What is the Young Living Essential Oils Scam All About?

Young Living Essential Oils ReviewHeard of the trouble that this company got into in recent years with the FDA, and checking out how true is the Young Living Essential Oils scam?

You have landed at the right place. And kudos to you for doing your own research, especially if you are trying to decide whether or not to take the plunge in joining Young Living’s business opportunity.

Even if you are simply researching about reviews of its products, or some background of the company, I have them all covered in this in-depth review.

Let me also make it clear that I have never been involved in Young Living, but I have seen the benefits of some unknown brand of essential oils on my kids’ health. So I do believe in their therapeutic effects.

I did have one foot step through the doors of another MLM company, and took a quick scan before I popped right out.

So you know where I stand in this whole MLM thing.


Let’s dive right in, and break this Young Living Essential Oils review down into the following sections:

Young Living Essential Oils: Review Summary

Product: Young Living Essential Oils

Creator: Gary Young

Product type: Essential oils and EO-based products in the health, beauty and wellness niche, sold through MLM scheme

Price: $45 to $260 starter kit to join as a distributor, with minimum $100 per month purchases to be eligible for commissions.

Scam / Legit? : Legit

Recommended or not? : Not recommended

Young Living Essential Oils makes bold claims about its commitment to the quality of its oils. Unfortunately, it has been involved in a series of unpleasant proceedings surrounding this subject. Still, it remains one of the indisputable giants in the world of essential oils.

In terms of its business opportunity, it is no different from any other MLM (multilevel marketing) companies, whereby more than 95% of its distributors are not making any substantial earnings.

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Read on for the detailed review of Young Living Essential Oils, and why I do not recommend it.

What is Young Living Essential Oils

Gary Young founded this network marketing company in 1993, with a conviction for the profound power of essential oils in supporting health and transforming lives.

He established the standard for essential oils, now know as Seed to Seal, with a quality commitment to only selling 100% pure, natural, uncut oils that maintain their vital potency.

It gets better:

They are the only essential oils company to grow their local farms to ensure their raw ingredients cost is kept low, and they can fully control the entire manufacturing process, as what they like to call it, from seed to seal – from sowing, planting, growing, harvesting, and extracting, to packaging.

But here’s the kicker:

Some instances of unethical doings were revealed, which we will uncover in the next section.


Is Young Living Essential Oils Scam for Real?

In recent years, many of its distributors are disappointed with what has come to light, and have called Young Living Essential Oils scam. Let’s take a look at what exactly happened.

2014 Warning Letter from FDA

First, there is the warning letter that FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) sent to Young Living (and doTERRA, too!) in connection with its distributors making unapproved claims about essential oils, on their sales websites.

This is especially serious when many of them make references to specific ailments that essential oils could treat or prevent.

Based on our review, FDA has determined that many of your Young Living Essential Oil products, such as, but not limited to, “Thieves,” “Cinnamon Bark,” “Oregano,” “ImmuPower,” “Rosemary,” “Myrtle,” “Sandalwood,” “Eucalyptus Blue,” “Peppermint,” “Ylang Ylang,” “Frankincense,” and “Orange,” are promoted for conditions that cause them to be drugs under section 201(g)(1)(B) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act) [21 U.S.C. § 321(g)(1)(B)], because they are intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease.

And more:

Your consultants promote many of your Young Living Essential Oil Products for conditions such as, but not limited to, viral infections (including ebola), Parkinson’s disease, autism, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, insomnia, heart disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dementia, and multiple sclerosis, that are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals who are not medical practitioners.

This is the danger when a very potent product, yet not officially seen as a medicine, is to be promoted and distributed by people with a vested interest who are not required to have any form of extensive training or knowledge about it.

It is very easy for misinformation to spread, understandably as distributors are eager to make as much sales as they can.

Since then, Young Living distributors have been instructed to not bring in specific ailments or conditions, and taught to use much more general terms like ‘support the body system’, ‘restore balance’, and the likes of it.


Legal proceedings between Young Living and doTERRA

In the lawsuits between these two essential oils giants that lasted for 5 years, doTERRA and its founders, who were previously distributors of Young Living, have been completely cleared of any wrongdoing on all counts.

