Where to Buy Essential Oils that Actually Work

Erica Jones MHS Essential Oils 1 Comment

by Erica Jones MHS

where to buy essential oils

If you’ve ever searched online “where to buy essential oils” no doubt you’ve found a ton of different options.  And you’ve probably also felt completely overwhelmed. From blog posts to big essential oil companies everyone seems to have an opinion on where to buy essential oils.  And since the essential oil market is unregulated the phrase, “best essential oil company” is….well, very subjective.

So, if you’ve come to this article thinking,  “I just want to know what the best essential oil company is” you’ll have an answer by the end of this series. But it’s not what you think. There are multiple answers to this question depending on what your needs are. So rather than just telling you (blank) is the best essential oil company (because I know what the best essential oil company is for me and my family and that may not apply to you) – I’m going to help you discover where to buy essential oils that best suits what you specifically need and desire.

Sound good? Great! Then, let’s dive in and really get a straight answer to the question of where to buy essential oils.

Where Can I Buy Essential Oils?

Almost anywhere. The grocery store, gas station, online. There are tons of places that are selling essential oils now. Why is that? Well, there’s been a resurgence of using natural strategies for common issues like low energy, trouble sleeping, anxiety, boosting the immune system and the list goes on.  There’s a reason why people say, “there’s an oil for that.”

All of this attention on essential oils has many companies strategizing on how to get a piece of the pie. But not all companies are reputable essential oil companies. Before we delve into the best essential oil brands we’ll first address the question of where to buy essential oils – physically, that is.

There are two main places to go if you want to know where to buy essential oils: online or locally. And there are pros and cons to each one.

Buying Essential Oils Locally

If you’re the type of person where you want to be able to walk into a store and speak to an actual person before making a purchase this may be a great option for you. And there are definitely some pros to buying essential oils locally. We’ll discuss each one (and the disadvantages) here.

Smell the Aroma

Probably the biggest pro is that you can actually smell the oils before purchasing…usually. Most stores will at least have testers set out that you can open and smell. If they don’t I’ve never been shy about asking management to open a bottle to let me experience the product. Smelling the oils before purchasing lets you get a feel for the aroma. This is a big plus if you’re new to essential oils and don’t even know what an oil like Vetiver smells like or if you’ll even like the aroma.

Support Your Local Businesses

You may also like that you’re supporting your local businesses when you buy essential oils in your own town. There’s a caveat to this though. Most of the stores that stock essential oils are big box stores, so unless you’re buying from a mom and pop shop it’s more like supporting a large corporation.

Get Questions Answered…Face to Face

The other good thing about buying locally is that you can ask questions about the essential oils. You can ask about  how to use essential oils and even about the purity of the product as well. Again, if you’re shopping at big box stores sometimes it’s hard to get help and with some exceptions, the sales associates won’t know much about the specifics of using essential oils. You’ll have better results going to a mom and pop shop with this one.

Essential Oils Buying Guide

Returns Are Sometimes Easier

It may be easier to return products to a local store. Not happy with the essential oil you purchased? Just take it back to the store. Most local businesses are flexible  with returns because they want to keep their customers happy and shopping locally instead of online.

Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils Are Harder to Find

We’ll discuss more about what this term means: “therapeutic grade”. And there are no hard and fast definitions. Here’s how I view it: Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils is  a term used to describe the quality of essential oils that you need when you’re looking to get a specific, physiological or emotional result.

I would use therapeutic grade essential oils if I wanted to boost my energy, get better sleep or help ease discomfort associated with a chronic condition. I wouldn’t worry so much about using therapeutic grade essential oils if I’m using them to make my laundry smell nice. It’s just not as important.

The point is that therapeutic grade essential oils are harder to find in big box stores . And that’s where most of the selection is if you want to buy locally.

It Can Be Inconvenient

When you have to drive to restock your essential oils, it can pose an inconvenience. If you live in a high traffic city like Atlanta, New York or Los Angeles, the thought of having to drive to re-up your supply may be very unappealing. If you’re in a smaller town it may not be a big deal. This one all depends on where you live, how close your local store is and whether or not you want to make the drive.

