Words: Emily Venables
In perfumery, there are some ingredients that we all know about such as essential oils and alcohol. Then there are others that, if you haven’t heard of before, we bet you wouldn’t be able to tell us even if we waved a million pounds in your face! One of those illusive ingredients is civet - otherwise known as civet oil or civetone. What is civet in perfume, we hear you say! Read on to find out more…
What is Civet in Perfume?
Natural civet is a yellowish paste-like substance which is secreted by an animal, also called a civet, from their perineal glands which they use to mark their territory. A civet looks like a cat, but isn't actually a cat!
It is said that civet was first used in the 10th century by Arabic perfumers who found the ingredient, to be highly desirable – after heavy dilution!
What Does Civet Smell Like?
In its most natural form, civet has an overpowering, almost nauseating faecal smell - something you certainly wouldn’t want to be spraying on yourself! However, when it is in the hands of a skilled perfumer and diluted, it becomes a truly seductive, mesmerising animalistic musky that adds warmth and radiance to fragrances - specifically florals.
Perfumes Which Contain Civet
For many years, civet was sourced directly from the animal kept in cages on farms, predominantly in Ethiopia where the animal thrives. However, due to the nature of how civet is harvested, the majority of perfumes now use a synthetic version.
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