Is doTERRA a Scam? - Another Pyramid Scheme Revealed?!

Is doTERRA a Scam? – Another Pyramid Scheme Revealed?!

Welcome to my doTERRA review!

Chances are, one of your friends or relatives has just introduced to you this amazing Essential Oil company called doTERRA, which could help you improve your health and bring you wealth at the same time.

First of all, I must Congratulate you for taking your time to do your own research before buying into any "seemingly good" product or business opportunity.

That's the way to avoid scams and find the legitimate way to make money online!

To be completely transparent with you, I'm not associated with doTERRA is any form.

So, I'm not here to pitch you any products or to lure you into any business opportunities.

You can expect an unbiased 3rd party review which I'll be revealing to you some of the ugly truths you need to know before joining doTERRA.

Is doTERRA a scam? Or is it a pyramid scheme?

Here's the truth...

doTERRA Review Summary

Product Name: doTERRA

Founder: Founded by David Stirling in 2008

Product Type: Health & Wellness (Essential Oils) MLM Company

Price: $35 to join + $100/month Autoship

Best For: Ladies (who are good at networking & recruiting)

doterra review

Summary: The good news is that doTERRA is a legit MLM business where you can earn real money. However, the same problem for most MLM companies applies - It's very hard for you to earn a sustainable living and you're required to do lots of recruiting. (I'll prove this to you with a shocking evidence!)

Rating: 40/100

Recommended: No


What is doTERRA?

Some Background Info...

doTERRA is a Utah-based Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) company selling Essential Oils.

The name “doTerra” comes from Latin and simply means – Gift Of The Earth.

doTERRA's major direct competitor is another Essential Oil MLM company called Young Living.

Young Living was founded back in 1993 while doTERRA only came in existence in 2008.

Interestingly, doTERRA was founded by David Stirling and former executives, employees & distributors of Young Living.

So, in essence, doTERRA is like a copycat, adopting what's already working with Young Living and use that to form doTERRA.

I'm not saying being a copycat is bad, as long as they can make it even better than the existing ones, right?

There's also no guarantee that older companies are definitely better.

So, in this doTERRA review, I'll be discussing the standard 2 main aspects of an MLM company - its product line & the business opportunity...

doTERRA Product Line

doterra essential oils

doTERRA started out as an Essential Oil company.

Essential Oils are still their main products but they've since expanded their product line to include other areas like personal care products, supplements, weight loss products, etc.

So, let me just list down some of their products in each category to give you an idea because they have simply too many of them:

  • Essential Oils - Include both Single Oils & Proprietary Blends (Some Single oils include lavender, peppermint & lemon. Proprietary blends include peace, elevation & serenity)
  • doTERRA On Guard Series - Hand wash, laundry detergent, toothpaste, etc...
  • doTERRA Breathe Series - Respiratory drops, vapor stick (Things that help with your breathing & respiratory issues)
  • DigestZen - Essential oils and supplements for people with digestive issues
  • Personal Care - Skincare, body care, hair care products
  • Supplements - Daily fruits & vegetables, daily vitality, children's supplements, women's supplements, etc...
  • Weight Loss - Meal replacement shakes, metabolic gum, soft gels, etc...
  • Other products include essential oil diffusers and other relevant gadgets/accessories.

doTERRA claimed that their products are CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade.

And they always use this as the proof to show customers that their essential oils are not just pure but they actually have therapeutic effects to our body.

However, the problem is that this "CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade" is actually not accredited or backed by any authorities or associations.

As you can see from this post, the therapeutic effect of essential oils is just a lie and marketing strategy. There's no such thing as real  therapeutic essential oils that is certified by FDA.

It's just a trademark doTERRA registered themselves for their own distillation and purification process of their oils.

I'm not saying doTERRA's essential oils are totally useless.

Yes, they do have their own positive health effects.

However, they're definitely not as magical as their distributors/advocates claim when they simply want to sell you their products and make money.

