Is doTERRA a Pyramid Scam?

DoTERRA was founded in 2008 and is one of the essential oils MLM companies. This review is not about the products and doTERRA essential oil benefits, but about the compensation plan for doTERRA and to see is doTERRA a pyramid scam.

doTERRA Essential Oils MLM

  • Overview of doTERRA doTERRA essential oil logo
  • Product Range with doTERRA essential oil recipes
  • doTERRA business model
  • How do I make money with doTERRA?
  • How much does it cost to become a Wellness Advocate doTERRA?
  • Compensation Plan for doTERRA
  • How much can I expect to earn with doTERRA
  • What I like about doTERRA
  • What I don’t like about doTERRA
  • Do I get training?
  • Is doTERRA a pyramid scam?
  • Final thoughts and My no. 1 Recommendation as an alternative. Click HERE if you want to see it now.

If you like essential oils and would like to sell them, you can do so through Affiliate Marketing, where you are not limited to promoting the products from just one brand or company.

One can make money with Multi Level Marketing, but the chances are slim. So why chase a narrow and difficult path, when you can work in affiliate marketing and your own business, and see rewards as a successful affiliate marketer.

Overview of doTERRA

DoTERRA, according to Wikipedia, is a Multi Level Marketing (MLM) company that was founded by a group of seven health care and business professionals. They had the mission of sharing the highest quality essential oils with the world. DoTERRA is derived from the Latin word which means “Gift of the Earth”.

They are based in Pleasant Grove, Utah and was started by David Sterling, Emily Wright, David Hill, Corey Lindley, Gregory Cook, Robert Young and Mark Wolfert. Stirling, Wright and Hill were former Young Living executives, another one of the essential oils MLM companies.

The first products went on sale on 25 April 2008 and consisted of 25 single oils and 10 blends.

Since then, many more doTERRA essential oil recipes with single oils and blends have been added, as well as nutritional, spa and healthy living products. These are all based on essential oil technologies and a philosophy of comprehensive wellness, to get the most of doTERRA essential oil benefits.

Today there are 170 essential oils that are sourced from 45 countries around the world. They work with a global botanical network of distillers and artisans in 45 countries. DoTERRA distributors are call Wellness Advocates.

Product Range for doTERRA Essential Oil Benefits

The doTERRA product range include: Products for doTERRA one of the essential oils MLM companies

  • doTERRA essential oil recipes are used for single oils and proprietary blends
  • Personal care products
  • Supplements
  • Kits and collections
  • Wellness programs
  • Diffusers for doTERRA essential oil uses in the home
  • Accessories

The Certified Pure Tested Grade (CPTG) essential oil products offer natural solutions to you and your loved ones.

Warning: Do be aware though that doTERRA created the CPTG trademark themselves, and it has nothing at all to do with the DFA. CPTG is simply their marketing slogan, which is confusing consumers to think that it has been certified, when in fact, therapeutic grade essential oils do not exist.

You can order doTERRA online and get the doTERRA essential oil Introductory kit on Amazon as well.

The doTERRA Business Model

DoTerra uses a direct selling model, in other words a Multi Level Marketing business model. They say that this way their distributors can work directly with customers, as opposed to mass marketing. That way the customers can experience the incredible power of doTERRA essential oil benefits, while distributors can develop relationships of trust with customers.

This model also gives individuals and families the opportunity to earn money and achieve financial independence. More than 2 million doTERRA Wellness Advocates sell the products around the world.

With doTERRA you have to sell their products through a multi level marketing model, which means you continuously have to recruit new team members and build a down line. This is the same with other MLM companies like Herbalife, NuSkin, Tupperware and Amway. It invariably poses the question is doTERRA a pyramid scam?

Read more about the Multi Level Marketing business model in this post on How legitimate is MLM?

When you join essential oils MLM companies like doTERRA, it means you are just a sales rep, but without any benefits of being an employee. So no basic salary, no holidays, no sick leave, no pension benefits, no nothing. You also have no say in basic business decisions like refunds and returns, or policies that affect you.

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How do I Make Money with doTERRA?

