I was skeptical when I first started using essential oils. Frankly I thought that the so-called “premium” brands were a waste of money and that I could get by with some inexpensive oils that I bought from the health food store and Amazon.
It was only after my son had a dramatic skin reaction to those cheap oils used properly diluted that I started to question my assumption.
But what I found was that so many people share my original opinion that the premium brands are unnecessarily expensive and a health food store brand will do. And sometimes it does, but it was only once I tried the premium brand that I could see the dramatic difference between brands.
But times have changed since I first bought my health food store oils, and now you can buy them pretty much anywhere. Six years ago it was much harder to find them.
I could have just as easily entitled this article:
- Reasons why you should never buy essential oils from Amazon
- or, reasons why you should never buy your essential oils from that mass market discount store
- Or reasons why you should never buy your essential oils from that Bed and Bath Store
- Or reasons why you should never buy your essential oils at the grocery store.
Because, if I’m going to be honest, you don’t want to buy essential oils from any of those places.
I don’t say that lightly, after all, I used to buy my oils there! But since then I’ve learned why that isn’t a good idea.
So here are five reasons why you should never buy essential oils at the health food store.
Reason 1: You want real essential oils
Did you know that there are no regulations that define what an essential oil is for marketing purposes? Oh yes, of course, we know what an essential oil is supposed to be, but a company does not have to actually put that pure un-tampered with substance in their bottles to sell it as “Pure Essential Oil.”
Pretty sneaky, huh?
Except it’s not sneaky at all. It’s right out there in the open because the FDA considers essential oils to be a cosmetic product. Labeling laws for cosmetic products are far more relaxed and you can call something an essential oil and absolutely no one official will ever fact check you or force you to prove it.
So that bottle of 100% Pure Lavender Essential Oil may not even be that. It may be lower quality lavandin essential oil augmented with synthetic linalool and other components to give it the right smell. Or it could be something completely different. Who’s going to tell you?
And it’s a very well known problem in the essential oil industry, but without a governing body to police it, it generally goes un-challenged. And consumers are short-changed as a result.
Want to dive in deeper? Read What the Labels Don’t Tell You
Reason 2: You want essential oils that work
It’s the poorest kept secret in essential oils that you get what you pay for. Almost every time I hear someone tell me that they “tried essential oils” and that they were disappointing it turns out that they bought their oils at one of those places I mentioned above.
And you might think like I used to, that essential oils are pretty much the same across the board.
Except they aren’t.
Low quality or bargain oils may give some results, or they may not. It just depends, but when you compare the way a health food store peppermint oil works vs. a premium therapeutic quality brand works there is no competition.
Each may provoke some response, but almost every time I’ve compared them, the higher quality oil just blows the lower quality oil away.
The secret to the activity of an essential oil is intimately bound up in its purity. If an oil is distilled properly from a quality plant and handled correctly, it will have the concentrated beneficial properties of the oil of that plant.
If the essential oil was from a low-quality plant, distilled improperly, or augmented with synthetic constituents then it will not have the same concentrated activity of the plant.
Want to dive into the details? Read Do Cheap Essential Oils Work?
Reason 3: It’s not possible for true Lavender essential oil to be sold for $8.99
There is so much involved in growing and distilling therapeutic plants that it would be impossible to do it correctly and still sell that product for $9 an ounce like many health food store brands do. In fact, the way companies get cheaper lavender is by “massaging” the facts.
But don’t take my word for it. Take the word of Aroma Magazine, an independent essential oil anthology:
Domestic consumption and export of Lavender oil far exceed the amount produced by agricultural methods. It has become profitable to mix less expensive oils like Lavandin or Bulgarian Lavender (from clones) with synthetic linalool and linalyl acetate and to offer the resulting “bouquet” as True Lavender. When the product is shipped from addresses in Provence, the deception is slick enough to generate more business than for the real oil. In a local Provence paper Henri Pouchon, the president of the confrerie de la lavande, states, “We produce about 50 tons of True and clone Lavender, but brokers end up exporting 250 tons. This is a greater miracle than the ones of Lourdes and Fatima together, where the Virgin Mother has appeared three times.” (Nr. 1 Winter 2000, p. 14)
Want to dive into the details? What does the essential oil industry say about adulterated essential oils?
Reason 4: You want the best value
If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a hundred times. You just need to use more drops of cheaper essential oil brands to see the same effects as a premium quality essential oil. At least that’s what my personal experience and conversations with other essential oil users have told me.
I found that with a health food store lavender, I needed as many as 10 drops of the cheap brand to equal the aroma and effect of a single drop of premium lavender essential oil.
When I looked at a health food store lemon essential oil, I found that I needed at least 5 drops of the cheap brand to equal a drop of a premium lemon essential oil.
And other oils, well, some of them never produced the results of the premium oils they were compared to.
Let’s crunch some numbers and see if those health food store essential oils are a great deal.
A 15 ml bottle of essential oil tends to contain 250 drops of essential oil. That’s the number we’ll use for comparison between brands.
- Health food store Lavender– 1 ounce (30ml)- $8.85
- Cost per drop- 2 cents
- Cost per use of 10 drops- 20 cents
- Premium Brand Lavender– 15ml – $24.25
- Cost per drop- 10 cents
- Cost per use of 1 drop – 10 cents
- Health food store Lemon– 1 ounce (30ml)- $6.99
- Cost per drop- 1 cent
- Cost per use of 5 drops- 5 cents
- Premium Brand Lemon– 15ml – $11.50
- Cost per drop- 5 cents
- Cost per use – 5 cents
The cost is at best the same and at worst more using a “cheaper” health food store essential oils.
The supposed savings seem dubious to me. And since most of my oils from the health food store sat unused on my shelf because of how unimpressed I was with them, I saved even less than I had thought I was saving.
And I’ve heard many other people tell me the same experience after they switched.
And frankly, if you want results, a few cents difference in cost per use probably isn’t going to actually matter.
Reason 5: You don’t want to try to go natural only to be using a product spiked with synthetic chemicals
I’m guessing that, like me, you are wanting to make more clean and natural choices for your family. Maybe you’re cleaning up your chemical household products and replacing them with oils. Or maybe you’re looking to fill a wellness cabinet with products that will help maintain your health without the same concerns of other options.
Whatever the reason, I’m guessing that if you found out that the “natural” essential oil you were using was no more natural than the air freshener you threw in the trash, you’d be disappointed, right?
Sadly, it’s often the case that many health food store essential oils are filled with chemical additions. Sometimes it is to make them smell better, other times it is meant to trick a less experience oil tester into believing the oil is of higher quality. Other times it is to make the oil appear to be more therapeutically active since the original oil was therapeutically weak.
But whatever the reason they did it, it’s totally the opposite of what you are trying to achieve, so don’t risk it!
Your Next Step:
I used to buy essential oils at the health food store and I was very resistant to buying a premium brand. But after I experienced with genuine essential oils that I never got from health food store oils, I had to do a lot more research.
What I found out shocked me. There is so much more to a genuine effective essential oil than the commonly available store brand. But there is nothing quite like digging into the details for yourself.
After all, your results and health depend on it!
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