I haven't been looking forward to writing this particular blog post.
The truth is that the older I get, the more I hate confrontation. The world is so crazy and divided right now that the last thing I want to do is create more drama. And considering there are so many supporters (dare I say fanatics?) of Multilevel Marketing Companies selling "therapeutic grade" essential oils these days, I didn't want to go rocking the boat.
Yet here I am.
Because the other truth is that I believe in marketing that is honest and transparent, and it makes me somewhat grumpy when glossy marketing ads attempt (and succeed) at confusing, misleading, or downright lying to unknowing consumers. It feels unethical to me, making me want to become a whistleblower in my industry.
Maybe I am even guilty of what I'm about to bitch about, to a certain degree. As a cosmetics formulator, I understand the desire: when you create a product that you feel proud of, you want to shout from the rooftops that it is the best. I put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into my work, and I take great pride in the million decisions I have to make to create a truly stellar product. The process is not for the faint of heart, and it can take months, if not years, to find exactly the right ingredient for a formulation, so I totally get it! After the grueling labour involved, we want to find unique ways to describe and ultimately sell our products. We want the damn thing to be successful and stand out from the crowd!
It's just that, in my opinion, there's a difference between sharing the facts about what makes a product so awesome and claiming that a product is something it is not.
Which brings me to the topic of this blog post. What are "therapeutic grade" essential oils? To answer this question, we first have to understand what the term means.
(This is where I hold my breath and dive right in here to say)...
The term means nothing.
This might not be what you want to hear, but sadly, it's just meaningless (albeit brilliant) marketing hype.
Any company - even the ones with the worst quality essential oils - can claim that their oils are therapeutic grade. And the reason is this: no organization in the North America oversees the quality of essential oils, and there is no legal definition for the term. It's entirely up for grabs (similar to the word "natural," amongst others). We spoke about this in greater detail in our previous blog post here.
What about "certified pure therapeutic grade"?
(Does this term not sound even more legit?)
Look at those ingenious marketers go!!
Now I can hear you saying, "But Sarah, this doesn't mean that my favourite MLM company is lying to me and that they don't still have the best quality essential oils in the whole wide world. My oils are the best, and all other oil companies who claim their oils are therapeutic grade are copycat phonies misusing the term. My essential oil company is not lying about their quality, and therefore, your point is moot."
That may be true. Maybe your MLM company does have the best quality oils in the whole wide world; I can't say for sure at this point. But I am saying that we must dig beyond these meaningless claims. Don't be fooled! All I know is that if a company goes to great lengths to "jazz hands" the public - I gotta be honest - it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Did you know that these companies even go so far as to trademark these terms? Another red flag.
That said, let me be clear: I am not saying anything about the quality of essential oils quite yet in this blog post. I am merely talking about meaningless claims. To address quality, we will need to deep dive on this subject in another post.
The good news is that today, some quantifiable tests do exist that can lend us a lot of useful information about a particular essential oil. One such test is called a GC/MS report, and although it is highly beneficial and considered the "gold standard" of tests, it is still not 100% conclusive.
By the way, virtually all of the essential oils we carry through The Green Goddess now come with a GC/MS report, which is fantastic. It is a definite step in the right direction for peace of mind and showing that our oils rival the best; however, there are other indicators we want to look for, too! And we can dive into that very subject in another blog post soon, so stay tuned!