Young Living vs. doTerra Essential Oils — UPDATED

by Julie Behling-Hovdal on

Feeling Confused About Essential Oil Companies?

confused woman Young Living vs. doTerra Essential Oils    UPDATED

If you have been exposed to the power of therapeutic-grade essential oils, chances are you have heard of the pioneering company Young Living Essential Oils and the latest up-and-coming essential oil company, doTerra.

I have been a part of Young Living Essential Oils since 2005 and the oils I recommend and sell are Young Living oils.  Young Living was founded in 1993 by D. Gary Young, a pioneer in the field of essential oils.  To date, Young Living has farms and/or essential oil distilleries in six locations on 4 continents and the expansion continues.   Young Living has revolutionized the field of aromatherapy by growing many of its own plants and distilling many of its own oils using proprietary techniques developed by Gary Young.  All essential oils that carry the Young Living label — whether purchased from around the world or not — are rigorously tested with gas chromatography to ensure the oils have not been adulterated.

Since 2008 when six members of Young Living’s corporate staff left the company and started doTerra, I have seen and heard some interesting things especially since I live in Utah where both companies are headquartered!

Through the years doTerra has built itself up largely standing on the shoulders of Young Living.   Many of its essential oil blends are strikingly similar to Young Living’s.  I noticed many other similarities while at the same time catching wind that doTerra was routinely disparaging Young Living founder D. Gary Young and Young Living products.

I have mostly kept quiet since this new competitor arrived on the scene as I feel that tearing down another company is not only in poor taste, but an unattractive and ineffective way to build my business with Young Living Essential Oils.  But I have gotten so many questions from clients of mine as well as potential clients asking me what I think of doTerra that I finally felt it necessary to come out of the closet in regards to the Great Essential Oil Company Battle!

Why I Love Young Living Essential Oils

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Over the past few years as people have asked me what I thought of Young Living vs. doTerra, I would usually just tell them how much I love Young Living!  Here are a few reasons why I love Young Living:

  • I’ve been with Young Living since 2005 when Young Living’s NingXia Red helped me [BLEEP] within one week after being partially-disabled with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for the previous six years.
  • I’ve had so many results with Young Living essential oils, there are too many to name.  [And unfortunately, in order to remain compliant with the FDA I am no longer allowed to discuss these results].
  • I absolutely LOVE their skin care line and essential oils for skin care!!
  • I ADORE many of their supplements — vitamins, protein shakes, probiotic, and others!
  • I have seen hundreds of clients get massive results with Young Living essential oils and other products, [and unfortunately, I am also no longer allowed to discuss these results].
  • I love my Young Living family — the people I have met at conventions, worked with on various projects, my wonderful up-line leaders were instrumental in helping me when I was sick, depressed, and down and out when I met them years ago!
  • I have had a great experience with Young Living employees and corporate staff over the years and appreciate their strong efforts to treat their distributors well.

Why doTerra Isn’t For Me

doterra oils Young Living vs. doTerra Essential Oils    UPDATED

  • See all the reasons above why I love Young Living as a company and Young Living products!  Even supposing that I were to find that doTerra was superior to Young Living in some way or another, my experiences with Young Living and my loyal nature provide ample reason for me to not be interested in doTerra!
  • I am not impressed with some of the actions of doTerra leaders, many of whom I knew back when they were on Young Living’s corporate staff and speaking on stage at Young Living conventions.  Six of the founding members of doTerra’s company leadership were sued by Young Living (more on that below).
  • I am not impressed with the anti-Young Living rhetoric from doTerra leaders and distributors that I have come across personally and heard about from clients of mine, some of it quite vitriolic.
  • I do not enjoy when doTerra distributors try to recruit me and my customers and distributors.   My doTerra friends, I am not trying to recruit you into Young Living – no need to try to recruit me and other Young Living distributors and customers!  There are plenty of other people out there to market your product to!
  • I have not been impressed with most of the doTerra essential oils I have come across.  While I can tell they are better than most health food store oils, there is something about many of them that smells off and artificial to me.  These days, just about every essential oil company out there has a knock-off of Young Living’s Thieves oil.  I was not terribly impressed with doTerra’s version – On Guard oil. There is no comparison whatsoever to Thieves.  I’ve been equally unimpressed with several of their other blends.  A few of the single oils I have smelled from doTerra seemed fine, but I found their frankincense oil to be much, much less potent than any of the 3 varieties of frankincense that Young Living sells.   Lastly, I was exposed to doTerra cinnamon oil at an event I did a while back and within a minute or so of standing next to the diffuser pumping out molecules of the “pure” cinnamon oil, I had a headache.  In all my years with Young Living, I have never gotten a headache from the oils!
  • A recent 3rd party testing of peppermint oil from several companies, including doTerra and Young Living revealed the synthetic chemical ethyl vanillin in doTerra peppermint oil:

Although our Chemist only commented on the constituents that were out of range, you can see from the report that “ethyl vanillin” is listed as the last constituent in the analysis. When I asked Mr. Dantin about the constituent, he told me ethyl vanillin is a “synthetic compound.” The sample only contains 0.07% ethyl vanillin, which is technically a trace amount. However, according to Mr. Dantin, “ethyl vanillin is a huge odor, more than vanillin!”

To confirm our Chemist’s comment that ethyl vanillin is a “huge odor,” I overnighted doTERRA’s Peppermint to our Essential Oil Expert and asked his advice.

