Common Scents: Ylang Ylang

Welcome back to our series, Common Scents! Common Scents is a collection of articles exploring the history of commonly used essential oils, and how they became so popular in modern day soap and cosmetic crafting. This week, we’ll talk about ylang ylang!

 This month we are going to talk about everyone’s least favorite essential oil to pronounce: ylang ylang! Pronounced ee-lang ee-lang, this sweet oil is versatile and mysterious, with a heady, floral aroma.


Ylang ylang has been popular throughout history for its purported therapeutic and medicinal qualities. The first official documentation of its use as a medicine came early in the 20th century, when two French chemists working on research on the island of Reunion discovered the healing properties of ylang ylang oil. They reported that they believed it to be an effective treatement for malaria, as well as other digestive and intestinal complaints. The chemists also believed that ylang ylang oil had a calming effect on the heart during times of distress or anxiety. They were hardly the first to come to this conclusion though; in the Philippines, healers turned to ylang ylang oil for treatment for snake and insect bites, as well as commonplace injuries such as burns and cuts and cardiac complaints. The cardiac benefits of ylang ylang oil were also noted in Oriental medicine, where healers used it most commonly for calming the heart.


Ylang ylang oil is derived from the ylang-ylang (cananga odorate) tree, sometimes referred to as the Cananga tree. This tree can grow up to 60 feet tall! Ylang ylang oil is steam distilled from the fragrant flowers of the tree; these flowers do not bloom until at least the fifth year of the tree’s life. It takes approximately 45-50 pounds of flowers to make one pound of oil; special care must be taken in regards to the timing of the distillation to ensure the desired quality.


There are three different grades of ylang ylang oil; extra, first, second and third. Extra grade refers to oil that is taken within an hour of distillation, and is considered the most fragrant; this grade is used most frequently in the perfume industry. First is taken up to four hours after distillation begins, second after approximately seven hours, and third can be taken up to ten hours after distillation begins. Typically, first through third grades are used in soap and cosmetic manufacturing.

Medicinal and Therapeutic Uses 

Ylang ylang enjoys a reputation as a versatile healing oil. Let’s take a look at some of its medicinal and therapeutic uses throughout history:

Mental stimulant

Muscle spasm relief

Lowers blood pressure

Reverses insect and snake bites


Nerve and muscle relaxer 

Remember: the HSCG is providing this information for informational and entertainment purposes only. The FDA has not approved ylang ylang for medicinal use, and we are not providing this information as a recommendation for medicinal use.

Ylang Ylang in Modern Times 

Ylang ylang is a popular fragrance for soaps and cosmetics; its sweet, floral scent is appealing to a wide variety of audiences in an equally wide variety of products. Considered a base note, ylang ylang mixes well with grapefruit, vetiver, marjoram, sandalwood, bergamot, and many others.

Final Thoughts 

Ylang ylang has a rich history and makes a great addition to any citrusy or warm scents you already have in your products! Be creative with this versatile oil; your customer will love it.

Need a little more inspiration to blend your fragrances? Check out our How-To article called Fantastic Fragrances and How to Blend Them:

6 Reasons Why You Should Use Handcrafted Soap

Natural and sustainable living is becoming very popular these days. Everyone is becoming more mindful of what they consume, and how they consume it; why should body care be any different?

Handcrafted soap has been in existence since the early days of humanity. For thousands of years, humans have craved the pleasant feeling of a well made soap, and we have been perfecting the art of crafting it ever since.

There are many options for soap on the market, and although it may seem easier and more cost effective to just buy a bar of big-brand soap, let us change your mind with these six reasons why you should make the switch.

#1: You Can Pronounce the Ingredients

 Handmade soap is made by a jack of all trades; your neighborhood Handcrafter is a chemist, a perfumer, an artist, a botanist, and an entrepreneur. Handcrafters seek out the most natural and skin-loving ingredients to put in their bars, and it shows in the craftsmanship you purchase with each one. Typical soaps will contain common materials like olive, palm and coconut oils, as well as sodium hydroxide, water, fragrance and exfoliants such as lavender buds, coffee, or sea salt.

Don’t let the inclusion of sodium hydroxide (also known as lye) dissuade you; although the soapmaker must use lye in order to make the soap, it is not present in the final product, and you can be sure your Handcrafter has tested it to be on the safe side!

#2: Everyone Can Use It.

 Handcrafted soap is a very inclusive category of body care. Are you allergic to most fragrances? That’s alright, there are many Handcrafters who make unscented bars just for you! Do you have allergies to a specific oil or additive? No problem. A bar can most likely be made for you. Are you Vegan, and want to avoid using products that contain animal materials? Perfect! Many Handcrafters either make a Vegan product on purpose, or have a product in their line that is Vegan-friendly. If you have a soapmaker in your area, it is highly likely that they will be willing to work with you to accommodate your needs; after all, they are passionate about providing a superior shower experience for everyone.

