Sunday, March 1, 2015

Essential Oils Review: doTERRA, Mountain Rose Herbs, Young Living, Aura Cacia, & NOW

I promised to write a blog about essential oils once I had gotten all of them in and tried them out. The first thing I want to say is this: I have found no evidence that ANY of these products are 'bad' or that any of these companies are either. This is simply a review comparing MY experiences with these brands of essential oils.

doTERRA: Excellent Quality, Extremely Overpriced

Founded: 2008

Products: One of the first essential oil products I was exposed to was a doTERRA product. I fell in love. I went shopping immediately and realized that there was no way I would ever be able to afford to use doTERRA. I have bought and regularly use their PastTense rollerball for headaches (which I struggle with constantly) and Deep Blue Rub for neck pain/migraines. I have also purchased their lemon, rosemary, and lime single essential oils. All of these products are of high quality and are very effective. They are excellent and I would recommend them to anyone. The downfall here is that they are also extremely expensive with just a 4 oz. bottle of Deep Blue Rub costing approximately $35 (after shipping) and the 10 mL PastTense rollerball costing $25. Granted, these products will last you a few months, but that is still a hefty price tag on 4.33 oz. of product.

Cost: So, I did some research. doTERRA claims to have hefty price tags because they are 'Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade' (CPTG). You will notice, everywhere the acronym is written on their label and on their site, there is a registered trademark symbol. That is because they registered their own standard and name just so they could deceive consumers into thinking their product had some magical standard. The United States has no standard for essential oils. It isn't like saying 'USDA organic.' I researched what CPTG actually means and literally it just means that doTERRA uses basic scientific instruments such as GC/MS to verify purity of their oils. Every single reputable essential oil company also does this. So CPTG is utterly meaningless. The real reason they have high prices appears to be because they have to pay for all of their excellent marketing and they have managed to create this excellent reputation. Their products are excellent, truly, but they really aren't any 'better' than Young Living or Mountain Rose Herbs all of which sell 'therapeutic grade' essential oils. (source)

Organic: No. They claim that due to international sourcing, they cannot feasibly have the USDA organic certification. They claim their CPTG certification is 'a step above' organic. (source)

Parties: Yes. Since doTERRA relies heavily on sales representatives, you can attend doTERRA parties and learn how to mix your own essential oils. These are great opportunities to learn and I would recommend that every attend a doTERRA party at least once to get into essential oils.

Sustainability: Not really. doTERRA is not as sustainable as other companies. They don't go out of their way to source organically, use recyclable packaging materials, or use recyclable/sustainable packaging for their products.

Mountain Rose Herbs: Excellent Quality, Excellent Pricing

Founded: 1987

Products: After researching essential oils I found on multiple websites that I should try Mountain Rose Herbs. They have been around longer than any other company that sells such items and their prices were excellent. I though surely they were too good to be true. Well, they aren't. Mountain Rose Herbs delivers the same excellent product that doTERRA and Young Living do, minus the price tag. They have excellent customer service, and they sell all the supplies you would ever need to mix your own at an affordable rate. They also sell other natural products like loose teas and fresh herbs. The only downfall with Mountain Rose Herbs is that you have to make your own blends as they only sell a few. So, if you want a PastTense-like product, or Deep Blue Rub-like lotion, you'll have to buy the oils and make it yourself which is not as convenient. Your other option will be buying blends from my Etsy store as soon as it launches. I will discuss this in another blog at a later date.

Cost: Absolutely phenomenal! By far the best prices of therapeutic grade essential oils and a very large selection of single oils to purchase.

Organic: Yes. Mountain Rose Herbs are one of the few companies dedicated to the (actually) USDA Organic certification. (source)

Parties: No. Unless you want me to host one once my Etsy shop is launched, in which case I will gladly do so, but Mountain Rose herbs does not have sales representatives everywhere to sell you their goods like doTERRA and Young Living do which is unfortunate because they only sell single oils, so you really have to know how to use essential oils to benefit from their excellent prices. Again, I recommend going to a doTERRA or Young Living party to learn and then buying what you need from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Sustainability: Very! Mountain Rose Herbs is genuinely dedicated to sustainability and they use a lot less plastic, recyclable packaging, and much, much more. (source)

