As an aromatherapist this is something I get asked a lot. I know it’s because it’s a minefield, and the market is so adulterated it’s difficult to know what to trust.
The thing is, aromatherapists are a funny breed, we get to like our particular suppliers. At the beginning of our training we’re advised to find a reputable supplier and then the choice is ours. I remember scouring different suppliers and their price lists, looking for reviews and feeling a little overwhelmed by the choice. I then found a few I was happy with. And that was it. I’m now stuck in my ways and over ten years on, my choice hasn’t really changed and it probably won’t.
Why? Because I know the quality of the suppliers I use, I know they’re aromatherapy businesses and I have consistently good experiences with them. I owe it to my clients to provide good quality oils with minimal risk and these are the tools of my trade.
I mainly use three suppliers: the first is the one I started using when I first qualified. They’re run by an aromatherapist, have middle of the road pricing and I’ve always found them good. My second is one I began using more after I completed my aromatic medicine training and I needed be 100 % sure of my quality for my insurance to accept if I was using oils neat, intense or internal oils. They are more expensive but I’ve always found them great quality and they’re also run by an aromatherapist. The third supplier is one I use because I became one of their independent consultants. For me, it doesn’t sit comfortably to push their oils as the only good quality ones because I want to be unbiased. I do trust the brand and think it’s a good quality though.
So, who are my suppliers? Well, I’m not going to tell you. Not because its a trade secret, because if you visit my clinic you can easily find out. It’s because the choice I made about my suppliers was my choice. There are a lot of other suppliers out there who will be as good a quality, but I don’t know because I haven’t tried them. For me to cast judgement on them is rather unfair and biased. I believe people should be empowered to make the right choices for them. All I can do is direct you.
So, how can I direct you to a good supplier? The one thing I always tell people is to check the membership of the Aromatherapy Trade Council, the a-t-c.org.uk/membership-list. This is a list of suppliers who agree to abide by a code of ethics. You should find that the suppliers provide the oils you expect, the quality you’re expecting and have obtained them ethically. If a supplier is not on the list I would seriously consider if you want to buy from them. They either haven’t taken the time or don’t meet the criteria to be a member. Either way, it’s like me saying I won’t be part of any membership body. It’s my choice, however if I’m a serious aromatherapist it makes sense that I am a member of a body, as in such an unregulated market it helps to show I’ve got the right qualifications for the job.
It’s the same with essential oils. If you’re on the internet and finding a bargain bottle of essential oil, chances are it’s not going to have the chemicals you want in it. This is fine if you just want the aroma, but not so great if you were buying it for a specific purpose. Go to an aromatherapy stockist, as a lot of essential oils can go into the flavouring or perfume market which will have different requirements, so by using an aromatherapy stockist you know you are choosing your oils from a stockist who knows what you want.
You also don’t need to buy the most expensive oils you can find either. It’s like anything else, some suppliers charge more, some charge less. If you’re not sure about a few suppliers maybe order one individual oil from each and see which one you prefer. If there’s no difference, choose the cheapest next time.
Try not to be in awe of the market, but do take some time to consider your choice. As I said before check in with the Aromatherapy Trade Council Membership list and you can know you’re buying from a reputable supplier.
Louise is an holistic therapist who owns Therapy Centre, Bristol BS14 9HB, a clinic offering a range of holistic and beauty therapies. Louise offers reflexology, aromatherapy, holistic massage, Indian head massage, reiki, baby massage and story massage. She is a mum of two boys and when she is not working she enjoys getting outdoors with her family.