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    I am a novice perfumer, and even to say this is a bit pretentious. I do blend scents at home and have a couple of what I would call “successes.”

    Having only recently discovered Salaam Attar’s excellent Profumo site and store, I am only lately adding the wonderful addition of animal scents to the incredible landscape of smelly delights from the natural world.

    However, even before finding I had strong notions of the curious function of animal pheromones in the psychology of smell. (My friends laugh at me at bars when this topic comes up so I can’t have a serious discussion anywhere else, it would seem, and this seems like the perfect forum to explore these phenomena.)

    In particular, I am fascinated by the “harmonic” relationship between botanical smells and natural pheromonal smells. For instance, the smell of eucalyptus is strongly uriniferous. An extremely forward note of Jasmine can be very subtly, sweetly fecal. Etc. Numerous comments, reviews, etc. on this site make reference to various biological excreta of an ark’s worth of fauna.

    My question revolves around a central irony: why are these scents, refined as they are by age, water, sun, and perfumers, so compelling to the human nose, given a natural human tendency to be repulsed by the same things when they are fresh. (This it not to say, of course, that sweatiness, for instance, is always a negative; we all know someone whose body odor can actually improve their attractiveness, n’est-ce pas?)

    But the general notion is valid, I think, and I do wonder what the experienced perfumer’s thoughts are on such notions as — again — this nature of discussion is not exactly fodder for the bar or dinner table.

    Thank you,


    Ciao John,
    Just in the same way as an unprepared person often finds essential oils too strong and repulsive, the first encounter with Civet, Castoreum or Ambergris can be negative.
    If the person is prejudiced or does not go further his first impression, never will he be able to discover their beauty.
    It is no more than a question of olfactory education, it is a wrong approach to start with, having a prejudiced opinion that these smells are foul just because they are animal scents.
    Perfumery uses the “noble” pheromones.
    In this sense your question cannot apply to these products that perfumers use, and has to be reformulated.
    Human sweat is no Muskdeer.

    AbdesSalaam Attar
    Compositore Profumiere


    Ciao John,
    to answer more precisely to your demand, our animal nature makes us have behavioural responses to pheromones, and these are present in bodily smells, including our excrements and in those of other animals as well.
    Our evolved intellectual nature (evolved just in the sense that no animals have such a nature, not in the Darwinian sense that we ever existed without it), which has generated our moral and social behaviours enters in conflict with our animal nature, because man relies on his intellectual nature for survival and this nature being superior to the animal one must dominate it.
    For example your nose will smell the woman in ovulation but your intellectual nature will stop you behaving like the horse that smelled the estrous female.
    For this reason pheromonal body smells that have a pleasant effect on us in subliminal quantities, when they are strong enough to be consciously perceived clash with our intellectual dimension, and become valuated negatively and perceived as unpleasant.

    Scritto Da – salaam Attar on 07 Aprile 2007 23:21:55


    Salaam, thank you for your continued thoughts on this topic.

    Two of your comments are “close to home”. I have long been able to tell a woman when she was in the middle of her cycle, often much to her surprise. As to my physical/visceral reaction, well that is an evolving phenomenon but there’s no doubt it goes right to the most basic instincts.

    I have also had clear validation from my cat of several of your scents. Oddly, he found “honey” to be compelling and seemingly tasty, but he was also moved by civet and muskdeer.

    Now let’s see how my human friends align with Bianca’s (the cat) tastes!



    Ciao john,
    Thank you for your feedback. Usual men are moved by their instinct. Your superiority is that you know why your instinct moves you. In this resides true humanity, knowledge that makes us overcome our instinct.
    Cats are always interested in animal pheromones, particularly in Civet, which is very similar to feline smell (go to the local zoo and smell the lions), but only the bee’s wax absolute interests them in an alimentary manner, and this is because insects are naturally part of cats diet.

    AbdesSalaam Attar
    Compositore Profumiere

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