doTerra is a multi-level marketing (MLM) essential oil company that has been in business since 2008.
Our In-Depth Review
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doTerra is a multi-level marketing (MLM) essential oil company that has been in business since 2008. The company offers a large array of products (both oils and other items) and do a batch of tests to ensure purity on their essential oils. However, they market their oils by a standard of certification that they invented and that isn’t governed, claiming they are “therapeutic grade.” In addition, purchasing from this company is not easy.
Read on to learn more about this essential oil brand…
Good Lab Tests But Not Transparent About Product Origins
As mentioned, doTerra offers a large array of single essential oils, along with a selection of proprietary essential oil blends. The company also offers a variety of other products including oil blend “roll ons”, personal care products such as hand wash and toothpaste, cleaning products, supplements and more.
For the purpose of this review, we analyzed their Lavender Oil. In order to keep all of the reviews on our site fair, we chose this scent for each brand because lavender is an extremely popular essential oil.
Here is what we found for the doTerra Lavender Oil:
Name of Product: Lavender Oil
Latin name of product (exact genus and species): Lavandula angustifolia
Country of Origin: This is NOT readily disclosed on their website
Part of Plant Processed: Flower
Type of Extraction: Steam distillation
Lab tests performed to assure the oil’s quality: GC/MS, FTIR, isotopic analysis, heavy metal testing
Based on the information above, doTerra does a thorough job of testing their essential oils to ensure purity and potency, however, they are not transparent about all of the details that they should be, like where each essential oil originates from. Most essential oil companies (the most trustworthy ones) will make this information readily available on their website so you can see exactly where each oil came from.
The other information listed above, such as the Latin name of the oil, the part of the plant processed, and the type of extraction are all important because they describe the blueprint of that exact oil. doTerra does a good job of listing those features which show authenticity.
Pure Essential Oil – But Debunking “Therapeutic Grade”
We send each oil that we review out for thorough lab testing and examine the results. The test that was performed to decide product quality is called the Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis, which identifies compounds within each oil and allows for quantitative analysis.
We matched the results of the test done on doTerra’s lavender oil with the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO’s) product standards for essential oils. The ISO develops and publishes international standards to ensure that products and services hold up to their stated purpose and are able to perform as described.
The results of doTerra Lavender Oil using the GC-MS analysis was: PURE (matches with ISO 3515:2002). No adulterants, contaminants or diluents detected.
However, we would also like to address the fact that this company uses a “made up” standard of quality called CPTG testing to make the claim that their oils are somehow “therapeutic grade”; the standards by which they decide this are completely made up by them.
Although we did find doTerra Lavender Oil to be pure and unadulterated based on the GC-MS test, we also just need to note that doTerra claims their oils are “CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade®” – but this is not a real certification, or a real process recognized by any governing party.
Despite the fact that we were pleased that doTerra oils were found to be pure, we don’t like the fact that this company is grading themselves by a standard that they invented. The truth is that there is no governing body that determines the standard for essential oils – that’s what the individual tests are for – so the bottom line is that based on our own analysis, doTerra oils are not somehow “special” or better in terms of quality or purity.
Not Easy to Purchase / Potential Downsides of an MLM
As mentioned earlier, doTerra is a multi-level marketing company (MLM). What does that mean?
For doTerra, it means that to make a purchase you either have to become a member and go through a lengthy online process, having to first create an account, and then pay a yearly membership fee in order to join; or, you need to find what they call a “wellness advocate” or seller near you in order to purchase from them.
So why don’t we favor essential oil MLM companies?
With an MLM, things are not as convenient or readily available. You have to go through a seller, or become a wholesale member yourself, paying certain dues. Also, as a consumer buying from a seller, you may not be able to get any oil that you want, but may only be able to get the certain inventory that the seller has for that month or time period.
Finally, we question the main motive behind the MLM sales model, which may be to find sellers and create sales first, and produce awesome products second. Although we cannot say with certainty that this is the case behind every MLM, we do know that when we tested out the buying process for doTerra, it was not quick or easy, two aspects we find important when purchasing a product from any company.
Slightly High Price and Complex Return Policy
doTerra oils are not the most expensive on the market, but they also don’t offer the best value either. Look at the chart below to see how doTerra oils compare to two other essential oil brands.
*In the chart below, the first amount listed is the Autoship price for when you put your oil on a monthly subscription service. The second amount is the price for a one time purchase of that oil.
In addition, doTerra does provide a return policy but it’s rather complex. If you want to return something within 30 days of purchase, it has to be unused and undamaged (Currently Marketable) in order to receive a 100% refund (less shipping costs). If the product is used, you can get a 100% Product Credit or a 90% Refund (less shipping costs). After that time period, you can still return Currently Marketable (unused products) but the amount you get back becomes lesser as time goes on.
In conclusion, despite the fact that doTerra essential oils were tested by our team and found to be pure, we think there are other essential oil companies that you could buy from that offer more value for your money along with less hassle. We also don’t prefer how doTerra uses the “CTPG therapeutic grade” certification that was made up by the company as a method of standard.
When combing through reviews, people did speak favorably about this company and the products, especially those that are “Wellness Advocates” selling the oils – but for the average person that wants to get their feet wet in essential oils, purchasing from this company is not the easiest or most convenient way to do that.
If you are interested in purchasing products from doTerra, we recommend that you first read the other essential oil brand reviews on this site and compare them. Also, check out our blog and Facebook community for more information on essential oils and how to get the most out of them in your daily life.
Reviews from Real People
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1Price per bottle retrieved from https://doterra.com/US/en/p/bergamot-oil. Accessed 7/1/17. Purity, Origin Disclosure, and Ease of Purchase ratings determined from independent research.