What Stores Sell Essential Oils

Below are some local stores that carry essential oils. With very few exceptions the quality of essential oils found at most local “big box” stores are just not ideal for therapeutic use. These oils are typically best used for aromatic effects or DIY recipes that you’ll use for cleaning. Here’s some examples of stores that carry essential oils locally:

  • Bath and Body Works
  • Bed Bath and Beyond
  • CVS
  • GNC
  • Target
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Walmart
  • Whole Foods

Buying Essential Oils Online

If you’ve made it to this website you’ve probably already done at least one search along the lines of “where can I buy essential oils?” And you’ve noticed that there are dozens and dozens of online options. Just like with buying locally, there are pros and cons to buying online as well. We’ll review the details here.

Options, Options and More Options

You won’t run out of options if you’re looking to order your essential oils online. There are so many companies that it can be hard to distinguish the differences (a huge reason why we wrote this article). But if your question is, “What are the best essential oil companies for me?” then I’m confident enough to say that you will 100% find one (or more!) online. There are just so many essential oils brands to choose from.

Easy to Compare

Once you whittle it down to a couple of essential oil companies it’s super easy to compare them. With just the click of a button you can view the website, and review pricing, quality information and even the selection of oils available. Unless you have tons of time and tons of money to spend on gas this is much harder to do if you’re shopping locally.

More Specialized Essential Oils Companies

Typically, the companies that specialize in essential oils are found online. Depending on what you’re using your essential oils for you may not have a problem picking up a bottle of lavender right next to a pack of chewing gum in the checkout aisle. But, if you’re looking for therapeutic benefits or specific physical or emotional results…well, the oils in the big box stores are typically not the best choice for that.

More Convenient Ordering

The convenience of online ordering is very appealing for busy folks that don’t always have time to venture out to the store. I can’t tell you how many weeks (sometimes months) errands have gone “un-run” because I did not create the time to do them. It’s just the reality for me with 3 little ones. That’s why I order online because it’s what works best for me and my family.

May Be Harder to Get Answers

If you’re looking to buy pure essential oils it’s utterly confusing trying to decipher all the lingo in the online space. Everyone is claiming to have “pure oils” and that they are “the best essential oil company.” What does “pure oils” even mean? How can you even be sure of what the best essential oil companies are? This is tough to uncover (without bias) online. But that’s the goal of this blog series – to make the muddy waters clear so that you can get on with using (and loving!) essential oils.

Can’t Try the Product

One of the greatest benefits of buying essential oils locally is that you can smell the aroma before you purchase. You can’t really do that online. More sites are offering essential oil samples, but many (if not most) companies do not do this. So…you kind of order on a whim and prayer that it will work out. If it’s an oil like lavender it’s not all that risky, but if it’s an oil where you have no reference for the aroma – like smelling Cypress for the first time after you buy the bottle – well, you may run the risk of disappointment.

Easier to Fall Into an Essential Oils Scam

Nobody wants to be scammed, but you run more risk of this happening online. After all, you’re giving the payment before you receive the product. There’s always a risk with that (even if it’s a small one). Thankfully, there are many reputable essential oil companies online. And I’ll also share some red flags to watch out for when you’re ordering so that you don’t fall prey to an essential oils scam.

Online Essential Oils Brands:

Below are some online essential oils brands that we’ll review in this series. Again, just because they’re on the list doesn’t mean they’re one of the best essential oil companies. They’re simply here to be reviewed:

  • Ananda Apothecary
  • Ancient Apothecary
  • Art Naturals
  • Aura Cacia Essential Oils
  • Barefut
  • doTERRA
  • Edens Garden Essential Oils
  • Florihana
  • Healing Solutions Essential Oils
  • Heritage Essential Oils
  • It Works Essential Oils
  • Kis Oils
  • Majestic Pure Essential Oils
  • Miracle Essential Oils
  • Mountain Rose Herbs
  • Nature’s Oil
  • Nature’s Truth Essential Oils
  • Now Essential Oils
  • Piping Rock Essential Oils
  • Plant Guru Essential Oils
  • Plant Therapy Essential Oils
  • Radha Essential Oils

“What’s the Best Oil Brand for Me?”

