Founded in 1982, Aura Cacia has become one of the most popular makers of essential oils and other wellness products. Of all the major essential oils brands, Aura Cacia stands out for its mission-driven commitment to improving the lives of disadvantaged women worldwide.
As stated on its website:
At Aura Cacia, we are inspired by the power of positive change. In our own lives and in the lives of women everywhere. Our essential oils, skin care oils, and more are made from simple and pure botanical ingredients to unlock nature’s ability to improve our well-being.Source: Aura Cacia
Indeed, Aura Cacia lives up to its promise of conducting business in an ethical and socially responsible way. The company goes to great lengths to source quality essential oils from suppliers aligned with its values of sustainability.
Most essential oil makers are privately owned. While we like to believe that most have the best interests of their customers and stakeholders at heart, some have demonstrated the opposite, employing deceptive messaging and multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes.
Aura Cacia is a sub-brand of Frontier Co-Op, an Iowan wholesaler of organic products and all-natural goods. Its structure as a co-op makes it uniquely resistant to some of the capitalist pressures that might cause it to operate dishonestly.
As a cooperative, Aura Cacia is owned by the member businesses that supply and sell its products—usually small, local stores and artisan entrepreneurs. This ownership structure creates an economic incentive for its suppliers to provide high-quality ingredients and its resellers to do the best they can to make its product successful in the market. These shared incentives create a kind of flywheel that has propelled Aura Cacia to a place among other top oil brands without nearly as much brand recognition.
Aura Cacia is also driven by a greater mission to enable women and girls with the resources they need to realize their full potential in life. To accomplish this, it has created a charitable organization called the Positive Change Project. The Positive Change Project accepts grant applications from female entrepreneurs working to break down societal barriers that hold women back from having the impact they were destined to have.
A portion of every Aura Cacia purchase goes to this grant fund. Since the program began in 2016, nearly $1 million has been distributed to female leaders. By purchasing Aura Cacia products, you are investing in the future of women.
If you are the kind of person who only buys from mission-driven companies, Aura Caica is the brand for you.
Our Picks: The Best Aura Cacia Essential Oils
- 100% pure oregano essential oil
- Certified organic by QAI
- Sourced from oregano fields in Hungary
- Used in aromatherapy to purify mind and body
- 100% pure geranium essential oil
- Certified organic by QAI
- Sourced from geranium grown in Egypt
- Makes a great ingredient in soaps, lotions, and cleaning supplies
- Energizing blend of 100% pure essential oils
- Bright aromas of sweet orange, lemon, cardamom, and peppermint
- Great pick-me-up when diffused in morning or early afternoon
The price of essential oils varies based on brand, quality, and scarcity of the ingredient plants. Comparing prices across brands can be challenging as not all brands offer a comparable selection.
We looked at the price of a standard-sized bottle of Lavender Oil across the top essential oil brands. A “standard” size for one brand is not always “standard” for others. Aura Cacia essential oils tend to be sold in 15 ml, while most brands bottle theirs in 10 ml quantities.
For the sake of comparison, we looked at the average price per ml of lavender oil across the top essential 0il brands. Here’s what we found:
As you can see, Aura Cacia is second only to budget brand NOW Foods in price, making it one of the most accessible premium essential oil brands for those who want to sample a wide variety of oils.
Aura Cacia gives you the option of becoming an Associate Member of its co-op. Doing so entitles you to a 10% discount on every order placed through Aura Cacia’s website and an annual rebate of 5% of the total amount you spend across all Frontier Co-Op brands.
Aura Cacia’s product line is extensive, covering many single-origin oils, blends, and other wellness products made with essential oils. These other products include cleansing oils, moisturizing oils, mist sprays, bubble baths, body soaks, and roll-ons. It also sells accessories like electric diffusers, burners, and necklace diffusers.
As of this writing, Aura Cacia sells more than 90 single-origin oils and 70 blends. Having such a great selection of high-quality essential oils means you are bound to find a combination of scents that matches your preferences and use cases. This wide variety also gives you the breadth of profiles you need to create your own unique blends.
For those just getting started with essential oils, Aura Cacia makes some outstanding kits, allowing you to sample a cross-section of its most unique and popular aromas without having to buy them all individually.
Our favorite beginner kit is the Aura Cacia Discover Essential Oils Kit, which comes with samplings of popular singles like Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Tea Tree, and Lavender. If you’re interested in trying out Aura Cacia’s blends, look no further than the Aura Cacia Journey to Diffusion Essential Oil Kit, which comes with four uniquely aromatic blends to help kick-start your aromatherapy journey.
Be forewarned, though: Aura Cacia’s kits come in 0.25 fl oz (7.4 ml) bottles, about half the size of their standard 0.5 fl oz (15 ml) bottles. At just $20 for a kit, you’re still getting more oil per dollar than you would with a single bottle, but be aware that the bottles themselves will be half the size, making these kits truly a sampling.
