DoTerra image

Company Review: DoTerra

DoTerra Essential Oils

Until about a year and a half ago I had never used DoTerra’s oils, even though I had been hearing about the company for a few years.   DoTerra started when a few people who used to work at Young Living (another large essential oil company) branched out because they felt they could produce higher quality oils than were being manufactured at Young Living.  The company started in 2008, and has grown by leaps and bounds since then.  I in  no way claim to know everything about this company, or it’s oils, but I will will share with you my thoughts both pro’s and con’s and you can weigh them all out for yourself.

The Pro’s.

This company provides very clear and easy to follow educational material.  Both from the books they have put out, to the videos posted online from them and their distributors.  Some of the practices and recommendations they make are not safe, or in the best interest of the customers, but their clean neat presentations are a huge draw.   There are a few red flags for me in there occasionally thrown in marketing hype, and pushing too much internal use, and improperly diluted use, but other than that most of what I find appears to be very easy to read, follow, and learn from.  I wouldn’t recommend their educational material for someone just starting out because it would be very difficult to determine what is safe, unsafe, true, or just marketing hype, etc.  But for someone who has a bit of experience with oils, and can sift through a bit of the over use it could be an easy to use recourse.

They also focus a lot on the quality of their oils, including where the plants are grown, what species of the plant is distilled, and how they are distilled.  They also seem to have a fairly good group of tests that are preformed on each batch of oils to insure quality.  Now wether they have indeed “set the new standard” in essential oils is yet to be seen.  But none the less, they do seem to care a lot about quality.

Their oils smell amazing.  In fact, so amazing that it set up some red flags with me.  Numerous reviews online stated something to the effect of “DoTerra oils smell so much better than any other oils I’ve ever used!  This tells me that their quality is way better than most of the other oils on the market.”  As I have discussed in other blogs, smelling good can be a bad thing as it can mean chemical fragrances and additives were mixed in with the oils.  Oils should smell full, complex, earthy, and sometimes almost dirty.  After hearing about them so much I decided I wanted to try out their oils for myself, and when I received my started kit, the lavender and lemon smelled very comparable to other oils I have used, but like the online reviews said, the peppermint smelled MUCH better!  This made me do a bit more digging.  There is usually a logical explanation to everything, and I was wary that the oil more than likely contained some vanilla, or synthetic vanillin.  Having been involved in aromatherapy for years, and smelling countless essential oils as well as fragrance oils, the delicious aroma coming from the peppermint bottle was a red flag, but one I hoped to put to rest with some more research.  I did find out that some distributors re-distill their peppermint oil.  This means that after the first distill, the plant material is discarded but the oil is re-distilled to remove some of the unwanted constituents, and primarily to result in a product which is higher in menthol.  DoTerra does not do this, so that accounted for some of the lighter aroma, but not for the sweet peppermint candy scent.  Sadly, months later a  third party testing revealed that there was in fact a synthetic component ethyl vanillin present.  The amount of the chemical was very low 0.07%, so low in fact that the testing DoTerra does did not detect it, but their testing only tests for constituents above 0.1% so their test results would not have detected this even if they had been looking.  The third party testing, done in France tested for even trace elements.  Although the synthetic compound was only a trace amount, Robbert Tisserand, a world renowned expert on essential oils said that this small amount was more than enough to account for the “better candy like” fragrance of the DoTerra oil.  Ethyl Vanillin is an extremely strong fragrance, and requires very minute amounts for the desired effect.  I do want to interject here that I do not believe that DoTerra is responsible for this pollution of the oil.  Another peppermint tested from Heritage Farm also contained the chemical, and according to the chemist these two oils were chemically identical and positively came from the same distributor, which would indicate a pollution farther up the line.  So hopefully this won’t happen again, and was just a bad batch.  I will be ordering more peppermint from them in the future and am interested to see if it still has the sweet candy smell, or has an odor more earthy and green as pure peppermint oil does.

