There are a number of important factors to keep in mind when you buy essential oils.
• Watch out for words such as “fragrance oil,” “nature identical oil,” or “perfume oil.” These words indicate that what you see is not a pure, single essential oil.
Essential oils are concentrated oils distilled from plants. They not only smell great, but they also contain the beneficial chemical compounds of the specific plant they’re derived from. Fragrance oils are synthetic, and though they may smell good, they do not have any beneficial natural compounds. They’re less expensive to produce because they’re diluted with artificial substances.
• Avoid essential oils that have been diluted with vegetable oil. To test this, place a couple of drops on a piece of paper. If the drop leaves an oily ring, it likely contains vegetable oil.
• High quality essential oils list the Latin name of the plant species they’re derived from. For example, a bottle of lavender essential oil could be distilled from Lavandula Angustifolia, or English Lavender. If an oil doesn’t list the Latin name, it’s hard to know exactly what you’re really getting.
• Verify the source. If the label doesn’t outright mention country of origin, you might see a “lot#,” which you can then look up. If you’re buying from a website, it should state where the oil is from on the product page, even if the individual bottles may not (simply because labels can be quite small).
• Avoid buying essential oils from a company that prices all of its oils the same or an oil that is unusually low-priced. The process of extraction can vary enormously from one plant to the next.
• Pricing practices like this suggest that the oils are either synthetic, contain little of the essential oil they claim to have, or are of low quality.
• Many oils are labeled as “Therapeutic Grade.” But it’s important to note that this isn’t a term that’s regulated by the FDA, or any other evaluating body. So while many reputable companies label their oils as “therapeutic grade” to denote purity, any company can put that on any bottle of oil without having to meet any specific standards of quality. A “Therapeutic Grade” label is not necessarily a bad thing, but don’t overestimate its meaning or let it fool you.
• Essential oils should be sold in a tightly sealed dark amber or dark blue glass bottles. Clear glass allows unfiltered light to enter and can cause the oil to spoil.
• Never buy pure essential oils in plastic bottles, since the oils can dissolve plastic and contaminate the product.
• Always buy less rather than more. A 10-milliliter bottle will likely last months even with frequent use. Buying too much can lead to spoilage and waste.