Is Doterra a Scam? – MLM Essential Oils
What are doTERRA essential oils?
These are all natural and organic products that can cure ebola, cancers, autism, ADHD, and - well, basically any illness they could think of adding on to their fancy educational packets. doTERRA actually got called out by the FDA for presenting such false claims to entice the growing health conscious consumer market.
So is doTERRA a scam?
Well, they’ve then changed their marketing pitch and created a stricter policy that prohibits their distributors from making these claims. Instead, they focus on the holistic effects of their products to health and wellness. And some of them still talk about how a friend who had some kind illness, used it and felt better - just a few stories they want to share to their potential clients.
The company claims to be the “world leader in the essential oils market.” Primarily, the main products of the company are their variety of essential oils but they have also added in a wide range of products to promote self-care.
doTERRA has definitely built a huge customer base, raking in over $1 billion in sales revenue in 2015. This is no surprise as people have definitely begun to focus more on their health, wellness, and self-care. A report on the essential oils market noted a demand of 226.9 kilotons in 2018, with an expected 8.6% growth from 2019 to 2025.
Does that mean doTERRA might actually be a good opportunity?
I’ve taken my liberty to review the company, their products, compensation plans, and almost everything I could find about doTERRA. Let’s find out if it’s a legit business or another MLM scam to avoid.
What is doTERRA?
- Company name: doTERRA
- Founded: 2008
- Founders: David Stirling, Emily Wright, David Hill, Corey B. Lindley, Gregory P. Cook, Robert J. Young, and Mark A. Wolfert
- Website URL: www.doterra.com
- Type: MLM (Essential Oils and Wellness Products)
doTERRA is a multi-level marketing company with headquarters situated at Pleasant Grove, Utah. According to their website, doTERRA was “built on the mission of sharing therapeutic-grade essential oils with the world.”
The company's name is actually Latin for “Gift of the Earth.”
The company functions like any other MLM company: they have “great products” that they boast to have amazing benefits and are some of the best in the market. Their main salesforce is made of their distributors, or Wellness Advocates who earn from 3 main compensation methods: Retail Commissions, Start Bonuses, and other Bonuses from their Loyalty Rewards Program. We’ll cover the exact details of their compensation plan later on.
Right now, let’s talk about how the company actually came to be.
The company was founded in 2008 by a team of executives who previously worked for Young Living, which is another MLM company that markets essential oils. Their initial line of products included 25 types of essential oils along with 10 oil blends.
Because the co-founders of doTERRA worked in a company with a similar structure (also an MLM) and a similar line of products (also Essential Oils) prior to starting up doTERRA, Young Living filed a lawsuit against the company in August 2013 on the basis of theft of trade secrets. They claimed that doTERRA recreated their production process.
All that aside, doTERRA has widened their product line to include products that they categorized as Body Care, Hair Care, Veráge® Skin Care, Kits & Collections, Diffusers, Literature, and Accessories.
The company has grown to be quite successful over the years. As of 2019, their headquarters is run by nearly 3000 employees in a more than 610,000sqft corporate campus. Over the years, doTERRA has used the MLM method to successfully catapult their products into the global market. They have built offices in Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, and other countries.
In 2016, the company ranked second, following Young Living, in global market shares in the essential oil industry. Despite being an MLM, doTERRA has definitely become quite a successful business.
Being part of the wellness industry, which is a very competitive market, doTERRA has a popular line of products, which we really need to talk about.
As I mentioned earlier, doTERRA started with an initial release of 25 essential oils and 10 blends. Their list of single essential oils has now gone above 50, with more than 30 blends, and a set of OnGuard products. Their top ten must-have oils include Lavender, Peppermint, Lemon, doTERRA On Guard®, Wild Orange. Frankincense, doTERRA Breathe®, Melaleuca (Tea Tree), DigestZen®, and doTERRA Serenity®.
The top 3 essential oils are actually part of the doTERRA introductory kit and are classed as regular go-to-starter oils. Their other line of products include typical wellness and self-care items such as body lotions, ointments, facial cleansers and toners, shampoos and conditioners.
