Gallery: Yeast-Based Ingredient to Replace “Whale Barf” in High-End Fragra...

animal conservation, ambergris, eco-friendly perfumes, sustainable perfumes, eco-friendly fragrances, sustainable fragrances, yeast, fir trees, eco-beauty, eco-friendly beauty, natural beauty, sustainable beauty, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style

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Don’t look now but your pricy perfume could contain ambergris, a wax-like ingredient known less euphemistically as whale vomit. Found in the upchuck or fecal matter of the sperm whale, which has trouble digesting sharp objects like squid beaks, the essence has been used as a fragrance fixative for centuries. But here’s the rub: The rock-like globs are as expensive as they are rare, fetching up to $20,000 per kilogram. Add to that the endangered nature of its regurgitator and it’s no huge surprise that the stuff has been supplanted by cheaper synthetics such as cis-abienol, an ersatz ambergris derived from balsam fir trees. But Ambrox, as the replacement is called, isn’t a perfect solution. Synthesizing it in the lab yields only about 30 percent useful material. The solution? Yeast.

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