There are 3 ways in which to get access to doTERRA essential oil benefits:

  • as a normal retail customer where you just buy the products at full price. Many retail customers doTERRA essential oil benefits in a kitorder Amazon doTERRA oils, where they get very good deals.
  • as a wholesale customer, or
  • become a wellness advocate doTERRA.

You can simply join doTERRA as a Wholesale Customer if you just want the products for doTERRA essential oil benefits. You pay $35 and pay wholesale prices for any of your purchases, but you are not allowed to resell any of the products you are buying at wholesale prices. To stay as a wholesale customer, you pay $25 annually to renew your membership.

As a wholesale customer you can join their Loyalty Rewards Program (LRP), and you can earn product credits if you order at least 50 PV every month. Loyalty Rewards Program means that you sign up to get monthly deliveries of doTERRA products. This means you won’t have the inconvenience of manually having to place orders each month.

So Wholesale Customers do not earn commission, but instead enjoy a discount on the products. DoTERRA say that 67% of their new members, initially join them as a wholesale customer, before they then become a Wellness Advocate for doTERRA.

How Much does it cost to become a Wellness Advocate doTERRA?

If you want to earn money, you have to become a Wellness Advocate, so you cannot stay a wholesale customer and earn money. That means you have to buy an enrollment kit, or starter kit. You have several options that range in price from $200 retail / $150 wholesale, all the way to $3,333.33 retail / $2,650.00 wholesale for the Diamond kit. doTERRA essential oil enrollment kits

Now that is a very hefty amount to pay for doTERRA essential oil benefits. Specially seeing that you can order doTERRA online and get Amazon doTERRA oils. This is the doTERRA family essential Aromatherapy set with 10 essential oils, without having to commit to monthly orders.

So if you want to sell essentials oils, do it through affiliate marketing. You can leave your credit card in your wallet and join Wealthy Affiliate for FREE, and sell any essential oil that you want. You are not just limited to essential oils from doTERRA.

I worked for a MLM company, Usborne Books, so know how difficult it is to make money with multi level marketing, and that also applies to essential oils MLM companies. The path to the top and success is booby trapped with all sorts of conditionalities, that are almost impossible to meet or achieve.

But let’s have a look at the compensation plan for doTERRA.

Compensation Plan for doTERRA

When you join doTERRA, you start as a Wellness Advocate doTERRA at the bottom of their compensation plan. Once you are a Wellness Advocate, you can recruit others to join and sign them up as either a Retail Customer, Wholesale Customer or as a Wellness Advocate. You earn commission based on the products that are sold within your down line and the purchases of your customers.

Wellness Advocates earn 25% commission on any purchases that your customers make. Once you start recruiting and building a team, you can earn bonuses on your own performance, as well as those of your down line. Plus, you can qualify for an annual incentive trip by sharing doTERRA.

The doTERRA compensation plan chart below shows how you get started.doTERRA compensation plan getting started Earnings will depend on many factors, such as effort, interpersonal skills and leadership abilities. During 2019, 73% of all US Wellness Advocates, were at the entry level rank, approximately 26% were Builders and only 1% were at the Wellness Advocates Leadership level. More about that will follow later.

To receive bonuses, you must be qualifying as a Wellness Advocate

This is what the doTERRA compensation plan chart for each level looks like:

doTERRA compensation plan and residual earningsPaid as titles: Premier, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Blue Diamond and Presidentail Diamond.

How much can I expect to earn with doTERRA?

But how much money can you actually make with doTERRA? As with most essential oils MLM companies, the compensation plan seems to be so complicated, that most people cannot work out what they need to earn, to qualify for each level.

Using a PV and OV points system, rather than the actual dollar value of products, also make it very difficult to work out the quotas that you need to sell every month. You can see how difficult it is by looking at the compensation plan for doTERRA Leadership Pools. It is very confusing indeed when you look at the doTERRA compensation plan chart below .

doTERRA compensation plan leadership pools

Legs must be personal recruits. So they talk about the “income opportunity”, and share examples of their top earners, while most people at the bottom of the pyramid lose money.

