Are there animals in your perfume?

A picture of a civet
An African Civet (Civettictis civetta) in the wilds of Botswana.
Photo by Ondrej Prosicky / Getty Images

The fragrance sector may see revenue of over $1 billion CAD ($0.87 billion USD) in 2022 – and with so many choices available, it can be hard to be an informed consumer. Fortunately, companies like Wild Coast Perfumery exist – and want to help compassionate consumers avoid animal products.

What Animal Products Can Be Found In Perfume and Cologne?

A civet
A civet (Civettictis civetta) in nature in Zimbabwe.
Photo by Ondrej Prosicky / Getty Images

Civet (mammals of the family Viverridae) is still found in high-end or some smaller indie brands who continue to use animal musks. The scent is derived from the animals’ anal glands. Civets used for this purpose are kept caged, much like animals caged for fur farming, to ensure a supply of the desirable perfume ingredient. The derived ingredient is known to be pungent and provides a long-last, warm scent. Civetone is a synthetic replacement created due to the unethical practices of farming civets. Did you know civets aren’t actually cats, and there are numerous species of civet? Learn more about civets by clicking here.

A Musk Deer
A Siberian Musk Deer (Moschus moschiferus).
Photo by Natalia Bubochkina / Getty Images

Musk Deer, who live in South Asia to Siberia, are also used for their musk gland. In an adult male forest musk deer, the musk gland is an organ that synthesizes, stores, and secrets musk. The deer (who are a member of the Moschidae family) is killed, and their genitals removed then stored in oil. This horrific ingredient is still used for scents in the fragrance sector. Learn more about Siberian Musk Deer by clicking here.

A beaver
A beaver (Castor canadensis) in the Canadian wilderness.
Photo by Vladone / Getty Images

Beavers – including those killed in Canada – are also used for their glands in the perfume industry. Castoreum is a pungent and strong scent, smelling leathery and intense. It has also been used as a flavour ingredient in food and cigarettes. Learn more about beavers from The Fur-Bearers by clicking here.

Sperm whale
A Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) near The Azores.
Photo by Thierry Eidenweil / Getty Images

Ambergris is another animal product that originally came from the intestinal tract of sperm whales slaughtered by the whaling industry. Ambergris is naturally secreted by whales, and bobs around the ocean until it washes up on shore, which is how it is harvested today. It is highly sought after in the perfume industry and used as a fixative. Synthetically reproduced versions are available. Learn more about sperm whales by clicking here.

How Can People Avoid These Products?

Research! If you’re buying an expensive perfume to add to your collection, ask the perfume house directly about animal products. Smaller indie perfumes should also be researched, and the question of animal products posed. Beware the “natural” label, as that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of animal products.

About Wild Coast Perfumery

We are an artisan, completely natural perfumery located in Cowichan Bay on Vancouver Island. All our products are made in small batches using strictly plant-based ingredients. We are very proud of our niche of being truly natural but also vegan. Find out more about our products and commitments at

The Fur-Bearers would like to thank Wild Coast Perfumery for their donation to our 2022 Fall Silent Auction! 

Help Make A Difference

Join The Fur-Bearers today and help us protect fur-bearing animals in the wild and confinement. To become a monthly donor (for as little as $10/month – the cost of two lattes) please click here and help us save lives today. Your donation is tax-deductible.


Latest Posts

Defender Radio

Listen To The Latest
  • Listen To The Latest

About Us

Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top