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If you’ve landed here I’m sure you’ve got your head in a bit of a tizzy, hunting far and wide to buy some decent essential oils.

Fear not, for we’ll be unraveling the captivating saga of doTERRA vs Young Living.

Picture this as your very own aromatic adventure, where two titans of the essential oil realm clash – and I’m here to provide you with a front-row seat!

Before you ask, I’m not a brand partner or wellness advocate for either, so all of these opinions are completely non-biased. I’m not affiliated with either of these fragrance frenemies, I’m just your trusty guide, having personally dabbled in both doTERRA and Young Living, extracting pure aromatherapy gold from each vial.

doterra vs young living
The Burning Question: Which Aromatic Champion Reigns Supreme?

If you’re the impatient type (no judgment here), and you’re already contemplating skipping ahead to the final verdict, I get it. Time is precious, and ain’t nobody got time for lengthy debates about lavender-scented life potions.

So here’s the short answer, I’ve decided not to buy from either of these brands again.

This is down to personal choice, as I’m not keen on the whole “MLM” strategy that these brands have chosen to run their company by (I touch on this further in the article).

That being said, you can’t deny the quality and potency of the products these two brands produce and they are pretty neck and neck. If I had to choose, a gun-to-the-head kind of situation, it would have to be doTERRA.

This opinion is purely based on how much exposure I’ve had to doTERRA. The products have helped me overcome blemishes, styes, and (sorry in advance for too much information) 3 days of horse trekking chafing, we won’t go into detail about that though.

You can currently buy a doTERRA starter kit from their website or Amazon. Or if like myself, after reading this article you don’t fancy either I’d recommend trying Plant Therapy, I particularly love their lavender oil!

If you’re thinking I come up with my opinions willy-nilly, think again. Check out my testing process for all the oils I talk about.

Now we’ve got that out of the way. Let’s get this party started and take a look at what makes up these two brands.

Before doTERRA and Young Living staked their fragrant claims, essential oils had already made quite the entrance on the world stage. The first records of essential oils came from ancient India, Persia, and Egypt – these trailblazers were dabbling in the art of botanical beauty, aromatherapy, and even spiritual rituals long before modern society discovered their aromatic potential. Yes, folks, essential oils are older than your grandmother’s secret scone recipe

Who knew the research behind these two huge brands would lead me down a research rabbit hole of so much drama and scandal? I thought I was writing for TMZ for a minute and Britney would pop up claiming Young Living stole her man. So, apologies in advance if I go off on a few tangents along the way.

Brands History

Young Living

These are the granddaddies of the essential oil world. Founded in 1993 by Donald Gary Young, with its headquarters in Lehi, Utah.

It’s fair to say Young was super passionate about the alternative medicines available to the world. Gary’s journey reads like a Hollywood script, complete with near-fatal accidents, miraculous recoveries, and a wheelchair-to-wellness transformation that could rival any superhero origin story.

If you fancy seeing a movie about his life check out “Know your roots”. You’ll be wanting to get the surround sound and popcorn ready because there was definitely no scrimping on the budget in this feature film.

The founder of Young Living, D. Gary Young and his wife Mary.

With offices spanning 12 countries, 3,000 dedicated employees, and a whopping 4 million distributors worldwide, they’re practically the essential oil Avengers. Can you imagine the scale of that operation, jeez?

It’s positive to see that they also choose to give back with the Young Living Foundation “Doing our part for a healthier, more empowered world doesn’t stop with our products.” From helping to build new schools and homes in third-world countries to providing disaster relief and aid to victims of hurricanes. 

DoTERRA 

It’s crazy to think doTERRA was founded 15 years after Young Living and has crept up to become their biggest rival. It was founded in 2008, by a group of 7 healthcare and business professionals, with its headquarters located in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Yep, that’s right, the same state as Young Living. Too close for comfort you might say?

Now I told you investigating these brands led me all over the place, here’s a bit of juicy gossip for you. Four of the founding doTERRA professionals were former Young Living employees. I know, I know!

It’s like a corporate soap opera, and I’m here for it.

Of course, the drama didn’t stop there. As you can imagine Young Living wasn’t best pleased about this and began a lawsuit. Cue the legal battle royale, where accusations of trade secrets being swiped flew like essential oil-infused confetti. The five-year clash ended with doTERRA emerging victorious, and Young Living footing a $1.8 million bill. Pass the popcorn, please. 

DoTERRA’s mission is to “empower you and your loved ones to live a wellness lifestyle.” The name is a Latin derivative meaning “Gift of the Earth.” I like the uniqueness of the name and it does express the core meaning of essential oils perfectly. I do find myself all over the place trying to spell it though, there are so many different ways, I’ve picked this one and I’m sticking with it!