According to the doTERRA 2019 Business Builders Report, the company paid commissions to approximately 263,000 Wellness Advocates in the USA during 2019. This is about 20% of the 3.6 million doTERRA members that are based in the USA and bought products. There are essentially three levels of ranks:

  • Entry Level Wellness Advocates: During 2019 approximately 73% of US Wellness Advocates were at the entry level, and only 31% of them earned any commission. So 69% earned NOTHING. The average commission earned by the 31% at the entry level, was $325 for the year. So that is $28 per month, before deducting your expenses.
  • Builders: once you start recruiting and building a sales team, doTERRA regard you as a Builder. Builder ranks are Manager, Director, Executive, Elite and Premier. Approximately 26% of Wellness Advocates are Builders and these were the average earnings during 2019.
    • Manager: 38% of Builders were at this level and average earnings were $667 per year, so about $55.50 per month before deducting expenses.
    • Director rank was reached by 26% of Builders and they earned on average $1,095 per year, so just over $90 per month.
    • Executive rank Wellness Advocates are 12 % of Builders and the average earnings for the year were $1,627.
    • Elite is a mid-level rank and is about 20% of Builders. They earned an average of $4,223 for the year.
    • Premier is the top Builders rank and make up about 5% of Builders, with average earnings of $10,594 per year.
  • Wellness Advocate Leaders are those in Silver rank and above. Approximately 1% of Wellness Advocates actually make it into the Leaders levels. These ranks include Silver, Go;Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Blue Diamond and Presidential Diamond. The chart below shows what the top 1% of doTERRA Wellness Advocates earn per year. doTERRA Wellness Advocates Leaders ranks and earnings

Only 1% of Wellness Advocates hold ranks of Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Blue Diamond and Presidential Diamond, and have spent an average of 8 and a half years (between 3 and 11 years) on their business. Not exactly what I would call a seasonal opportunity.

Products are available here and you can order doTERRA online as Amazon doTERRA oils, making it even harder for a doTERRA Wellness Advocate to sell products.

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What I like about doTERRA

  • You can work part-time or full-time.
  • As a wholesale customer you can get discount on products.

What I don’t like about doTERRA

  • You constantly have to recruit new members.
  • Minimum monthly sales and purchases are required.
  • There are no employee benefits like holidays, sick leave, pensions, health insurance etc.
  • You can only sell doTERRA products
  • Everybody in the down line has to perform for you to qualify for override commissions.
  • doTERRA has been in trouble with both the FDA and FTC because of misleading claims about health and earnings and doTERRA essential oils uses.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned doTERRA more than once about misleading and incorrect health and income claims. Excessive health claims that doTERRA Wellness Advocates have made about doTERRA essential oils benefits, have included treating cancer, Alzheimer’s and even Ebola.

DoTERRA themselves, and also distributors, have advised that one of the doTERRA essential oils uses is to ingest essential oils, which in actual fact can result in poisoning if ingested, specially in young children. It has been presented as “natural” and therefore safe to ingest, which is very far from the truth.

The Department of Health for the Western Australia Government have also had to issue warnings that essential oils are not safe to consume.

Is doTERRA a Pyramid Scam? Look at the bonus structure to see is doTERRA a pyramid scam

MLM’s all vehemently deny that they are pyramid schemes, but when you look at their compensation plans and income disclosure, the pyramid shape is clearly visible. The vast majority of money is earned by a tiny percent at the top of the pyramid.

You only have to look at the pyramid shape of the compensation plan for doTERRA power of 3 Bonuses on the right, to decide for yourself is doTERRA a pyramid scam.

There have been many controversies around doTERRA and other essential oils MLM companies. You have to recruit to achieve higher levels.

Growing the down line and climbing the ladder, is not easy, and you cannot progress and earn more, if you are not recruiting. This often indicates a pyramid scheme in disguise.

This can also be seen in the compensation plans of other multi level marketing companies like the weight loss company ItWorks! and the beauty and wellness brand Oriflame.

Do I get Training?

They offer a doTERRA Essential Oils Specialist Certification and you can enroll in the online course for $97. The course is an in depth look at where essential oils come from, the science behind how they work, and how effective doTERRA essential oils uses are.

