My Mixed Thoughts on Essential Oils

Essentials oils are can be a heated topic on the internet, which is ironic because of the calming properties that can supposedly arise from them. I’ve got very mixed feelings about essential oils, and I’m curious if anyone else out there agrees. Please comment if you do! And hopefully, these can help you decide if you want to give essential oils a try or if your money is better spent elsewhere. And because you are probably wondering….no, I do not sell them.

Opinion #1: Oils are a great natural fragrance

This is the first reason I picked up essential oils. I wanted to add fragrance to our laundry but also wanted it to be natural. So I picked up a bottle of eucalyptus essential oil and use that on wool dryer balls. This is a great low waste option, and it really does make our laundry smell great! I also have been using a diffuser for about a month and have been impressed by the scent payoff as well. Essential oils now beat out candles as far as home fragrance. 

how I started to use essential oils...on dryer balls!
How I started to use essential oils....on dryer balls!

Opinion #2: MLM (Direct Sales) Oils Are Not Worth The Price

Ouch, I’m sure this is a touchy subject for many, but I’ve actually got reasoning behind this. First of all is the marketing technique of “therapeutic grade essential oils” that I’ve seen used by both Young Living and Doterra Essential Oils. Can any of the direct sales consultants please define exactly what that means? 

Here’s a similar scenario. My degree is in Materials Science & Engineering, which means studying metals, ceramics, polymers in detail.  In one of my classes, the professor showed us a commercial put out by Ford showcasing their new F150. In the commercial they bragged about “military grade steel” being used in the body of the truck. Our professor asked us, “what classifies a steel type as military grade?” And we all stared back blankly. After an awkward pause, he continued on, “nothing.” “There are no requirements for ‘military grade steel,’ because even the most basic rebar is used by the military. This is ALL marketing, and people eat it up.”

The same I believe is true for essential oils. What exactly constitutes “therapeutic grade?” Another thing I’d like to point out is the “extensive testing and auditing” performed on these oils. I’ve also heard this phrasing mentioned by consultants. I used to be an auditor in my former job. Unless the questions etc on the audit are known standards, these companies can really just make up their own checkpoints. “Self certifying” doesn’t really amount to anything. Again, these are my opinions. 

And in my opinion, MLM oils are priced higher specifically to make their profit margin based upon their sales funnel. The only certification that I trust is the USDA organic certification on essential oils. 

Lastly, I noticed that some less expensive essential oils I use come out of the same city that Young Living has labs based out of. Coincidence? I doubt it. In fact, my opinion is that the quality is quite similar, and that it’s a situation similar to KYLIE Cosmetics and Colourpop Cosmetics, but with a very different product segment and target market.  

Opinion #3: Essential Oils Do Change Your Mood, But It Might Not Be From the Oils.

I believe that the aromatherapy benefits of essential oils are real. They certainly have been for me. While some have argued that it’s placebo, I would disagree. Aromatherapy is similar to color therapy. That is, research has been done to show neurological changes based on different colors (or scents). 

I can absolutely attest that the pillow spray made from an oil blend I use and love truly helps me relax at night. Of course, I would argue that I formed a strong habit with this. From, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, I formed a habit cycle. His description of habit cycle is three phases: cue, routine, reward.  The cue, bedtime/tiredness, the routine: prepping for bed then spraying my pillow spray, and the reward, a relaxing scent that lets my brain know it is time to go to sleep for the night. Duhigg specifically talks about how Febreeze forms a habit cycle, so an essential oil spray would act the same. 

Similarly, the same is true for my diffuser. It’s running in this room as I type this post. I diffuse uplifting, energizing, or “thinking” scents to help me focus on my writing. And I do. But again, is this the specific oil, or a habit? 

I believe it is both.

Opinion #4: Essential Oils Have Some Health Benefits, but Nowhere Near How Much is Claimed

In truth, my viewpoint on this has shifted slightly. I used to believe there was no benefit from essential oils in terms of health. However, I thought to myself of vapor rubs. Those contain menthol (peppermint) and undoubtedly clear up the respiratory system. I’ve also diffused peppermint oil and it also cleared up my sinuses drastically. This also aided my breathing when I had a sinus & respiratory infection. The effects were temporary, but similar to a vapor rub, and without getting goop all over my chest and clothes. 

Similarly, my mother-in-law had a burn on her hand, and a friend (an MLM essential oils seller) gave her a blend that included tea tree oil. My mother-in-law said she’d never had a burn look so much better in such a short time. 

I have also used diluted tea tree oil to help an infected piercing long ago, and that worked too. So who am I to deny these very real results within my own life? The specific verbiage I struggle with is “immunity support.” I fail to see any science behind how breathing in lemon will prevent me from getting sick. If anyone has resources, please share them. 

Overall: Essential Oils are nice, but beware of marketing.

I legitimately like using essential oils. I feel like they are safe to use around my kids, they naturally scent our home and are affordable (well, the ones I use are). My diffuser is very quiet, but not silent. Personally, it acts as a low white noise which I love. 

Essential Oil Products I Use

Make sure to only buy PURE essential oils. I accidentally bought a blend at the Target Dollar Spot where the first ingredient was mineral oil. Yuck. And it was clearly not a strong fragrance (because it was diluted). So if an oil seems like a really good price, be sure to check the ingredients!

Remember USDA organic is the only non-biased grading system.

These are affiliate links as defined in the Website Disclaimer. These have kept the Budgets & Kale site running for 2+ years and I sincerely appreciate every click!

I actually found this at a local health food shop, and love this roll on. This was the item that got me more interested in oils, because it didn’t require a fancy diffuser or anything. I simply rolled it on when I wanted the fragrance. For about $12, these roll-ons are a pretty great way to try out oils. There are several to choose from (one for each chakra, but no disrespect meant when I say that I just like the scent).  I personally wear it more like a perfume, but if I ever need to refocus, I’ll quickly breathe in the scent. I also own the expressive throat roll-on (I want the grounding root one!) 

I could not find my exact diffuser on the internet, but this one gives me the same relaxing vibe. Mine is a white ceramic with a light pattern. This is similar but the pattern is marbled. I love that this looks like a piece of decor rather than a little plastic diffuser. 

The name says it all. This scent seriously helps me unwind. When I was pregnant, I used this each evening to relax. They also make a spray that I’ve used and loved but I was having a hard time finding that online. I now refill with the oil blend. If you diffuse, you could use this. There is also a roll-on option too!

Eucalyptus is what I use for our laundry and into any homemade cleaners, because it smells like a spa. For laundry, I put a few drops onto my dryer balls then run the cycle as normal. I will also add several drops into my 3 ingredient household cleaner (recipe here) instead of or in addition to citrus. I love that this is an easy way to get natural fragrance. 

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