Essential oils like those from Young Living can lose their potency and degrade over time due to oxidation. But is it true that Young Living oils never expire as claimed?
We decided to find out by doing a side-by-side test of fresh versus expired Young Living oils.
How Essential Oils Degrade Over Time
When exposed to factors like air, light, and heat, essential oils undergo chemical changes known as oxidation. This causes the natural compounds and aromas in the oils to break down and be lost. Signs of degraded or oxidized oils include:
- Diminished or altered fragrance
- Change in color – may become darker or paler
- Increased viscosity – oil seems thicker
- Sedimentation or cloudiness
Citrus oils like lemon, grapefruit, and orange tend to degrade faster than woodier oils like cedarwood, sandalwood, or frankincense.
Proper storage is key to slowing the oxidation process and extending an essential oil’s shelf life. Keep them in dark, cool places and ensure bottles are air-tight.
Evaluating Oils for Freshness
To test an essential oil’s freshness, you can check its:
- Aroma – has the fragrance weakened or changed?
- Color – is it slightly different than when fresh?
- Viscosity – does it feel thicker when rubbed between fingers?
Other signs of oxidation like cloudiness, sediments, or separation can also indicate the oil is past its prime. Citrus oils in particular tend to fade in aroma and thicken in texture as they age.
Young Living Product Shelf Life
The expected shelf life for a Young Living oil depends on its chemical composition. Citrus oils like lemon, lime, and grapefruit will show degradation within 1-2 years. More durable oils like lavender, frankincense, and peppermint may last 4-6 years or longer unopened.
Once opened, an oil’s exposure to air reduces its lifespan. Proper storage in small, dark bottles with tight lids will prolong freshness. Young Living states most of their oils will stay good for at least 24 months when stored correctly.
Our Expiration Test Methodology
To test Young Living’s expiration claims, we:
- Selected three common Young Living oils: lavender, frankincense, and lemon
- Obtained samples of recently produced oils and batches past expiration
- Evaluated aroma, color, and viscosity
- Compared to fresh reference oils from current inventory
Testing was performed at room temperature of 70°F. All oils were stored in the original packaging until evaluation.
The recently produced lavender oil had a floral, herbaceous fragrance true to a fresh lavender oil. The expired lavender oil was slightly less vibrant in aroma, but still pleasantly fragranced. No discoloration or viscosity changes were observed.
Both fresh and expired frankincense oil had a warm, rich, woody aroma. Slight fading was noticed in the expired oil. Its color remained a pale yellow. No significant oxidation indicators were seen.
Of the three oils tested, lemon showed the most degradation signs. The expired lemon oil was faded in aroma and noticeably thicker in viscosity. Its color also appeared slightly darkened.
Fresh vs Expired Oil Test Results
While subtle changes were noticed in the expired oils, none showed drastic signs of oxidation. The aged lemon oil exhibited the most fading and discoloration as expected.
Overall, our test supports that unopened Young Living oils can maintain integrity beyond expiration dates if stored properly. Once opened, using oils within 1-2 years is recommended for continued freshness.
Most Expensive Young Living Oils
Some of Young Living’s most costly oils include Royal Hawaiian Sandalwood, Northern Lights Black Spruce, and Idaho Blue Spruce. These premium oils reflect the rarity or meticulous production of the raw materials.
Proper storage is key to extending the shelf life of essential oils. When kept from light and heat exposure in airtight bottles, Young Living oils can often maintain potency for years past expiration dates, especially more durable oils like frankincense and lavender. However, degradation eventually occurs, and aroma and color changes will develop.
To keep your oils fresh as long as possible:
- Store in small, dark colored bottles
- Keep bottles tightly sealed
- Maintain cool, dark storage conditions
- Use opened bottles within 1-2 years
While no oil lasts forever, following these tips will help you get the most from every precious drop of your Young Living essential oils.