Ylang-ylang essential oil (EO) is one of the most important ingredients in perfumery because of its versatility. Its floral-fruity profile is truly one-of-a-kind. Ylang-ylang EO’s unique profile, high performance, and attractive price make it even more useful in fragrance compositions. Most people might be confused with how does ylang ylang smells since it might smell differently depends on the qualities.
Different qualities of Ylang-Ylang essential oils
Ylang-ylang essential oils come from the water-and-steam distillation of Cananga Odorata flowers. The oil is yellowish. There are usually four types or qualities of Ylang-ylang EO, which are: “Extra”, “First”, “Second”, and “Third”. All of those types are obtained through the same distillation process. However, the distillate collection’s timing is different, starting from around one hour point, a few hours later, and end after 24 hours (or more).
To manage the timing and get the best quality oil from each collection, ylang-ylang EO producers measure distillate’s specific gravity (SG) value. The first distillate, usually collected after one or two hours of distillation, has the highest SG value and is considered the best grade or the so-called “Extra”. SG value decrease as the distillation process goes on, yielding lower grade ylang-ylang oils.
Does Ylang-Ylang smell differently?
Definitely. Each quality has its own characteristic that is useful for different purposes. Although still bearing the unique character of ylang-ylang, each of them has particular scents.
What does Ylang-Ylang smell like for each essential oil qualities?
Ylang-ylang EO Extra
The highest grade of ylang-ylang oil has rich floral notes and intense balsamic-sweet with a hint of tar (phenolic) odor. This phenolic odor, which is given by cresols, is responsible for the unique scent of ylang-ylang. Ylang-ylang also reminds of creamy, sweet, yet slightly acidic yellow fruits. It has a subtle spicy undertone.
Extra is the most expensive amongst other ylang-ylang EO. Most of the fine fragrances use Ylang-Ylang extra oil for its finesse and richness. I found ylang-ylang extra in almost every composition, both masculine and feminine, either in high or low concentrations. Ylang-ylang extra compliments white florals such as jasmine, gardenia, and tuberose. The spicy part goes along well with ingredients containing woody and balsamic notes, such as Peru balsam, benzoin, opopanax, vanilla, vetiver, copaiba, etc.
Ylang-ylang EO First
Compared to the extra, ylang-ylang first smells honeyed and waxy. It has a green and woody facet.
Ylang-ylang EO Second
Ylang-ylang second has a beautiful floral-fruity facet with a green banana effect at the top. It slowly turns into fresh, cresolic, and spicy facets.
Ylang-ylang EO Third
This quality of ylang-ylang EO differs quite significantly compared to the extra in the spicy aspect. This version is more balsamic-spicy than the other. The odor resembles to Cananga EO, essential oil from different varieties of Cananga Odorata flowers. Besides spicier, this quality smells greener. Although it still bears the main characteristic of ylang-ylang EO. The third is less expensive than the extra by half, makes it interesting for medium to low-cost fragrances, such as cosmetic and personal care fragrances. In low-cost fragrant products, ylang-ylang often used as an accord or reconstitution. It blends well with powdery and woody accords, creating a delicate floral scent.
Ylang-ylang in Fine Perfumery
Ylang-ylang is often used in the floral and oriental profile, thanks to its intensity and tenacity. In floral perfumes, ylang-ylang is one of the ingredients to build jasmine, gardenia, and tuberose accords. Ylang-ylang EO present in high amount in Chanel No.5 (Chanel), Le Parfum Intense (Ellie Saab), Elle L’aime (Lolita Lempicka), Pure XS For Her (Paco Rabanne), Joop! Homme Absolute (Joop!), Eau de Lacoste L.12.12 Blanc pour Lui (Lacoste), and many more.
Now you have known how does Ylang-ylang smells, if you still feel curious, you can check how do other essential oils smell like in our ingredients categories or if you are curious how does patchouli smell you can check it out here What Does Patchouli Smell Like?