They have grown to be the world’s largest purchaser of essential oils and were awarded ‘the Verified Market Leadership Award in the Global Aromatherapy and Essential Oils Market for 2020.’

Like Young Living, giving back seems to be fundamental. They have created their own Healing Hands Foundation™. Which partners with local and global nonprofit organizations, to positively impact communities.

Multi-level Marketing Business Model 

So this is not me trying to rip apart doTERRA and Young living, but we have to talk about the elephant in the room.

Both company’s business model is an MLM (Multi-level marketing), which means the company sets up sales representatives on a tiered scheme and ordering program, whereby everyone in the group gets a commission cut. 

Imagine a grand pyramid, but instead of stone blocks, we’ve got sales representatives stacked like a game of human Jenga. That, my friends, is the essence of an MLM structure. It’s like a frenzied game of telephone crossed with a rewards program – and yes, there’s a commission cut for everyone in this carnival.

Visual learners, gather ’round! Here’s the lowdown on how this MLM circus rolls:

Basically, you morph into a recruiting maestro, convincing your entire lineage – from your parents to your pet goldfish – to join your merry band. As they churn out sales and spend their hard-earned cash, cha-ching, you rake in the commissions.

Now, don’t roll your eyes just yet – I’ve heard tales that sound like soap operas, with families torn apart by the siren call of MLM riches. Can you imagine, tense family get togethers, heated debates over dinner, and your beloved aunt Sue giving you the cold shoulder because you turned down her “golden opportunity.”

You only have to look at the comment sections on the different review sites to see how it has impacted people.

But hey, let’s give credit where it’s due. It’s a game of grown-ups, and we’re all responsible for our life choices – MLM shenanigans included.

Not only does this strategy affect relationships but it also adds a substantial cost to the products you buy. 

Before anyone takes any offense, can we all just take a deep inhale of lavender oil? I think it’s amazing that these (mostly) women have taken the initiative to become independent and create income for themselves. It’s also so beautiful to see people so passionate about essential oils and believe in their healing powers. 

You could argue that we bloggers are the same, by using affiliate links to products we like. Although affiliate links don’t add any cost onto the reader, are a much smaller percentage than MLM commissions and there’s no hard sale meaning recruiting tactics aren’t needed. The readers are just left alone to decide if they fancy clicking or not, less pressure in my opinion. 

So, I understand that these advocates genuinely just want to try and help educate people. It’s just worth asking if the MLM structure was taken away would they still promote the brand as much as they do?

The terms flying around to describe the reps of doTERRA are ‘consultants’ which is concerning. Potential customers may confuse this title as being trained aromatherapists, which could be detrimental.

If you’d like some more info on MLM’s and why they can be harmful take a look at this article.

So, there you have it – the MLM saga unraveled, sprinkled with a dash of sass and a whiff of skepticism. Onward, dear adventurers, to our next aromatic escapade!

Sustainability & Ethics

Young Living

Their wholesome work ethic states “As stewards of the planet, we work to sustain, protect, and support Mother Earth.”

You can clearly see that Young Living has put a lot of effort into sustainability, their award cupboard is overflowing with green awards. They have a 99% landfill-free status and won two awards in 2019 for Green Business of the Year and Recycler of the Year. 

Seems there’s no limit to the company even having sustainable offices, built to both LEED and Green Globe specifications. Wow, my daily sorting of plastic and cardboard doesn’t seem like much anymore. 

What makes them unique from any other brand is that they own their own farms all over the world. Ranging from South America, North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Meaning they can keep a good eye on what’s going on from start to finish, making sure their quality is kept on track throughout the process. Although you could argue that because they are involved from start to finish there could be a temptation for a little bit of collusion.

They mention that oils are also sourced from “partner farms” and “certified suppliers” as well though. I highly doubt some of their more expensive oils, like Frankincense, are sprouting from the lands of Utah.

I’ve posted this picture to add a little colour into your life, and brighten up your day 🙂

If you’re genuinely interested in the process behind your essential oils, or just want a lavender field background for the ‘gram. You’ll be excited to know that Young Living offers farm tours on their website, I’ve not tried to book one though so how often they allow people in is unknown.

doTERRA

It’s got to be said doTERRA prides itself on how they source their oils. They have created their own “Co-Impact Sourcing™” program, where they work with the community to change lives for the better.

I really like how they provide a “Sourcing stories” page, breaking down how each essential oil has impacted people’s lives and communities, along with photos of projects carried out.

I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but when I said earlier that researching this topic led me down the (quite dark) rabbit hole I wasn’t wrong. VICE News recently came out with a hard-hitting documentary investigating the frankincense supply chain in Somaliland. It features doTERRA oils and shows that everything may not be as ethical as it’s made out. Check out the documentary here. Let’s keep this fair though, Young Living isn’t guilt free, and in 2017 they were even found guilty of illegally trafficking rare oils.

