Perfume. This is an area much more suited to Lucy. However, today, this is my topic. It is my topic, as today it will become a mini science lesson, and a trip into the weird and wonderful. A few weeks ago, I found an article in Metro. For our (few) international readers, Metro is a newspaper regularly left in the ticket areas of train stations, at the front of buses, and occasionally on seats / floors / racks of public transport for people to freely take, no charge, to give you something to do on your daily commute. On this particular day, I was travelling to a college for an assessment, when I read this article. An article on the smells of perfume.
Most people know what perfume smells of, I suppose. Flowers, musk, fruit,wood, earthy undertones and all that. But why? Why are these smells so attractive? Well, according to this article, it is because they smell like us. Our bodily smells.
Sandalwood is a fragrance I see everywhere. I always thought it smelt like, well, you know, WOOD? Turns out, yes, but no. It actually smells sweaty. Isn’t that nice? One part of the article quotes a fragrance expert, Ms. Williams, who says that she went on a trip to ‘see and smell’ orchids, as she put it, and that ‘one orchid smelt like semen’. Now, I can’t say I have ever noticed this, but generally, I do not go around smelling flowers, with hayfever and whatnot. And it is not limited to orchids either. Flowers that contain ‘indolic materials‘ have a smell not dissimilar to poo. This is because, as the above link says, it is a naturally occuring component of faeces, but in low concentrations it has a flowery odour. So essentially, my shit really does smell of roses.
So, we have that covered. When you wear perfume, you smell like crap. Sorry, but it’s the truth! What other odd things go into perfume?
Most people know about ambergris, I imagine mainly because of THAT Futurama episode. Ambergris is a solid mass of bile secretion, that is either spat up or pooed out, by sperm whales. Intestinal tract fluids. Yummy! Real ambergris is expensive, at $20 a gram. For comparison, the most expensive spice in the world, saffron is £3.50 for half a gram in Tesco.
Civet is a small wild cat. It is also the name given in perfumery to the scent extracted from the glands of the same animal. Glands being sexual organs. Scent being pheromones. You catch my drift . . . Musk is the same. Basically, musk, the standard smell for old ladies round the country (and a Body Shop essential), is from deer. I always wondered why I disliked the smell of musk, and now I know. It is because I really do NOT like smelling like deer testicles.
Hyraceum, or African Stone, is the ‘fossilised’ urine of the south African dwelling Cape Hyrax, a type of big guinea pig. The urine is dug up from the earth, and is meant to smell similar to a mix of various animal musks and tobacco.
And finally, artificial vanilla scents can be extracted from cow dung. So, next time you are dousing yourself in Chanel No5, that godawful Calvin Klein fragrance I do so hate, that smelly one Lucy had that made me feel ill, or, for the boys, that can on Lynx you spray every ten seconds, please remember;
You still smell like crap, my dearies.