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I'm Jerry!

I Created My Own 4-Figure Monthly Passive Income at just 21 Years Old!

How to Make Money with doTERRA?

Just like any other traditional MLM company, there are 2 main ways for you to make money with doTERRA:

  • Sell their products and earn retail commissions
  • Recruit people and build your downline teams to earn various bonuses

However, in order for you to get started with this business, you have to first pay a $35 registration fee, which is pretty reasonable when compare to many other MLM companies that charge hundreds of dollar for beginners just to get started.

After that, you're officially known as their "Wellness Advocates", the term they use to describe distributors.

On top of that, doTERRA requires its distributors to spend at least $100 per month on the company's product in order to qualify for sales commissions.

Although this is one of the reasons I don't like MLM, it's pretty common in this business.

doTERRA Compensation Plan

There are 4 main ways for you to get paid with doTERRA's compensation plan:

  1. Retail Bonus - You earn 25% commission from all the retail sales you make (pretty straight forward)
  2. Fast Start Bonus - Within the first 60 days, this Fast Start Bonus allows new distributors to earn higher percentage commissions from their first 3 levels of downlines (Level 1: 20%, Level 2: 10%, Level 3: 5%)
  3. Power of Three Bonus - Additional cash bonuses when you and/or your downlines successfully recruit 3 downlines and meet the requirements (Cash bonus include $50, $250, $1,500)
  4. Unilevel Bonus - This is where true residual income happens in your doTERRA MLM business. You'll earn a percentage of your downlines' overrides down 7 levels deep. (The difference between doTERRA and other companies is that in doTERRA, the deeper you go, the higher the percentage of your unilevel commission)

As many of you know, MLM's compensation plan is often very complicated.

I've just given you a brief explanation. For more detailed explanation, please watch the video below:

Tired of MLM? Check out my #1 Recommendation Here!

What I Like About doTERRA...

1. Growing Market

Studies have shown that Essential Oil is a growing market because of 3 main reasons:

  1. An increase in awareness/understanding of Essential Oils due to the growth of Direct Selling companies like doTERRA & Young Living
  2. Digital marketing helps to boost this awareness even more
  3. At the same time, there's an increase in health & wellness trend all over the world

This is a good reason for you to get involved in such business because of this booming market.

Due to the rising trend, there are many more companies start to sell essential oils.

For example, other MLM companies like Melaleuca, Essante Organics, Arbonne & Youngevity are all selling essential oils.

However, the problem with these companies is that they are selling a wide range of other product and essential oil is just a small part.

Many of low quality essential oils in the market are not 100% pure. Many of them simply use chemicals to produce the synthetic aroma.

So, the advantage of companies like doTERRA and Young Living is that Essential Oils is their main focus and they definitely have higher quality essential oils for their customers.

2. Accredited by BBB

Also, doTERRA has just been accredited by Better Business Bureau (BBB) in 2017 with an A+ rating:

doterra bbb rating

However, one thing is take note is that they have quite a lot of customer complaints as you can see from the screenshot above!

What I DON'T Like About doTERRA...

1. Don't Have Their Own Farms

Despite doTERRA and Young Living are both legitimate Essential Oil companies, there's a huge difference between them and that is...

doTERRA does not own any of their own farms while Young Living is the ONLY essential oil company today that has their own farms located all over the world.

doterra vs young living

Owning their farms ensure the quality of their plants and the oils they distill.

I'm not saying doTERRA has lousy oils just because they partner with other farms.

But logically speaking, you can better ensure the quality of your own products if you have your own farms, right?

Seeing from this perspective, I would recommend Young Living more than doTERRA because they're the ONLY company that has their own essential oil farms.

2. Recruit, Recruit, Recruit...

Yes, just like any other MLM, you're expected to recruit other salespeople in order to increase your own profits.

doTERRA is definitely not a pyramid scheme because they have their own products to sell and they do not solely rely on recruiting people.

