The Brand Debate: Labels & Pricing
“Yahoo! Onto the good stuff!” If the first post helped you narrow down the brands in your consideration a bit, this post will likely eliminate a big number of those left. In this post, we will cover information that should appear or be considered surrounding labeling and pricing, while staying unbiased in our discussion of specific brands.
These are musts. The bottle should give where the original plant was grown. Also, how comfortable are you with plants not grown in their natural environments? Why would where a plant is grown determine whether I purchase that essential oil? Plants grown in their natural habitats, with the varying degrees of heat, soil types and rain, will adapt their growth and composition to thrive in the environment. Lavender grown in Bulgaria will have a different compound balance than lavender grown in Canada. The last point is a bit obvious, but make sure you know what size bottle of essential oil you are purchasing, especially when price comparing.
Warnings on labels are important and the ones listed above should be visible on the bottle label. Oils should be kept away from children at all times. Starting our kiddos out with a healthy respect for essential oils can go a long way! I store mine in the fridge, away from the kids and at a perfect temperature to get the longest shelf life out of them.
If you’ve visited the Scentsable Health Facebook Group, you’ll know my stance on ingestion of essential oils is this, “Ingestion of essential oils is a strong application that should be done only under the supervision of an aromatherapist trained on ingestion as well as under the supervision of a medical professional.” I will save the details of this for another time, as it deserves a full post on its own.
Bottles (or the product page of the company’s website) of essential oils should also alerting you of any dilution made to the blend before purchase, as well as the dilution percentage. If undiluted, the description or product label should say so and advise you to dilute or how to use that product safely. This point is helpful not only for safe use of this product, but for price comparison! If you’re considering a brand that sells 5mL bottles of Rose Otto for $20 and comparing it to a company selling a 5mL bottle of Rose Otto for $200, that is a really great indication to look into the cheaper company and if dilution of that oil is involved prior to packaging. Another helpful reason is if the company has diluted, you will want to know what carrier was used if you have allergies to nuts, for instance.
Any warnings like “photo toxic” or “high skin irritant” should also appear on the website or product label, for obvious reasons.
Latin? I just want to use essential oils! Why do I need to know Latin? While this isn’t something you need to memorize, you should require your company(ies) of choice to print the Latin names of their oils on the bottle or website. An example of where this would be important is Tansy. Knowing if that was, in fact, Tanacetum annum(common name Blue Tansy) or the potentially toxicTanacetum vulgare is going to be pretty important! Another example would be Citrus sinesis. It goes by the common name Blood Orange, Sweet Orange, or Wild Orange depending on the company. However, aromas may still vary and knowing the Latin name to reference safety recommendations will be helpful.
Chemotypes. The geek in me loves this big-ish science word. But really, a chemotype is simply a different kind of the same plant. Rosemary,for example,has a specific range of compounds it needs to have in it to be Rosemary. However Rosemary ct. verbenone (Rosmarinus officinalis ct verbenone) has a NATURALLY higher presence of verbenone, a compound that is great for clearing thick mucus. Thesechemotypes should always be listed,as some may have safety warnings that the “originating” oil does not.
How was the essential oil extracted and from what part of the plant? This would be solvent, steam distillation, CO2, or pressed. For some oils, this is crucial in determining if they are phototoxic or not. The part of the plant used in the extraction of the essential oil is also very important for safety precautions. Cinnamon Leaf and Cinnamon Bark, for example, come from the same plant. Different parts of the cinnamon tree and safety considerations.
Onto the hottest topic in essential oil brand choice, pricing. There is obviously a range of prices on the market, so let’s look at some questions and consideration points that may help us determine fair pricing for a bottle of essential oils.
Does the company you’re looking to purchase from have a variety of prices or are all their 15mL bottles $7.00 even if it is Frankincense? Distributors, the ones worth purchasing from, should have a large range of prices all dependent on the oil for sale. Neroli is never going to be the same price as Tea Tree and if it is, run away!
Does the company you’re buying from have suspiciously low prices? The old saying, “If it seems too good to be true it probably is,” may fit here. I’m ALWAYS suspicious of low prices. What are they cutting to drive the price down more? Testing? Fair wage? A compromised shipping method? Don’t get me wrong, we all like to get the best bang for our buck. What are you willing to give up for that extra-low price? Does a company with questionably low prices have to say “direct from the distiller” to ease your mind?
On the flip side, does the company you’re looking at have to justify their high costs to you? Does higher cost mean better quality or more pure oils?
The last point for price that is important to me is budget. Is the brand you’re looking at going to take you decades to accumulate the oils you want or could you wisely budget your selections now? I’ve heard many people use a more questionable, cheaper brand for cleaning (cutting costs there) and saving the more on point brand oils for their family care. Purchasing oils in appropriate sizes for your use is important, too. You can get oils in “bulk,” but are you and your family really going to use 4oz of lemon in 8-12 months (if stored in the fridge) before it oxidizes?
The next and final post for this series will be on the company from whom you’re looking to purchase your essential oils. It’s pretty extensive, so stay tuned!