oils. What we've found is that in general (in the essential oil industry at least) the assumption that a more expensive product is a higher quality product actually holds true.

It's expensive to source high quality ingredients, process and store them correctly, and unless you're doing so in enormous quantities, it will be hard to keep your costs extremely low. While larger companies may produce a cheaper oil with good quality due to their higher volume, there are some small companies started by folks just like you and I that are producing great quality oils, albeit at maybe a slightly higher cost.

For some, price is everything and always prefer the cheapest option. But for essential oils, you may need to balance your desire to save money with the reality that you may be cheating yourself on quality. Be wary of products that are significantly cheaper than the others, since they're likely diluted, or mixed with synthetics. You can use GC/MS testing and the other purity tests above to evaluate that.

 In general, larger companies are able to provide a broader array of oils, so it is something to consider when choosing a brand. That being said, there are typically a few most popular oils that even smaller companies will carry: the lavenders, cedar woods, citruses, eucalyptuses etc.

If you like to mix it up and use various different aromas, look for brands with a large selection. If you're like us and have a few favourites, it's not really something to worry too much about since even the smaller brands will likely have your go-to's. 

Essential Oil Brands to Avoid:

There are so many companies producing essential oils, we couldn't fit them all on the list. We've included the best, safest, most trusted companies on our list so you know who to buy from. 

However, there are a few companies we'd like to point out that you should absolutely avoid purchasing from, due to poor quality, synthetic fillers or various other reasons. Of course, you may choose to buy from one of these companies, and that's your call, we're just making our own opinions and experiences public for you to factor in. In the video below, Dr. P exposes three brands selling their products on Amazon that you should avoid, due to cutting their formulas with synthetic compounds. 

Radha Beauty

Radha Beauty is a very popular brand on the internet, making hair and skin care products as well as essential oils. The video above exposes their lavender oil formula as containing dihydrolinalool, the synthetic version of linalool, indicating the essential oils are not 100% pure. 

Art Naturals

Similarly, Art Naturals is another one of these low-cost essential oil companies selling their products on Amazon. They have tens of thousands of reviews on their products, though it appears from the video that they actually acquire their oils from the exact same supplier as Radha Beauty as both oils had very similar chemical footprints, containing both dihydrolinalool, and dihydrolinalyl acetate in similar percentages. 

Majestic Pure

Majestic Pure is another company to consider avoiding. After GC/MS testing in the video above, it's clear they use synthetic compounds to supplement their oils. However, it also contained coumerin, a known carcinogen, a sweet-smelling fragrant additive. This is just another example of a company offering synthetic oils at low prices to trick consumers into buying. 

Other Brands to Avoid

There are many, many companies selling essential oils on Amazon and other online marketplaces. If the price seems to good to be true, it probably is. We can't stress enough the importance of buying from a trusted brand, so make sure you do your own research, especially if you decide to not purchase from one of the companies on our list. Here's an article we wrote up about more brands to stay away from and how to spot fakes for yourself. 

Want to Learn More About Essential Oils?

If you want to learn more about essential oils, great! The journey to discovering the countless benefits of EOs is never ending, and it's an exciting one to begin! We'd love to help in any way we can, and the best place to start is our comprehensive guide to essential oils, and then some of the articles mentioned below. Enjoy!

What is Aromatherapy?

There are so many therapeutic benefits to essential oils, they're almost hard to remember! Whether you are diffusing, applying topically (after diluting with a carrier oil) or using in some other way, you're bound to improve your life with EOs. From bug repellent to anxiety reduction, they have such a wide range of applications, and every oil is unique! If you want to learn more about the aromatherapy, swing over to this article and have a read!

How to Use Your Essential Oils

So you've chosen a brand, bought some oils... now what? There are so many ways to use your oils it can be a little overwhelming. Plus, there's all these definitions and things to know, like using a carrier oil or diffusing. We've put together a concise guide to help you find the optimal way to get all the benefits of these incredible compounds! From cleaning products to essential oil diffusers, we've got you covered. 

Do Essential Oils Work?

This is likely a question you may get asked often, from people who don't really know about essential oils. If you're questioning this yourself, or just want to have some better information that you can educate people with, you can check out our article that investigates this very question.