There are several factors to consider when evaluating product packaging. Great packaging is informative, attractive, and practical.
Informative packaging communicates useful information about how a product should best be used safely. Especially as you begin to accumulate different varieties of essential oils, keeping track of the intended use for each one can become a real challenge.
Aura Cacia’s squared bottle design gives it four full panels to print relevant information to remind you of its use, origin, and quality. Not only that, Aura Cacia has innovated a unique “peel-back” label, creating additional label space to provide even more helpful information.
The outside label provides basic information about the products ingredients and testing standards along with its country of origin:
Aura Cacia always includes the botanical name of the source plant. This is important because many botanically different plants share a common name but do not share the same health benefits. Lavender is a widely used oil for promoting calm and relaxation. But only the botanical flower, Lavandula angustifolia, actually produces these benefits.
This is useful information when making a purchase decision. But once you own the oil, you want to know how to use it safely and effectively. Peel back the label of an Aura Cacia essential oil for detailed usage instructions, including tips for creative at-home mixtures and dilution guides:
Apart from the label, which takes perfect advantage of the squarish bottle design, Aura Cacia’s products are also thoughtfully topped with a child-proof lid. This lid requires you to push and turn to open the bottle.
We love the practicality of this design. It acknowledges that the uninitiated might easily open and sample the exotic aroma of essential oils without realizing the risks involved.
Essential oils are highly concentrated substances and must be handled with care. Accidentally applying a drop of essential oil to your skin could result in rashes and other allergic reactions if not properly diluted with a carrier oil. The child-proof lid is just another example of Aura Cacia’s desire to build a sustainable brand that can integrate into every part of your life.
As much as we hate to say it: looks matter. And given the variety of crucial roles EOs can play in one’s life, they must have a design aesthetic that brings you joy.
We aren’t the biggest fan of Aura Cacia’s design aesthetic. Its multi-colored logo is a bit busy and can appear dated relative to competitors like Vitruvi and Rocky Mountain Oils.
And while we love the practicality of the child-proof caps, they look and feel bulky and out of proportion with the rest of the bottle’s size. Overall, we think there are far better-looking bottles out there if showcasing and displaying them is important to you.
Essential oils are volatile compounds found in plants, which have certain healing and therapeutic properties. Quality essential oil sourcing requires both all-natural agriculture and clean steam distillation.
Aura Cacia has over 30 years of experience building a global network of growers and distillers who share their all-natural oil production values.
Its more popular scents (e.g., peppermint, cedarwood, citruses, etc.) are sourced from US producers, with more vertically integrated growing and distillation processes. This allows Aura Cacia to meet demand while keeping pricing competitive relative to other premium brands.
Simultaneously, Aura Cacia employs its global supply chain to ensure the highest quality of more exotic oil varieties. For example, Argan Oil is derived from the nuts of Argan trees, which thrive primarily in Morocco’s Atlas mountain range. Aura Cacia has cultivated partnerships with various Moroccan women’s cooperatives who handpick each Argan nut.
Aura Cacia only works with suppliers who prioritize fair and ethical worker treatment, community involvement, and environmental sustainability. For decades, Aura Cacia has scoured the world to build trustworthy, equitable partnerships with growers who share these values.
It’s important to start by saying that we’ve had nothing but positive experiences with Aura Cacia essential oils over the years. Their co-op structure really does align stakeholder interests in producing quality essential oils.
Aura Cacia tests each pre-shipment of oils in the labs at its headquarters in Iowa. In fact, Aura Cacia was among the first to innovate the gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC/MS) testing procedure. GC/MS has become an industry-standard test for validating essential oils’ purity and quality.
Combining this rigorous testing method and its growers’ shared ownership relationship guarantees Aura Cacia essential oils are particularly potent.
However, unlike other premium essential oil companies (e.g., Revive, Rocky Mountain Oils, etc.), Aura Cacia does not publish the results of its oil testing on its website. We don’t have any reason to believe that they are cutting corners, but adding this layer of transparency would only further reinforce our confidence in Aura Cacia’s quality. We hope that they join their competitors by beginning to share these reports in the future.
Because essential oils remain such a new category, it can be hard to distinguish marketing claims from certifications that a third party has validated.
Aura Cacia does a good job only labeling its products with official certifications. That’s why you might not see certain certifications you expect to see.
“Certified Organic” products have been produced end-to-end using practices per the Organic Foods Production Act. To receive this certification, farmers and distributors must prove that they are investing only in production practices that are sustainable for our planet and its inhabitants.
Aura Cacia offers a line of 37 “Certified Organic” oils made according to the Organic Foods Production Act. These oils have been certified by Quality Assurance International (QAI), a leading organic certifier. Legally, only certified organic goods may bear the “USDA Organic” logo:
If you’ve spent much time shopping for essential oils, you’ve probably come across products marketed or labeled as being “Therapeutic Grade” or “Aromatherapy Grade.”
