It goes without saying that perfumes, nowadays, are made up of numerous ingredients and scent notes. So much so that sometimes, it’s hard to tell what it is exactly you’re smelling! But, you may be a little more than shocked to hear about the strange ingredients in perfume you never knew existed. Some ingredients play supportive roles while others are the star of the perfume itself but, unless someone came right out and told you, you’d have no idea what’s lurking in your fragrance. After reading an exhaustive list of odd (and seemingly stinky-sounding) notes, here’s our list of the top three strange ingredients in perfume.
AMBERGRIS a.k.a Sperm whale bile duct secretion
The secretion of a Sperm whale, ambergris is a waxy substance that used to be found washed up on beach shores. On it’s own in perfume, it can be described as having a sweet and woodsy scent. This ingredient had been used for years in the fragrance business as it was found to prolong the scent of other perfume notes. Lately, though, it is not commonly used as it is all but illegal around the world, save in France and Switzerland.
Perfumes with ambergris: Caleche Eau Delicat by Hermes, Light Blue by Dolce & Gabbana
CIVET a.k.a. Wild cat anal gland secretion
While technically not a cat, the exotic wild Civet cat’s anal gland secretion is behind a few famous scents in the fragrance world. Although, the initial thought of an animals “spray” to mark their territory conjures up no thoughts of sexiness, it is known for it’s rather poignant (read pungent) scent yet that, when tempered with time (and other scent notes) is in fact a rather sultry, intriguing musk. Thanks to it’s not-so kind extraction process, this is now a scent that is synthetically replicated and known as civetone.
Perfumes with civet: No5 by Chanel, Obsession by Calvin Klein
VIRGINS a.k.a Virgins
There is no typo here. Possibly the top of the hit list of strange ingredients in perfume, the idea behind this scent note may have been inspired by the Patrick Süskind novel Perfume, where a young perfumist sets out to capture the scent of a women which lends to a tale of death and decay but we’d like to think otherwise. As it turns out, this scent note does indeed exist thanks to the IFF, who used a seemingly less horrific method of capturing samples via a polymer needle and finding ways to chemically recreate the scent. The inspiration behind the now famous “Virgin Number One.” by Theirry Mugler.
Perfumes with “Virgin”: Virgin No. 1 by Thierry Mugler