Ingredient Spotlight: Ylang Ylang
Posted on April 24 2019
Our beard goods are crafted from all-natural ingredients, with scent compositions inspired by the seasons and built upon the tenants of natural perfumery. In this series, we shine the spotlight on the ingredients that make Fjordmist beard oils, balms and waxes so ethereal.
Botanical Name: Cananga odorata var. genuina
Process: Steam Distilled Essential Oil
Plant Part: Flowers
Note: Top to Middle Note, Excellent Fixative
Aroma: Sweet, floral, and mildly spicy, with balsamic/woody undertones in the drydown
You may have never heard the name Ylang Ylang, but in the 1920s it became one of the most well known fragrance notes in the world as one of the stars of Chanel #5. In its long history in tropical regions it has been used for skincare and medicine, but primarily as a perfumery aphrodisiac.
Ylang Ylang has been called the “poor man’s jasmine,” and while it is not actually related to that kingly plant, both are intoxicating florals pollinated by night moths and other nocturnal insects, releasing their strongest fragrance between dusk and dawn, but the poor man’s version is a tenth the price.
The biggest difference between the two oils of these flowers is the process by which they go from flower to oil. Most jasmine is in the form of an absolute, a solvent extracted substance that retains some waxes, pigments and other constituents from the plant, but are primarily concentrated aromatic oil.
Ylang Ylang, on the other hand, is made in the same manner as the majority of essential oils, steam distillation. This particular oil shows many sides during its long distillation period, during which four fractional distillates are separated by density, or specific gravity at a given temperature.
While all Ylang Ylang contains sweet, floral, fruity, woody green notes, the first of the distillates, the ‘Extra’ fraction, is the lightest, brightest and most volatile. As the distillation process wears on, each fraction contains increasing amounts of sesquiterpene hydrocarbons. Ylang Ylang ‘Complete’ is not a combination of the four distillates, as one might expect, (because that produces an inferior oil), but instead a continuous 18-hour distillation process that creates a complete, non-fractionated oil.
That last one is the preferred choice for aromatherapy, and in much of perfumery, the first fractions, the brightest, and most floral are the most prized, but not by us. Not for a springtime beard blend that evokes the rich new earth of spring. Depth is what we were after, so we chose the deep, rich final fraction.
Like Marilyn Monroe when asked what she wore to bed, we went with the unexpected choice (it was Chanel #5, and so, it was Ylang Ylang).
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