Where did the animal notes used in perfumery come from?
Today, it seems totally unthinkable to dare to sacrifice animal life to create a perfume… This was not always the case, far from it. Thus the animal notes which profusely perfumed the great of this world were for centuries truly animal substances. It is whispered, for example, that Queen Cleopatra used the secretions of musk cats (the civet) to make her perfumes with supposedly curative virtues ...
The best-known animal notes are musk, castoreum, ambergris, civet, hyraceum and beeswax. Musk has been produced for years by the Asian musk buckskin, castoreum is produced by the abdominal glands of a North American beaver, and civet comes from the fat of the anal glands of Ethiopian feral cats. As for ambergris, it comes from sperm whale secretions and the hyraceum from the crystallized urine of an African rodent, the Cape hyrax. For beeswax, it is quite simply taken from the hives to make an absolute. All this is hardly dreaming, but yet these animal materials were used for centuries in perfumery ...
Today, thanks to the increased awareness of the protection of the animal world, if only the hunting of musk deer is totally prohibited, no perfumer (except Creed) uses these raw materials. Synthetic molecules have successfully taken their place while saving their lives!
The use of animal notes in modern perfumes
From their strong scents one might think, with good reason, that animal notes would be exclusively reserved for male perfumes. This was the case for many years, moreover. However, it was to forget the strength of a frank animal note in a perfume created for feminine fragrances of character.
Among the most famous perfumes with animal notes, we can only mention in the first place Chanel n ° 5 by Chanel. The base notes of musk and civet are combined with florals, sandalwood and cedar to offer a unique, powerful and mythical fragrance to women of character. Then a few years later, it is Lancôme who will give birth to a wild and animal magic essence Black Magic opening on top oriental notes, the base notes are composed of civet and castoreum mixed with woody notes. Like a magical and captivating elixir!
Despite these great successes of the animal notes of feminine perfumery, men's perfumes still use the animal note to mark with a seal of virility the famous green and natural fragrances of the moment. The man is more discreet and less savage, however, he remains as manly as ever!