Ylang Ylang: The Beautiful Star Shaped Perfume Flower
The beautiful sweet smelling flower pictured above is where ylang ylang essential oil comes from.
With the name literally meaning “flower of flowers” it’s no wonder this tropical plant is very popular among the perfume and cosmetics industries.
Apart from being aromatic and beautiful ylang ylang also possesses many health benefits. For this reason it is highly sought after and used by people all around the world.
Origins of Ylang Ylang
Ylang ylang, pronounced e-lang e-lang, is a large tropical tree that is found in the Asian rainforests and the South Pacific on the islands of Indonesia, Philippines and Polynesia. Ylang ylang has a rich history throughout the South Pacific and is very popular with perfume and cosmetic companies.
In the West Ylang Ylang wasn’t very well known until recently, rising in popularity due to the cosmetic and perfume industries.
These industries use the plant and its lovely fragrance in many of their products. Fun fact: ylang ylang is one of the main ingredients in the legendary perfume Chanel No. 5 by Coco Chanel.
In Indonesia ylang ylang flowers are used to decorate the bed of newlyweds. It is said to help energize the couple and work as an aphrodisiac on their first night together as a couple.
In Europe it was also known as Macassar Oil because it was used by men in the Victorian and Edwardian times to condition and style their hair. The word antimacassar came from Macassar Oil because antimacassars were decorative chair coverings that were used to keep the hair oil off of the furniture’s upholstery to help prevent staining.
The tree itself can grow upwards of 60 feet or 20 meters in height. The flowers on the tree, which are star shaped, can range in color from pink to mauve to yellow. The flowers will begin to bloom after the first five years of growth and then for the next 50 or so years after than will produce at least 45 pounds or 20 kilograms of flowers. The flowers are large in size with a powerful and pleasant fragrance. It is said that the yellow flowers are the best when it comes to quality.
There are several grades of the ylang ylang essential oil. This can be a bit odd and confusing for someone. Simply put the different grades come from how many extractions have been done to produce the oil. In other words grade “extra” is the first extraction of the essential oil from the ylang ylang flowers while grade “3” is the fourth extraction of the essential oil.
It is said that the grade extra is the best because it is not only the first extraction but it has the highest amount of esters and the sweetest scent of all of the grades.
Ylang ylang’s essential oil is extracted through the process of steam distillation. This process is completed a few different times in order to extract the essential oil at different times during the process and length of the whole distillation process; hence the different grades.
The extracted essential oil has a thin consistency and is a clear to pale yellow color. It has a sweet floral scent which is why it is highly sought after by perfume and cosmetic companies.
Health Benefits of Ylang Ylang
Ylang ylang has enough broad ranging health benefits to warrant it taking up space in your essential oil home kit.
Its lovely scent is pleasant to have in a DIY perfume and it’s is calming and soothing support tranquility of mind and body. It helps to relieve the symptoms of depression, inflammation and pain while helping to boost the immune and digestive systems through its antiseptic properties.
It is can be applied and used topically or it can be used and inhaled. Either method that you choice you will find that ylang ylang has many powerful health benefits that go along with its beautiful scent.
12 Uses of Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
Ylang ylang has some potent health benefits that can be used to treat many ailments on or in the body. Let’s take a look at this aromatic essential oil’s many health benefits and uses.
Ylang ylang’s antiseptic properties help to clean wounds on the body helping to prevent infect or clean out infection is present. It helps to reduce and eliminate bacteria causing infections not only in or on the body but on surfaces around the home as well. It also helps to speed up the healing process.
Ylang ylang has long been known and used as an aphrodisiac. Tradition in Indonesia is to spread flowers over the newlywed’s bed to promote coupling on their wedding night. It helps to boost the libido and reduces stress to promote a healthier and more frequency sex life.
Related: 14 Aphrodisiac EOs
3.) Cardiovascular System Regulator
Ylang ylang helps the cardiovascular system by helping to reduce blood pressure while increasing blood flow and circulation throughout the body. This is extremely important for those with cardiovascular problems and the aging population. It also helps to reduce inflammation in the cardiovascular system helping to promote better blood flow and circulation.
4.) Depression and Anxiety Reliever
Inhaling ylang ylang during times of anxiety or depression will help immediately to boost the mood of a person; helping to decrease negative feelings and emotions that are often caused by anxiety and depression. It also helps to calm and relax the body and mind which also helps to reduce the feelings and side effects of depression and anxiety.
5.) Digestive System Soother
Since stress, anxiety and depression can often wreak havoc on your digestive system ylang ylang can be used to help reduce these problems thus helping to boost your digestive system making it more regular. Its antiseptic properties also help the digestive system get rid of and reduce any bacteria or infection that may be present in the digestive system.
6.) Energy Booster
Ylang ylang is great for helping to boost the energy in a person. It helps to reduce stress and fatigue in the body by helping to energize the whole body to feel more awake and alert. This boost in energy can help a person to feel more aware and accomplished as they go about their day.