The FDA categorizes essential oils and other aromatherapy products as cosmetics: “If a product is intended only to cleanse the body or to make a person more attractive, it’s a cosmetic. So, if a product such as a shower gel is intended only to cleanse the body, or a perfume or cologne is intended only to make a person smell good, it’s a cosmetic.”
Cosmetics claiming to provide therapeutic benefits (e.g., fluoride toothpaste) are also considered drugs and must meet the labeling and approval requirements of cosmetics and drugs. Drugs must undergo a rigorous FDA approval process before being sold on the market. Manufacturers must demonstrate the drug’s therapeutic benefits in a controlled laboratory environment as part of this process.
Essential oils and aromatherapy have long been used as alternative medicines because their benefits are not easily reproduced in a lab with a random sampling of people. In short, they don’t work equally well for everyone. There is a psychological component to the effectiveness of essential oils, and for many people, they don’t solve a specific illness; they make them feel better.
For this reason, it isn’t easy to make claims of being therapeutic or aromatherapy grade on the packaging. That’s also why you won’t see Aura Caica bottles with such denotations. You shouldn’t expect to ever see such labels on a product from a reputable company. If you see a company selling products with therapeutic or aromatherapy-grade on their label, report them to the FDA.
That said, it’s important to distinguish the labeling of products from the marketing and promotion of products. Promotional communications for products are regulated by the FTC, which is generally more flexible when positioning aromatherapy as a potential use case for a product.
However, there are times when even marketing communications are unacceptable. In April 2020, doTerra was famously warned by the FTC for falsely implying that its essential oils can help treat or prevent the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
All of this is to say that we actually prefer to see essential oils without a “therapeutic grade” or “aromatherapy grade” label. The absence of such declarations indicates a company only willing to make honest claims about its products and allow their products’ quality to speak for itself, without overblown and misleading amplifiers.
Aura Cacia essential oils indeed carry therapeutic and aromatherapy-grade benefits. The absence of such information on its label should only reinforce that Aura Cacia’s business is based on honesty and product quality speaks for itself.
As explained above, all essential oils and aromatherapy products are regulated as cosmetics by the FDA. For that reason, they are not considered “culinary grade” or “food grade.” Aura Cacia essential oils are no exception in this regard.
The FDA keeps a list of essential oils that are “safe” to ingest, but even then, they must be diluted properly and consumed very sparingly. Unless you’re working with a trained herbalist or a medical professional, we recommend against ever ingesting essential oils to be on the safe side. EOs are highly concentrated substances that can have adverse effects not used correctly.
Aura Cacia, like many premium essential oils makers, is opposed to any form of animal testing and makes prominent claims both on its product labels as well as in its marketing materials that it is “Cruelty-Free.”
The FDA has a broad definition of whether a company can use the term “cruelty-free” on its packaging. It allows, for example, products whose ingredients were once tested on animals but no longer are to be considered “cruelty-free” because animal testing was not used in the production of this batch of products.
Aura Cacia has a long reputation for investing in organic, sustainable growth. While the government won’t require them to certify that animals were not harmed in their production, we have a hard time believing that they would. Aura Cacia is an honest, cooperatively owned brand that has operated with integrity and honesty for over 30 years. This is much more than many of its competitors can say.
Product Selection4/5 GoodAura Cacia offers a complete selection of single-origin essential oils, blends, and derivative products, so that you have the flexibility to stay within the brand no matter your use case.
Pricing5/5 AmazingAura Cacia is one of the most affordable essential oil brands we've evaluated. In our analysis of the average price per ml of Lavender Oil, Aura Cacia came in at the second-to-lowest rate at just $0.95.
Packaging4/5 GoodAura Cacia scores major points for an innovative label design which provides additional space for tips and dilution instructions on the reverse side. It also includes a child-proof lid for safety. That said, we subtracted points for a dated design and top-heavy lid making their bottles less than appealing for display in your home or workplace.
Sourcing5/5 AmazingAura Cacia has a uniquely sustainable supply chain, sourcing its high-quality ingredients from far-off corners of the world where they naturally grow and thrive. They specifically choose to partner with local, female-led enterprises that align with their values of sustainability.
Testing2/5 BadTesting is the only major area Aura Cacia follows, in our opinion. We have no reason to believe the Aura Cacia would lie about its testing results. Still, with so many of its competitors providing links to test results right from their product detail pages, it does seem like a striking omission that leaves us wondering. Especially when you consider just how affordable Aura Cacia oils are compared to the competition.
Certifications4/5 GoodAura Cacia is clear in its packaging about which certifications it does and doesn't offer. We give them a near-perfect score for their honesty and subtract one point simply because they don't have some of the added certifications their competitors do.
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