This is the question that we’re going to explore more in this section. It’s really not a cut and dry answer. As we’ll discover in this series there’s lots of essential oils brands and there are multiple reputable essential oils companies…and some that I wouldn’t buy from.

To get the best answer to this question for you and your lifestyle you’ll want to consider how you’re going to use the essential oils. This is the biggest question that you need to answer because it ultimately will determine where to buy essential oils that are best for you…and it will also weed out all the other “noise” in the market because you can focus on what you specifically need.

To delve into this deeper we’ll review the different grades of essential oils so you have a good understanding of what your options are. And to be fair, there is no regulating body that “grades” essential oils. These are typically phrases that companies will use to market their products. But we will explore each “type” of essential oil to create more clarity.

Smell Good Essential Oils

These are essential oils that you’re purely going to use for the smell. Whether you want to make your sheets smell like lavender fields or just walk into the home to a pleasant,  uplifting aroma at the end of the day “smell good essential oils” are designed to do just that: smell good – and not much else. Smell good oils don’t have to be as high quality so often they are cheap essential oils.

Cheap essential oils make up the majority of the market (quote research from slide show). Often times these oils are synthetic (they don’t come from plants, but chemicals). With cheap essential oils you always have to be on the lookout for adulteration that is toxic to your health. For instance, the addition of fragrance (a hormone disruptor) to essential oil is a common practice that is typically much more prevalent with premium oils like Frankincense. You may be able to avoid this type of adulteration with some of the tips that I’ll share later in this series.

The Bottom Line: Smell good oils can be cheap essential oils (which is nice for your wallet) but you just shouldn’t expect them to deliver a therapeutic result.

Food Grade Essential Oils

Typically people ask about food grade essential oils when they want to know which ones are ingestible essential oils. I’ll say that ingesting essential oils is a very controversial topic. You’ll find people that support it (a little too enthusiastically) and people that are vehemently opposed.

What Robert Tisserand has to say on the topic is actually useful. He’s been studying essential oils for many decades and has even won a lifetime achievement award for his work in essential oils. He’s a well-respected essential oil authority.

You can read his full interview on ingesting essential oils here but to sum it up, Tisserand believes that a high level of caution should be used when it comes to ingesting essential oils:

  • If you’re ingesting oils “you need to know what you’re doing. You need to know why  you’re doing it; what dose you are taking, how long you are going to be taking it for, what the reason is”
  • He doesn’t recommend taking oils internally as a preventative approach; the human body can become “habituated” to essential oils that are overused and then they are not effective when they are needed most (for instance, taking Oregano daily as a preventative may pose issues if you need to use it in the future to fight a viral or bacterial issue)
  • Small doses of essential oil used internally (like one or two drops on a regular basis) he seems to be fine with; therapeutic doses in the range of 10 or more drops a day is not advised
  • When using essential oils internally, you should proceed with caution; don’t take oils internally “just because”; do so with purpose, using an appropriate dose and then stop to avoid sensitization or running the risk that the oils will not work later on

When it comes to the specific term food grade essential oils or oils that are safe to ingest there’s two things to keep in mind:

1- The Tisserand Perspective

This is all about being cautious, having common sense and avoiding foolish decisions like taking copious amounts of Oregano (or any essential oil) internally on a regular basis “just cause” or as a preventative approach.

2- What Does the Manufacturer Say?

What’s on the essential oil bottle? If we’re talking about food grade essential oils or those that are ingestible essential oils then usually the manufacturer will specify on the bottle. If there’s no specification on this on the bottle, then I’d assume the manufacturer doesn’t support ingesting their brand of essential oils and I wouldn’t do it.

There’s a huge caveat here: We’re assuming that we can trust a manufacturer if we’re buying from one of the reputable essential oil companies. If that’s not the case, then take it with a grain of salt. But this is all the more reason why there’s some research that needs to take place to truly answer the question “where can I buy essential oils?”

Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils

Ah, therapeutic grade – this is another term that is widely used in the essential oils market. And again, there is not a regulating body for the use of the words “therapeutic grade.” So, if you want a hard and fast definition on what that term means, well there isn’t one.

