December 29, 2016


The name probably comes from the Filipino expression “Alang –Alang” which means “hanging, floating”, to describe the big, pendulous flowers from which the essential oil is extracted.


In the second half of the 18th century this big tropical tree, native of the Philippines and Indonesia, was brought to Madagascar and other islands of the Indian Ocean, who are still the main producers of Ylang-Ylang.

The properties of these flowers made them the main ingredients for traditional preparation of cosmetics and curative ointments in these countries. During the Victorian age, it was the main constituent of the famous “Macassar oil”, which stimulates the scalp and the hair growth.


Ylang-Ylang essential oil is obtained via hydro-distillation of Cananga odorata var. genuinaappena flowers. Depending on the moment of the distillation process in which the oil is collected, it can be classified in 5 categories: Extra superior (first three hours), Extra (4th hour), I (5th hour), II (next 36 minutes), III (next 16 hours) and Whole (mixture of all the fractions above). These categories were first created for the perfume industry.  The organoleptic characteristics and the quality can vary widely with this oil.

Categories “extra superior” and “extra” are the more expensive and appreciated, used for the creation of niche perfumes; while categories II and III, containing larger amounts of sesquiterpenes, are often used for the production of cosmetics and toiletries.



Psyche: Diffusing Ylang-Ylang essential oil in a room has a stimulating and mild antidepressant effect on the central nervous system, also proven by scientific studies.

Ylang-Ylang relieves stress and restlessness when we feel tired or weak. In association with Lavender, Petit Grain or Orange essential oil it can be useful against sleeplessness and nightmares.

In Indonesia the flowers are spread on the bed to celebrate the bridal night: according to the popular tradition this essence is used as an aphrodisiac to increase the libido. Thanks to its capacity to relieve nervous tensions and stimulate the body and the mind it is useful against impotence and frigidity.


Well-being: Ylang-Ylang essential oil can improve some functions of the cardiovascular and muscular systems. It relieves sleeplessness, tachycardia, colic and intestinal cramps, moderate hypertension, anxiety, and heart palpitations.

This essential oil has also an antiseptic and antimicrobial action against intestinal, respiratory and urinary tract infections. To treat these conditions 1-2 drops of essential oil can be added on a sugar cube or diluted in a teaspoon of almond oil, and consumed 2 or 3 times a day.


Hair: Ylang-Ylang is very useful against hair loss and other scalp problems.

Scalp ointments or a few drops added to shampoo help against itch, dry, dull or damaged hair. In association with Lemon E.O. it can lighten the hair, while in association with Thymus satureioides or Laurel E.O. it works as a revitalizer and prevents hair loss. Just add 10-12 drops of essential oil to 250 ml of neutral shampoo and wash your hair, leaving it on the scalp a few minutes before rinsing.


Dermatology: Ylang-Ylang essential oil can be used locally for body ointments to improve acne, oily or irritated skin or in association with lavender or geranium E.O. for dry, sensitive skin. In addition to general skincare, it is also useful to treat brittle nails and insect bites.

Diluted in a vegetable oil, for example almond oil, it is perfect for relaxing body massages to help with anxiety and stress, but also as a sensual tonic to increase the libido.


Remember that essential oils are extremely concentrated compounds and even a small amount may cause side effects.

For internal use always consult an expert or your doctor.

Be careful in case of topical application too: essential oils contain small-sized molecules, easily absorbed by our skin. An excessive amount may cause dermatitis. Do not use in case of injured skin and avoid contact with mucous membrane and eyes because they may cause irritation.



Other articles that may interest you:

Tangerine essential oil: uses and properties

Rosemary essential oil: uses and properties

Aromatic water or floral waters: what are they?