It's an exciting time to be building your essential oil collection. Once an obscure practice, aromatherapy has now gone mainstream, with everyone from soccer moms to medical doctors stocking their medicine cabinets with lavender, lemon, and eucalyptus. And while this new popularity makes it a lot easier (and more fun!) to shop for essential oils, it also breeds scammers selling poor quality and adulterated products. Because essential oils only work when they're the real thing, it's important to be sure you're getting what you pay for.
Many people have been introduced to essential oils through the multi-level-marketing companies Young Living and doTerra. Although their representatives are quick to vouch for their quality, these companies are not necessarily the most cost-effective sources of pure essential oils. Unless you're going to work your way up the pyramid, we recommend comparison shopping with some of our recommended online stores (below). Often, you can find better prices (and similarly excellent quality) when you purchase directly from a reputable retailer.
When choosing a source for essential oils, here are some guidelines to keep in mind. Or, skip straight to our recommended sources.
Quality and Purity Verification
The best essential oil suppliers perform scientific testing on their products, called GC/MS analysis, and make the reports available to customers. GC/MS is a sophisticated chemical analysis which can tell you exactly if a substance is what it is supposed to be, and assures you as the consumer that your essential oils are pure and not adulterated with synthetic fragrances or lower-quality oils.
When buying essential oils, you don't want to pay too much (duh) but you also don't want to pay too little. Unusually low prices indicate that you are not buying a pure essential oil, but rather a synthetic imitation or a dilution of the real thing. We list typical prices for each of the essential oils profiled on this site so that you can get an idea of how much they should cost.
When looking at essential oil prices, keep in mind that some oils are naturally much more expensive than others. For instance, an ounce of pure rose oil can cost $300, while an ounce of eucalyptus oil goes for around $10. If a store sells a wide variety of oils for similar prices, this is an indication that they are not authentic essential oils.
Some essential oils are extracted from plants that have become endangered. Other oils need to be harvested carefully so that they do not damage the surrounding environment. Good suppliers will source these oils carefully, from producers who take care to minimize the negative impact on the environment and ensure that these precious essential oils are available for us all to enjoy in the future.
Good Customer Service
Only purchase essential oils from stores which clearly show contact information and policies such as satisfaction guarantees and return procedures. Because essential oils are expensive and delicate, not all retailers will have liberal return policies, but they should clearly state so on their website.
User-Friendly Online Store
Beautiful photography and easy navigation don't really affect the quality of your essential oils, but where possible, we recommend online stores that are a pleasure to shop in.
Plant Therapy is a great place to shop as you begin to build out your collection of essential oils. With a selection just over 100 individual oils (and many blends and accessories), you'll find many of the essential oils you're seeking in stock here. They offer reasonable prices, free U.S. shipping and returns, and Amazon checkout for those of us who find typing in their address and payment info an unbearably onerous experience. As an added convenience bonus, all of their essential oil bottles come with labels on the top—great if you store your collection in a box or drawer. Shop >>
With a gorgeous website and a thrilling selection, Mountain Rose Herbs is a favorite supplier of many essential oil connoiseurs. Come here to drool over the descriptions of exotics like Combava Petitgrain, Pink Pepper, and Bulgarian Rose, or just to stock up on the basics at reasonable prices. They also offer a nice selection of ingredients for lotions, creams, and other body products for your mad scientist's lab. Shop >>
If you're an Amazon shopper, Eden's Garden is the name to know. Searching for essential oils on Amazon is a discouraging experience, as you will be deluged with poor quality and adulterated junk, but Eden's Garden is a reliable supplier which sells their entire line on Amazon. We've purchased a variety of essential oils from Eden's Garden and found them generally to be good quality. Their prices are extremely reasonable. Quality information is not readily available on their Amazon listings, but can be found on the Eden's Garden website. Shop >>
Eden Botanicals is a top-quality source for the aromatherapist as well as the natural perfumer. In addition to many of the common aromatherapy essences, Eden Botanicals offers an enormous selection of exotic ingredients of interest to budding artisan perfumers. Each of their product listings is accompanied by excellent information on uses in aromatherapy and perfumery, blending guidelines, relevant history, and occasional interesting factoids. They also have a fantastically informative blog. Shop >>
White Lotus caters more to the natural perfumer than to the aromatherapist, and has some wonderful and rare aromatics to explore. For unusual natural fragrance materials, this is the place to shop. Some of their essential oils and absolutes can be expensive, so it's a good idea to do some comparison shopping before purchasing. However, in many cases you'll find they carry essences which simply can't be found anywhere else. They also offer a variety of interesting perfume recipes. Shop >>
This store is worth a look just for the enthusiastic product descriptions written by its proprietress, Marge Clark, whose passion for botanicals oozes from every page. Marge clearly chooses every product she carries with utmost care and a discerning nose, and she has a talent for writing evocative descriptions of fragrant materials. The store offers a wonderful selection of essential oils, absolutes, and CO2 extracts, including rare and hard-to-source materials like agarwood and linden blossom. Shop >>
In business since the 1970's, Starwest Botanicals touts themselves as one of the largest organic herb suppliers in the United States. They offer a solid selection of essential oils, including a large selection of organic essential oils. They have especially reasonable prices for oils purchased in large quantities. Shop >>