It’s 2017 and essential oils are all the rage. Many folks are learning about them through word-of-mouth. A person who uses essential oils raves about them and tells a friend, who tells another friend, and so forth. This article is aimed at increasing public awareness of questionable business practices and advocating safety.
Multilevel Marketing Companies Who Sell Essential Oils Are Driven By Profit
As you may know, any corporation that is profit-driven makes profitability its top priority. Everything else is secondary. It’s just business, regardless of the product or service being sold.
There are two key players in the MLM essential oil business sector. They tend to charge higher prices for their products as compared to non-MLM companies. You might think, or perhaps you’ve literally been told that the higher prices are charged because their products are of superior quality. That’s not the real reason. These companies charge higher prices because of the multiple layers of sales commissions that are inherent in an MLM business structure. (1)
Because these companies put profit ahead of safety, it is against their business interests to disclose any information that would reduce their profit margins, even at the expense of consumer protection.
Many MLM essential oil sales reps, a/k/a distributors, often advocate the practice of applying essential oils directly to the skin, undiluted, also called NEAT. By applying essential oils NEAT, a consumer will naturally use more of the product and need to make more frequent purchases, thereby bolstering the company’s bottom line. What the company and its distributors won’t tell you is that applying certain essential oils topically without diluting them can lead to skin irritation, sensitization reactions and phototoxicity. (2), (3)
Another issue is the practice of putting essential oils in water and drinking them. As you know, and as stated in my blog article Do You Spit or Swallow?, since oils do not dissolve in water, they are undiluted, and hence, being consumed at full strength. This is the oral equivalent of applying essential oils NEAT. (4)
MLM Sales Reps Receive Little Training in Essential Oil Safety
Essential oil distributors are hired to promote and sell the company’s products, yet receive little more training than a standard welcome packet, and no medical or aromatherapy training is required in order to sell essential oils on behalf of the company. (5)
As one can imagine, lack of medical education or training in aromatherapy along with practices that result in rapid consumption of essential oils can lead to health consequences. (6), (7) Excessive usage results in spending more money than is necessary.
Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils Are a Misnomer
To be a savvy essential oil consumer, research the supplier you are doing business with. There is no independent certification body for essential oils. Terms like “therapeutic grade” are coined by the companies themselves. These companies are attempting to vouch for the quality of their own products. At this time, there is no formally approved grading standard used consistently throughout the essential oil industry. (8)
Because essential oils are so concentrated, they should be handled with care. To be a savvy essential oil consumer, make sure you know about the company you’re doing business with, do your own research, and always follow aromatherapy safety guidelines such as diluting essential oils in a carrier oil. Be vigilant for signs of skin irritation and sensitization, and know the difference between the two. Have you ever experienced an adverse reaction from handling an essential oil? Do you wish you could find safety information more easily? Have you ever worked with an essential oil sales representative who made claims that sounded too good to be true? I’m interested in your stories and experiences. Please feel free to share them in the form below.
Thank you for your time,
(1), (5) Multi-Level Marketing Companies – Proceed with Caution
(2), (7) Aromatherapy for Bodyworkers. Jade Shutes, Christina Weaver. 2008. pp. 48-53.
(3), (6) Risks and Uses of Essential Oils
(4) Essential Oils for a Strong Immune System
(8) Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils is a Potentially Misleading Claim