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Healthy shopping: How to select quality essential oils

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Looking for high-quality essential oils? Joanna Evans offers seven tips to help you choose

Essential oils can be a powerful tool for relieving stress, balancing hormones, and even improving depression and dementia. Here’s a quick guide to choosing a high-quality essential oil along with a selection of top brands to try.

Tips for choosing an essential oil

Look for 100 percent purity. Unless you are specifically looking for a premixed, ready-to-use product, such as a roll-on, you want the only ingredient in the product to be the essential oil, with nothing else added. Check whether the Latin name of the plant is provided so you know you’re getting the right essential oil. Avoid “fragrance oils,” which are manufactured in a lab.

Go for organic products. A label of organic, preferably certified organic, means the plants used to make the oils were grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers. The USDA and Soil Association organic labels are two certifications to look for.

Look for rigorous testing. Thorough testing procedures ensure the oils are pure and free of contaminants. This information is usually easy to find on the company’s website. Ideally, go for brands that use independent, third-party testing to analyze every batch. A number of brands make the results of these tests, such as gas chromatography / mass spectrometry (GC/MS) testing, the gold standard method for determining essential oil purity, publicly available on their websites.

Check the sourcing practices. Are the oils ethically and sustainably sourced?

Pay attention to packaging. Look for oils stored in dark glass bottles to prevent plastic from leaching into the oil and to minimize damage from sunlight.

Look for transparency. Opt for companies that are transparent about their ingredients, sourcing practices, testing procedures, etc. and provide detailed information about the product, such as the country of origin, extraction method, safety information and usage instructions.

Beware of oils with unusually low prices. This can be a red flag for poor quality.

Essential oil brands to try

Here’s a handful of high-quality essential oil brands available in both the US and UK.

Rocky Mountain Oils

US company RMO offers a wide range of single pure essential oils, including 10 that are certified organic by the USDA. The rest come from farms that maintain organic practices and standards. Carefully crafted essential oil blends are also available, from At Peace for relieving stress and insomnia to Pain Ease for tackling sore muscles and body aches.

All the oils are ethically sourced and third-party tested for purity and quality. Plus you can view the GC/MS test results for each oil or blend on the website.

Plant Therapy

This Idaho-based company has an extensive range of single essential oils and essential oil blends as well as an impressive organic range certified by the USDA. Usefully, there are kid-safe, pregnancy-safe, pet-safe and nursing-safe search filters on the website along with instructions for use.

Every batch of essential oils is carefully evaluated through independent third-party GC/MS testing to verify purity and the botanical species, and you can view the reports on the website alongside the product details for each individual oil.

NHR Organic Oils

Trading for over 30 years, UK-based NHR Organic Oils claims to have the largest range of Soil Association–certified organic oils you can buy in the world. All the oils are certified organic, food grade and bottled by hand from the latest distillations and harvests.

The company is dedicated to using the freshest, most potent organic oils available and provides full GC and safety data for every organic oil on the website so you can check the quality for yourself.

Uniquely, the essential oils (1–10 mL sizes) come in clear glass bottles, allowing you to see their true color, with an outer tin to protect them from sunlight.


Global brand Oshadhi offers over 500 different essential oils, 75 percent of which are either wild-crafted or certified organic. Whether you’re looking for a popular oil like lavender or tea tree, or something more unusual like sea fennel or curry leaf, you’ll find it here.

Wherever possible, the company sources the oils directly from the grower (or farmers’ cooperative), ensuring the farmer receives a fair price. Comprehensive analysis and quality control are in place for all products, and GC and safety data reports are available to download for each oil on the website.


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