Quality Testing

Unfortunately, the essential oil industry is not FDA-regulated, putting companies in a position where it’s all on them to be on their best behavior. It sadly gives companies the temptation to cut corners.

That’s why both Young Living and doTERRA have taken it into their own hands to coin their own quality-assured products. Young Living created Seed to Seal® and doTERRA CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade®. Looking at both of their websites everything seems to be of high standards. It just asks the question though, how much of it is marketing hype? I just think it’s good to be aware that they are both made up by the company itself.

To add, both brands are free from fillers or artificial ingredients, contaminants, pesticides, or chemical residues. They pride themselves on the non-dilution of active qualities.

Young Living

This company goes for it with its testing, boasting two in-house labs. Their Seed to Seal® promise controls the cultivating, harvesting, and distilling of many of their oils. A product runs through about 15 different tests, and each test is repeated three times! Yes, three times! If the product passes those first 45 tests, it goes off to be blended or bottled. Then, yep, you’ve guessed it, it’s tested again.

They run so many tests we’d be here until next winter if I listed them all, so take a look at the full list here.

I love it when a company offers third-party testing, or even better is transparent and offers the results online. Young Living states they use “third-party global experts to validate that our standards are being upheld” but unfortunately there are no test results available on their website.

In all fairness, they have published test results in the past when they felt it was necessary to expose a third-party lab (accusing them of synthetics). D. Young explains why they don’t post test results here

doTERRA

With more than 30 scientists and 2,200 square feet of laboratory space, you can’t deny doTERRA’s also seriously on it with their testing. 

As I mentioned above, they have their own certification process, which they named “CPTG Certified Pure Tested Grade.™” The process begins shortly after distillation, with the oil reviewed for its chemical composition. Their production facility then carries out a second round of testing, oh but they aren’t finished there. A final third review of the chemistry of the oils is conducted as the oils are packaged into the bottles, before being shipped out.

They also list all of the tests they carry out online, but unlike Young Living, they add explanations of what each test means. I don’t know about you but I’m no budding Marie Curie, so an explanation was invited.

Another brownie point for doTERRA is that all their test results are available online. A slight negative I have about this, you have to buy the product before you can check the results out. Surely it’s just logic that people would like to know what they are buying before purchasing the product?

Are they Organic?

Neither of the brands is certified organic, as in they have not been USDA Certified Organic. Therefore can not put the USDA organic label on their products.

Like myself, you might be thinking “What in the world?! And they call themselves a top-quality company?” But let’s not jump to conclusions here, it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Get ready, your mind is about to be blown by these facts. Did you know that when a product is labeled “USDA Organic”, it only has to be 95% organic which means 5% could still be synthetic. Crazy, right?! If you already knew that, apologies for the overhyping, but I was shocked!

So considering that if both companies do all the vigorous testing they mentioned, their oils could even be better!

Products & Price

It’s fair to say, you may need a few pennies in the piggy bank to start buying from either of these brands. They are the most expensive on the market and their quality does come at a price. It’s just up to you to decide if you think they are worth the price tag.

Young Living

In terms of products in the market, they are leaps and bounds in front of competitors. If you’re finding it hard to source a particular essential oil, it’s more than likely you’ll find it here.

With more than 500 products on the market, from personal care, natural care, essential oils blend, and more. 270 of those being essential oils and blends.

Although their oils are expensive they offer discounts and rewards from a “Last Drop Deal” section on their website to the membership and schemes below:

Young living essential oil kit to get you started.

Loyalty Rewards Scheme

They offer a loyalty rewards scheme, where members receive a 24 discounted rate on products. They can also earn free products and points for ordering monthly. This is completely optional though and by no means a requirement.

To earn loyalty points every month you place a loyalty order of 50+ PV and redeem them for product purchases. (1PV = $1)

It’s also worth pointing out that you don’t need to spend a cent before joining the loyalty scheme.

Wholesale Membership

To keep a wholesale membership open, you have to order 50 PV per year. I didn’t think was too dramatic to be honest, even if an account goes inactive, it only takes a 50 PV wholesale order to re-activate.

doTERRA

There are more than 130 oils available and 96% of single oils and oil blends are exclusive. They come in a size range of 5 ml, 10 ml, or 15 ml bottles. Make sure you’re aware of this before you buy, or you’ll get the products wondering where the rest is.

Again for you super saver detectives out there, they have a “While supplies last” and “Limited time offers” section on their website. So, if you’re looking to try them there’s an option if you don’t want to break the bank. 

Also, like Young Living, they offer membership programs:

Wellness Advocate:

If you missed my MLM section above, (I’d head back and give it a read if you have) this is exactly what I was talking about. You can become a wellness advocate, spread the word about doTERRA and receive a commission. You’ll receive discounts, gain loyalty rewards and receive free products. Easy peasy you may say, the catch is you have to commit to placing a 100 PV LRP order each month to receive your commission.

