1. Rose Petals (from outer space):
Found in: Shiseido’s Zen
In 1998, International Flavors & Fragrances sent a single rose into space to test out how zero gravity affected its scent. The resulting aroma was incorporated into a new fragrance by Japanese cosmetic company Shiseido. Now you too can smell like a space flower.
2. Blood, Semen, and Deadly Nightshade:
Found in: Lady Gaga’s Fame.
Lady Gaga’s original plan to have Fame smell of blood and semen didn’t pan out, but she still included Belladonna, or deadly nightshade. The plant has a storied history as a fatal poison: emperor Augustus and Claudius’s wife both allegedly used it for murderous purposes. It causes narcosis and paralysis in animals, and if it doesn’t kill you, it’ll cause strange delirium and hallucinations—sort of like Gaga’s music.
3. Peat Fire, Highland Mud, and Burnt Rubber:
Found in: Alan Cumming’s Cumming.
Actor Alan Cumming asserts, “The longer you wear it and the more you sweat, Cumming gets deeper and sexier.” Other notes include cigar, black pepper, pine and whiskey. It probably smells great, but it sounds like it might make you smell like a drunk stepdad who’s lost in a forest fire.
Found in: Virgin No. 1 by Thierry Mugler.
To coincide with the release of the film Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, about a parfumier who kills virgins for their scent, Thierry Mugler released a perfume meant to capture a similar scent. No virgins were killed (allegedly) and instead include notes such as “Paris in 1738,” a virgin’s navel, a clean baby, and leather.
5. Taint Juice from the African Civet:
Found in: various perfumes
Civet musk is a common ingredient in many fragrances. Civets produce musk from their perineal glands, located between their genitals and anus—also known as the taint. Musk is taint juice. You’re slathering animal taint on your neck. Congratulations.
Found in: Beyoncé’s Pulse.
“Gourmand” notes have become increasingly popular in recent decades, because smelling like food is sexy as heck. Of the fragrance, B says, “I think women are interesting and I don’t like for you to be like, ‘Ok, this smells like this.’” Well said.
7. “Ozone” (whatever that means):
Found in: Halle Berry’s Closer.
“Ozone” is the newest note category in perfume history, synthesized in 1991 and described as a “clean, modern smell.” Some people describe the scent as the smell of an approaching storm. Ok, sure.
8. Whale Poop:
Found in: Chanel No. 5 by Coco Chanel
Ambergris is a solid, fragrant substance formed in the digestive tract of sperm whales who suffer from indigestion. It’s currently illegal in the United States and has been replaced with synthetic compounds, but it’s still highly prized outside the US. A couple years ago a kid in England found a chunk of it on the beach worth $65,000.
9. Beaver Butt Goo:
Found in: many vanilla-based perfumes (so basically Britney Spears’ entire line).
Beavers secrete a substance from their anal glands called castoreum, prized for its scent. The brown slime is also used as an artificial flavoring for certain foods, such as candy and ice tea.
11. Human Fece—wait, really? Human feces? No. Enough.
Found in: Surplus by Jammie Nicholas.
As part of his art project called (sigh) The Sun Is But One Anus, artist Jammie Nicholas distilled oils from his own excrement to use in arguably the most repulsive perfume ever crafted. There’s a website for the fragrance, if you’re feeling adventurous.
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