But the truth is this...

You can only make a certain amount of money by retailing and selling doTERRA products. Yo can't even earn residual income from retail sales.

All the big checks and residual/passive income comes from recruiting.

Again, I'm also not saying recruiting is a bad thing because if you know how to recruit appropriately, you can still make a lot of money.

However, the problem is that majority of the people don't know how to recruit in the right way.

Traditional MLMs always teach people to come up with a list of 100 people who are your friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors, etc. Then contact them one by one and try to sell them either the products or the business opportunity.

This is the fastest way for many people to join the "NFL Club", also known as the "No Friend Left Club".

Just take a look at companies like Now Lifestyle, they're moving towards combining internet marketing with MLM.

If there are ways for you to attract leads & customers and let them come to you automatically, would you still go out their and try to pitch your friends and family?

Internet is the future and it is happening now. So, why do you still want to follow the traditional way of doing things and make yourself miserable?

Thanks to the Internet, I'm constantly getting at least 20 leads per day for my business without doing any cold-calling, hard-selling or recruiting.

And I've already achieved financial independence at just 21 years old earning 4-figure monthly passive income.

Here's How I Did It >>

3. Inappropriate Marketing Tactics

Since recruiting is the lifeblood of this business, many distributors tend to exaggerate the effectiveness of their products and the profitability of the business.

In 2014, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) sent a warning letter to doTERRA for marketing its products as possible treatments or cures for Ebola, cancer, autism and other conditions in violation of the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act.

Although this kind of thing doesn't just happen to doTERRA, it's another sign which shows people are desperate to make sales and recruit people into the business.

4. Low Earning Potential

Last but not least, this is the shocking evidence that I want to show you...

Below is the screenshot from doTERRA's income disclosure statement:

doterra income disclosure

At first, I was surprised...

Wow, 62% of the people have an average annual earnings of $27,557?!


This is the first time I see such a misleading income disclosure from a MLM company.

The screenshot above is only for the "Leaders" in doTERRA. (As you can see the ranks start from Silver to Presidential Diamond)

The sad truth is that ONLY 1% of the entire distributor network made it to one of these leadership ranks!

And as you can see from the screenshot below, there are 6 different ranks below Silver: Wellness Advocate, Manager, Director, Executive, Elite and Premier.

doterra compensation plan

I didn't made up all these. They clearly stated that ONLY 1% of the distributors made it to the leadership rank (Silver and above).

In other words, at least more than 95% of the distributors failed to make a sustainable income to even pay their bills.

Is doTERRA a Scam?

No, doTERRA is not a scam. I'm also not saying you can't make money with doTERRA.

But just looking at the income disclosure above, it's true that most people who join doTERRA failed.

A lot of them failed miserably and got themselves further into debt due to the monthly order requirement.

Some people can even lose their friends if they fail to learn the appropriate way to recruit.

Can you see why I don't recommend this opportunity despite it's a legit business?

How I Make a Living Online...

I'm not a fan of MLM, not because it's illegal or not profitable, but because of all the restrictions and the expensive costs involved.

Instead, Affiliate Marketing is my top recommended business model for anyone to make money online.

The reason is simple...

  • You don't have to recruit anyone to make money
  • You have the freedom to promote any products you want and not being restricted to only promote the products from one MLM company
  • It's Free to get started

In fact, with affiliate marketing...

I've personally created a 4-Figure Monthly Passive Income Stream and become financially independent at just 21 years old without any College degree or working experience!

Through my own hard work, I went from a broke restaurant waiter to living my dream laptop lifestyle in less than a year's time...

If you want to discover the secrets of how I did it at such a young age, click here!

Jerry Huang

Jerry is a young aspiring Internet Entrepreneur who started his online business at the age of 18. He is currently a Full-time Affiliate Marketer at Wealthy Affiliate, a community to help anyone start their own online business without prior experience. He actually achieved Financial Independence at the young age of 21. Read more about his story here!