Wholesale Customer:

You’ll have all the same benefits as a wellness advocate, but won’t be able to earn bonuses and commissions or have a personalized website.

Can I ingest Young Living or doTERRA?

I know there is an ongoing debate “Do I ingest, Do I not ingest?” Personally, I feel essential oils have helped me tremendously without the need to ingest them. I digest plants in the way of herbs and teas if I feel they would benefit me internally.

That being said, I have friends that swear by the benefits of taking oils orally. If you choose to do this, just make sure you’re following any advice given on the labels. If you’d like more info on how to use essential oils check out my other article.

Young Living’s vitality line is promoted to be taken internally, they state on their website “While we do not promote or recommend internal consumption of other essential oils. Please follow the instructions on each product label.”

DoTERRA is a big advocate for taking your oils internally, although make it clear you have to regard each oil on an individual basis. Again, make sure you check the label before adding those drops to your tongue.

Always remember guys, less is more, and when you’re not sure if it’s pure it’s not a cure.

Customer Service

Young Living offers a toll-free line to call for any issues, this makes it super accessible to anyone. They also have an email and live chat support system on their website.

I was a little surprised after scanning the comment section on various other blogs about Young Living to find people complaining about their customer service. You just have to scroll through TrustPilot to see the frustration people have been going through. I have never had a reason to reach out to Young Living’s customer service, so can not give my opinion fully on this. 

DoTERRA also offers a phone number, live chat, and email support system. There are a few comments about their customer service here and there, you can scroll through them here. On the whole, though I would say that Young Living seems to be getting the most complaints.

Shipping & Returns

Young Living currently ships to over 100 countries and not far behind them is doTERRA with 86! With warehouses all over the world, there’s no doubt you’ll get your products in a reasonable time.

Returns Policy

We can all rest assured that both companies offer a refund, whether it’s been opened or not. It has to be within 30 days after shipment, and if it has been opened it’ll be credited back to your account.

Health Benefits & Safety

I’m sure if you’re reading this article you already believe in the power of essential oils, but just in case I’ve added this section to have a skim over.

You can argue that the lack of scientific research on essential oils can cause people to be dismissive of them. Just because they are not FDA-approved does not mean they don’t work. 

Let’s throw it all the way back to the early 1900s, many doctors used to prescribe cocaine drops for children with toothache, cigarettes for asthma, and treat syphilis with mercury. All I’m saying is, modern medicines haven’t always been right so I’d recommend testing some oils before pre-judging.

That being said I think they should be used with caution, the same way you would use any medicine. I watched the documentary “Un-well: Essential Oils” on Netflix and a lady was condemning these brands because she was ingesting a heap load of oils, every day for a considerable amount of time. Now to me that just seems silly, am I on my own here?

Both brands have warnings that “Excessive use of essential oils may increase the risk for adverse reactions.”

There are some great resources available to help educate people on how essential oils can help heal. Learn more about how essential oils can be useful throughout the body with doTERRAs complete guide. Also, Young Living has created a how-to-use essential oils and safety guide.

Why I don’t buy either

So with the controversy of the sourcing chain, mixed with the MLM structure. I just can’t get behind the authenticity of both companies. 

Although I think these products are of quality and potency, I believe I would rather buy from companies that get rid of the middlemen. That way not only does it give me peace of mind that people are promoting the brand for genuine reasons, but the cost is also significantly lower.

Conclusion

In the thrilling world of essential oils, the epic showdown between doTERRA and Young Living unfolds like a blockbuster movie.

As you journey through this fragrance-fueled rivalry, it becomes evident that both brands have made significant strides in the essential oil landscape. However, the decision to align with one or the other hinges not only on the quality and potency of their products but also on ethical considerations and personal values.

Having navigated both doTERRA and Young Living, I’ve found merits and drawbacks in each camp. Both brands demonstrate dedication to sustainability and community engagement, fostering a positive impact.

However, the multi-level marketing structures underpinning these brands introduce complexities that may impact relationships and elevate costs.

Alternative brands to use

Looking beyond the rivalry, remember the world of essential oils extends far beyond these two. Check out my reviews on alternative avenues like Rocky Mountain Oils and REVIVE Essential Oils offer straightforward approaches to aromatherapy.

I also recommend Plant Therapy and GuruNanda as some amazing alternative to these two brands.

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Sara's Reviving Me Disclamer!

Thanks for getting this far!

I’m not a doctor! I’m just obsessed with testing the healing powers of essential oils. Any advice I give is based on my own research and personal opinion. This site is, however, reader-supported. When you buy through external links, I may earn a tiny affiliate commission. Read my full disclosure policy here.

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