One of the biggest advantages (and perks) to using essential oils is that there are so many to choose from – a multitude of plants and ingredients, different ways to utilize them, and various benefits from each option. Having this abundance is great for consumers but does bring its own challenges. With so many choices how does someone find a true, high-quality essential oil?

First, understand that essential oils typically aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA considers these products to be cosmetic and, therefore, doesn’t approve or regulate this industry. Therefore, it’s imperative that you take the time to research your essential oil company. How are their products made? Where are their ingredients sourced? How transparent are they about their production process? What sort of online reviews are available for their products? You definitely need to dedicate the time to doing the research before investing in an oil.

When you break down the components of an essential oil bottle what you should find are concentrated amounts of specific plants (processed through distillation) diluted in a carrier oil.   

Now that we’ve covered the basics, here is a breakdown of what to look into to determine a level of quality.

Ingredients: It may seem obvious, but plants grown in an environment free of pesticides and other chemicals is naturally a quality improvement. Also, the area where the ingredients are grown in terms of environment, soil quality, and weather will also make an impact. An essential oil company that cares about the quality of its product will source their plants from all over the globe, keeping an eye for where the crop grows best and how it is cared for and harvested.

Process: The process for distilling the oils into a liquid form is a science. Some people do it in their kitchens while large companies have a processing plant to make the work more efficient. Don’t be afraid to ask a company how their oils are processed. How much dilution is involved? Do they add any additional ingredients during dilution?

Storage: How and where oils are stored is also improvement. Exposure to heat, or light, oxygen may cause the products to lose their quality. After processing the oils, where are they stored? Ideally they are in containers of dark glass and stored in a cool place. Each bottle should be marked with a date to keep track of how long it’s been stored.

Shipping: The same quality issues that come up with storage will apply to shipping. Oils that are exposed to the elements for any length of time will definitely lose their quality. How does the company manage their shipping to ensure products are delivered in the best possible condition?

In an ideal situation, your essential oils would start with organic, natural agricultural processes and then harvested, stored and shipped while keeping in mind that the oil’s benefits will be directly impacted by exposure. Purity is also important so the liquid should be 100% of the main ingredient(s) combined with the carrier oil and should be labeled properly if anything else has been added. Pay attention to price as well. As with anything, the lower the price point – the less likely that the product was made with quality in mind.