#3: That Smell.

 Sure, mass produced soap smells good. But have you ever smelled handcrafted soap? It’s incredible! Warm and rich, bouncy and floral, deep and mysterious; Handcrafters are masters at crafting an olfactory experience that compliments the effects of their bars.

#4: Handcrafters Help the Environment

 Handmade soaps are less likely to contain a harmful or aggressive ingredient that could cause damage to the environment when it is washed down your drain. Due to the saponification process, the sodium hydroxide used in the initial formulation is not present and will not do damage to you or anything it contacts once you wash it away.

Handcrafters are also more likely to use responsibly sourced products and materials. Natural, organic and fair trade are frequently used words in this industry, and Handcrafters are vigilant when it comes to the origin of their products. Know that your soap has been made with care and most importantly, consideration.

 #5:  Variety is the Spice of Soap

 Handcrafters are artists. They create swirling patterns, intricate designs and pleasing visuals, all with soap! Natural and synthetic colorants are a creative soaper’s best friend, and make a stunning final product (without dying your skin purple, pink and teal, of course). But, as any Handcrafter will tell you; even though the soap is gorgeous, don’t be afraid to use it!

#6: You Are Supporting Your Community

Handcrafters are your neighbors, your friends, your family. They are the backbone of your community, and their entrepreneurial spirit combined with the same passion of their fellow small business owners is so important to a thriving local economy. When you purchase anything, including a bar of soap, from a local small business you are encouraging a the dream of business freedom and community pride. Think of it as a personal investment in a strong, vibrant community!

Bonus Reason: Handcrafters

 Handcrafters spend their time formulating, attending educational events like the HSCG’s Annual Conference, and crafting products specifically intended to make you feel as wonderful as you look. What big brand bar of soap could possibly do that?

Are you ready to make the switch? Check out our Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Directory to find your new favorite product:



What’s Up at the HSCG: March 2017

2017 has and will continue to be an exciting year for the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild!

In early 2017, we were very excited to introduce a new, lower cost insurance option through Veracity Insurance Solutions. Even with a price point $100 less than the standard coverage option, this lower cost policy still covers handcrafted soap and cosmetic makers in a wide variety of situations, and has the flexibility to cover everyone from fledgling business to full grown empire.

Let’s not forget our new look! The HSCG has rebranded, with new sleek and modern logos and a fresh website. If you haven’t yet, check out; we think you’ll love the updated feel.

We also announced our first HSCG Advocacy Day, taking place in Washington DC in April. This is a great opportunity for approximately 50 handcrafted soap and cosmetic makers to discuss ongoing legislation with lawmakers, and offer their own insight into how it will affect handcrafted businesses.

As you can imagine, things are getting very busy at HSCG Headquarters in beautiful Saratoga Springs, New York; with our largest (and nearly sold out) Annual Conference just around the corner in Las Vegas and the excitement and extensive planning surrounding it, the decision was made to add an additional employee to our staff; please help us welcome Niki Cameron!

Niki grew up in a small town just north of Saratoga Springs. She loves to knit “anything and everything”, and can usually be found reading a Stephen King book (the Dark Tower is her favorite series). She has a passion for small business and customer service, and will be filling the roll of Member Services Representative. Niki will also be attending the Annual Conference in Las Vegas this year to assist Leigh and Sara with all the moving parts! Chances are, if you’ve called the office at any time in the past few weeks, you’ve already chatted with Niki a bit; she will be your go-to source for general membership, benefit, insurance and conference related questions. Welcome!

Speaking of the conference, this year is going to be the largest event that the HSCG has ever hosted! We are nearly sold out at 600 attendees, and they are in for three days of action packed networking and educational opportunities. This year, the Annual Conference will take place at the Tropicana Las Vegas, located right in the heart of the action in Las Vegas. The newly renovated space is absolutely gorgeous, with plenty of room for our incredible Exhibitors and famous Speaker Sessions.

Of course, we can’t talk about the conference without talking about the speakers! This year’s lineup has something for everyone; right out of the starting gate, attendees will be treated to an inspirational and motivation keynote speech from Bramble Berry’s Anne-Marie Faiola! She will teach attendees how to “Have the Best Day Ever, Every Day”. Then, attendees will have the option to attend a number of different sessions covering a variety of topics including formulation, label compliance and marketing. There is truly something for everyone at this event, no matter what stage of your handcrafting journey you are in!

If you haven’t registered for the Annual Conference yet, make sure to sign up as soon as you can; there are very few spots remaining, and we anticipate selling out soon! Visit to purchase your registration today.

We can’t wait to share more exciting HSCG news with you; 2017 is going to be a great year!