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History and Origin

Ylang-Ylang (pronounced EE-lang- EE-lang) is a sweetly scented tropical flower often used by traditional healers to treat depression and anxiety. For many years, it has been used in hair as a stimulator for growth, and in skin products to balance oil production.

Some essential oils and plant-derived essences are incorporated into products that are used as bath additives or for inhalation to produce changes in mood.1 For example, ylang-ylang, a fragrant tropical flower, has traditionally been used in the tropics to induce feelings of calm.

Potential Skincare Applications

Ylang-Ylang is being used in skincare mostly for its natural fragrance inducing feelings of calmness.

Safety and Tolerability

Fragrance allergy is a common cause of allergic contact dermatitis.3 Some minority of fragrance-allergic patients may also develop allergy to botanical extracts including lavender, and ylang-ylang.4 Positive allergic patch test reactions to Ylang-Ylang have been noted by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group in about 1.5% of patients tested.


  1. Albring M, Albrecht H, Alcorn G, Lucker PW. The measuring of the anti-inflammatory effect of a compound on the skin of volunteers. Meth and Find Exp-tl Clin Pharmacol 1983;5:575-577.
  2. Rodriguez-Serna M, et al: Allergic and systemic dermatitis from Matricaria chamomilla tea. Contact Dermatitis 1998; 39: 192)
  3. Rietschel R, Fowler J, Fisher’s Contact Dermatitis; Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2001, p393.
  4. Simpson E, et al: Prevalence of botanical extract allergy in patients with contact dermatitis. Dermatitis 2004; 15:67.
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