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September 07, 2016 4 min read

I am going to share information on what I feel is an emotional topic for myself and many others in the aromatherapy industry. Ethical Aromatherapy.

Ethical Aromatherapy - What is it?

An aromatherapy business can be any business that engages in the sale of services (consultations), education, or products. These products can be the essential oils, absolutes, CO2s, or even skincare that utilizes essential oils.

Ethics… We should all know what that is, yes? Just in case you aren’t sure it is a standard that many businesses build their customer base on and is seen as being truthful, honest, and forthcoming in any and all information that pertains to their business.

It also includes keeping the customer’s or client’s safety in mind in regards to properly formulating products, describing them, labeling them, or even being knowledgeable in the services they may provide.

It also can pertain to using information illegally, like copyrighted information. 

Ethical Aromatherapy

So Why This Topic?

Over the last several months, I have personally witnessed many individuals in my industry doing and saying things that honestly baffle me. Some of these things make me question if they have a conscience. Some of them make me wonder how they stay in business.

I think the part that makes my heart ache the most, is that some individuals engage in unethical aromatherapy businesses and have a huge potential to hurt others.

This potential comes from being untrained, under studied, or inexperienced in this field. With over 800 essential oils and a potential for more, being untrained or under studied can lead to disastrous consequences despite someone truly wanting to help others.

If you are curious about the consequences, google “Aromatherapy Injury Report” and you will find some alarming injuries at Aromatherapy United. The October 2015 report included injuries for 6 toddlers, 10 children under 12, and 119 over that age. NONE of these injuries were related to anyone with basic aromatherapy certification (200+ hours) or anyone with clinical training (400+).

Babies were hurt. Children were hurt. I get very emotional when I think about children getting hurt from unsafe use of essential oils.

My point here, is that with so much to learn, it is imperative that we look at someone’s credentials for aromatherapy. Think about it, would you go to a mechanic to get a diagnosis for a medical condition? Of course not!

Now answer me this, would you want someone knowledgeable, trained, and who continuously studies in their industry to help you in your journey of essential oils? Or someone untrained?


As my colleagues will tell you, we are for the most part completely self-regulated. We have moved from emphasizing the need to work with trained or certified aromatherapists to communicating that working with someone qualified in aromatherapy is more important.

Why it matters:

There is no such thing as a licensed aromatherapist. With no real regulation, it simply does not exist.

Anyone can teach an aromatherapy class and offer certification. Anyone…

Anyone can take these classes at less than the standard 200 hours and receive certification.

The reality is that even an online program of 200+ hours for basic knowledge can be breezed through if you are not ethical and devoted to truly learning the material.

An online program of even 400+ hours can be breezed through as well.

Also, there are many aromatherapists that do not work in clinical settings (hospitals, doctor’s offices, etc) that can call themselves clinical aromatherapists depending on the school and number of hours they have taken from those schools.

I am not saying individuals who take online courses are all unknowledgeable. What I am saying is that the exams administered need to be proctored. There are many who take online programs and that have a high interest in truly learning the material and go on to become amazing aromatherapists that even work in a clinical setting.

I am not saying that an aromatherapist with over 400 hours of study is not capable of practicing in a clinical setting successfully. I am saying, we need standardization across all schools and a means to test the knowledge of these individuals coming out of school.

Organizations, Exams, & Standardization

While we do have volunteer membership organizations that promote the ethical and safe use of aromatherapy while raising the awareness of our industry, they do not offer real standardization or exams to demonstrate knowledge level. It would be wonderful if they did!

The closest thing that the aromatherapy industry has for a proctored test is the Aromatherapy Registration Council’s (ARC) exam for the title of Registered Aromatherapist (RA). This is a fully proctored exam which must be registered for and has a cost associated with it.

Having taken this exam after achieving my basic level of certification, I would love to see more exams developed for aromatherapists to demonstrate the knowledge. I would love to see more standardization and demonstration of the knowledge that is learned before titles can be claimed. I would love to see those with the demonstrated knowledge be licensed as certified or clinical aromatherapists.

We are not there though. We are self-regulated with varying classifications for certification.


Now that I have laid a lot of information out there for you, I beg of you, please do your research before you do business with anyone in aromatherapy. As I have said many times in the past, aromatherapy is very personal. Make sure the person you are relying on for consultations, products, or education is well trained, experienced, and has demonstrated successfully knowledge in their business.

Take some time and really get to know the person and ask them hard questions. Don’t allow yourself to be duped by someone intentionally or unintentionally. Your health and wellness is that important to me and I know it is even more important to you.