How to Find High-Quality and Sustainable Essential Oils

Quality essential oils

One of the first steps to mastering aromatherapy is learning how to find high-quality, sustainably sourced essential oils. By choosing the right oils—and avoiding low-quality products—you can fine-tune your self-care with a wealth of simple yet effective aromatherapy remedies.

Extracted from various parts of plants (such as the flowers, leaves, and roots), essential oils are believed to influence your nervous system and, in turn, bring about certain benefits for your physical, emotional, and mental health. For example, lavender essential oil is said to soothe stress and anxiety and promote sounder sleep, while peppermint essential oil is thought to relieve headaches and other common types of pain.

As aromatherapy becomes more and more popular, it can be tricky to distinguish first-rate essential oils from the lower-quality products on the market. Let's take a look at how to make the best choice when selecting essential oils.

How to Find High-Quality Essential Oils

Here are four key tips for finding high-quality essential oils:

1) Check the price tag. Creating essential oils requires a great deal of plant material. To make just one pound of rose essential oil, for instance, manufacturers may use more than 10,000 pounds of rose petals. For that reason, a remarkably low price tag may signal that your selected product is diluted with other, cheaper ingredients. 

2) Scan the ingredients list. To steer clear of these diluted products, peruse the ingredients list for diluents like sweet almond oil or grape seed oil. And watch out for any product labeled “fragrance oil”—it could contain synthetic chemicals, which may be harmful to your health. Above all, keep in mind that your product should include only the featured essential oil in its ingredients list.

3) Look for the Latin name. Each essential oil has very specific properties. For example, essential oil of German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is said to offer anti-inflammatory benefits, while essential oil of Roman chamomile (Arthemis nobilis or Chamaemelum nobile) is often used to alleviate anxiety or enhance mood. To ensure that you’re selecting the best essential oil for your needs, always check the label for your desired plant’s Latin name.

4) Become bottle-savvy. Because the compounds naturally found in essential oils are extremely potent, storing such oils in plastic bottles can cause the plastic to deteriorate. When shopping for essential oils, seek out bottles made with dark blue or amber glass. (The darker-colored glass helps to shield essential oils from the damaging effects of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.)

Should You Choose Organic Essential Oils?

For optimal wellness, it’s crucial to choose essential oils made from plants grown without the use of pesticides (synthetic chemicals known to have toxic effects). Unfortunately, simply searching for “pure” or “natural” oils won’t necessarily lead you to pesticide-free products. 

Seeking out essential oils whose label bears the USDA Organic seal is the easiest way to guarantee that the product contains certified-organic ingredients. However, many aromatherapy experts also opt for essential oils labeled as “wild-crafted” or “wild-harvested.” Because these products are cultivated from plants harvested in the wild, they’re unlikely to be contaminated with pesticides.

Not only better for your personal health, sticking with pesticide-free products helps fight pollution and other harmful environmental effects.

Essential Oils and Sustainability

When it comes to protecting the environment, sustainability is another key consideration in purchasing essential oils. A number of plants used to create essential oils are known to be endangered, while others are increasingly overharvested. While many manufacturers make it a priority to use sustainably harvested plant material, some companies may source their ingredients in a manner that seriously threatens natural resources. 

In September 2017, for instance, Young Living Essential Oils (a major manufacturer of aromatherapy products) pleaded guilty to federal misdemeanor charges regarding illegal trafficking of rosewood oil and spikenard oil. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the company’s importation of illegally harvested wood and timber products constitutes a violation of the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Finding an environmentally responsible company may require some research on your part. Before buying essential oils, read up on each company’s sustainability policies and sourcing methods. If such information isn’t readily available, contact the company and ask for detailed information about their environmental practices.

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