Young Living: Excellent Quality, Extremely Overpriced

Founded: 1993

Products: I cannot tell you much about their products except I have purchased a few single oils, lavender and peppermint, and they do seem to be the same great product that doTERRA and Mountain Rose Herbs produces. A benefit of Young Living is that they offer many blends but there are almost too many for you to figure out which one you even need to use. Their website could be better designed so that novice users could more easily distinguish between what 'abundance' blend does versus 'acceptance.' (blends) doTERRA has the blends much more clearly distinguishable labeling them easier to understand names such as 'breathe' and 'PastTense' and having fewer options of the blends that are popular and most often needed. Young Living would be great for an expert essential oil person.

Cost: Absolutely outrageous. Costs even more than doTERRA. Won't be buying anything from them in the future for this very reason. They offer nothing that I can benefit from that I cannot get cheaper from doTERRA. They also have sales representatives, etc., just like doTERRA. The abundance of similarities is probably due to the fact that doTERRA basically is a copy of Young Living that sells fewer products that are more popular. Many folks that work for doTERRA formerly worked for Young Living and there have been law suits thrown around for this reason. (lawsuits)

Organic: No. For the same reasons as doTERRA. (source)

Parties: Yes. Due to their long lasting reputation however, they rely less heavily on parties and sales representative than doTERRA does. There parties are also great opportunities to learn and I would recommend that every attend one at least once to get into essential oils.

Sustainability: Better than doTERRA but nowhere near as good as Mountain Rose Herbs. Their focus is on their farming techniques so at least there is some effort, but overall they could be more sustainable. Then again, we all could be. Learn about their farms here.

Aura Cacia: Low Quality, Low Pricing, Easily Available

Founded: 1982

Products: I have purchased a few single oils, such as wintergreen, from this brand at my local gluten-free grocery store (Harmony Farms). This brand of essential oils are commonly found at local cooperative markets, whole foods, etc. They are not of the greatest quality. They purchase oils in bulk and repackage them. They don't claim to be therapeutic grade because they don't have the strictest quality standards in the world. I would use these for cleaning purposes in a heartbeat or in homemade fabric softener sheets, but not for aroma therapy or for topical applications. A benefit is that they are easily available locally in natural stores so you can go to stores and smell them yourself which is nice. Still, I'd use them for cleaning purposes only and they aren't any cheaper than Mountain Rose Herbs so I am not sure what the benefit to buying them would be. I can tell you that they are not as strong as the other oils I have purchased.

Cost: Low. Analogous to Mountain Rose Herbs.

Organic: They do carry some organic oils and they cost twice as much. You are better off going with Mountain Rose Herbs if the organic certification is important to you because you will be getting a much higher quality essential oil that way.

Parties: No. And when you ask local stores questions (in my experience) they don't say or know the right things. Again, go to a doTERRA or Young Living party to learn.

Sustainability: Good. They are making an effort to be sustainable. Read about it here.

NOW: Low Quality, Low Pricing, Easily Available

Founded: 1948

Products: They claim to be as excellent in all the same ways that doTERRA, Young Living, and Mountain Rose Herbs are. I cannot vouch for this, however. I have used their single oils including peppermint and lavender and found that they are not as effective. I would place NOW essential oils into the 'only use for cleaning' category and other essential oil aficionados seem to agree with me (source). Just like Aura Cacia, these are easily available at local natural stores and cooperative market giving them a convenience advantage.

Cost: Low. Analogous to Mountain Rose Herbs.

Organic: They do carry some organic oils and they cost twice as much. You are better off going with Mountain Rose Herbs if the organic certification is important to you because you will be getting a much higher quality essential oil that way.

Parties: No. And when you ask local stores questions (in my experience) they don't say or know the right things. Again, go to a doTERRA or Young Living party to learn.

Sustainability: Good. They are making an effort to be sustainable. Read about it here.

Final Thoughts

Go to a doTERRA or Young Living party (or mine once I launch my Etsy store) to learn about how to use essential oils. Then buy Mountain Rose Herbs products and mix your own, or buy my blends once I launch my Etsy store as I will be offering affordable, sustainable, non-toxic essential oil blends and household cleaners and detergents and/or kits to make your own very easily. Stay tuned for updates about specific blends I will be offering for sale and feel free to buy your own supplies or use my recipes!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Monthly Makeup Box Subscriptions Ipsy vs. Birchbox

So. I have been subscribing to one of two make up boxes for a while now. First I tried Ipsy for a few months. I then tried Birchbox. I am going to discuss both of them for anyone curious or interested in signing up themselves.