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 8 comments
Jason Fisher - November 29, 2019

Thankyou for your review. I was curious about Doterra and i got it.

Jaci - November 8, 2019

Of course you want to showcase your own affiliate business, because that’s your niche! To respond to Jaymie above, you do not have to purchase $100 each month to receive commissions. Your cart needs to always have 100 PV showing, but that doesn’t mean you have to purchase that. The computer software will only spit out commission checks if 100 PV is in your cart. My ship date is the 14th. I go in and order what I want and place my order. Then I go back and put 100 PV in my cart and hold until the next month. So, no I don’t have to order $100 monthly.

And, no, I don’t care doTERRA doesn’t “own” their own farms. I care that they work in specific areas where each oil grows best and where they work with people, who wouldn’t otherwise have any income, if doTERRA didn’t co-impact with them. Helping the world is much better than owning a farm .

Also, anyone can earn a good income with doTERRA. It’s called hard work. If you work hard you get there.

Lisa Den BLANKEN - July 31, 2019

HI Jaymie,
Thanks so much for your detailed response. I am so very happy you took the time to write this. You have helped someone and I hope you feel better about that. I hope one day you can use the oils for healing. Thanks for taking the time to write this!

Lisa Den BLANKEN - July 31, 2019

Hi So glad I read this. I will only use and buy the oils when I want to and not because I feel I had to and won’t make this a business!

Juanita - April 30, 2019

You friend was falling down on her job. Many advocates rely on trade shows and craft fairs to get contacts, thus avoiding harassing your friends and family. Secondly, she should have told you that you could remain a Wellness Advocate but convert your membership to a wholes purchaser. As a wholesale advocate you buy as much or as little as you want at the 25% off retail price. You can go months without buying anything if you don’t want to.

I’m sorry you had such a negative experience with an excellent product.

The company that has farms around the world are getting a decent product, but some of these farms are near highways.

Jaymie - September 23, 2018

When I first started using the DoTERRA products in spring 2017, I loved the way the oils smelled. My husband and I both had trouble sleeping, and we rubbed a few of the oils on our feet. Initially, we found the oils relaxing and calming. During the day I diffused citrus oils to help invigorate my mood. I noticed the oils not only made the air smell better, but they helped me feel better. The better I felt using the oils, the more I wanted to buy. My friend I bought them from convinced me to sign up as a Wellness Advocate and sell the oils.  I had no idea by doing so I would get involved in a Pyramid Scheme.

After a one time purchase, I decided to sign up as a Wellness advocate. I figured I could sell a few oils to friends or family to offset the cost of the oils. My friend that introduced me to the product became my upline. I knew very little about oils at this point. However, I knew a lot about sales and marketing due to my career in sales. Selling the oils didn’t feel like it could be that hard. I knew I could apply my years of sales experience, and I felt like I could be successful.

My first month my sales were outstanding. I had some friends and family interested in purchasing oils. However, the next month I found it impossible to sell anything. My friends and family didn’t have much interest in buying oils every month. Because the oils are so concentrated, a single bottle could last for years. My upline told me to instruct people on ways to use the oils to increase their consumption.

I made videos, wrote blogs, and did everything I could to push the oils. Unfortunately, people didn’t need oils, or they had someone else they knew that sold oils. I tried everything my upline recommended, and nothing worked. I couldn’t believe that with the amount of sales experience I had that I couldn’t sell the oil.

Finally, I opened up to my upline and shared my frustration. I told her I didn’t like harassing my friends and family to buy products. Additionally, I expressed my frustrations that I couldn’t make money by selling the products.

At this point, she dropped a bomb on me. She admitted that the only way to make any money at DoTERRA was by recruiting new members to become Wellness Advocates. She said the goal was to create a team. I was instructed to recruit people to sell under me. Then I could earn commissions off their onboarding packages and any sales they made.

