Are Essential Oils Vegan? Your Guide to Cruelty-Free Options

Veganism has become much more popular recently as people choose plant-based lifestyles for ethical, environmental, or health reasons. This has led to a greater demand for vegan products, including in the world of natural wellness.

This raises an important question about whether essential oils are vegan. In this post, we’ll thoroughly explore how essential oils relate to veganism and how to identify cruelty-free oils.

I’ll begin by explaining veganism and its benefits, then discuss how essential oils can be part of a vegan lifestyle. We’ll cover responsible sourcing, labeling, storage, and usage tips. Veganism is complex, and I aim to clarify and guide through this post.

Now, let’s get started!”

Understanding Veganism and Its Benefits

Veganism is defined as a lifestyle that attempts to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, including in diet, clothing, beauty and more. This means abstaining from consuming or using any products containing animal-derived ingredients.

Are Essential Oils Vegan? Your Guide to Cruelty-Free Options

While vegetarianism only prohibits the consumption of meat, veganism goes further to also exclude dairy, eggs, honey and other byproducts. The term “vegan” was coined in 1944 by Donald Watson to distinguish from vegetarianism.

There are several compelling reasons why people choose to go vegan:

Environmental Motivations

  • Animal agriculture generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all transportation combined.
  • It is a leading cause of deforestation, wildlife destruction and water pollution.
  • Vegan diets require less land, water and other resources compared to meat production.

Health Factors

  • Vegan diets tend to be higher in beneficial nutrients. Fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils and whole grains provide abundant vitamins, minerals and fiber.
  • Eliminating meat, dairy and eggs can lower saturated fat and cholesterol intake.
  • Some studies link vegan diets with lower rates of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.

Animal Welfare Concerns

  • Most meat, dairy and eggs come from industrial factory farms with horrific conditions.
  • Even “humane” labeled animal products often involve substantial suffering.
  • Choosing vegan avoids participation in systems of cruelty and commodification of animals.

In light of these factors, many aim to transition towards more ethical and sustainable vegan products, including beauty and cleaning supplies. Next we’ll explore how essential oils fit into the quest for cruelty-free living.

How Essential Oils Fit Into a Vegan Lifestyle

Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts, typically steam distilled or cold pressed from flowers, leaves, stems, roots, seeds or peel. This means they are inherently vegan in composition. The exceptions are absolutes like jasmine and rose which undergo solvent extraction.

However, there are some important considerations regarding essential oils and veganism:

  • Some companies may use undisclosed additives derived from animals. It’s important to vet brands’ sourcing and production practices.
  • Certain essential oils like sandalwood, cedarwood and frankincense are sourced by methods potentially harmful to trees. Sustainable wildcrafting should be practiced.
  • Not all companies avoid animal testing. Seek out cruelty-free brands or Leaping Bunny certification.
  • Beware that plastic packaging can contaminate pure oils during long-term storage. Glass is preferable.

With a bit of research and careful reading of labels, it’s possible to enjoy high quality essential oils that adhere to vegan ethics. I’ll share some helpful shopping tips next.

Tips for Finding Cruelty-Free Oils

When seeking out vegan and cruelty-free essential oils, here are some of my top recommendations:

Check Company Websites

Many brands devoted to plant-based, sustainable products will overtly state their vegan and cruelty-free commitments. Look for explicit language about how they source, formulate and test products.

For example, Edens Garden has a detailed page explaining their strict avoidance of animal ingredients and testing.

Email Companies with Questions

If a company’s website lacks explicit information about vegan/cruelty-free status, send them an email! Reputable brands should provide thorough responses addressing your concerns.

Look for Trusted Certifications

Some great third party certifications to look for include:

Consult Reviews

Community reviews on retailer sites like Amazon can reveal issues with non-vegan additives or unethical sourcing. Take them with a grain of salt, but investigate further if you see consistent complaints.

Stick to Reputable Retailers

Large reputable health food stores like Whole Foods or vitamin sellers like Vitacost are good places to find reliably cruelty-free essential oils. But always verify with brands.

Recommended Vegan Essential Oil Companies

Some excellent cruelty-free essential oil companies I recommend exploring include:

I suggest sampling small sizes before committing to larger bottles. And remember to store them properly to retain freshness, which brings us to our next section!

Are Essential Oils Vegan

Proper Storage for Maximizing Shelf Life

To keep your essential oils in peak vegan condition for as long as possible, ideal storage conditions are crucial. Here are my top tips:

Store in Small, Dark Bottles

Light and oxygen degrade essential oil compounds and quality over time. Purchase oils in colored glass bottles, and transfer to smaller containers to minimize air exposure.

Keep Away from Heat, Light and Moisture

Avoid placing oils in sunny spots, near heating elements or in humid bathrooms. Find a cool, dry place like a kitchen cabinet or bedroom closet.

Use Within 1-2 Years

Citrus oils like lemon, lime and orange have shorter shelf lives around 6-12 months. Earthy oils like patchouli or sandalwood may last 4-6 years. Check with your brand for guidance.

Freeze for Extended Storage

If you won’t use an oil within the typical shelf life, freeze it! The cold environment slows deterioration. Allow frozen oils to thaw before opening.

Fridge is Another Option

Refrigeration also works well for extending the lifespan of your essential oils if you don’t want to freeze them.

With the right storage methods, your oils can retain their purity and potency for maximum aroma therapeutic benefits. But what do you do if an oil seems past its prime?

Using Oils Responsibly

While essential oils don’t really “expire” per se, their quality and beneficial properties will diminish over time. Here are signs your oil may be oxidized or deteriorated:

Change in Smell

A rancid, unpleasant odor, or fading of the aroma. However, some oils improve with age!

Change in Color

Darkening or lightening of the oil. A cloudy, murky appearance.

Change in Texture

The viscosity thickens and oil doesn’t flow as easily. Separation is another clue.

I don’t recommend using oils in this condition. Expired essential oils, especially on skin, can potentially cause irritation, rashes or inflammation. Inhaling them may also irritate airways.

Instead, use spoiled oils for gentle diffusion, household cleaning or composting. And be sure to follow usage and safety precautions like dilution and avoiding plastic containers.

By understanding oil shelf lives, storing them well, and discarding degraded ones, you can safely enjoy your vegan essential oils!


I hope this post has illuminated the relationship between essential oils and veganism! With attention to ethical and sustainable sourcing, conscientious companies, storage and usage practices, essential oils can absolutely be part of a cruelty-free lifestyle.

Let me know if you have any other vegan oil tips or brand recommendations in the comments! I always love to learn more. Wishing you the very best on your journey towards kinder, greener living.