I have heard and seen very good reviews about owners and upper management.  Sincerity, and a true desire to offer quality products, and to help others seems to be their motivation.  They do an excellent job of reaching out to the younger generation and push a lot of use for health and happiness rather than just marketing to those with ailments they are trying to cure.

The packaging is superb.  Their labels are clean, neat, professional, and just looking at them gives you confidence in the product and the company. (something I think many of the other companies could learn from and improve on.)

The Cons:

Pricing.  There are several different factors in their prices being quite a bit higher from other comparable oils.  Because of their MLM business structure, prices are automatically going to be higher than other companies with a more simple business structure.  While MLM companies can provide great business opportunities that allow people to earn some extra income, to do this, they are not able to offer the best value to the consumers.  They also put out a very large amount of educational material, video’s, promotions, advertising, and huge conferences for their training and retreats.  Of course there is NOTHING wrong with any of that, but many other companies do no advertising (they let the store who sells their products worry about that) and because they do not sell to individuals, they do not to huge training seminars, retreats, etc., which adds up fast in a companies budget, and ends up driving the price of their products up.  Also, to be able to put the food safe “nutritional facts” label on their product because they are promoting internal use, they have to spend millions of dollars on insurance, that other companies who label their oils “for external use only” can bypass.   And while DoTerra’s quality controls and testing procedures they have put in place to insure high quality oils are wonderful, contrary to how they promote themselves, their procedures and testing model are not very different from many other companies who are offering their oils and much more affordable prices.

Hyped Up Claims:  I expect companies to want to promote their products as the “best” and the “greatest” but there are a few ways that DoTerra has crossed from the realm of “good marketing” into “false advertisement” in my opinion.  Claims that fall under this category include the following:

“Our oils are the purest, safest, most effective oils available anywhere in the world.”

Really?  I get saying they are pure, safe and effective, but you cross the line when you claim no one else on earth could have created a  better oil than you.  Especially considering this is from a company that is only 4 years old.  There is no way in four years you can be certain that there is no other oil on earth that is as good as yours.  This would take millions of dollars worth of testing every other product on the market today, which I know they have not done.  And you have not even been in business long enough to know that there is no other product more pure than yours.

“Synthetic oils cause side effects, natural ones don’t.”

Well this is just not true at all.  There are many essential oils that cause very significant side effects, some good some bad.  In fact some essential oils are quite deadly even in small amounts.  I’d call that quite a significant “side effect” wouldn’t you?  Don’t make up false statements just to make people feel good about using your products.  In one of their educational videos Dr. Hill himself says while discussing putting essential oils on infants says, “Remember these oils are very powerful so it doesn’t take much.  Now don’t get me wrong, that does NOT mean they are dangerous!”  WHAT??  MANY essential oils are extremely dangerous to infants and small children.  This is an irresponsible statement to make, and causes parents to believe they couldn’t harm their baby with essential oils even if they tried, because they are natural, and NOT dangerous.

“Every plant we use is harvested at the “perfect moment” to ensure the highest medicinal properties.”

While this may be me being too picky, statements like this bother me.  There is no way that thousands of acres of land over the entire globe are all being harvested at ANY “exact moment”.  I think oils should speak for themselves rather than needed hyped up terminology to help them along.  And it just makes me suspicious about what other truth they are “padding” to make their products look superior.  Also, they claim an awful lot of knowledge into their suppliers and how every single plant is harvested and processed, and distilled that I find very had to swallow.  The fact is, when one portion of the field of herbs is at the prefect harvest point, another section of the SAME field is a little over or underdeveloped, because it got more sun, or less water, etc.  That’s just how farming works, so EVERY plant cannot be harvested at the EXACT PERFECT moment.  Again, this is picky, but it makes a huge difference to me.  I don’t want fluffy language that isn’t true just to make me feel good about a product.  I want honesty.  And even if it was possible that every field could be harvested at the “perfect” moment, how can a company that is only 4 years old have developed all the connections for all of the millions of acres it takes to grow all these plants all over the globe, and have people all over the globe closely monitoring every part of the growing process, and harvesting, and distilling process, and also have developed the worlds best system of testing for all these oils, and developing their own blends all from the ground up.  Maybe that is just the cynic in me, but I find it quite impossible to believe.  I could get behind them offering maybe a half a dozen oils that and that was their whole inventory, and they claimed to spend all their time on these few oils to make sure they were the BEST and attention to every detail was paid…. but this, with this many different plants all over the world,  I find a little hard to swallow.