The online course includes videos, text, illustrations and quizzes to help you learn everything about doTERRA essential oil recipes. It will give you the confidence to use and share your knowledge about doTERRA essential oil benefits effectively.

So yes, there is training available, but you have to pay for it.

Final Thoughts and My no. 1 Recommendation

If you like doTERRA essential oils uses and benefits and want to share doTERRA essential oil recipes, you can create you own website online for free. If you are not sure about selling essential oils, then explore this related post on What is a niche for affiliate marketing.

If you have any questions about the compensation plan for doTERRA and is doTERRA a pyramid scam, or have experience with doTERRA essential oil benefits, then please share below in the comments.



26 thoughts on “Is doTERRA a Pyramid Scam?”

  1. Thank you for sharing this information on doTERRA. I have often wondered about their ethics and whether they are a pyramid scheme, and this article answered many of my questions. I am glad I never signed up to become a Wellness Advocate!

    They do have some quality essential oil blends though. The Breathe blend is great for sinus and allergy problems and makes it easier to breathe almost instantly.

    Have you ordered doTERRA from Amazon before? I’m curious if the quality is the same as being them directly from the company.

    • Amazon doTERRA oils are exactly the same as the essential oils that you buy directly from a doTERRA wellness advocate. So you can confidently order doTERRA online.

  2. Most of the companies that have MLM programs do look like pyramid schemes as they involve major recruitment and sales. doTERRA looks like one of them. I won’t consider it a pyramid scheme as the company is in business since 2008. No pyramid scheme company would survive for such a long time (12 years). 

    MLM programs are always difficult but are one of the oldest ways to doing business and earning money. doTERRA offers a good compensation plan and anybody who is interested in direct selling and recruiting can earn a fortune. Essential oils are can attract lots of customers, the products are also available on Amazon so my take is doTERRA is an MLM but not a pyramid scheme.

    The information in your post is very helpful and deciding factor for people who are looking to join MLM programs.

    • Thank you for your comments. If you look at the compensation plan of a MLM, the pyramid shape is clearly visible. It is the technicality of having to sell products and place minimum monthly orders, that makes the companies survive.

      • Yeah this guys is confusing pyramid scheme as you describe it with pyramid scheme so much so that it runs afoul with the law. MLMs go to great lengths to use mealy mouth words to conceal the obvious and keep the law off their back while they suck money from those who fall for their pitch. The fact that they have been getting away with it for 12 years isnt proof of innocence.

        • There is a very fine line between a MLM and a pyramid scheme and it often boils down to technicalities. Reality is that very few people actually make money with them.

  3. Thanks for bringing us this review of doTerra.

    I personally don’t have any time for MLM schemes.  I don’t see why someone should benefit from my hard work just because they joined before me.  And if their products are so good, then they should be able to sell them directly and through normal affiliate marketing programs.  So I always wonder what the true motivation behind these type of companies actually is.

    It is one thing to sell products, but being forced to recruit people is a completely different ball game.

    I certainly will be avoiding them.

    • I fully agree with you Geoff. When I worked for the MLM Usborne books, ALL the incentives were based on recruitment, not on the actual sales. And we all had to place minimum monthly orders. I think the motivation is money for the company. 

  4. the doTerra business sounds like a good way for the originators to make money but no one else!  You even have to pay for the training!  I was an Avon representative for 15 years.  I did not make any money but what I sold help to pay for what I ordered (I was my own best customer!).  It is very hard to recruit.  I tried it.  People would sign up but would not stay so I finally gave up on it.  The only way to make money in those companies is to have a downline; easier said than done.

    • I also worked for a MLM, Usborne books, and realised that you could only make money if you continuously recruited. MLM is not a business model that I would recommend. 

  5. Hello there! This is an informative read. I actually have not heard of doTERRA before so I definitely had no idea that it had to do with CBD products. After reading your article, I learned that this company is an MLM program. I had some experience with MLM business but I was not a conversationalist so I didn’t sell too many products. Definitely not my type of business but perhaps it might be for others. Affiliate marketing on the other hand suits my preferences better and definitely agree with your number 1 recommendation.

