Essential oils always had a special status among plant extracts, most probably because of their fragrant qualities, price and the fact that from very large amount of plant material only small amount of essential oil is produced.
Basically, only extracts obtained by steam distillation (most essential oils), expression (citrus oils from the zest) or direct heating of the plant material without steam distillation (extremely rare method used sometimes for cinnamon bark essential oil ) may be called essential oils.
All other fragrant extracts obtained in a different way are called according to the method of obtaining, for example, n-hexane and CO2 extracts, and should not be called essential oils. Synthetic mixtures or blends of synthetic fragrances with natural essential oils should not be called essential oils, but only fragrances.
All essential oils used for aromatherapy and organic cosmetics should be botanically and chemically defined.
Botanically defined means that species, possibly subspecies, varieties and forms of the used plant must be well defined because these characteristics have enormous significance on the chemical composition of the oil.
Chemically defined means that ratio of individual molecules in essential oil must be exactly defined. This is done by gas chromatography (GC) analysis, and the results of that analysis must be available to you. This is important information because chemical composition of essential oils from the same plant species sometimes significantly varies depending on the location of its growth (most commonly for thyme, rosemary, lavender but also many other essential oils), and these different essential oils cannot be used for the same purpose.
So, considering above mentioned information, correctly labeled essential oil for use in aromatherapy or organic cosmetics (for example Lavender essential oil) should contain the following information:
Name - Lavender Essential oil
Latin name of the plant - Lavandula angustifolia
Country of origin - France, Bulgaria
Cultivation mode - cultivated
Part of the plant from which it is produced - flower
Main components (chemotype) - linalyl acetate, linalool
Extraction process - steam distillation
Known allergens among constituents - geraniol, limonene, linalool
Expiry date -
And, as already mentioned, gas chromatography (GC) results for every batch should be available to you from the vendor. Don’t be afraid to ask for GC certificate because every reputable and responsible vendor will gladly show them to you as a proof of essential oil authenticity.
If your essential oil vendor doesn’t have all these information available or doesn’t want to show them to you, you can’t be sure what exactly did you buy and that oil should not be used for aromatherapy or organic skin care products.