At this point, you know that in order to reap the full benefits of truly natural oils, you should shop for the most natural botanical matter available. A general starting point when purchasing essential oils is to look for pure, undiluted, 100 percent oils.

The following tips should help you have a pleasant shopping experience:

• Keep in mind that because the term “essential oils” is overused in aromatherapy, poor quality oils extracted from poor quality plants and flowers, or oils that are stored poorly and for too long, can still be labeled as essential oils. It is always a good idea to avoid oils stored in clear glass bottles that allow in light, because light is a known enemy to essential oils.
• Essential oil retailers are very common and some are driven only by the need to turn a quick profit — regardless of the effect these oils can have on you and your health. You should be wary of retailers that advertise that they sell to the food and beverage or perfume industries, which require consistent aromas. Consistent aromas can only be created in a laboratory, rendering them non-essential and less therapeutic.
• Do not be overly impressed with words such as perfume oil, fragrance oil, or nature-identical oil because these are most often synthetic oils that are created in a lab and blended with varied but small essential oil amounts. One such retailer, Aloha Bay of Lower Lake, California, has stopped using the label “nature identical” because the company found it to be misleading. The company now prefers to label these oils “nature-identical synthetic scents blended with essential oils” because that is, after all, what they are.

• Seek out vendors who list their products’ botanical names. These are those hard to pronounce names, like eugenia caryophyllata for clove oil, that tell you the vendor is knowledgeable about aromatherapy. Vendors who list essential oils’ origins and method of extraction should also give you a level of comfort that you are purchasing the real deal.
• Avoid vendors who sell each oil for the same price, because it might indicate lax quality and purity. Lavender oil should not cost the same as jasmine or rose oil, which are more difficult to produce and therefore, costlier. Many people tend to be on tight budgets and appreciate “sales,” but is it worth saving a few dollars for the valuable health benefits essential oils offer?
• Know there is indication that organic oils are superior to non-organic oils. Organic oils come from plants and flowers grown without pesticides or any other chemicals known to cause adverse health problems.
• Find vendors who test their oils and provide free samples when requested by potential buyers. Some vendors may need to charge a fee for samples, but this shows that they may need to recoup the cost that has already gone into stocking the essential oil.
• Network among potential buyers and with experienced aromatherapy lovers to help find the best retailers. There are aromatherapy mailing lists that can help any budding aromatherapist consumer learn from more experienced aromatherapy consumers. With these tips in mind, you are well on your way to purchasing pure oils that are as aromatic as they are therapeutic. Before using them, however, you should know how to properly handle them to make sure that you reap the good qualities of essential oils while respecting their potency.

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