Related: 14 EOs for Energy & Wakefulness
7.) Hair Care
Ylang ylang has wonderful benefits for your hair. It helps to promote healthy shiny hair while reducing dandruff and hair loss. It helps the head, scalp and hair to be healthy and to look great as well.
8.) Nervous System Balancer
Ylang ylang helps to boost the nervous system by strengthening and repairing any damage present. By helping to boost and strengthen the nervous system this helps to reduce stress and anxiety that may be present and felt in the body helping to reduce these symptoms.
9.) PMS Aide
Since ylang ylang has natural sedative and stress reducing properties this makes it great for helping to relive the symptoms of PMS. It helps to reduce the stress and tension that is often felt in women during this time of the month helping them to feel more calm and relaxed and less hormonal. It also helps to reduce cramping the stomach area that is often a symptom of PMS.
Ylang ylang has sedative properties that help to calm and relax the body allowing a person to get to sleep faster and rest more easily throughout the night helping to promote a more restful sleep. This sedative property also is important in helping to reduce stress and anxiety in the body helping to calm the nerves.
Related: 17 EOs for improved sleep
11.) Skin Care
With its antiseptic and stress reducing properties this makes ylang ylang great for the skin. It helps to clean the skin while promoting a youthful glow. Stress can often cause premature wrinkles and lines in the face but since ylang ylang has stress reducing properties it helps to reduce these premature signs of aging.
Related: 7 EOs for Cellulite
12.) Stress Reducer
Due to ylang ylang’s calming and relaxing properties it helps to greatly reduce the symptoms of stress. Ylang ylang helps to calm and relax the body and the mind allowing a person to be more in control of their emotions and mind thus allowing them to be less emotionally charged and more cognitive.
Ylang Ylang Recipes
There are many recipes for ylang ylang. Since it is great for helping to reduce stress, anxiety and depression ylang ylang can be used in many ways to help reduce these problems. As well due to its lovely fragrance it is perfect for wearing all day long in the form of a lotion or perfume.
Body Lotion with Ylang Ylang, Frankincense and Myrrh
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- ¼ cup beeswax
- ¼ cup shea butter
- 2 Tbsp. vitamin E
- 20 drops myrrh EO
- 10 drops ylang ylang EO
- 10 drops frankincense EO
- In a glass bowl combine together the olive oil, coconut oil, beeswax and shea butter and heat up over a pot of simmer water on the stove until all ingredients are well combined together.
- Remove from the heat and cool in the fridge for at least an hour or until it is solid.
- Remove from the fridge and using a mixer beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy.
- Next add in the vitamin E and essential oils and mix well.
- Transfer the mixture to a glass container and store in a cool dry place.
- Use as needed.
Soothing Massage Oil
- 4 drops ylang ylang EO
- 4 drops sandalwood EO
- 4 drops sweet orange EO
- 2 drops geranium EO
- 2 oz. carrier oil of your choice (argan, coconut,sesame, sweet almond, jojoba, grapeseed, macadamia)
- In a dark glass bottle combine all of the ingredients together.
- Shake to mix well.
- Allow the mixture to blend together over a couple of days.
- Apply a small amount to the palm of your hands; about the size of a dime.
- Massage over the body.
Hormone Balance Serum
- In a dark glass bottle combine all ingredients together.
- Mix well.
- Using a dropper rub 5 drops onto and into your neck as needed; at least twice daily.
Lovely Perfume Lotion
- Combine all ingredients together in a glass jar.
- Mix well.
- Apply all over the body or apply to the neck, wrists and collarbone for a nice perfume hint.
Healthy Hair Serum
- 24 drops lavender EO
- 22 drops ylang ylang EO
- 13 drops rosemary essential oil
- oz. fractionated coconut oil
- Fill a dark glass bottle ¾ of the way up with the fractionated coconut oil.
- Add in the ylang ylang essential oil and mix well.
- Add in the rosemary essential oil and mix well.
- Add in the lavender essential oil and mix well.
- Apply the spray bottle topper and shake.
- After your shower, spray 2-4 times the mixture onto your hair; this can be done on wet or dry hair.
Spark the Romance Bath Blend
- In a bathtub mix together all of the above ingredients. Be sure to mix in while the water is running to ensure it dilutes throughout the bath water.
- Soak for 15-30 minutes in the bath and let the beautiful aroma take you both away.
Additional Ylang Ylang Applications
There are a few other ways in which you can add the amazing health benefits of ylang ylang to your life. Here are a few other ideas to try, but experiment on your own to find your own signature oil combination.
- To help boost your confidence try adding 2 drops of ylang ylang and 2 drops of bergamot to an inhaler or diffuser.
- To create a lovely natural air freshener, try adding 2 drops of ylang ylang and 2 drops of jasmine to a diffuser.
