Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about essential oils out there today. As a result, some cheap-o copy-cat brands are taking advantage of it. These fake essential oil brands use any of the following tactics to make a profit: diluted oils, synthetic compounds and fake fragrance oil additives. To avoid any harmful consequences to you and your family, make sure you only buy from a trusted brand of essential oils. In this article we'll show you what to look for in an essential oil brand to know they're legit, how to spot fakes and then show you the most trusted brands.
Signs your Essential Oils May be Fake
Think your oils may be fake? There are a few ways you can easily spot fakes on your own.
What Container Did they Come in?
Essential oils degrade over time from light, and interact with plastic. If your oils didn't come in dark, amber glass, that's a sure sign you've got fakes on your hands.
The Price of the Oils
Sadly, if you think the price was too good to be true, it probably was. Fake brands are able to offer low prices because they've got synthetic compounds or are diluted.
What the Label Says
Brands can claim their oils are 100% pure with no consequences. A good way to spot the fakes is to see if they've included the plant species they harvested from. Ex. a real lavender oil will also include the species name such as Lavandula officinalis like this oil from NOW Foods.
The Smell of the Oils
This is more difficult to tell if you're just getting started with essential oils, but once you smell a fake one you'll know it. There is naturally some variation in essential oils due to the growing conditions of the plant, but synthetic compounds will totally alter the aroma to an unnatural scent.
The "Paper Test"
The paper test isn't a perfect test, but it's a good indicator to know if you've got real essential oil or not. On a piece of thick white paper, draw two circles or tow lines and mark them as "oil" and "essential oil." Drop an equal amount of vegetable oil and essential oil in their respective circles, and check back in the morning. The vegetable oil should leave a greasy ring or circle, but real, pure essential oils should completely evaporate.
The Absolute Best Test for Fakes
The only real way to tell if a company is selling pure essential oils is by looking at chemical tests, such as their GC/MS Test Results.
GC/MS is a biochemical test called Gas Chromatography / Mass Spectrometry. The science behind it is actually pretty simple even if it sounds complicated. Some big, fancy and expensive machines convert essential oils into gas, and then the machines measure all the different compounds that are found in that gas. They get plotted onto charts and a list to show the various different compounds within the oil. Then, we can look for any clear markers of adulteration or synthetic compounds. Here's an example of one of those reports from a fake oil.
Here are some markers in common oils that are usually present in extremely low concentrations in natural oils, or not at all. Higher concentrations of these in your essential oil means you've got fake oils on your hands.
ESSENTIAL OIL MARKER
Anise (Illicium verum) Cis-anethole/Anisyl alcohol
Artemesia vulgaris Vulgarone
Geranium (North African Type) (-)-(4R)-6,9-Guiadiene / 10-epi-gamma-eudesmol
Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia) (-)-lavandulol / (-)-lavandulyl acetate
Lemon / Mandarin Delta-3-carene
Patchouli (Indonesian) Patchulol
Rosewood (Aniba Spp.) Eremophilene
Rose Otto (R. Centifolia) (Z)-9-nonadecene
Peppermint Piperita Menthafuran
GC/MS Testing is very expensive, but it's absolutely necessary for any companies that are truly committed to producing high quality pure oils. Many brands now include the GC/MS Tests directly on their website, or many will provide them if you ask!
What Are The Known Fake Brands?
There are a number of known fake brands out there, and we'll add to this list as we discover more. As is stands, here are the brands of essential oils to stay away from:
- Nature's Truth
- Art Naturals
- Rahda Beauty
Sadly, we're certain there are more fake brands out there, these are just some that are big and popular at this point in time with plenty of people buying from them. Use the tips we covered earlier in the article to help!
What Are the Trusted Brands?
Enough about these fake companies! If you want to buy high quality, trusted essential oils, we've got a list going for those brands too! Check out our buying guide to buy pure essential oils from safe, trusted, tested and quality assured companies.