“A pure essential oil should smell “crystal clean.”

Again, this is not true.  Most of the “crystal clean” smelling oils are synthetic.  True pure oils should have complex notes and many of them often smell kind of “dirty.”

“Only use CPTG” essential oils internally or externally.”

CPTG, which is a trademarked term invented by DoTerra (which means certified pure therapeutic grade), that they use to describe the standard they have invented for their oils.  While this is a wonderful way for them to describe their process, and quality, it implies there is some sort of outside governing body that inspects and certifies oils based on some widely accepted standard, which there is not.   Stating that you should not us an oil without the “CPTG” label on it eliminates all oils since the term is trademarked and no other company could use this title even if their standards were exactly the same as DoTerra.  To me a company should just admit they want you to use their ONLY oils instead of trying to seem unbiased and just recommend you use a certain “grade” of oil, when that grade was invented and trademarked by them.   In many of their their video’s they show a pie graph with the different types of essential oils on the market, and show CPTG as a tiny percentage supposedly because of the superior purity and quality.  What they don’t tell you is only a tiny percentage of the market is CPTG because it is a term they invented and no one else is allowed to use it.  This is deceptive advertising in my opinion.  Also, as I mentioned above, the DoTerra oil and the oil from Heritage Farm both came from the same supplier.  As I have written about in previous articles, all essential oils come from only a handful of suppliers, regardless of what many of the companies would like you to believe.  Claiming that your oils are far superior to every other oil when they actually come from the exact same place as other companies oils is also a bit deceptive in my opinion.  Of course it is a great marketing strategy, and one that works extremely well.  Many, many people buy their oils because they are scared into thinking that all the other oils on the market are polluted, and DoTerra offers the only truly guaranteed pure oils.  But this just isn’t the case.  Research, scientists, and lab testing disprove this readily, however, many people just simply don’t have access to this information and find themselves sucked into believing the hype.

The last two things I want to mention are how many oils they recommend using “neat” or without diluting them in a carrier oil, and the large amounts of internal use of oils for non acute ailments, but simply for “health” or weight loss.  The success they are having with these recommendations and the lack of complaints I am finding or hearing about from skin irritations, or stomach and throat irritation, makes me wonder if their oils are “weaker” than other oils on the market.  I often apply peppermint oil to my scalp mixed with shampoo for migraines, and this typically causes a significant cooling effect.  But when applying DoTerra’s peppermint, the cooling effect was very minimal, almost imperceptible, as if I had diluted it significantly before adding it to the shampoo.  I thought it was just a fluke, but next time I rubbed it on my shoulders, again, I noticed a lack of strength.  Again, I know this is subjective, but I use peppermint for my migraines regularly, and I have never experienced a peppermint this weak.  It gave me no relief whatsoever for my migraines any of the times I used it.  I know others may site that it helped their headaches, but I have a gene that causes me to be very drug resistant, and I have to fight very hard to keep my pain controlled as many pain meds don’t help.  So I have used many many different medications, and essential oils for my migraine pain, and DoTerra’s peppermint has been the weakest oil I have ever used to date, including extremely “cheap” oils that cost over 4 times less than their peppermint which is supposed to be so much higher quality.  Also, aside from whether their oils are weaker, recommending neat usage has no benefit except to the company because it makes you buy more.  Neat usage can lead to many problems such as skin irritation, sensitivities, and in some cases quite severe reactions, as well as not being nearly as well absorbed as when you use a carrier oil.  Scientific studies have shown that in in most cases essential oils actually affect the human body the MOST positively when they are diluted to between 1% and 2%.  That means 1-2 drops of essential oil to 98-99 drops of a carrier oil such as olive oil or coconut oil.  Dilution is not simply to prevent irritation, it’s actually how your body best processes the oil.  There is simply no reason for applying an oil straight except for maybe a bee sting with lavender.  In some situations, such as for pain, a stronger dilution is recommended, but still not neat (or undiluted) applications.  Also, diffusing oils for hours on end is not recommended.  After 20 min the body’s ability to take in the oils via the lungs is reduced by over 1/2.  This is your body’s way of telling you that is long enough, and also, diffusing longer than a 1/2 hour at a time simply just wastes your oils and causes you to have to spend money faster, which is something most of us would like to avoid doing!

