4 Repulsive Ingredients in Your Perfume or Cologne

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on December 26, 2012. Enjoy!

People wear perfume and cologne to feel like they smell clean and fresh or sexy and elegant. It is meant to attract others, to make them want to come closer.

So why do fragrances contain some pretty unpleasant ingredients?

Yes, those expensive scented serums for which consumers pay dearly often include repulsive substances that most of us would never willingly waft over our bodies or daub onto our pressure points. In more recent times, these ingredients often come in synthetic form — so cross your fingers that the brand you favor doesn’t use any of the genuine articles.

Synthetic or not, apparently these aromas get the job done, because people keep coming back for more. But would they if they knew the truth? Here is a splash of it.

1. Cat Feces

Feces extracted from the anal glands of civet cats is simply called “civet.”

The World Society for the Protection of Animals has investigated civet harvesting, describing the cruel conditions faced by the captive animals:

Wild civets are confined to a cage 3ft x 1 ft x 1ft for the rest of their lives. When they are initially caught. many are unable to turn around inside the cage until they have lost sufficient weight. Farming practices are outdated, and sick or injured civets do not receive any veterinary treatment.

2. Beaver genital excretions

Castoreum is “a chemical compound that mostly comes from a beaver’s castor sacs, which are located between the pelvis and the base of the tail.” The beavers are often trapped and killed for the substance.

The castoreum and fur trades had a devastating effect on European beavers, which were nearly hunted to extinction.

3. Whale vomit

Ambergris, a briny and vomitous by-product” comes from the “diseased stomachs” of endangered sperm whales. Occasionally, the marine mammals will poop out the substance instead. Either way, ambergris is worth bushels of cash, and remains a prized perfume ingredient.

4. Deer sexual secretions

Yet another sexual secretion, musk is “a strong-smelling secretion produced by the glands of Asia’s musk deer.” Between hunting and habitat destruction, the species is near extinction. And as a result, musk is worth “three times more than its weight in gold.

Related Stories:

What Gross Secret Ingredients are Hiding in Your Food?

7 Unexpected Ingredients You Might Be Eating For Lunch Today

Lucky Boy Finds Whale Vomit (Or Poop) Worth $60,000

Photo Credit: Sigfrid Lundberg/Flickr


Marie W
Marie W12 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Melania Padilla
Melania Pabout a year ago

I still cannot believe these ingredients are used in the 21st century!

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hillabout a year ago

Nasty! How do they get some of that stuff? Can't be easy.

Jennifer H
Jennifer Habout a year ago

Gross stuff - no wonder it stinks so bad! Don't wear any - too many people have allergies to them.

M. M
M. Mabout a year ago

Yuck! Are those mentioned on ingredients?!?! Because I would totally avoid it!!!

Louise A
Past Member about a year ago

thank you

Victoria S
Victoria Salterabout a year ago

Is there no end to the list of species humans will abuse for their own gain? Seriously? Civet cat faeces? Whale vomit?
Animals have as much right to live as we do. Why do some humans think they can keep wild animals in such small cages and exploit them just for profit when they don't really need to?

Stephanie s
Stephanie Yabout a year ago

Shared. Thank you

Marija M
Marija Mabout a year ago


Paulo R
Paulo Rabout a year ago