The main verdicts that would impact Young Living very significantly are:

Gender discrimination in compensating one of their top executives

Emily Wright was receiving about half of what the men on the executive board in Young Living were being paid. When David Stirling (now founder and CEO of doTERRA) tried to fight for her rights, he was fired by Gary Young.

This, among a few other ugly reasons causing its top executives to be dissatisfied with how Gary Young was conducting the business, led to them leaving the company. This linked article provides more information on this.

‘Seed to Seal’ was a sham

One of the biggest selling points of Young Living Essential Oils has been its pride in having its own farms, allowing them the most stringent control in quality of their essential oils, from seeding of the plants, cultivating, harvesting, to extracting of the oils and packaging.

Can you imagine the shock when people learnt that less than 1% of the Young Living essential oils is actually from their own farms? The other 99% is outsourced from elsewhere: partner farms and certified suppliers.

In fact, Gary Young said it himself in court, that the vast majority of their oils are purchased through brokers.

These are middlemen who pay a meagre sum to the farmers who did all the hard work, and pocket a fine profit by selling to Young Living at a high price. This is an unethical and unsustainable way of running the industry, making it very difficult for farmers to earn a livelihood.

Would you still trust them?

Although Gary Young has passed on, and the culture of a company can evolve, to be shaped by the current leaders, but it’s a heavy blow that has been dealt to this mammoth of the essential oils industry, as a result of its own leaders’ questionable ethics.

A website previously dedicated to documenting the legal claims against doTERRA had been removed after the entire saga. An archived version can be found here, if you are interested to read it.

Unfavourable lab test results

Over the years, there had been more than a few instances of people, at times distributors themselves, sending Young Living Essential Oils for independent lab tests, in an attempt to clarify hearsay that their companies’ oils are adulterated.

Here is an example, where a sample of cinnamon bark oil was found to contain synthetic cinnamaldehyde, indicated by the presence of phenylpentadienal isomers. Synthetic linalool may also have been added.

Painstaking effort was made to ensure nobody could accuse that this sample had been tampered with, as the person had the oil shipping directly from Young Living’s office to the laboratory where she ordered for the testing to be done.

The subsequent response of the leaders of Young Living Essential Oils was not one that this distributor was satisfied with, so eventually she left the company.


There are many more stories from ex-distributors of Young Living, you can check them out for yourself, while deciding if this is a company that you want to join.


Young Living Essential Oils – Product Line

Apart from the pure oils as well as oil blends, Young Living makes a wide variety of household, beauty and personal care products, all infused with their oils. So customers and distributors are actually spoiled for choice:

  • Single oils – you get to pick from 82 different oils
  • Oil blends – 84 types to choose from


young living oil blends


  • Dietary essential oils, roll-ons, and massage oils
  • Home cleaning – dishwasher powder, dish soap, veggie spray, household cleaners, etc.
  • Personal care – bar soap, handwash, toothpaste, lozenges, dental floss, shampoo, lotion, moisturiser, bath gel, and even make up products, etc.


young living makeup


  • Babies – diaper rash cream, baby wipes, baby wash, baby lotion, baby oil, etc.
  • Kids – shampoo, chewable tablets, oil blends to aid sleep, digestion, runny or stuffed nose, etc.
  • For animals – oil blends, treats, shampoo.
  • Nutritional supplements – drinks, meal replacement shakes, vitamins, probiotics, etc.


young living nutrition


  • Diffusers and accessories

As you can see, the wide variety of its products means there is no shortage of choices that distributors can offer to their potential customers, in trying to make their sales.

There is one big issue, though.

Its exorbitant pricing.

It is this single factor, together with the incentive structure of MLMs (multilevel marketing), that will explain why the vast majority of MLM distributors do not make money. This is exactly what we will explore in the next section.


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Young Living Business Opportunity

An MLM will be an MLM to its core, no matter what you want to think.

Let’s start by looking at:

How to become a Young Living distributor?