First, let me say that I signed up for a makeup subscription to prevent me from shopping for makeup all the time. I hardly ever wear it because I am pretty without makeup and I'm usually running late in the morning. When I have a makeup box coming in the mail, I don't care to go blow $50+ dollars at LUSH, or have an awesome Arbonne party where I purchase more makeup than I can afford and then it lasts me for YEARS because I rarely ever wear it. These subscriptions are only $10/month. That is much cheaper than binge-buying makeup. Wondering which would be right for you yet? I'm getting there.


Ipsy sends you a small makeup bag that is usually cute each month. It costs $10/month plus taxes and shipping, so for me that was $10.58/month. You take a quiz so they know what to send you but in my experience it made no difference.

Bag Contents: 

  • Mostly make up. Mascara, nail polish, lip products, eye shadows, etc. Occasionally I would recieve hair spray or face wash but generally make up products from brands such as tarte, figs & rouge, and others I had not heard of.

Product Compatibility: Not Compatible

  • I was allergic to most of the eye products (except tarte, which I love).
  • A lot of the products were for tan or darker skin tones than mine. I received a highlighter once that literally did not show up on my skin because we were both the same shade of white. This happened even though I filled out my profile saying I was pale.
  • I would receive stuff that I literally would NEVER use, such as hair spray, lip gloss. I always reviewed each item and updated my profile but the bags never seemed to get 'better.' I generally didn't need/use at least 2-3 of the 5 items in each bag.
  • Eventually, you don't need anymore dang small makeup bags and you end up just taking them to Goodwill.

Product Quality: Good Overall

  • Overall the products aren't bad. I have extremely sensitive skin. If you can wear most makeup, chances are you can wear this makeup with no problem.

Point System: Very Good

  • When you review items, you get points. They rack up pretty quickly and you can buy free stuff. It is a very good point system.

Subscription: Cancelled

  • I barely wear makeup, like I said. I like cosmetics to lessen the redness of my face, wash off the oil on my face, moisturize my face and body, etc. I also like shampoo and conditioner samples. Ipsy is a makeup bag for the most part, NOT a skin product bag which is what I generally use. I got a facial cleanser one time that absolutely rocked, otherwise, I never received any other similar items. I have a ton of makeup now, so I don't need Ipsy. If you wear and want a lot of makeup and don't have sensitive skin: SUBSCRIBE TO IPSY.


Birchbox sends you a small cosmetics box each month that is wrapped beautifully. It costs $10/month exactly. You take a quiz so they know what to send you and they generally get your box absolutely right for your needs.

Bag Contents:

  • They send body lotion, hair products, shampoo, conditioner, facial moisturizers, etc. Most are sample size (just like Ipsy) BUT usually you get one full sized product each month. Also, the brands they send are generally extremely high quality. They also send out perfume samples which I never knew Ipsy to do at all. Occasionally they will send you a mascara or a nail polish.

Product Compatibility: Very Compatible

  • As I previously stated, I use body lotion, facial moisturizers, etc. I have dry, sensitive, red, skin so anything that will help those things, I am willing to try! I have been absolutely THRILLED with my Birchboxes and the boxes are very nice, you can save them to put wrapped gifts in. If you have sensitive skin, and you want to try out a bunch of stuff to see what works without spending a fortune, this is they way to go!

Product Quality: Extremely Good

  • Birchbox overall has much higher quality products than Ipsy does. Hands down. They only send the good stuff.

Point System: Total Garbage

  • Birchbox charges for their full sized products if you want to buy one after you tried and liked a sample. Their point system is a joke. It is hard to accumulate points and they are worth next to nothing. Want more points? Go with Ipsy.

Subscription: Still Active

  • Birchbox does exactly what I need it to do. It sends me the things I need so that I don't go to LUSH and spend more money than I have or order more Arbonne online. I will probably keep it for quite a while.Good products, good assortment, good price. Love it.