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What Is Civet?

Definition of the Perfume Ingredient Civet and List of Fragrances That Use Civet


African civet cat

The African civet cat

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The civet is a small, carnivorous wildcat native to Africa and India. The musk produced by a gland at the base of the civet’s tail – also called civet oil - is widely used as a perfume ingredient in North America and Europe. Frequently, civet oil is reproduced synthetically for use in perfume compositions.

What It Smells Like

Pure civet has a very strong, disagreeable odor. The scent is said to be similar to musk, but with a more smoky, sweaty aroma. However, when diluted and used in minute quantities, civet can add depth and warmth to a fragrance. It is also an excellent fixative, and is used in many top-quality perfumes to stabilize other, more delicate or volative ingredients.

Civet Fragrances to Try

Some perfumes for women that feature civet in their composition include Chanel No. 5, Dior Diorissimo, Jean Patou Joy, Givenchy Ysatis, Estee Lauder Knowing, Guerlain Shalimar, Calvin Klein Obsession, Laura Biagiotti Roma, Carolina Herrera Carolina Herrera, Versace Blonde, Cartier Panthere, Joop! Joop! Femme, Elizabeth Taylor Passion, Nina Ricci Nina, and Benetton Colors de Benetton.

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