I recently had the opportunity to do a preview of the new Escents store at West Edmonton Mall (their first store in Alberta) for This Bird’s Day. Escents is a Canadian aromatherapy store that features natural health and body products scented with essential oils. As someone who uses Young Living essential oils on a daily basis, I was very curious to see what Escents offered, and got a little swag bag of things to try and review!
The store has a “blending bar” with a wall of essential oils that you can add to any unscented product. You pay a few extra dollars to choose whatever oils you want to make a custom product. I loved this idea! Here’s what I got:
Organic Shea & Cocoa Body Butter: The consistency of this was more like a lotion cream to me (when I think body butter, I think of something thicker and heavier); this was very light feeling. I added Blue Chamomile, High Alpine Lavender, and Bergamot as the staff suggested these would be good for my eczema-laden hands. I liked how light the consistency was and how easily it absorbed into my hands, and it certainly didn’t irritate my hands, but it didn’t improve the condition of the eczema.
Custom Roll-On: The roll-on is a glass bottle of carrier oil with a plastic roller ball in the top so that you can apply your blend quickly and easily. The ingredients of the carrier oil include sweet almond oil, sunflower seed oil, jojoba oil, and vitamin E. The essential oils I put in were Frankincense, Raphael (blend of Ylang Ylang and Sandalwood), and Rosemary. It smells lovely, but after taking it home it may be too strongly scented for what I’m used to. (We used 10 drops of each of the 3 oils, and the bottle contains 9 ml of carrier oil.)
Escents has many pre-scented products to address different concerns, and I got a few samples of those to try as well.
Cellu-Aid Sugar Scrub: This was given to me to see if it would help exfoliate the dry scaly skin that comes with eczema. This sugar scrub was gentle enough that I felt comfortable using it on my face as well as my hands. It did feel great on my skin and definitely sloughed off some nasty crusty stuff. However I do also make my own sugar scrubs.
Ingredients: SUCROSE (SUGAR CANE), CAPRYLIC/CAPRIC TRIGLYCERIDE (COCONUT), HELIANTHUS ANNUUS (SUNFLOWER) SEED OIL, ORGANIC COCOS NUCIFERA (COCONUT) OIL, EMULSIFYING WAX NF (SOY AND CARNAUBA), BEESWAX, PAULLINIA CUPANA (GUARANA) SEED EXTRACT, GLYCERYL STEARATE (PALM), PALM STEARIC ACID (PALM), ORGANIC COPERNICIA CERIFERA (CARNAUBA) WAX, ORGANIC BUTYROSPERMUM PARKII (SHEA BUTTER), TOCOPHEROL (VITAMIN E) (SOY), PARFUM (ESCENTS’ CELLU-AID ESSENTIAL OIL BLEND WITH CEDAR AND SAGE).
(Note: normally the word “parfum” would scare me on a label because it could encompass MANY things, including hidden chemicals. It looks like they are disclosing the ingredients of their parfum here – hopefully there isn’t anything else added that isn’t listed.)
Almond Latte Shea Body Butter: This was also recommended as a moisturizer to address eczema. The consistency is thicker, more of a true rich body butter to me. The scent is quite delicious (almost want to eat it!) but also quite strong for me. I’ve never been one to like fragrance or scented products though – I use essential oils for therapeutic benefits and not for “smelling nice”. I do feel that after using this, the smell would waft after me as I walked out of a room. It did feel nice and smooth on my skin, though I wouldn’t say it improved my skin’s appearance.
Ingredients: AQUA, SHEA BUTTER*, VITIS VINIFERA (GRAPE) SEED OIL*, PERSEA GRATISSIMA (AVOCADO) OIL*, CAPRYLIC/CAPRIC TRIGLYCERIDE (PALM/COCONUT*), EMULSIFYING WAX (COCONUT)*, GLYCERYL STEARATE (GLYCERINE) (PALM/COCONUT)*, JOJOBA SEED OIL*, ALOE BARBADENSIS (ALOE) LEAF JUICE*, STEARIC ACID (PALM)*, TOCOPHEROL (VITAMIN E)*, SILK AMINO ACIDS, GLYCERINE (PALM/COCONUT/SOY)*, SORBITOL (CORN), PARFUM (ESCENTS’ ALMOND LATTE AROMA BLEND INCLUDING ALMOND, PURE CARROT SEED AND ORANGE ESSENTIAL OILS)*, GLUCONOLACTONE (CORN)*, SODIUM BENZOATE (FOOD PRESERVATIVE), METHYL CELLULOSE (COTTON)*, ALLANTOIN (COMFREY)*.