I asked her how adding friends to directly compete with my sales would improve my sales. She promised me that we all had different circles of influence for selling. However, my uplines sphere of influence and my own sphere were intertwined. I found it next to impossible to reach new customers because we knew the same people.

If I had trouble selling by having a person above me, how would I sell more oil by having people below me? None of this made sense to me. I know market saturation is not a good thing. I mean McDonald’s doesn’t put 3 restaurants on the same block. Why would I ask my neighbors to sell oils that I offer?

What she told me about DoTERRA made it seem like the company may be a Pyramid Scheme. When I made the realization, I felt sick to my stomach. I had always been critical of anyone that got involved in these scams. Somehow despite my best efforts to avoid these companies, I ended up working for one.

In order to verify my concerns, I did a quick Google search and landed on the Federal Trade Commission website. There I found an article called the Telltale signs of a Pyramid Scheme. The FTC outlined three examples the company was a pyramid scheme

The income you earned is based primarily on the recruitment of new salespeople to the company. The income you make on products is minimal.
You are required to buy a lot of inventory
You are forced to buy products you don’t want or need to stay in good standing with the company

I reviewed the commission chart for DoTERRA. After reading it, I realized the commission worksheet was confusing and complicated. Additionally, I learned the most significant commissions given out were through “Power of 3,” bonuses. These commissions are received when you and 2 of your recruits hit specific targets each month. The rewards were substantial at up to $1500 per month. A Power of 3 Bonus was far more than the 10% in the commission that DoTERRA offered for the sales of the products.

Also, the chart said I needed to purchase 100 product points every month to be eligible for the highest bonuses. Product points were supposed to be one point for one dollar spent. However, many times this formula of 1:1 wasn’t accurate. I noticed with the most expensive products that the points were significantly less than the product cost. Additionally, to be eligible for commissions, I had to spend more than $100 a month or $1200 a year. YIKES! $1200 is a lot of money to spend on products that I don’t even need.

After reviewing everything and comparing it to the FTC article, I knew I got involved in a Pyramid Scheme. I can’t even tell you how humiliated I felt. Not only did I feel embarrassed, but an incredible amount of shame came over me. My family lived on a tight budget, and I had wasted hundreds of dollars. I had been lured into selling with the pitch that I could help my family by earning extra money. When I did the math over the two months I had been selling, I had spent $700 more than I had made.
After I did the math, I felt sick to my stomach. My family lives on a single income because my son is medically fragile. When I had to tell my husband about the money I lost, I felt petrified, embarrassed, and full of shame. I had always been the responsible one with money in our relationship. Admitting my carelessness to my husband, was a bitter pill to swallow.

Thankfully, my husband was incredibly understanding. He didn’t get angry or upset. In fact, he told me he understood my intentions. I felt relieved he didn’t get mad. However, I was so angry with myself.

After my husband and I talked, I let my upline know that I had to quit selling. I was too afraid to tell her what I uncovered, and I knew she wouldn’t believe me anyway. When I left as a consultant, our friendship ended on bad terms. Not only did I get scammed out of money, but I also lost a friendship. My heart was shattered.

Today I still have a box of over 100 oils that I no longer use as a reminder of my mistake. Each time I see the box, I feel a tiny sting to my ego. I had always prided myself on being astute and intelligent in business. However, even I got suckered by a Pyramid Scam.

If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.

My best advice is to stay away from all Multi-Level Marketing companies.

All of them are a scam. Some just do a better job at looking legitimate.

    Jerry Huang - September 25, 2018

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ronen Brown - October 31, 2019

    Dear Jamie,
    Thanks for your story.
    Network marketing is not a scam but it is not for everyone.
    Just like in any business, you need to chose a good one to have a chance to succeed.
    First month it was a great product and selling was good.
    Second month, selling was hard so network marketing is a scam?
    If you do want help to understand business in general and MLM in particular, you may contact me.
    You can do it just like everyone that is successful in networking can.
    Giving up is easy, improving and learning take some effort.


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