Since their primary line of products are definitely their essential oils, let’s focus on that.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are concentrated liquids that are extracted from plants. These are distilled and are sold in small bottles. These oils are volatile, which means they evaporate and diffuse easily, spreading a therapeutic aroma.
There are differing opinions on the effectiveness of essential oils. Many people believe in the holistic effects of these oils to relieve conditions such as stress, anxiety, and insomnia. There have even been some claims on the antiviral and antibacterial properties of certain essential oils. However, there has yet to be any solid evidence to support such claims.
And I doubt there is any chance these essential oils are actually able to cure autism, ADHD, Ebola, or Cancers. If they did, I don't know why we’re wasting so much money on cancer research when sniffing a few oils is all it takes.
Essential oils are used primary as a form of alternative medicine. A practice known as Aromatherapy. While I don’t want to spend a large amount of time debating on whether aromatherapy is an effective health practice or not, there are many problems with the supporting evidence on aromatherapy. But since there haven’t been any major side effects from the use of scented oils, there’s probably no harm in trying. I guess?
How To Use Essential Oils?
Essential oils are extracted oils in a bottle, right?
It might seem like a no-brainer when someone asks how to use these oils, but there are actually a hard list of do’s and don’ts that you need to know before using essential oils.
So here’s a quick guide on how these essential oils are meant to be used:
The easiest way to use it is by directly smelling the oils from the bottle. It’s simple: open the bottle and, keeping your nose at a distance, smell it. Don’t place the bottle too close to your nose because these oils can be strong. Also, there are some essential oils which can be harmful to your skin, causing allergic reactions, redness, and itching.
Smell. Don’t Touch.
Other ways to use it is by diluting the oils in water or putting some on a small piece of cotton or cloth, allowing the oil to evaporate and diffuse into the air. This helps spread the aroma better. Some fancy gadgets that you can use are diffusers and humidifiers, you just need to add in a few drops of the oil into the water inside those machines.
You can also add a few drops of the oil in lotions, and other base products. Start with a small amount to check that your skin doesn’t have any allergic reactions against these oils. There are actually a ton of side effects that come with using essential oils, especially if you don’t use them the right way.
Someone actually got third-degree burns after applying doTERRA’s citrus oils and then going to a hot yoga session and tanning bed after. Many people get contact blisters after applying essential oils directly on skin.
Again: Smell Only. Do Not Touch.
Aren’t doTERRA products supposed to be safe and organic?
All doTERRA products go through the Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade (CPTG) Protocol which is a rigorous testing of essential oils that was developed by doTERRA.
“CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® essential oils mean something very different. It means we protect the chemical compound of the plant just as it was produced from the earth. We don’t need to improve upon that. If we have the care, the scientific knowledge, the commitment and the integrity, we can preserve that.” - Dr. David K. Hill, D.C., dōTERRA’s Chief Medical Officer.
doTERRA, however, does not claim that their essential oils are organic.
They say their oils are better than organic.
Surely, these better than organic products come at a cost.
doTERRA Essential Oils Cost
Essential oils are quite pricey because of the complicated production process and the sourcing of the different plants for this process. When you look at price comparisons on essential oils, you’ll find that the costs vary greatly depending on the brand. Some are priced at just $4 for a 15ml bottle, while more popular brands like Young Living and doTERRA cost more than 5 times that amount.
Depending on the type of essential oil you want to get, it could cost you around $20 to more than a hundred dollars for a single bottle. But if you become a Wholesale Retailer or a Wellness Advocate, you get a 25% discount.
Is it worth it?
There are people who swear by the effectiveness of using aromatherapy. If it helps, then it is difficult to put a price on one’s health. But these essential oils are all typically extracted from virtually the same plants, through a very similar extraction process.
If you’re looking for really good aromatherapy essential oils, there are many other more affordable options that are probably just as effective as these overpriced doTERRA products.
In fact, doTERRA does not operate any of the farms where they source their plants. Instead, they have contracts with different sources. According to them “doTERRA works with farmers and distillers in over 40 countries to provide essential oils to customers around the world.”
That basically means that someone else grows and distills their products.
Sure, they have exclusive agreements with their suppliers but with different people making their products, quality control can be a major issue.
