Monday, October 17, 2011

Swallowable Perfume: A Perfume Pill that Makes You Smell Sweet?

A team is working on edible perfume – a digestible pill that will emit a scent through the skin during perspiration. Men and women will no longer have to bring out the perfume or the body spray in order to prepare for a date; a pill with all the right ingredients will help make them smell attractive and confident instead (and making that nervous sweat smell of golden nectar)! Part of the Beauty from Within concept, it's set to hit the market at a future date.

“Body architect” Lucy McRae and synthetic biologist Sheref Mansy of Harvard University are in the research phase of exactly that. "Swallowable Parfum consists of scented lipid molecules that copy the structure of fat molecules found in the body. Because our bodies have enzymes that metabolise fat, this perfume works on the basis that the enzymes will also metabolise the perfumed molecules, excreting them through the skin. The proposed digestible capsule will emit an odour unique to the individual the more they perspire, as the perfume emerges as droplets on the skin’s surface.
Harvard biologist Mansy and Amsterdam- based Australian artist McRae have created a video at swallowableparfum.com to illustrate the process." (quote via Irish Times) The clip is tagged with "Go beyond accessory", "express uniqueness" and "a new cycle of evolution". Making a perfume uniquelly your own has always been the Holy Grail in the quest for the perfect scent.

According to the makers: “Once absorbed, the capsule enables the skin to become a platform, an atomizer, a biologically enhanced second skin synthesized directly from the natural processes of the body,” explains the website. “Fragrance molecules are excreted through the skin’s surface during perspiration, leaving tiny golden droplets on the skin that emanate a unique odor. A biologically enhanced second skin synthesized directly from the natural processes of the body,
redefining the role of skin.”
The strength of the scent is determined by varying factors including an individual’s ability to acclimatization to temperatures, reactions to stress, exercise, and sexual arousal. [pic source]

Of course the idea that eating fragrant foodstuff would help aromatize an individual's personal odour is not new: As explained in our article Musk & Civet in Food: Challenging our Perceptions, Chinese concubines were regularly fed on natural deer musk, so that they would benefit of sexy body emissions. Their body would excrete pure musk at every caress...
And who can forget that infamous movie scene in James Ivory's Le Divorce, with Naomi Watts and Kate Hudson, the latter being the paramour of a French politician who mentions that a tisane of rosewater, orange blossoms and mint is to be drunk before lovemaking to perfume "the juices"? (offered as a course of intimate French lessons for the American young girl)

Spraying, dabbing or even dousing will soon be entirely optional....


  1. I'm intrigued by this, but testing these new scents could be problematic. We all know that scents can clash with individual body chemistry. If that perfume pill you're sampling is a "scrubber," quelle dommage! you'll just have to wait until it's out of your system.

  2. Amy,

    I thought about that and if I get it correctly, this new "pill" is probably like those old lipsticks that advertised themselves as turning the shade of colour that suited you and only you.
    So, there wouldn't be any "scrubbers", as the perfume would automatically bring forth the elements that would suit the individual's body chemistry.

    Personally, I'm rather doubtful about another thing: Since this is supposed to be built as a lipidophile, isn't a bit risky to have it accumulate in lipid tissue after repeated wearings?

  3. I wonder if there will be any warnings that pregnant women shouldn't use them.

    Ha--I tried one of those color-changing lipsticks and it looked awful on me!

    (I'd still try one of them, though.)

  4. I suppose being pregnant (or lactating) is a very special phase in the life of a woman and it should go unmentioned that anything consumed/imbued/applied on top etc should be on a "need to use" basis. Why risk it, even if it is teeny tiny risk? (or if there's no data to register as risk!)

    Funny about the lipsticks: in theory it's so perfect! ;-D

  5. Totally unpredictable. It will blend with the rest of the food that we'll have metabolised.

    The health hazards are very possible!

  6. Anonymous21:38

    um, no thanks!

    all i can think of is the garlic coming off the skin and through the perspiration of those who eat a lot of it - and the odor of the herbal supplements my friendt takes too many of - don't need to ingest my perfume!

    this has been done in science fiction - human characters changing their scent so as to blend in with the aliens, who recognize one another by scent.


  7. I'm with Minette on this one. It's hard enough tryingto get rid of the carmelized onion scent after eating them in either a French onion soup or with perogies let alone perfume. I small spray of perfume is enough for me.

  8. One of the craziest perfume that I've ever heard of. I do hope its really true. Hehe but I doubt about it.

  9. PA,

    it's true all right. The thing is there are all sort of questions popping up on its effects and use, and nothing has been answered as of yet. We'll see.

  10. Asuka,

    it's rather a sketchy deal, though there might be some concrete research behind it that would eliminate any health concern (like some fat-binding proteins or vitamins people take).
    There's a Harvard research biologist behind it, so I'm optimistic it should have back up info.

  11. J,

    I hadn't known it was down in science fiction! How interesting! Film or novel? *racking my brains to remember*

    It's not a very appealing idea for several reasons (one of which is we're so reluctant to imbue rather than apply). I am curious to see what the detailed info will be when they're ready to launch.

  12. Eld,

    LOL, can't blame you! Indeed onions and garlic do stick around a bit. (Am not particularly offended by those though, unless they don't mix well with a person's personal sweat; which happens sometimes....)

  13. OK, this is just creepy to me! How on earth will this get past the FDA? It just sounds like it could be dangerous and what kind of testing for safety would there be before this is sold? But then I am one of those against all the dangerous stuff Big Pharma puts out with little to no testing and as well as GE foods so that's where I am coming from.

  14. Stelma,

    that's an interesting question re: the FDA. Unless it remains an experimental project with no real market tentacles; which is a possibility.
    I am waiting to hear more about this, honestly. It's interesting news to report though!

  15. Stelma,

    we'll just have to wait and see. I don't think they would make it dangerous (we ingest LOTS of fragrant stuff in our foodstuff regularly, from yoghurts to meat products, don't be so surprised by it!), so I think they're going with tried and tested ingredients, just combining them in different ratios and different correlations to each other.
    The question remains how the benefits would actually outweigh the possible "Eeek" factor of consumers.

  16. Weird and probably not safe.


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