This may come as a shock, but as of August 2017, I’ve cancelled my membership with Young Living.
The evidence just keeps mounting against Young Living as a company. I’m embarrassed and saddened that I promoted their products for over 3 years.
Please allow me to explain why…
(This will take a few minutes to do it justice…bear with me)
Young Living’s oils have been transformational in our lives and health. I still believe that Young Living’s oils are better than grocery-store or discount oils…but they’ve broken my trust, and there’s no coming back from that.
I no longer believe Young Living’s oils to be the best on the market. It’s come to light that they’re NOT as committed to sustainable and ethical practices as they claim to be.
I’ve personally always felt a nagging suspicion that there’s been something “off” about their products and company. Call it intuition (I unwisely ignored it).
This summer, the years-long lawsuit between Young Living and their competetor doTerra was thrown out, and doTerra was exonorated of all wrongdoing.
I was so sure the ruling would go in Young Living’s favor, that this prompted me to dig deeper.
I started researching all over again, as if I was a brand new customer.
What I discovered compelled me, as a person of integrity, to change my mind and turn away from a company I’d believed in wholeheartedly until that point.
Wading through the huge amounts of misinformation and propaganda was a gut-wrenching thing to deconstruct, honestly. I found this summary to offer the most thorough overview, and it contains more sources linked within.
First and perhaps most distressing–Young Living’s ethical sourcing has been proven FALSE.
Their Seed to Seal guarantee is a major reason I chose Young Living in the first place…yet I was shocked to learn that over 99% of Young Living’s oils are NOT grown on their own farms as they claim.
The newly released court testimony proves Young Living’s Seed to Seal guarantee is patently untrue, and has been since at least 2007. This was easily brought to light in court by using simple math concerning how many acres of farms Young Living owns and how much land is needed to produce the volume of oils they sell.
When pressed, Gary Young admitted that most of their oils are in fact purchased from brokers. THIS is why their oils are more expensive–because the brokers are unscrupulous, undercutting indigenous farmers and pressuring them to use destructive farming practices.
Furthermore, the brokers act as a middleman, artificially setting prices so that they are able to profit too, while the farmers can barely scrape a living.
I always felt good about paying more for Young Living’s oils (they are undeniably more pricey than any other competitor out there, even including doTerra), because I thought I was paying for quality…not brokers’ markups.
Days after this testimony was released to the public, Young Living changed the wording on their Seed to Seal website to say “SEED TO SEAL PARTNERS”–which is misleading, yet technically true.
Especially as an aspiring permaculture practitioner, I will not support a company that actively LIES about being sustainable when it’s not.
More recently, new information came to light about Young Living. They are being fined $760K for violating the Lacey Act by illegally trafficking rosewood oil–an endangered species.
Again, their PR department has spun the truth to proclaim how they’re the only essential oil company who’s actively working with the Federal Government to become compliant with the Lacey Act. However, that’s mainly because they were the one caught violating it!
The Lacey Act violations are really just a cherry on top of this whole mess….
I used to think that it was fine that Young Living utilized their own in-house quality control methods instead of 3rd party testing. They present it as a sign of their integrity, that they want to be 100% involved in every aspect of the process, from “seed to seal”.
However, I now realize that 3rd party testing for purity and quality is the gold standard of transparency and integrity that informed consumers should look for.
In 2016, Young Living’s cinnamon bark oil was submitted to an independent lab by a longtime member and user, along with other samples of cinnamon bark oil from several other companies.
This person was a loyal Young Living customer. She intended to prove that Young Living’s oils were the most pure–but that backfired.
The results showed that ALL samples of cinnamon bark oil had been adulterated with synthetic cinnamaldehyde.
As cinnamon bark is a key component of Young Living’s Thieves blend, something Young Living encourages its customers to use internally–it’s disturbing to learn that synthetic compounds are being peddled as unadulterated, pure, and safe essential oils.
Of course, Young Living was quick to claim that the results were untrue, and that the independent lab must have had some vested interest in slandering all essential oils companies…but the fact remains, Young Living’s sample was adulterated.
There are multiple sources within the link above, including the resolute silence from Young Living’s corporate headquaters when pressed for a response.
Throughout this whole process, I spent weeks obsessively researching, fact checking, and being open to the truth.
I had money to lose in leaving YL, yet still I left.
I’ve even been unfriended by people I met through Young Living on Facebook–lovely folks, about whom I thought our friendship was bigger than just loyalty to an essential oils company.
Happily, my immediate upline has been nothing but wonderful, compassionate, and understanding about my decision to leave Young Living.
These issues are the largest, but certainly not the only ones. For example, Gary Young claimed in court, while under oath, that he received his PhD from a Canadian university, online, from 1988-1989. Before the internet went public–? How very curious…
You may have heard before that David Stirling and other doTerra leaders were once Young Living company members, who then went on to create doTerra.
Apparently one was fired and another left because of mounting concerns about disingenuous practices within the company. They were unhappy with the pressure to continue promoting Seed to Seal to their new distributors and customers, despite it remaining untrue. They were also concerned about ongoing pay discrepancies between women and men in the same corporate positions, that Young Living was unwilling to remedy.
It’s easy to say, oh, those guys quit/were fired from Young Living, so they must have been the problem… But upon further digging, it seems that David Stirling and others walked out and took a risk in creating their own company so that they could more closely adhere to their own ethics.
–> This video playlist goes into detail about the word-for-word court testimony and exact issues mentioned in this article (and many more).
Personally, I believe integrity and clarity are paramount, even when the truth cuts like a knife.
It was hard for me to decide to leave Young Living…so I can only imagine how much more difficult it must have been for someone making 6-7 figures within that company to leave, let alone to THEN step up and create an entirely new company that became its biggest competition!
Young Living has been around since 1994, and of course, a lot can change within a company’s values in over 20 years–especially when faced with the huge growth they’ve experienced.
Unfortunately, it’s become clear to me that Young Living has not handled things in an ethical or sustainable manner.
Most importantly, to me, the court testimony makes it clear that they’ve also actively been trying to hide that fact.
Knowing what I know now, I cannot in good conscience continue to invest in or promote Young Living.
As of this writing, we are still waiting on the rest of the court testimony to be released from Gary Young and others. I will continue to unravel this messy and embarrassing case as more information comes to light, and in the meantime, I am researching where to purchase high quality, ETHICALLY sourced oils in future.
So far, doTerra has passed my integrity check. I love that they utilize 3rd party testing, and that they have a commitment to working directly with indigenous farmers in the eco-regions that essential oil crops grow natively. It’s highly likely I will be joining doTerra in the future.
I am fully aware that this sounds like mutiny–but if you’ve read this far, something may be telling you that there’s more than one side to every story. I don’t think Young Living is “bad” per se–but they stand solidly out of alignment with my personal values of integrity and sustainability.
Please, read the links I’ve included above, open your heart, and decide for yourself what feels right and true.
If you’d like to share my story with others, please feel free to share this post.
Thank you so much for your time in reading this, and for trusting me to be honest with you about my own journey.
(Former Young Living Independent Distributor; Soul Harmony Oils)