- Try adding 2 drops of ylang ylang and 2 drops of frankincense to a diffuser or massage into the skin to help release and reduce tension.
- To help boost your energy level, add 2 drops of ylang ylang and 2 drops of lemon or grapefruit essential oil to a diffuser or inhaler.
- To help boost your mood add 2 drops of bergamot, 2 drops of grapefruit and 1 drop of ylang ylang essential oil to a diffuser or inhaler. Can also be massaged into the neck or the temples.
- To help boost your hair add 2-3 drops of ylang ylang to your shampoo or try adding 2-3 drops to coconut oil and massage into the hair and leave in for about 20 minutes then rinse and shampoo.
- To create an anti-aging toner, add 5 drops of ylang ylang essential oil to a cup of chamomile tea. Once cool apply to the skin to reap the anti-aging and soothing benefits.
- To create your own perfume, add 1-2 drops of ylang ylang to a carrier oil such as olive oil and apply to the skin.
Possible Side Effects and Cautions to Consider When Using Ylang Ylang
There are a few cautions and possible side effects that should be noted prior to use of the oil.
When purchasing your ylang ylang oil, determine what extraction grade you are purchasing. The grade can affect the concentration of the essential oil and may not have the full potency you may want for your health and use.
Prior to topical use test the oil on a small patch of skin as some may experience sensitivity to the essential oil and it may need to be further diluted or not used at all. Those with sensitive skin should make note of this.
Excessive use of ylang ylang can cause sensitivity, headaches and nausea in some people. Be care in the amount of the oil you use and how often you use it.
Caution should be used when taking ylang ylang orally. Be sure to consult with a doctor about internal use of the ylang ylang essential oil especially since it can cause irritation, headaches and nausea in users. Internal use of EOs is a sensitive topic and should be approached with caution.
Caution should be used by those who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant as well as around children especially under the age of six.
What to Look for When Purchasing Your Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
When purchasing your ylang ylang oil there are a few things to consider to ensure you are getting not only the grade of the essential oil you want but to ensure that it was harvested and extracted properly.
You may want to research the company or manufacturer you are purchasing your essential oil from. Ensure that they are a reputable company and that they harvest and extract the essential oil properly. I will only link to companies that I trust.
Research how the company or manufacturer harvests the ylang ylang blooms. You want to ensure that they are harvesting the blossoms that the right time of the day when the flowers are in full bloom. You want to ensure they harvest and care for the blooms to ensure the least amount of contamination or damage to the blossoms as possible.
Research how the extract the essential oil out of the ylang ylang blossoms. They should be performing the steam distillation extraction process. They should also be extracting the essential oil at least 4 times throughout the distillation process.
Check the company/manufacturers grading process to ensure the extraction process they use as well as the grading process correlate together properly. If you purchase ylang ylang extra you want to ensure you are purchasing the first extraction of the essential oil process and not the final extraction which is grade 3.
Finally check the ingredients of the essential oil you are purchasing to know exactly what you are purchasing. You want to ensure you are getting pure or true essential oil and not carrier oils with only a small amount of the essential oil you are actually wishing to purchase.
Note that each harvest and extraction of essential will differ year to year depending on the temperature, humidity, precipitation and other environmental factors. Each of these can change the makeup of the essential oil slightly year to year. However, with that being said, the essential oil you are purchasing will still give you the benefits you desire.
How to Make Ylang Ylang Essential Oil at Home
Ylang ylang essential oil is extracted through the process of steam distillation. This extraction process can be time consuming and difficult to do.
Ylang ylang essential oil extraction is a long process taking upwards of 14 hours to complete. The reason it takes so long is because it is steam distilled many times over this time period thus creating different grades of the essential oil through extraction.
There are four main grades of the ylang ylang essential oil. There is the extra grade which is from the first extraction. This first extraction has the most esters present as well as having the most scent. The other grades are 1-3; with grade one being the second extraction and the third grade being the fourth and final extraction.
The first extraction, which is called ylang ylang extra, is the highest in quality and is also called ylang ylang complete.
The final extraction or grade 3 is the lowest grade that is produced and is called ylang ylang oil or cananga oil and is used in soaps and cleaning products because it still has a lovely fragrance.
The lower grades, after ylang ylang extra, are sometimes combined with extra to form a more “complete” oil.
When harvesting the ylang ylang flowers it is important to know when to harvest them to ensure the highest quality of oil produced. This means that the time of day that the ylang ylang flowers are harvested is very important.
The flowers are believed to be best harvested in the morning because the flowers are pollinated over night by night moths. It is also believed that the dew and temperature drop overnight can help to affect the chemical composition of the essential oil in a positive way.
With all of the information it can be a bit overwhelming to properly harvest and distill the ylang ylang flowers for their essential oils; this is not to say that it cannot be done it is just a long and time consuming process.
Hopefully you’ve found this post helpful. If you have any questions, comments or recommendations of your own please let us know in the comment section below!