If you are just starting to use essential oils, be careful not to be a victim of an essential oils scam in your eagerness to get started.
There are many benefits to using essential oils, including the ability to naturally reduce anxiety, overcome depression and ease symptoms of many medical conditions.
The market for essential oils has experienced dramatic growth in recent years due to these practical applications.
The problem is that scammers tend to storm any market that has a growing audience of consumers willing to pay for a specific product.
This has resulted in some essential oil scams that every shopper should keep in mind while shopping for oil online or out in the real world.
Essential Oils Scam #1: Misrepresentation of Essential Oil Benefits
Have you seen some websites stating that a particular essential can prevent cancer or treat hypertension?
Claiming that any essential oil can prevent, treat, mitigate, cure or diagnose any medical condition is a violation of laws enforced by the FDA unless the oil is officially classified as a drug.
Most essential oils don’t have that classification, but some oil sellers will still make these claims when marketing their products.
This is sometimes done without knowledge of the laws, but in other cases, it’s an outright scam.
The intention is to make big claims about an oil so that consumers will buy it on impulse.
You have a problem, and they convince you that their essential oil will solve it naturally. In some cases, they aren’t even selling authentic essential oils.
This problem was highlighted in 2014 when the FDA sent a letter to a popular essential oil distributor, Young Living, regarding the marketing techniques used by their consultants.
The letter is an educational read for consumers because it highlights specific examples of misleading marketing tactics used by Young Living consultants. The same tactics are still in use by many other essential oil sellers today.
Avoid the Scam: You now know that essential oil sellers cannot promote their oils as the cure for a specific medical condition, so you can move away from any consultant or seller using those direct claims.
They can tell you about research regarding the oil, but they can’t market the oil as a cure or treatment for any medical condition.
The best solution is to do your research rather than buying oils on impulse. If someone tells you that a certain oil can help with a medical condition of interest to you, look into it to see if there is any legitimate evidence suggesting that claim is true.
Essential Oils Scam #2: Misleading Package Labels
There are so many labels that you may see on essential oil packages, but most of them mean absolutely nothing when it comes to determining the purity or quality of the oil.
“Food grade” is the most commonly used label that actually doesn’t have the meaning that many consumers assume.
It sounds like an oil with that label is 100% safe for internal consumption, but there is no regulatory body to determine that.
This means that most essential oils are never tested to ensure that they are safe for consumption.
Some are commonly used for cooking and are assumed safe for people without an allergy, but they haven’t undergone studies to determine any side effects or to determine safe dosages for people of different ages.
The FDA does put out a list of oils that are generally deemed safe for their intended use, but that doesn’t mean that they’re safe for all uses. Even if an oil is on this list, it isn’t necessarily food safe for all people.
All of this applies to “therapeutic grade” oils as well. While most of these terms are used with good intention by sellers, they’re also used in a misleading way by some.
For instance, a scammer trying to sell bottles of fake oils (which may contain dangerous chemicals) will likely use these terms to gain the confidence of buyers.
Avoid the Scam: Look into each oil that you buy regardless of the labels on the packaging.
Understand that there is no governing body that determines who can use these labels on their products, so purity and authenticity come down to the quality of the plants, the extraction methods, the storage practices and the distribution channels.
Take the time to research those factors before you determine which oils to buy.
Essential Oils Scam #3: Fake Oils
Some consumers buy essential oils only to find out later that they aren’t authentic.
Scammers may outright put cheap chemicals in the bottle that won’t even smell like the real thing when they’re opened.
In most cases, they cut corners by blending their oils with a cheaper ingredient while marketing the product as a pure oil.
Since you don’t know about these added ingredients, they put you at risk for an allergic reaction. Some are downright dangerous, especially if consumed.
Many fake essential oils are sold through online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon.
Some scammers will create fake labels, so consumers believe that they are buying real products from established oil companies.
Avoid the Scam: You should never buy essential oils from random sellers in crowded marketplaces.
If you want to buy through Amazon, make sure the listing is from the actual company rather than a third party.
If the company uses consultants, take the time to establish a relationship with one legitimate consultant listed on the company’s website.
You don’t know what you’re really getting if you don’t know who you’re buying it from.
It’s important to stay informed on the specific types of essential oil scams going around, but you should always fall back on your instinct.
If a deal seems too good to be true or you have a bad feeling about a purchase, those gut instincts are probably right.
Rather than jumping right into the deal because you want to save money, take the time to do some research.
You will likely find that there are reasons the prices are so low, you’ve never heard of the brand name or you’re asked to take immediate action.
You can also protect yourself by looking brand names and manufacturers up online.
Many essential oil companies maintain websites that are loaded with information about their products.
Most legitimate companies will openly discuss their extraction methods and other processing procedures as well as any added ingredients in their oils and potential side effects.
This information can help you determine the purity and quality of the oils, especially those that you plan on using internally.