Oh yeah, they have their CPTG protocol in place to let us know that their products are of a Pure Therapeutic Grade. A term which they coined themselves.
You’ve probably had enough of doTERRA’s “amazing” products.
How do people actually earn money with doTERRA?
How does doTERRA work?
doTERRA is an MLM that sells essential oils and wellness products. Basically, they recruit new distributors who get the chance to “change their life one oil at a time.” These distributors are called Wellness Advocates, who then sell their products, earning a commission, and recruit new distributors to earn even better bonuses. Other people opt to be Wholesale Customers just to get the 25% discount.
What’s the difference between Wholesale Customers and Wellness Advocates?
If you simply like their products, you can join doTERRA without the pressure of having to sell to other people or recruit new members; although you still can sell to other people if you want to.
Wholesale Customers get product discounts of 25% off the retail price, chance to earn redeemable Loyalty Reward Points, and a chance to win the free monthly product if you get over 125 Points.
doTERRA Wellness Advocates receive the same benefits with the added business opportunity and personal website.
What Business Opportunity?
Wellness Advocates of doTERRA earn money by either selling doTERRA products or recruiting new members. When someone joins, they have to pay a starter fee of $35 or purchase a starter kit. There are 6 different starter kits to choose from, ranging from $100 to $570 in price.
“A doTERRA Wellness Advocate is a person who is interested in sharing the life-enhancing benefits of doTERRA essential oils with family, friends, community and the world.”
Compensation Plans - How to Earn?
doTERRA Wellness Advocates earn through Retail Commissions, Fast Start Bonus, and their Power of 3 Bonus. doTERRA provides a comprehensive guide on how you can earn, how much you can expect to earn, and the different levels to their MLM structure.
Another MLM company that you might want to check out is Young Living, we've actually made a comparison between Young Living and doTERRA.
This refers to what you earn for every sale you make.
Remember your 25% discount?
That is your profit margin. Since you get to purchase their products for 25% less, then you can earn that difference when you sell to someone else based on the actual retail price.
Fast Start Bonus
This is the money you get when you get someone else to sign up. You can earn 20% from the sales made by someone you recruited directly. If your new recruit gets someone else to sign up, you get 10% on that 2nd level recruit’s sales. This goes down to the 3rd level, from which you can get 5% from their orders. Through the doTERRA compensation plan, you can actually earn up to your 7th downline.
There are a few conditions for this bonus:
You have to have to earn a minimum 100 Points that month to qualify for this bonus. This bonus is only applicable 60 days after recruitment. So, you don’t get anymore extra commissions from your recruit after the 2nd month. That means you need to recruit more people.
Power of 3 Bonus
When you are able to recruit a group of 3 people, you earn a $50 bonus for your new trio. When those three advocates each recruit 3 more new advocates (total 9 new advocates), you get a $250 bonus; and the each earn a $50 bonus as well. This goes on to a 3rd level where you can earn $1500 when all those 9 new candidates each recruit another 3 new people to join your downline. That is a total of 27 new recruits on your third level.
Loyalty Rewards Program
On top of the bonuses that you can get from sales and recruits, each of your orders will earn you PVs (Point Values) which you can use to redeem for more products. Each doTERRA product has a corresponding PV which will depend on how long you’ve been with the company. New Advocates get PVs equivalent to 10% the cost of products while those who have been Advocates for more than 13 months get up to 30%.
Actual Earning Potential
When you look at how the business is structured, doTERRA has placed some sustainability on the recruitment model by placing a limit on the tiered bonus; allowing advocates to earn only up to the third level of their downline.
Commissions are also limited to a 60-day time period from recruitment as well.
On one end, this makes it a much more sustainable business model than your typical pyramid schemes, which work by funneling money from new members way upline to the founders even.
However, this also limits the scalability of your “business” because you will need to constantly sell their products or recruit more and more members to retain a good level of income.
And when you consider these two things, you’ll probably think twice about becoming a Wellness Advocate:
The products are already expensive.
Even with the 25% discount, you’ll be hard pressed to find customers because of the high cost of these products. People who are actually willing to buy these products are usually more knowledgeable than you might think.
When doing a thorough price comparison with other competitors in the market, doTERRA products are severely overpriced.