Stress Relief Aromatherapy Inhaler: This is a little stick that you open up to take a sniff whenever you feel the need for some stress relief. It reminds me of a miniature version of these old-school air fresheners we used to have in our bathroom back in the 80’s… where there was a scented core that released the scent over time.
Ingredients: 100% PURE ESSENTIAL OILS (EUCALYPTUS, BERGAMOT, LAVENDER, NEROLI, PETITGRAIN), JOJOBA OIL.
My only concern with this product is: what is the core made of? All of the ingredients are liquid, so it’s not like a coconut oil base that would be solid at room temperature. Handy if you need some aromatherapy in your pocket, but to me, it would be just as easy to have a little bottle of oils or a roll-on instead.
So – next question: What about the quality of the essential oils?
I have been using Young Living essential oils almost exclusively, and a lot of that has to do with the quality of the oils. They have a “seed to seal” promise that the oils are not adulterated in any way from the growing process through the distillation process. They also own many farms and distilleries to be able to control these processes, and encourage consumers to visit and see how it’s done.
What about the oils Escents offers?
At the store, the staff told me their oils are therapeutic grade and that they are sourced from farms around the world. (Note: there is no actual “therapeutic” grading system for essential oils, so when companies make this claim, including Young Living, it doesn’t actually mean that there is a specific standard met. Just want to be honest here.)
I contacted the PR Associate who had gotten me the invite to preview the store to see if I could find out more details about where the oils came from, and how they were tested for quality. Here are the questions and answers:
1. Where does Escents get their essential oils from in terms of farming practices and distillation processes? All of Escents essential oils come from different parts of the world. Each farm is different as they grow different things. For examples, one farm will grow only Eucalyptus and the next farm will grow only Lavender. We have a few different ways to distill the essential oils, such as a steam distillation, expression and CO2 extraction.
2. How are Escents essential oils produced and tested for quality? The testing is done in a lab. After the testing, they supply Escents with a certificate of analysis (CofA)and the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).
I don’t know how you feel after reading that but it was pretty generic to me, and I didn’t feel I got any real sense of Escents oils. So I tried to probe more.
1. Does Escents have a relationship with the farms and distillers that they get oils from and are they familiar with the farmers growing practices, such as growing without the use of pesticides? Escents does not have a direct relationship with the farmers themselves, but rather purchases the essential oils through a broker who works directly with all the farms. The main reason Escents does not purchase directly from the farmer is because if they were to buy direct, they would have to buy the whole batch and that can be up to 200kg. The farms the brokers purchase from do not use pesticides as that is against Escents policy.
2. Does Escents distill their oils from raw materials? Or are they purchased from distillers, or purchased through a third-party? Escents does not distill their own materials as distilling is a delicate process and you need to have a lot of raw materials to create the oils. Example: it takes up to 65 lbs to make 10ml of pure rose oil.
So, I guess the bottom line is that Escents gets their oils already bottled from a third-party. It sounds like it isn’t a big enough company to warrant getting involved in the actual production side of essential oils. Unfortunately I still don’t feel I have a solid answer about the true quality of the oils – there’s no talk about what KIND of quality testing is done, or how they ENSURE that what they are getting is grown with no pesticides.
Now, none of the Escents products I tried caused me any harm or bad reactions (which is saying something because of my extremely sensitive eczema-prone skin). So I do think their products are worth a try, but perhaps tread cautiously and see what works for you. I hope this Escents Arometherapy review was helpful in providing you with information to make your buying choices.
How do you make decisions about choosing essential oil products?
(Disclosure: I was invited to an Escents Media Preview where I visited the store and met with staff to discuss products, make custom blends, and got samples to take home. No other compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.)