Q&A: Ylang-ylang safety in perfume

Q&ACory T asks
What do you think is the upper safety level for Ylang-ylang in an oil based perfume? I have looked at the IFRA (International Fragrance Association) guideline and I’m not sure what to think about it. Thanks if you have an answer. I would appreciate it.


Hi Cory, thank you for your support! I would go along with the IFRA guideline of 0.8%. Ylang-ylang is, relatively speaking, one of the most skin-reactive essential oils. I don’t always agree with IFRA guidelines, but I think this is a good one.

By |2018-04-24T20:26:08+00:00July 21st, 2011|Fragrance, Q & A|4 Comments

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  1. Andrea Butje July 25, 2011 at 2:14 pm


    Is there any evidence to conclude the component(s) within Ylang-ylang that make it skin-reactive?


  2. Robert Tisserand July 25, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Andrea, this is currently a mystery. We know that many of the major constituents are not skin sensitizers, and isoeugenol is the constituent most commonly suspected, but is only present in tiny amounts. It might be something not well tested, such as germacrene D or p-cresyl methyl ether. But ethers are not generally skin sensitizers, and neither are monoterpenes unless oxidized, and even then not very potent ones. But there’s no doubt that ylang-ylang oils are a problem.

  3. indrani July 29, 2011 at 8:25 am

    I developed a sensitivity to clove oil a few years ago and accepted eugenol to be my problem. Of late, I have become sensitive to a whole host of essential oils. At the end of a 3 day workshop with Andrea, it looked like I had a case of the measles! I stopped exposure to all oils for 10 days, but even weeks later if I so much as open the products we made, I get pin pricks all over. Since I have a tendency to use Rose, Jasmin, Ylang in a lot of my blends…and they each have traces of eugenol, I am wondering if it is now an acute allergy to the eugenol..? I believe Vanilla too may have eugenol in it, I am not sure. Prior to this I had no problem with these oils. Also I am currently undergoing oral chelation due to high levels of lead..can that perhaps be a reason for the heightened reaction..?

  4. Robert Tisserand July 29, 2011 at 9:35 am

    Indrani – it does sound like you might be developing a hyper-sensitivity to essential oils. Are you saying that just inhaling EO vapors brings on a skin reaction? This can happen, but it’s quite unusual. Also, skin reactions are dilution-dependent. Even if you are allergic to eugenol, a VERY small amount should not bring on a reaction, so you might be reacting to other constituents. You might want to consider a visit to a dermatologist to get some answers. I don’t think your high levels of lead would be a factor, but psychological stress can be – it makes us more sensitive.

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