MLMs Are Recruiting – Don’t Get Sucked In!

I keep seeing things posted on social media about being your own boss! Working from home! Setting your own hours! FREE STUFF! Take your stimulus money and invest in a home-based business, you’ll be glad you did!

Weirdly, this seems to be a popular time for MLM recruiters. Not something I’d have expected, but people are hurting for cash and that means some of them might jump at something that seems like it would make money.

It won’t. Multi-level marketing companies hide behind catchphrases and catchy slogans about being your own boss and making your own hours and starting a business. They will not make you money. They will take your money, stress you out, and force you to exploit every relationship you have in an attempt to break even. The first season of the podcast The Dream is entirely about MLMs and has a huge amount of information about where they come from, how people end up in them, how hard it is to get out, how deeply the MLM companies like Amway and Herbalife have sunk their claws into the government, and why these MLMs don’t get prosecuted as the scams they are.

“Why is a ritual oil business so mad at MLMs?” you (or someone) ask. Because ritual oils are made from essential oils. And essential oils are the product of two huge MLM scams: Young Living and DoTerra. These companies train “consultants” who don’t know how to use oils safely, who make insane claims, and who charge outlandish amounts of money for cheap, domestically produced essential oils. Anyone who works with essential oils has a beef with DT and YL, because these companies make us all look bad.

Doterra and Young Living are absolutely 100% pyramid schemes hiding under the “multilevel marketing” guise. The FTC has a good (if overly technical) explanation of why MLMs don’t work as a business model here.

One of the best introductions to the whole business is this New Yorker article from 2017 on the essential oil MLMs – it includes a bio of Gary Young that mentions his conviction for practicing medicine without a license (he delivered his own daughter underwater and she drowned), his involvement in a “medical clinic” in Mexico that was exposed as a fraud by the LA Times, and his other moneymaking schemes. Since then, Young Living has made lots of claims about lots of cures and treatments and cures and it’s all about as genuine as Gary Young’s medical degree. Utah Stories has a good series on the scam of Young Living.

DoTerra is an offshoot of Young Living. They like to claim that they have “certified pure therapeutic grade oils,” but that’s a trademark. Nobody is grading oils. Science Based Medicine has an entry on DoTerra that’s very eye-opening. This blog post has a good outline of the sneaky way DoTerra convinces customers that their oils have certifications and approvals that don’t actually exist. The blog is defunct, but the links still work and the information is still accurate. Lazyman And Money has a good explanation of why essential oil MLMs and DoTerra in particular are a scam.

You can buy oils at the grocery store, at the drug store, and a dozen other places. Well, you’ll be able to when we’re able to go out, anyway. Do not get scammed. The NOW branded oils at Walgreens and Target are the same thing as DoTerra and Young Living oils. There is no difference except in price. Look to see that the Latin name for the plant is on the bottle, and that it’s 100% essential oil of that plant, and you’ll get the same thing you’d get from one of the MLMs. You’ll just pay less, and not be supporting a pyramid scheme.

Note: if you’re going to comment that OMG YL/DT IS NOT A SCAM, don’t bother. I’ve been working with essential oils a long time and I can assure you of this: if you are using DT or YL oils, you are being ripped off. If you want to spend your money that way, fine, but do not try to pretend that those oils are in any way superior to the oils sold cheaper in other places.

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