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8 December 2021 / Caitlin Devlin

Ylang Ylang Essential Oil: History, Uses and Benefits

Delicate ylang ylang has many cosmetic benefits and is even used as an aphrodisiac.

Zoomed in picture of the yellow ylang ylang plant.

The iconic floral scent of ylang ylang has been connected to perfumery for many years.

Often referred to as the ‘flower of flowers’, ylang ylang has a rich, sweet fragrance that can be recognised in hallmark perfumes such as Dior J’adore and Chanel No. 5.

So complex is its scent that seventy-five of its compounds weren’t identified until 2013, and its profile is still being investigated.

However, ylang ylang is more than just the way it smells.

Highly valued for many centuries due to its ability to thicken hair, heal skin, and spark romance, the oil is used today as a booster and brightener, and has strong ties to romance.

The delicate flowers that give ylang ylang its scent are so sensitive that they must be harvested by hand after sunset.

Picking the flowers out of sunlight helps to protect the aromatic compounds in the flower and preserve their powerful properties. 

Ylang ylang essential oil can help protect our health.

A study in 2001 found that the phytochemicals present in ylang ylang oil show strong antibacterial and antifungal activity.

This, coupled with ylang ylang’s beautiful scent, makes the oil a great choice for adding to cleaning sprays and banishing harmful microorganisms from the home.

Ylang ylang can also help to boost immune function, and naturally works to lower inflammation, reducing the risk of many diseases.

It is especially beneficial to heart health as it is thought to improve blood flow and control blood pressure. This reduces undue stress on the heart and helps us to feel stronger and healthier.

Ylang Ylang plant flowering in the wild.

It can reduce anxiety.

Ylang ylang’s scent isn’t just famous for its beauty, but also for its ability to soothe and reassure.

A study in 2018 found that ylang ylang was able to influence processes in the hippocampus region of the brain and in the serotonin system, which points to an anti-anxiety effect.

It is also beneficial for fighting insomnia and promoting healthy sleep patterns thanks to its sedative effects.

A 2004 study explored these effects and concluded that the oil had a ‘harmonising effect’.

Traditional medicine appears to be in agreement; ylang ylang has long been said to help release negative emotions like anger or jealousy and promote positivity.

It’s great for the skin.

Ylang ylang is often applied to skin to prevent signs of aging and reduce irritation.

This may be due to the presence of active constituents called terpenoids in the oil. Preliminary research suggests that terpenoids display promising results as natural treatments for many skin disorders, and a study in 2014 found that ylang ylang oil holds a high concentration of terpenoids.

This may explain why so many people use ylang ylang oil in their skincare routine.

Ylang ylang is a very gentle oil and can leave skin smelling fresh and sweet – just be sure to dilute with a carrier oil before applying it topically.

It’s an aphrodisiac.

One of the most famous traditional uses of ylang ylang was its role in decorating the bed of newlyweds on their wedding night.

In some cultures, ylang ylang is considered a wedding night staple due to its aphrodisiac qualities, its ability to soothe anxiety, and its perceived energising effect.

Ylang ylang is still considered a libido-booster and is said to increase confidence, helping us to feel at our best in the bedroom.

There are five types of ylang ylang essential oil.

Ylang ylang is usually steam distilled in a fractioned fashion.

This means that different versions of the oil are collected at different stages of distillation, separating out the volatile components of the oil according to temperature.

Ylang ylang extra – The lightest of the varieties and the first to be collected, ylang ylang extra is often used as a top note.

It is the most aromatic of the oils, diffusing easily, but as it is the lightest it also dissipates the quickest, meaning that whilst its scent is beautiful it often doesn’t last as long.

Ylang ylang 1, 2 and 3 – The next three varieties each get progressively denser, and each has a scent that lasts longer than the one before. These heavier varieties are more likely to be used as base or middle notes.

Ylang ylang complete – Ylang ylang complete is a combination of all other distillates, and is so named because it is a ‘complete’ perfume itself. A fuller scent than light ylang ylang extra, it is the most commonly used of the five types.

    Delicate and romantic ylang ylang will likely remain a staple in perfumery for many years, and its reassuring, aphrodisiac effects will continue to reach us through perfumes worn by ourselves or our loved ones.

    If you want to experience, ylang ylang’s more potent effects, however, diffusing the oil, using it in skincare, or employing it as cleaning ingredient can help you to feel its brightening, health-boosting benefits.

    Shop our ylang ylang essential oil here.

    100% Pure Ylang Ylang (Complete) Essential Oil 10ml | Nikura

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