Well, they need to get money to payout bonuses somewhere.
People avoid MLMs.
MLMs have gotten a bad reputation. Several pyramid schemes ave masked their operations as MLMs and while there are a few legit companies out there, many people have equated MLMs to Pyramid Schemes to Scams.
Basically, an MLM is just a place to lose money.
Although there is a difference between MLMs and Pyramid Schemes, so many people already have this misconception embedded deep into their minds, so it will be very difficult trying to get new recruits on board.
Taking those 2 things into consideration, it is definitely not that easy to earn through doTERRA, or many other MLM companies either. But some people are able to make some money from selling these items.
However, if you look at the timeline that doTERRA estimates, you probably won’t be able to reach Silver in 18 months time, or Gold in 27 months time. And according to a few reviews online, the estimated monthly incomes are way over what people are actually earning.
In 2018, Managers and Directors earned an average annual income of $708 and $1,156. Executives earned an average annual income of $1,699 that same year. At those ranks, you’ll likely earn around $100 per month.
Is that worth it?
On those earnings, you’ll be actively selling their products and recruiting new members.
To be completely honest, you have a much better earning potential working minimum wage anywhere else. Not to mention, you actually get other benefits working an actual job than running around promoting doTERRA products.
“I paid what I consider a small fortune for one of their small essential oil bottles and was assured that a couple of drops will have me excited with the fragrance. Well far from it! I just keep dropping oil so much to use it all up and start again.Would not recommend the product.“
You’ll find mixed reviews on the quality of their products. This is probably due to their vast source of growers and distillers around 40 different countries. Since their products are being made in many different places, there is definitely some difficulty in ensuring proper quality control.
“I have spent thousands on orders, I want to be moved due to a lack in support from the lady who signed me up. And no communication.”
Here’s the problem with MLMs: the support system is not reliable. Sure, they offer a ton of training materials, videos, lessons, and other helpful things to get you started. But the actual help that you get will depend on whoever recruited you. Sometimes they do help, other times they leave you to learn on your own.
“I bought several essential oils from a neighbour who sells them. A week of daily drinks of water with wild orange (One drop in a litre of water) gave me cystitis.”
I've talked about the dangers of some essential oils. Here’s a good example that really emphasizes the rule: Smell Only. Don’t Touch.
And definitely don’t ingest.
Some essential oils may be mixed in with your drinks but many people recommend against it.
“I've used doterra essential oils for years, but after some extensive research I did in the industry last year I realized that there are many different companies that offer high quality 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils (not just doterra). I took a chance to try out a few different companies and found a replacement source last year that is better quality.”
The health and wellness industry is very competitive. When you actually start looking around, there are many other options to consider that might actually be better - and a lot cheaper too.
Is doTERRA Legit?
doTERRA is a legitimate company which sells a line of products that are actually up for debate. Many of the claimed benefits of essential oils are unproven to have any actual benefits to health and wellness but there are millions of people who believe that these products are good for them. In that sense, there is definitely a huge market to sell to.
Are their products a scam?
Since there really is no universal standard to judge whether an essential oil is effective or not, (We are not counting the CPTG protocol that doTERRA created) there products are not being sold to scam people. Again, the debate on essential oils is still on the table.
Thus, doTERRA is not a scam. They are a legitimate company that sells products.
But they have been warned against false claims used in their marketing.
- Legitimate Company Selling and Marketing Actual Products
- Growing Popularity of Essential Oils and Wellness Products
- Multiple Methods of Earning Money
- Highly Competitive Market
- Expensive Cost of Products
- Current Criticism on Effects of Essential Oils
Conclusion: Worth Joining?
Here’s my final say on whether doTERRA is worth joining:
If you REALLY LIKE their products, have tried other brands but have found that only doTERRA works for you; by all means, become a Wholesale Retailer and buy their overpriced oils at a discounted (but still expensive) price. My only suggestion is to try out other brands before setting your heart on doTERRA.
If you are thinking about joining because you want to earn more money, you have a way better chance if you work a second job part-time, or pick up extra hours at work, or check out another money-making opportunity with a much better earning potential than selling doTERRA essential oils.