There are two types of distributor categories in Young Living Essential Oils:

  • Independent distributor as Customer (simply to buy products at wholesale price): buy a starter kit ranging from $45 to $260, and meet $50 per year purchase requirement.
  • Independent distributor as Business (to buy at wholesale price, and also qualify for commissions and bonuses, basically it means to enter this as a business opportunity): buy a starter kit ranging from $45 to $260, and meet $50 per month purchase requirement.


How do I make money as Young Living distributor?

As with any MLM company, the exact compensation plan is complicated beyond me. It is designed for people not to comprehend it. Only the founders themselves know what is going on.

But to put it in very simple terms, there are two ways to earn with Young Living:

  • Retail commission: this is when you sell the products to retail customers, you get to earn a commission, based on the amount of sales you make.
  • Recruitment commission: this is when you recruit people as your downline, to be in your team. As you build your team, and as the team makes sales, you earn commissions and bonuses based on the over-complex compensation plan, also depending on which rank you are at. In general, the more people you recruit, the more you earn.

Why make the compensation plan so convoluted in the first place?

This question is related to: why make the products’ pricing so unreachable? If they are really great and marketable, why not make it affordable to the masses, so that they can earn from volume of sales?

This is the very basic “requirement” behind any MLM scheme, how this business model is made to work:


Why Young Living will not work for you

The devil is in the high price of the products. This means there is no real demand for it in the open market. Hence they create an artificial demand, by incentivising people who would otherwise not go near their product.

With a reward structure in place, people buy starter kits and try hard to meet the minimum monthly purchases, because they are buying the hope of their dream life. The desire that “your life will change once you reach Silver (rank)”.

In fact, if you think about it clearly enough, this is where all the company’s revenue comes from.

That is why MLM distributors are always urged to recruit and recruit, and not focus on selling the products to customers. The larger the network of distributors, and greater the company’s earnings.

And guess what?

Most of the earnings go to feed the luxury lifestyle of the founders and those few executives at the top of the ranks. It shouldn’t be surprising that majority of the distributors are actually losing thousands each year, right? This money go right into the pockets of the top earners.

This unfair and exploitative nature of the business is at the core of the MLM model. I wish MLMs could be banned. But of course that’s my wishful thinking.

Even though it’s clear for many to see, many others get sucked in because of the rah-rah conferences, parties, uplines urging the downlines to never give up even though they themselves are sinking into greater debts.

Think about it: besides MLM companies, which other business model will get people to do free advertising for their products and company brand, and still have these people pay them a monthly minimum amount?


The proper way to make money from home

Forget MLMs, it will not work for you, unless you can foresee yourself working 10 years, putting in your heart and soul, to climb to the top ranks. By recruiting all your friends and family, as well as any random people who see on the streets and in the supermarket who look remotely like they may enjoy some essential oils in their lives.

There are much better ways that you can make money from home, and not sacrifice family time.

One of the selling points of an MLM opportunity is that you can work from home, work anytime you want, and spend more time with family. That’s so far from the truth. If you are trying to make sales, or recruit people, you have to meet their schedule, which means you can only arrange to see them after work in the evenings, or on weekends.

And you have to work your butt off, putting in a disproportionate amount of time and energy to try and make it work, and yet still sink deeper in financial difficulties.

It’s so not worth it.

The way I am earning my online income, I do not have to do any face to face selling, or recruit people. I am not limited to promoting one single company’s products. I do not have to go hunting for prospects, because customers will come to me.

I simply product content on my own website, in a niche that I get to choose. So I will choose something I am passionate about, and look for products or services to promote that are related to my niche.

As I build up my site authority, search engines will send traffic to me. People who search for answers related to my niche, will get sent to my website because the search engines see me as adding value to them, giving them the answers that they are looking for.

When my website visitors take up my recommendation and buy stuff through my links, I earn a commission, at no extra cost to them. This is called affiliate marketing.

It is a neat and hassle-free way of making money. Because I do not have to own or create any products. I simply leverage on the millions of existing products and services in the market, and recommend those that I truly like.

By bringing customers to the companies’ (virtual) doorstep, I get rewarded.