I could keep writing both pro’s and con’s but I think I will leave it at that.

So my conclusion?  I think they are a good new company that most likely has some good oils, (at least from most of what I have found, and personally talking to a chemist that has tested a number of their oils) although some of them seem “weaker” (I hate to use that term, but I don’t know how else to put it.) than other companies I have used over the years, and that one batch of oil did test as having a synthetic compound in it.   I think they offer some good educational materials, although the promotional hype, or truth bending claims about their oils needs to be taken out, as well as their suggestions for over use, and applying oils neat.  Their Independent Product Consultants need to insist on better educational material, and less hype and made up certifications, and demand the company adopt completely honest and responsible practices.  I think if they did this, there would be NO STOPPING them, because they have a great thing going, and if they simply changed their advertising, and followed safety experts usage recommendations, aromatherapists and many other respected and experienced people in the essential oil world would get behind them and be their biggest cheerleaders!   The last conclusion is, because of their business structure they are not able to offer the consumer the best quality for their dollar, and this causes their prices to be higher than many other companies, but they could also be a option for those looking to make a business opportunity out of this company!

And that’s this Friday’s review!

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5 thoughts on “Company Review: DoTerra”

  1. Thank you for this review on both this one and the young living review. I like that you included the pros and cons for both.
    I’m just starting to get into oils and there is so much info out there, it’s hard to get it all sorted out.
    Have you looked at Doterra’s book
    “Modern Essentials, A Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils Hardcover” at all? You mentioned that you thought they were giving out solid info. regarding oils. I am planning on purchasing oils from a few different companies and was going to try some from Doterra and wanted to get their book as well.
    Are there any other suggestions for books for beginners, as well as any for using essential oils on children?
    Thank you for your help.