    • DoTERRA is actually about essential oils, not CBD, so not the same thing. I also worked for a MLM company and it is very hard to continue recruiting, and you have to do that to make money. Affiliate marketing is a far better way to earn a living.

  6. What I understood is that doTERRA is a pyramid scheme company but not a scam. I like essential oils and I believe that I would like their products. It’s just that I don’t think that is ok to charge $97 for the training. Do you also get some products included or only the training?

    • You don’t get any products with the training, you have to pay for the training course, and you have to purchase an enrollment kit as well. 

  7. I have used doTerra products for years but I’m from utah and this is everywhere. I have noticed that MLM companies that have a valuable product to sell, like doTerra and Mary Kay aren’t scams. But it the only product a MLM  sells is Training to become a salesman for that company and they have to get others to sign up for the training too but you’re not providing a product or service with some substance to your friends and family than those are scams.

    • Utah does seem to be the state where many MLM companies are based. DoTERRA essential oils might be good, but it is the pyramid shaped MLM structure, that only benefits the 1% at the top.

    • Utah is the Kingdom of the MLMs no doubt about that. Some believe this is because of the high percentage of stay at home moms due to adherence of LDS customs and beliefs(personally I do not know if this is true or not) But whatever the reason is doTerra a scam because it takes money and provides no product? No to their credit they do not do this. But it is a scam because like most (all?) MLMs it promises great income and is not truthful about how hard it is to recruit new members. And even if you do DashDNations the money you will make will be pocket change considering the time you must put in. And you will annoy (sadly even alienate) friends, family and acquaintnances. Look ma’am, if you you need extra income have a family member baby sit for you one evening a week and work the night shift as a cashier at Kohls. You will come out further ahead rather than you would flogging doTerra in every way possible!

  8. Thanks for writing this.  I attended a doTerra meeting once and purchased an essential oil starter pack.  Glad I didn’t join, though.  I do think their oils are quality and I think the wholesale customer pricing model is smart but the whole “you have to buy an expensive starter pack in order to start selling” is ridiculous. I also feel like these companies make it intentionally difficult and complicated to figure out your earnings so that all you’re looking at is the product and the opportunity and buy in for those reasons.  There’s a show on Netflix called UnWell… episode 1 is about Essential Oils and the pros and cons of the industry.  Super interesting series, highly recommend if you haven’t seen.  

    • The doTERRA compensation plan, like most MLM companies, is complicated and confusing. I have not heard about UnWell, but will check it out, thanks.

  9. This was such a very-well explained and described review. I have heard about this company in the past but I have never really looked into it until now. I’m actually really surprised but relieved at the same time that this company was founded by actual professionals and not just people who wanted to try something without really knowing what they were doing; that alone is worth checking them out. 

    • DoTERRA essential oils recipes are developed by professionals and there are numerous doTERRA essential oil benefits, it is the MLM business model that makes it look like is doTERRA a pyramid scam.

  10. I haven’t heard of doTERRA so far, so it was very interesting to read your presentation. Otherwise, I’m not in favor of a multi-level marketing system because you work more for those above you than for yourself. You can only be successful if you regularly introduce new recruits. In addition, you have a defined minimum of monthly sales and purchases. So I’m definitely not thinking about joining. However, I believe that they are still achieving some success and that consumers are satisfied with the products, as they have been in business since 2008, and have increased the offer of their products. Well, maybe someone sees in this a business opportunity.
    Friendly greeting,

    • I worked for a MLM, so am not in favour of the business model. So doTERRA essential oil benefits might be good, and I can order doTERRA online, so there is no need to become a Wellness Advocate doTERRA as far as I am concerned. 

  11. Thanks for writing a review of doTERRA MLM. My aunt is a regular customer and she received an offer to join as one of their consultants. After taking a look at the compensation plan as you write above, I don’t think it will be suitable for her. She isn’t very social, so it will hard for her to constantly recruit new members. I’ll send your article, so she can assess the risk herself too. Thanks

    • DoTERRA essential oils are very good products, but it is the compensation plan for doTERRA, that I am not happy with. Your aunt can always let me know if she wants more information on the doTERRA compensation plan. 


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