Typically companies use the term “therapeutic grade essential oils” when they want to convince you, the buyer, that the oils are pure and of high quality. Whether or not that claim can be substantiated comes down to more than just marketing phrases, though. It has to do with the companies’ practices.

Are the essential oils they produce adulterated? What kind of testing do they do to ensure purity of the oils? These are just a few things that I think about when I hear the term therapeutic grade.

Additionally, according to Merriam-Webster the term therapeutic by definition means:

  1. Of, or relating to the treatment of disease or disorders by remedial agents or methods
  2. Having a beneficial effect on the body or mind
  3. Producing a useful or favorable result or effect

As you can see, the term therapeutic can be very broad. Here’s how I personally think of the term therapeutic in relation to essential oils:

Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils is  a term used to describe the quality of essential oils that you need when you’re looking to get a specific, physiological or emotional result.

Quality and purity is important here, because these things can affect results. We’ll explore that concept more in relation to essential oil use, but hopefully that creates some clarity on the topic for now.

Organic Essential Oils

There’s oils that are marketed as organic essential oils and then there are oils that have the USDA seal.  If we’re going to keep it real as we have been, the only essential oils that “count” as being truly organic are the ones that are certified organic essential oils by the USDA. This is the regulating body over that certification and unless the bottle has that seal, you can’t be sure that it’s really a certified organic essential oil.

So what does it mean for a company to say that it has certified organic essential oils? Here’s what I found on the USDA website:

“USDA certified organic foods are grown and processed according to federal guidelines addressing, among many factors, soil quality, animal raising practices, pest and weed control, and use of additives. Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical, or biologically based farming methods to the fullest extent possible (emphasis added).

Produce can be called organic if it’s certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest. Prohibited substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides (emphasis added). In instances when a grower has to use a synthetic substance to achieve a specific purpose, the substance must first be approved according to criteria that examine its effects on human health and the environment.”

Essentially, organic essential oils have been harvested from plants that have not been sprayed with chemical biocides (pesticides and herbicides). It’s easy to understand the surface value of an organic essential oil. The Herbal Academy states that pesticides and “pollutants on the plants can be more concentrated in the essential oil.” Many people avoid conventional produce (we do) and shop organic whenever possible. It seems sensical to do the same with essential oils.

But there are other considerations to keep in mind. When it comes to essential oils there’s value in running scientific tests. Testing can tell more about the chemical constituents of an essential oil and detect other contaminants. Robert Tisserand, in his book Essential Oil Safety, states that gas chromatography (GC), a type of essential oil test is useful for uncovering chemical constituents of oils and identifying compounds (such as contaminants) that should not be there. The USDA doesn’t run GC testing or other essential oil analytics.

So, while there is value in certified organic essential oils, if it’s not paired with quality testing the oils may not be as “pure” as the company is claiming.

Essential Oils Buying Guide

Conclusion

We’ve covered quite a bit in Article 1 of this series. Let’s summarize the main points below:

  1. The question of “where to buy essential oils” doesn’t have one answer; it will depend on you, your needs and what you value
  2. There are tons of places where you can buy essential oils; buying locally has its advantages (you can smell the product) but online is where the most reputable essential oil companies are
  3. The essential oils market is unregulated; so take caution when you see words like “pure”,  “therapeutic grade essential oils” or “food grade essential oils” – these phrases are for marketing purposes and don’t carry a lot of weight on their own
  4. There is value in certified organic essential oils but it needs to be paired with strong quality testing; otherwise the essential oil that you have may not be that great

Hopefully, this has been helpful and created some clarity on the question of where to buy essential oils. And you can probably see why there really isn’t a cookie cutter answer that fits everyone. This is all about YOU and what you need and desire.

I’d love to hear from you. Let me know if you have any questions pertaining to this article and/or what your experience has been with shopping for essential oils both online and locally.  

 

Sources:

  1. https://theherbalacademy.com/how-to-choose-high-quality-essential-oils/
  2. Tisserand, R. Essential Oil Safety, 2nd Edition.
  3. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/therapeutic
  4. https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2012/03/22/organic-101-what-usda-organic-label-means

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