Monday, July 6, 2015

Animal Ingredients in Perfumes: More Than a Growl

Among perfumery materials few are so loaded with meaning and associations than animal-derived ones. The glamor of yore feels immersed in the cheetah print of those tailored coats that Hollywood stars wore to get the trash out and one can almost smell the Bal a Versailles parfum off their YSL Le Smoking lapels. Ah...the times when false lashes came out for a night on the town and fire-engine red lipstick was a necessary accessory rather than a summer brights trend...

Animal rights activism has (justifiably) put a lid on that. Additionally, the historical changes brought about by analytical chemistry and the since illegal poaching of some of the critters responsible for some of these elusive, magical essences have created new realities. Fragrances (and cosmetics too) use sophisticated synthetics which replicate the warm, intimate touch of something that used to come from furry behinds.

This has necessitated some detailed information on all the various aspect unto which the critical matter of animal-derived and animal-smelling raw materials touches.

For starters and for a short answer I have written an essay on answering the simple question "Do perfumes contain animal ingredients?"
I also wrote a Musk specific article there called "Musk: Erotic Smell of Warmth & Cleanliness". You can read those hitting the highlighted links.

In the archives of Perfume Shrine over the years I have often belabored the subject as well.
You can reference for instance the following articles:

Animalic & "Skanky" Perfumes
Ambergris (natural) and its comparison with the amber "chord"
Ambroxan: synthetics amber-wood
Musk: natural Tonquin musk and synthetics
The historic Animalis base
Of Bees: Honeyed Scents of Myth (referencing both honey and beeswax, an animal product)
Parfums Fourrure (so called "fur perfumes")

Enjoy the posts!


  1. Miss Heliotrope03:28

    Thank you - I do like the edge such scents can give to perfume, but dont want to have tortured an animal (or several) to get it - less attractive, really. Given that many people still "know" that animal bits are used in perfume - & that while ambergris doesnt harm whales, they were killed at times to get at it - I wonder if this adds to the anti-perfume & more specifically anti "old lady" (I know, but cant be bothered detailing the problems with that) perfume attitude? If you are wearing something that smells like the only thing killed to produce it was candy/fairy floss & a Body Shop soap, then that obviously gives you the moral high ground...

    1. That's a great point you're making. Moral high ground does seem like it's a predominant consideration in everyone's choices nowadays. For some reason we have to show off that we're considerate, sensitive, eco-conscious, in very specific ways, as if not being so is considered uncouth. Definitely true what you say!

  2. Like Miss Heliotrope , I do like the depth the perfumes with the "old" formula has but I would rather wear perfumes that did not harm any animal.
    With the clever chemists around I hope they find lots and lots of cruelty free ingredients to stop this .... I do not really mind if my beloved Guerlain scents are changed .
    At the moment I have one of my beloved dogs in the hospital and the pain she is going through breaks my heart.
    Some people do not think animals feel pain ..... even in this educated age there are horrid people that Still believe this!

    1. M, honey, so sorry about that. :-( Poor doggie. Will she recover or is it something really serious? Crossing my fingers for you.

      I'm not at all surprised that there are people not feeling how animals feel pain. In fact nurses told me "babies don't feel pain, that's what pediatricians told us" which had my hair stand on end, a couple of years ago. A little consideration and a little compassion goes a long way, just in case.

  3. Helg ... Moi Moi came home today ...had a nasty nose operation so now she will be able to breath better and that will be good for her heart as its enlarged. You know I love my dogs.
    I have not heard the "babies don't feel pain" idea but it sure does not surprize me!! Good grief, what people say and think is beyond me sometimes!
    I hope you are well Helg ... been watching the Greek crisis on TV here. I am just so confused about it all and I can only imagine what you must be like . Hugs.

    1. That's great to hear!!

      I'm trying my best. It's nail biting this whole thriller of a thing. So much intrigue and back stabbing behind closed doors and you know plain folks are going to pay the price in the end, irrespective of country. You heard the Minister of Finance from Finland today? He can't acquiesce to our proposal because the nationalists who got a big portion of Finnish vote in their last elections are threatening to throw the government! (Sounds like sound advice for the betterment of the Union, huh?)


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