Essential oils for personal care: chasing the quality

Essential oils are widely used for aromatherapy and personal care. However, only products of proper quality will bring desirable effects. Unfortunately, quality of essential oils can be assessed only in the laboratory by laborious methods such as gas chromatography and mass-spectrometry. However, there are few simple recommendations that can help you to find a good product.

1. Take your time to check who the producer is
It is always good to check the reputation of the manufacturer before buying any products. How long have they been in this business? Do they provide detailed information about their products - origin of raw materials, method of extraction, recommendations for usage?

2. Essential oil of good quality cannot be cheap
First of all, essential oil components are present in plants at very low concentrations. For example, to extract 10 g of essential oil several kilograms of plant raw material are required. Secondly, extraction process is time-consuming. That explains why essential oils cannot be cheap. A 5 euro price tag for 10-ml bottle of pure ylang-ylang essential oil should make you suspicious. All to say, the high price is not always a guarantee of good quality, but the low price is definitely a guarantee of a poor one. A product might be made artificially cheap by diluting it with either vegetable oils or synthetic fragrances.

3. Be aware that different essential oils have different price
It is simply due to the fact that plant raw materials have different price (for example, lemon and rose). Moreover, some plants accumulate more essential oil components than others. Thus, extraction of 1g of jasmine essential oils requires much more raw material than extraction of 1g of lemon essential oil. So if a producer sells jasmine essential oil for the same price as lemon essential oil it is a good indicator to look for another manufacturer.

4. Essential oils should be sold in amber glass containers
If your essential oil is packed in a plastic bottle or in a transparent glass vial – do not hesitate to throw it away. First of all, some essential oils can react with plastics. Secondly, sunlight rather quickly decomposes essential oil components. Since glass is the most inert material, amber or dark glass vials are the only optimal choice for packing and storing essential oils. To additionally protect essential oils, producers might use a wide label covering almost the whole bottle.

5. Do not take essential oils from the shelf constantly exposed to sunlight
Even if essential oils are packed in amber glass containers, it is still better to keep them in a dark, cool place to guarantee the good quality up to expiration date.

6. Essential oils of cherry, strawberry and chocolate do not exist!
Remember that NOT ALL plants accumulate essential oils. Thus, essential oils of cherry, strawberry, coffee, etc. do not exist! But surprisingly enough, typing in Google ”cherry essential oil” gives some hits. In fact, ”Cherry essential oil” or ”cherry essence oil” is just a synthetically made fragrance oil. Fragrance oils do not have the same use as essential oils and their chemical composition is different. Thus, the honest manufacturer will indicate ”cherry fragrance oil” whereas dishonest one will try to confuse the customer and sell the wrong product.
IMPORTANT: Essential oil is a fully natural plant-derived product, whereas fragrance oil is mostly made of synthetic components

7. The label should indicate the name of the plant it was extracted from in Latin (e.g. Ylang Ylang Cananga odorata essential oil)
It is a necessary precision – for example, mint essential oil can be extracted from several species – e.g. Mentha arvensis, Mentha piperita. Mentha spicata. The extracted essential oil will have different composition, scent and properties.
IMPORTANT: At the moment there are no current regulatory standards describing essential oils of ”therapeutic grade”. Thus, this claim is freely defined by the producer and solely used to attract the consumer. In fact, essential oils of so-called “therapeutic grade” might not be any different from other brands.

 

What are your tips for choosing a good quality essential oil? Let's share them with each other!