What’s the Difference?

As the industry grows, so do the number of essential oil manufacturers and channels for buying. I am often asked, “How do I know which is better?  What’s the difference?”

smell testRemember, however you are using these products, whether directly applying to your skin or inhaling, they will be absorbed into your body.  So knowing the quality of oil you select is important.  Essential oils are powerful, plant-based concentrations that can vary significantly in quality by manufacturing methods.

Because the industry is unregulated, buyers should be aware of labeling, claims and production practices.  For example, when you see an oil marketed as “Therapeutic Grade” it implies that the natural constituents of the plant (such as antiviral, antiseptic, antibacterial properties) were unaltered in production.  Manufacturers should be open about how they harvest plants, distill oils and test their batches, as this impacts the quality and properties of their product.

Once you choose the brand you are comfortable using, read the bottle label to know what you are truly buying, which may explain the difference in price.

  1. Look for the Latin name of the product to make sure it’s the species you want.  For example, if you want Lavender for skin care, be sure to choose Lavandula angustifolia, which is a gentle oil effective in treating burns and wounds. Lavandula intermedia is a hybrid plant (lavender and spike lavender) with strong antiseptic properties, but contains camphor which can cause skin irritation.
  2. The label should read 100% pure essential oil (which means undiluted), unless you are seeking a ready blend commonly available in pre-formulated roller bottles or hydrosols.
  3. Because essential oils are volatile, direct exposure to sunlight can expedite oxidation. Oils should be stored in colored glass bottles to maximize shelf life and effectiveness.  Expiration dates are not commonly printed on labels, so beware of what you may be picking up from the store shelf.  Note: Top notes (including citrus & herbaceous oils) evaporate and oxidize more quickly than base notes (generally woodsy & heavy floral oils).

Here are two of my favorite reference sources:

Essential Oils Pocket Reference by Life Science
The Essential Oils Complete Reference Guide by KG Stiles

I buy essential oils from Young Living for many reasons, including their Seed to Seal guarantee and local representation. Do you want to learn more?  Attend a free workshop and experience the oils in person!

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