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Aromatherapy - Ethical Issues

Ethical Issues

Many consumers today prefer to buy their products from companies who can be seen to produce goods without harm or exploitation of humans, animals or the environment. This is usually referred to as ethical purchasing and is slowly gaining in popularity. And quite rightly so.

Animal rights, the environment and the exploitation of third world resources are all issues that are of great concern to Quinessence. We have very strong views about these matters, and work hard to ensure that all of the above issues are addressed and maintained in an ethical manner.

Animal Testing

Since our company began in 1986 we have maintained that it is morally wrong to test cosmetics on animals, and we will never change our stance on this matter. Perfumes, shampoos, tooth-pastes, hair dyes, skin creams, make-up, deodorants: all of these and more are tested on animals.

It has been known for a long time now that the results of product tests on animal skin do not necessarily give an accurate indication of a possible outcome on human skin. Although this practice has now been stopped within Europe, it is time this barbaric practice was stamped out in the rest of the world too.

We will continue to argue that cosmetics testing on animals is abhorrent, unethical and unnecessary until we reach such time as it is banned everywhere.


Over the years we have formed allegiances with a network of farmers who are all dedicated to growing high quality, organic medicinal plants for the production of essential oils. We will continually strive to develop close working relationships with growers everywhere who use traditional farming practices, in order to promote a more sustainable ecological environment for the future.

Biodiversity is the living element of the natural world, and it is vital that we work in harmony with Nature to maintain its delicate balance. A great deal of agricultural land has already been lost due to soil erosion, and in many places the overuse of aggressive agrochemicals has destroyed the delicate balance between wildlife and its natural habitat.

In addition, supporting farmers who employ traditional and sustainable practices helps to increase demand, thereby encouraging more conventional farmers to convert to organic agricultural methods. This is why we choose to buy from farmers and co-operatives who are dedicated to growing high quality, organic medicinal plants that were produced in an ecologically sustainable manner.


Our raw materials are obtained from sustainable sources, and we support organisations that are working towards replenishing species that are endangered. It is our belief that supporting these organisations together with small agricultural cooperatives is crucial in helping to replenish those areas where resources are dwindling.

Those of you who have been our customers for many years will recall that in 1990 we stopped supplying rosewood essential oil as part of an effort to relieve pressure on dwindling supplies that had recently been declared 'endangered'.

Despite the fact that we purchased this oil from a sustainable source, we had fears that supply would still likely outstrip the ability to supply in the not too distant future. Although new saplings are planted regularly, it will be many years before these rosewood trees will be mature enough to yield any oil.

When another sustainable source of rosewood essential oil became available several years later we did temporarily re-introduce it into our range. However, it soon became clear that demand was still outstripping supply so in 1999 we permenantly withdrew rosewood oil from our range. It will remain this way until such time that we really are convinced that it can be produced in a sustainable manner, and on a permanent basis.

There are several other oils such as linaloe and ho leaf that are almost identical chemically, so there really is no valid reason to add further pressure to this endangered species.

Replanting scheme

To help support the dwindling rosewood suuplies, Quinessence made a financial contribution to pay for a number of sapling rosewood trees. These were planted in the rainforests of Brazil under a scheme launched by the Forest Association for the Conservation of the Amazon Ecosystem (UFAM)in the early 1990's. This tree planting programme was working in an agroforesty system to provide the necessary care for the seedlings during the first critical years of development.

To help ease the pressure on Rosewood oil, we are encouraging everyone to switch to Linaloe or Ho leaf which are both remarkably similar in chemistry to Rosewood oil, and almost identical in aroma. After evaluating the therapeutic qualities of these oil on her clients for over 5 years, our senior clinical aromatherapist of over 30 years practice is convinced that they are indistinguishable in use to rosewood.

If aromatherapists and home enthusiasts switched now to using Linaloe or Ho leaf oil, it would be one more small but positive step in taking the pressure off the 'supply and demand' loop that the aromatherapy industry is currently stuck in.


The type of packaging chips we use to pack customer orders is known as FloPak Green which is EN 13427 compliant, and not only is it recyclable, but it is also biodegradable. This is the most environmentally friendly packaging material that we can currently locate, and if we find a better one we will switch to that.

Wherever possible at Quinessence, all reusable materials are recycled; newspapers, junk mail and processed documentation are all shredded and used as packaging material for our dispatching orders. We also recycle the packaging that we receive in the deliveries from our suppliers since this material would be wasted otherwise.

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