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How to Spot Synthetic Essential Oils

Posted by Jessica Rosado on

How to Spot Synthetic Essential Oils

Shopping for essential oils? Wait! Did you know there are impure and synthetic oils being disguised as natural oils? We want to make sure you don't get deceived. Having knowledge of what makes oils synthetic is important to avoid inhaling toxic chemicals and to get the desired benefits from them. 

Essential oils have tremendous health benefits, including reducing stress, boosting mental clarity, improving your mood, and purifying the air. But impure oils don't have the ability to give you the results you might be expecting. We've outlined some things to look out for when shopping for essential oils.


How to Spot Synthetic Essential Oils

If your oil is completely pure and natural, you should be able to check off everything we mention below. Let's look at what your essential oil must have in order for it to be considered authentic:

Proper Source on Label

Brands who sell pure essential oils should mention the actual source of each oil. Check if the labels or packaging mention the country of origin.

If you're purchasing an oil online, you can usually find the source on their product pages. Sometimes labels can be too small to include them, especially for 5mL bottles, so if you don't see it on there, be sure to check the packaging or look on the suppliers website for it.

Passes the Paper Test

You can test if your essential oil is pure and doesn't have filler oils in it. Start with a white piece of paper and place a drop of oil on it. Let it dry. If it’s pure, it will not leave a dark ring.

Note: There are some oils that make a dark ring because of their composition. These oils include German Chamomile, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Patchouli.

100% Pure on Label

Authentic oils usually have 100% pure labels. Avoid buying oils that do not indicate themselves as pure oil. For instance, if a product has a label stating, "lavender essential oil," without "pure" mentioned, it likely has other filler oils included. 

Botanical Names Included

High-quality and pure oils include both their name and their botanical name to classify the exact species of the plant or herb it derived from. 


Signs That Prove It's Synthetic

When shopping for essential oils, here are some additional things you should keep an eye out for: 

The Word “Fragrance”

We see this word almost everywhere—in laundry detergent, hand soap, body wash, you name it. In the context of natural oils, the word "fragrance" is an indication of synthetic oil. Also, be aware that some plants do not produce natural oils, such as violets. So, if you think you have oil from the plant Viola Odorata—it’s synthetic since its blossoms are too small to extract oil. Fragrance oils are artificial and synthetically created by chemists and do not contain the same benefits as essential oils.

Dark Amber Bottles

If the oil doesn’t come in a dark amber glass bottle, then the company might be deceiving its consumers. Dark amber bottles protect the oils from ultraviolet rays that can degrade oils if they get exposed for a long time. Also, oils stored in plastic bottles are not pure. When pure oil comes in contact with plastic, its molecules begin to break down, making it impure.

Cheap Prices

Does the price appear too good to be true? If so, it's likely synthetic. Pure oils are generally derived from one or more plant parts and don’t have other elements in them. So to make a single bottle of oil, you'll likely need more than one plant which automatically increases cost. Also, essential oil prices depend on process and production practices of the supplier. Ethical suppliers generally follow careful distillation and storage processes to ensure quality, so their prices may be a little higher to account for these extra measures.

However, this doesn't mean extremely expensive oils should be your only choice. Some oils are way more costly because they are from a multi-level marketing company (MLM), so be mindful of the brand you select.


Bottom Line

Don’t worry! Not all oils in the market are synthetic, and spotting the right ones can be pretty easy if you keep these points in mind. Just make sure to avoid only looking at price tags, avoid the word "fragrance", steer clear from clear/plastic bottles and research the company you are buying from.