What is it?
Cananga odorata oil (also known as ylang-ylang oil) is a fragrance and flavoring derived from the flowers of the Cananga tree native
to Southeast Asia. It is widely used for its distinctive floral scent in cosmetics, perfumes, and essential oils.
The primary fragrance chemical in Cananga odorata or ylang-ylang essential oil is Linalool, but various forms of the oil can
- Geranyl acetate
- p-cresyl methyl ether
- Methyl benzoate
How can I avoid it?
Skin contact with Cananga odorata oil is required for it to cause a rash. Discontinuation of exposure to products containing Cananga
odorata oil should result in improvement and/or resolution of your dermatitis. By law, all products made in the U.S. for topical use
have the ingredients listed either on the product package or the box that contains it, so check the labeling of your skin care products
for this ingredient. If there is not enough information, ask your pharmacist or retailer, or contact the company directly. At work,
request a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) to help identify potential sources of exposure.
The avoidance of fragrances and flavoring agents such as Cananga odorata oil can be difficult, since so many everyday products
contain these substances. One should use only fragrance-free cosmetic and household products. “Unscented” products may contain
low levels of a fragrance to cover up an undesirable odor and also should be avoided. Products labeled as “hypoallergenic” do not
assure that the product is truly free of fragrance.
Since fragrances are complex mixtures of many ingredients, an individual may tolerate one fragrance but not another. A trial-and-
error method of avoiding a fragrance allergen in a product can be performed by applying the product to the forearm in the same small area twice a day for a week. If no dermatitis develops, the product may likely be used safely.
Direct contact with foods or products containing Cananga odorata oil may cause symptoms, including burning, irritation, and
redness. Direct contact may occur on the skin, lips, or mouth. Although it is rare, since some fragrances are also flavors, foods that
contain Cananga odorata oil may cause flare-ups of dermatitis in fragrance-sensitive individuals. If your healthcare provider has
diagnosed you with oral or lip allergies to fragrances or flavorings, you should avoid foods prepared with Cananga odorata oil.
- Perfumes/Colognes/After-shaves/Toilet water
- Skin care products/Cosmetics
- Hair sprays, gels, tonics, and lotions
- Nail polish remover
- Topical medications (prescription and over the counter) such as:
- Creams, ointments, solutions
- Foot and other powders
- Nasal decongestants
- Herbal remedies, including traditional Chinese medications
- Motion sickness remedies
- Treatment for insect bites
- Wound dressings
- Household products
- Air fresheners/Aromatherapy/Potpourri
- Cleaning products/Soaps/Detergents (A preferred household cleaner for fragrance-sensitive individuals is dilute white vinegar.)
- Dish soaps
- Furniture polish
- Laundry care (detergent, softeners)
- Foods, candies, gum, beverages, various, as a flavoring or spice
- Oral Care Products as a flavoring
- Cough mixtures
- Throat tablets and lozenges
- Essential oils (primarily used for aromatherapy)
Other names for Cananga Odorata Oil:
- Ylang-ylang oil
- Ilang-ilang oil
- Cananga tree oil
- Perfume tree oil
Potential cross-reacting/co-reacting substances:
- Benzyl salicylate