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5 Best Ylang-Ylang Scents: Unique & Enticing

What does ylang-ylang smell like in perfume? It is one of the most complex aromas to describe to those that may not recognize the name.

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Ylang-ylang is a tropical yellow flower in its natural habitat. The scent it gives off is unique and enticing, with delicious hints of an almost jasmine-like note with a sweet apple. 

ylang ylang flower

When crafting more feminine perfumes highlighting a ylang-ylang scent, perfumers include notes like banana, neroli, and honey to round out the complexity.

When the flower’s scent is used in more masculine-leaning fragrances, vetiver, citruses, and oakmoss notes are added to tone down the sweetness.

Our Top Picks

Want to try a new fragrance with Ylang-Ylang scent combinations? We’ve removed some guesswork or potentially disappointing blind buys for beginning CognoScentis and aficionados alike. 

Fernweh Editions Fern & Petals Candle

Chanel No 5

Best Overall

No list would be complete without the timeless Chanel No.5 For Women, a classic fragrance from one of the most highly recognized houses in the fragrance industry.

Launched in 1921, this complex and heady scent was the first release and has undergone only one reformulation around 2010 due to IFRA stipulations regarding the use of jasmine. 

The opening ylang-ylang fragrance oil is a powdery sheath that blends to a more floral, sometimes soapier scent before ending with a woodier fragrance tinged with the initial powdery notes. 

PROS: 

  • Longevity – You’ll catch this scent on your skin, clothes, and hair long after applying
  • Classic, luxurious feel 
  • Appropriate for all seasons at all times

CONS: 

  • Price
  • Easy to wear too much
  • Too popular to be a unique signature scent 
  • Complex scent that changes with body chemistry. 
  • Sillage: Moderate to enormous.
  • Longevity: Long-lasting.
  • Scent potency/Appropriate for: Universal and daily wear is acceptable
  • Price: $$$

Blu Mediterraneo by Acqua di Parma: Ylang-Ylang scent

Best Unisex

Launched in 1999, Blu Mediterraneo by Acqua di Parma is popular with young professionals desiring a fresh, universal scent.

With an opening note of Sicilian almond, middle notes that include ylang-ylang, and closes with vanilla bourbon and cedar broadcast, this fragrance leans neither too masculine nor feminine for most wearers.

PROS: 

  • Moderately priced
  • Unisex
  • Appropriate for daily wear

CONS: 

  • Sweet opening note that smells like a rootbeer float or Dr. Pepper
  • Longevity on clothing 
  • Not a unique, stand-out scent
  • Sillage: Moderate
  • Longevity: Moderate
  • Scent potency/ Appropriate for: Daytime wear, either casual or in the office. 
  • Price: $$ 

Guerlaine Samsara EDT

Best Floral 

The house of Guerlain is renowned for its fragrances, and Samsara does not disappoint. A 1989 release, this complex scent projects a very romantic aura perfect for that special date night. 

Top notes include ylang-ylang and peach, blending to iris and rose, and finishing with a dry down of amber and sandalwood.

PROS: 

  • Moderately priced
  • Long-lasting 
  • Sultry, sexy floral

CONS: 

  • May be too strong for work
  • Longevity on clothes if you wear more than one scent
  • 2022 reformulation to synthetic sandalwood altered scent slightly
  • Sillage: Enormous
  • Longevity: Very long-lasting
  • Scent potency/ Appropriate for: Date nights and evenings
  • Price: $$ – $$$

Annick Goutal Songes EDP

Best Tropical Floral

Released in 2005, Songes EDP By Annick Goutal is a delicious white floral scent surrounds you in a cloud of white flowers, ylang-ylang, and vanilla with tropical notes courtesy of fragrant frangipani and tiare.

However, in the late 2000s, this fragrance was reformulated when packaging and bottles were overhauled, and a cumin note was added. 

PROS: 

  • Moderately priced
  • Incredibly long-lasting 
  • True floral scent

CONS: 

  • Cumin note may be too “dirty skin” smelling for some
  • Longevity on clothes if you wear more than one scent
  • Not a good blind buy
  • Sillage: Moderate to strong.
  • Longevity: Moderate to long-lasting. 
  • Scent potency/ Appropriate for: Daytime wear, spring and summer wear. 
  • Price: $$

Red Door EDT

Best Value 

Arden is known for its fragrances that are available virtually, well, everywhere. Red Door was launched in 1989 with the well-known Elizabeth Arden spa as the inspiration. A hugely floral scent, ylang-ylang is a heart note with staying power. 

PROS: 

  • Affordable
  • Incredibly long-lasting 
  • Ageless 

CONS: 

  • Heavy projecting scent
  • Scent & name are associated with an older generation 
  • Not a good blind buy
  • Sillage: moderate – strong
  • Longevity: moderate – long-lasting
  • Scent potency/ Appropriate for: daytime wear 
  • Price: $

 
  TOP PICKS AT A GLANCE  
5 Best Ylang-Ylang Scents: Unique & Enticing
  • Timeless classic
  • Long-lasting
  • Great for all seasons
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5 Best Ylang-Ylang Scents: Unique & Enticing
  • Moderately priced
  • Appropriate for daily wear
  • Fresh
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5 Best Ylang-Ylang Scents: Unique & Enticing
  • Sexy floral
  • Long-lasting
  • Perfect for date nights
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The Wrap Up 

Ylang-Ylang is the scent note that so many perfumeries attempt to incorporate into their fragrances, and with good reason.

As an essential oil, ylang-ylang smell benefits have been proven to include antidepressant properties and induce relaxation and a sense of euphoria. 

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Ylang-Ylang Scent
Writer

Selena Marc is a fragrance enthusiast, freelance writer, and dog mom living in Houston, Texas. When she's not writing about her favorite new perfumes, you can find her enjoying yoga or a morning hike.