The 8 most wildly bizarre perfume ingredients of all time

Perfumes aren't always made from sugar, spice, and everything nice. Sure, they smell great - but that doesn't mean they don't contain trace amounts of something odious, like whale vomit or animal anal secretions, or something you’d never think of throwing in perfumes, like bacon or gunpowder. 

Before you start chucking away your fragrances, hear us out: while these cringe-worthy components are derived from the vilest of all places, they're completely safe to use in the right amounts, and, strangely, smell great when concocted the right way. 

Here are some of the world’s strangest perfume ingredients and our recommendations of perfumes to smell them in.

1. Ambergris

A chunk of ambergris

Some call it whale poop, others call it whale vomit (depending on which way it exits), but we'd rather call by its more tolerable title: Ambergris. Ambergris is a waxy substance found in the digestive system of sperm whales.

Although synthetic versions have mostly supplanted it now, it is still reported to exist in rare fragrances. Ambergris is said to be one of the world's most costly perfume components. 

Fun fact: Ambergris was supposedly included in the original Chanel No. 5 because of its fragrance-enhancing properties and lovely marine musk smell.

Smell it in Bvlgari Aqua Atlantique (P3,395) and Calvin Klein Eternity Air Men (P2,895).  

2. Bacon 


Nothing compares to the aroma of bacon, which has even found its way into perfumery. It's been a popular smell in numerous body washes and shower gels in recent years.

3. Cactus


Prickly and unappealing overall, cactus is probably one of the plant world's least expected perfume ingredients, but if you give this thorny perennial a chance, it may surprise you. Cactus is often utilized in perfumes for its fresh and green smell that helps unisex perfumes stand out.

Smell it in Bvlgari Man Extreme (P3,095) and Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Men (P3,195). 

4. Cannabis

Cannabis leaves

Spritzing on a cannabis-infused fragrance won’t get you high, but it will make you smell great! Cannabis is most recognized for its recreational uses, but its distinct animalistic, herbaceous aroma has also been employed to thrill the senses. 

5. Castoreum


Did you know that beaver anal secretions can have a pleasant vanilla scent? This component, sometimes known as castoreum, is frequently utilized in popular leather-themed perfumes.

Castoreum was used to cure anything from headaches to hysteria until the 18th century but has long been phased out in favor of synthetic substitutes and hyraceum, an earthy rock-like substance fossilized from hyrax urine.

6. Caviar

Black caviar

It's little wonder that caviar, another luxury food, would make its way into fragrances and colognes, given perfume's lengthy history of aristocratic use. Caviar gives perfumes a sweet, salty, and savory note while provoking a feeling of luxury, elegance, and sophistication.

7. Gunpowder


It's easy to turn our noses away from the smell of gunpowder, but when used the right way, this chemical compound can give fragrances a spicy kick. With its distinctively peppery and smoky aroma, the compound has burst into the fragrance business.

8. Popcorn


Movie buffs will welcome this popular snack with open arms. Popcorn has a buttery fragrance that smells darling in the right fragrances. It was famously utilized in the original Miss Dior Cherie and is a component in the Demeter Popcorn Perfume, which also has vanilla undertones.

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