I do not have to shove expensive products that people do not need down their throats. My customers are those who are actively searching for the products.

That makes a world of a difference, because when I add value and meet people’s needs, the money comes knocking at my door, instead of me going out every single day to look for the money.

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Pros of Young Living Essential Oils

1. Rapidly expanding market

One great plus point of Young Living is that essential oils are starting to get better known for their benefits, as scientific research also catches up with it. There is a growing trend among many people these days to go all natural, when it comes to health, and well as personal care and cleaning products.

So there is definitely potential for growth for the company, in terms of its market.

2. It remains the giant in its field

Despite all the negative publicity it obtained from the legal dealings with doTERRA, and this huge competitor catching up with it, Young Living remains grounded as the pioneer of everything essential oils, as it brought in $1 billion revenue in 2017.


Cons of Young Living Essential Oils

1. Price is too high

A bottle of essential oil can easily cost more than $30, compared to its organic sisters in the open market, which are less than $10 each.

Yes, Young Living Essential Oils is not even certified organic, if that’s another disappointment to you. Simply because they source their oils from countries whose organic standards do not meet those of the USDA certified organic seal.

2. Focus on recruitment is strong

This is the basis of how an MLM scheme is run, so we can’t blame them. But it means it will not work for most people.

3. Trust level has gone down since the legal proceedings with doTERRA

A number of its distributors have left for the rival company. The trust level that the general public has for Young Living has plummeted, especially those who keep up to date with the happenings in the essential oils industry.

4. Vast majority of distributors do not make any money

This is a cold fact, and I will let the numbers tell the story here:


young living income disclosure


Even 3 ranks up, an executive makes a mere $500 monthly income, considering how hard they must have worked, how many downlines they must have recruited, to reach that stage. A full time job that makes them much less than a part time income.

And that is not yet accounting for the minimum monthly purchases they have made, over the months or years, to climb those ranks.

As you can see, distributor level and star to executive levels rake in an average of much less than $500 per month, and that’s a total of 96% of all its distributors.

Distributor level, who make up 33%, are earning $26 per month.

Would you join an organisation that has such a minute chance of climbing the ranks to success? That requires all your time and energy and yet you may be making substantial losses for years?

5. Family and friends will start to shun you

Yes they will, because you will be pushing expensive products that they do not need, right into their faces, and still insisting that they need it to balance and restore their body systems (just don’t talk about ebola, ok?).

If they really need essential oils, they can easily buy much cheaper and organic ones from the health store down the road.

Is Young Living Scam or legit? 

Young Living Essential Oils is a completely legitimate business that sells essential oils and EO-based products.


I do not recommend Young Living Essential Oils as a business opportunity, or any MLM for that matter. They focus much on recruitment and their own pockets, just like many MLM companies that I have reviewed: Jeunesse, doTERRA, and Mary Kay, to name just a few.

Instead of working your butt off and earning nothing for the dreams of others, why not build your own dreams?

Do something that pays you through a fair and transparent system, based on how much business you bring them.

Build your own online business, so you take all the profits, without falling victim to an elusive compensation plan that is made for you to not understand.

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If you have any concerns or questions regarding this Young Living Essential Oils review, do comment below, and we will start a conversation from there.

2 thoughts on “What is the Young Living Essential Oils Scam All About?”

  1. I am an affiliate marketer myself but I also have dabbled in MLM. Young living is one that I have worked in and whilst I have found them to be no better or worse than other MLM programs, I did actually make a little bit of money from it in a purely online sense.

    People will pay more for these products if they can see the value – where many fall down as they focus on the product and not the problems they can deal with. The real issue for me, and why i got out was the need to spend up to $150 per month to qualify for commissions – this is the real problem with them – they send people broke before they can get a foothold.

    • Hi Paul,

      Thank you for sharing with us your insightful experience with Young Living Essential Oils.
      Yes, you’re right that the monthly minimum requirements, whether in the form of purchases by customers or personal purchases, are frequently the deal breaker when it comes to choosing a good MLM company that can work for you.

      I’m happy that you have found affiliate marketing to be the more sustainable model.


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