Our Essential Oil Expert comment after an organoleptic assessment (sniff test!): This essential oil smells very pleasant, but it lacks the “clean” odor of a quality peppermint oil. It is over-sweet and reminiscent of a peppermint and dark chocolate candy. This would be consistent with a low concentration of added ethyl vanillin, a powerful odorant that smells of vanilla/chocolate.

Essential Oil Expert comments: Two samples (DoTerra and Heritage) were clearly from the same source. Both samples also contained 0.07% ethyl vanillin, which is a synthetic compound. The fact that many samples were run on the same equipment, but ethyl vanillin only showed up in two oils (which were virtually identical in every other respect as well) suggests that this was not an aberration or contamination that happened during analysis.

Learn more here -

  • peppermint testing results Young Living vs. doTerra Essential Oils    UPDATED

I Don’t Have the Full Story

Young Living and doTerra both filed Federal lawsuits against each other a couple of years ago with various accusations, but settled these out of court.  There is still a pending lawsuit of Young Living against doTerra.  Some counts were dismissed due to a statute of limitations.  But here is a recent statement by Young Living Essential Oils on the matter -

On October 15, a Utah Court decided a number of pending motions related to our case against doTERRA and its founders.  Importantly, the Court did not rule on Young Living’s claims for breach of written contract against several founders of doTERRA that they improperly solicited YoungLiving’s distributors and used Young Living’s confidential information in violation of their agreements.  Young Living is anxiously moving toward its day before a jury to prove these claims, which we remain very optimistic about.

The Court did decide, however, that Young Living could not claim that doTERRA and its founders violated certain Utah statutes related to misappropriation of trade secrets and other improper activity, not because doTERRA and its founders did not engage in that activity, but because the former legal team at Young Living simply waited too long under Utah law to bring these particular legal claims.  For example, the Court ruled that:

  1. “It is undisputed that Young Living’s investigation revealed that, after leaving their employment with Young Living, some individual defendants had retained Young Living property.  This included documents (both written and electronic), computers, and certain ‘white binders’ believed to contain confidential information among other things.”
  1. In 2008, Young Living required David Stirling, Greg Cook, Emily Wright and David Hill to return confidential documents that they had taken with them when they left and, “as a result, many items (both computers and documents) were recovered by Young Living which Young Living confirmed to be trade secrets that had been wrongfully retained.”
  2. “The undisputed facts also demonstrate that Young Living was able to pursue its theory that trade secret information was not only wrongfully retained but used” by doTERRA. 
  3. Even though there was evidence that Emily Wright destroyed her computer to hide the defendants’ use of confidential information, “any concealment by Wright did not frustrate Young Living’s ability to recognize that the individual defendants had retained, and likely used, confidential information.”

 Young Living will continue to vigorously pursue its remaining claims against the founders of doTERRA. 

I don’t know the hearts of all the people involved, or what their motivations are and were.  I like to assume the best of people.  Is it possible that Gary Young ticked some of these people off when they were employed by YL?  Absolutely.  I have a huge amount of respect for Gary Young, but I get the feeling he is a very demanding employer.

Did the former Young Living corporate staffers who started doTerra want to have a different business model than Young Living and focus more on the business aspect of the MLM?  More than likely yes, and if so, good for them!  I just don’t agree with what I know of how they went about it.

I happen to have personally met and talked to a Young Living distributor who claims that over a period of several months, top Young Living corporate staffers picked her brain for details on the system she was very successfully using to build her Young Living business.  All along she thought they were going to use this information to help other Young Living distributors, so that’s why she was willing to give away all her secrets.  Much to her chagrin, they shortly left Young Living and started doTerra, a competing company, using her business model!

Do people get results with doTerra oils?  Apparently they do, and I am honestly very happy for that.  I have friends and acquaintances who use doTerra oils and if they are satisfied, then I am satisfied for them  I am happy that doTerra is spreading the word about the power of essential oils and reaching people that Young Living may not have reached.  I am saddened, however, at what appears to be dishonesty on a number of levels.

My final thoughts are this – there is enough room in the world for two (or more) essential oil companies to succeed and bless humanity, as long as the playing field is even and everybody properly represents their products.

I am personally happy with the decision I have made to use Young Living Essential Oils.  I hope that essential oil users everywhere can feel similarly pleased.

- Julie =)


NOTE:  Out of the 250+ articles, videos, and podcasts on my website this is the only one where I address doTerra, or any other essential oil company for that matter.  Interestingly, I get far more hits to this article each day than to any of my other articles.

Due to the fact that I don’t have time to respond to all the comments that continue to come in on this article and my business is not focused on this topic, I have decided to shut commenting down.


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Julie 3 June 2013 crop Young Living vs. doTerra Essential Oils    UPDATEDJulie Behling-Hovdal is a reflexologist/holistic healer and founder of Essential Survival where she teaches people how to prepare for the #1 cause of death in the event of an economic collapse — lack of access to medicines.  In 2005 Julie was able to get off 4 prescription drugs and heal from a 6-year stint of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia with products from Young Living Essential Oils. Get a free copy of her report “Fast Track Survival Medicines” at


Statements made about the essential oils that come in the Essential Oil Survival Kit and other products offered by Essential Survival have not been evaluated by the FDA.  These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  Anyone suffering from disease or injury should consult with a physician.

Julie Behling-Hovdal April 16, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Natalie – I haven’t heard anything, so I’m pretty sure the cases haven’t gone to trial or been settled yet.

Sue Brinkley April 25, 2014 at 6:55 pm

Are these products available in australia. If soo where can i get some information about them and how do i go about purchasing some. I reax an article on facebook and my daughter is medicated for deppression and wants to get better. I feel your frankincense oil might be the way to go. I hope we can do business. Thank you

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