    1. I am familiar with DoTerra’s “Modern Essentials” book, I own it myself, as I do many other books for reviewing purposes. It is very well laid out, and easy to use, and follow which is great. The red flags are the over recommendation for undiluted use, and internal use. There is a time and a place for both internal, and undiluted use of oils, but the occasions that call for this are quite few and far between. If you are just starting out with oils, I would suggest learning from another source, until you get a better idea for yourself of proper dilution, etc. However, if you’ve been using essential oils for a while and have a good foundation, you might find the Modern Essentials book a good quick reference. My all time favorite book for over 15 years, and the book I recommend by FAR the most often is “Aromatherapy” by Roberta Wilson. It is a fabulous book! The first half goes through oil by oil explaining their properties, uses etc, and the second half is an alphabetical index of ailments, and what oils may be helpful, how to use them, blend suggestions and recipes etc. I highly recommend this book, I think you will find it most helpful! I keep looking, and thinking I will find another book I like better, but all in all this continues to be my favorite quick reference guide both for those just beginning, and those more experienced. As far as a book on safety… in my opinion this is a HUGE lack in the aromatherapy world. Robbert Tisserand’s book Essential Oil Safety is by far the best, but it is about $90 and also is written in such a way (more like a chemistry text book) that is is very hard to follow, especially for those just starting out without an extensive knowledge of essential oil chemistry. That is not to say it isn’t a great reference, but it’s not exactly a quick easy guide that you can turn to for safety. However, Robbert Tisserand’s work online could be an extremely valuable recourse for you. He is the foremost expert on essential oil safety and the chemistry of oils. He offers a lot of helpful information online. If you want to get the real scoop on which oils are safe for what, he is the one to go to for sure! He doesn’t sell oils, or other products, so he is quite unbiased, and in simply addressing safety based on the chemistry of the oils and years and years of research and testing. So, for example if you wanted to know what oils are safe during pregnancy, or which ones you should avoid, a quick google search for “essential oils to avoid during pregnancy Robbert Tisserand” will bring up multiple articles written by him. Tagging his name on the end of google searching is a little funny, but works like a charm to make sure you are getting the real scoop, and not simply a company trying to market their products and tell you they are all safe so they can sell you more. Also you mentioned children, Dilution is the most important factor with children, even for oils considered “safe”. 0.5% dilution is considered best for infants, 1% for children from 1-5 and 2% for adults for most applications. So for a 1% dilution you would put 1 drop of essential oil to 99 drops of a carrier oil of your choice, such as olive oil or coconut oil. Essential oils are very powerful, for example, one drop of peppermint oil is equal to about 20-70 cups of peppermint tea! It’s hard to imagine how one tiny little drop of essential oil could possibly be dangerous, but when you put in into perspective, it’s easy to see how 70 cups of herbal tea all in one sitting could be problematic! So, when applying oils to the skin, not only can undiluted oils cause irritation or sensitivity, but also, your body is not able to properly absorb the oil in such as concentrated form. Dilution with a fixed oil, (any oil that feels oily) such as olive oil, coconut oil, etc., greatly helps your body process the essential oil properly, as well as preventing a host of problems as well. In aromatherapy we call any oil used to dilute an essential oil a “carrier oil.” This just means it is an oil that’s sole purpose is to “carry” an essential oil and help your body process it. Dilution also helps the one tiny drop of essential oil be spread over a larger area of your body, which provides better absorption as well. There are certain situations where applying an oil undiluted, or “neat” is advantageous, such as with a bee sting, you may want to apply undiluted lavender directly to the sting, but for most situations dilution is not only safer, but far more effective. Scientific studies have shown that the human body reacts the BEST to essential oils at a 1% dilution. This means 1 drop of essential oil to 98 drops of a carrier oil. Sadly, many companies trying to sell essential oils push a lot of undiluted, or internal use, which can cause a host of problems, and also costs you a lot more money in the long run because you will be using a lot more oil! A general dilution guide that I recommend is 0.5% dilution for infants, 1% for children between 1 and 5, 2% for older children and adults. In some situations a 5% is better, and for certain conditions like for pain rubs etc., a 25% dilution can be very effective. I hope that is helpful.
      As far as specific oils for children, answers will vary I am currently reviewing several books looking for one I can recommend on use during pregnancy and for small children, that gives clear answers, and proper use techniques. But as of this moment I don’t have a certain book to recommend. Natures Gifts is a website that sells oils and has excellent information on their page about correct usage, also, I have a group on Facebook where people can ask questions about specific things, and there are multiple qualified aromatherapists, who can pipe in to help answer your questions and also point you to fantastic material. I invite you to join, and in the meantime I will post asking for book recommendations for both safety and children. I hope this helps you, and I haven’t gotten too wordy! Many blessings to you! Here is the link for the facebook group if you would like to join:

  2. Forgot to also ask, is there any book good for safety for essential oils as well. It seems there so many ones that a person shouldn’t use for children under a certain age

  3. I have heard from many people that: Essential Oil Safety : A Guide for Health Care Professionals by: Robert Tisserand is one of the best on the market.

  4. Wow thank you so much for all the good information, I really appreciate it, as you have mentioned there is so much info. out there that it can be confusing, and I find the articles you’ve written about essential oils really helpful!!! I’m signed up for your class so looking forward to that as well
    I will plan on ordering the book you recommend. :)
    And look forward to hearing your recommendations for a baby/child book.
    Any comments on Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child: More Than 300 Natural, Nontoxic, and Fragrant Essential Oil Blends by Valerie Ann Worwood, I noticed this one on amazon books.

    Also do you have any recommendations on a book for making own shampoos, facial care, and cleaning products for the home?
    Thank you

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