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Notes Series #25 - MUSK, March 14, 2018

Siberian Musk Deer in the taiga, Eric Adamsson, Feb. 21, 2011 

Wikimedia Commons

The musk note is a core note in perfumery. Musk is described as the scent of warm skin……a powerful erotic aura. Faintly sweet, salty, sweaty, sexy, and human. And it can be worn by everyone!

The original musk used in classic perfumery is a secretion from the musk deer of Central Asia, collected during rutting season which made it incredibly expensive. Classified as an “animalic”, it is very potent and is used in the base as a fixative, bringing elements together and adding deep warmth and sensuality.

The use of real musk from any deer has been prohibited worldwide since 1979, but synthetic musk, or Galixolide and all its variations, is universally used in perfumes, and in just about every scented product you can think of – soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, cleaners, air fresheners, candles – because the synthetic versions are cheap, and we humans love they way they smell.

Commercial musks range in smell from clean, light, and slightly sweet, like clean linen, to dark and funky, replicating the real animalic musk - rank, sweaty, hairy, with a fatty sweetness.

On its own, animalic musk comes close to smelling dirty, but when mixed with other components, it becomes the butter in the sauce, the cream in the coffee, the key element which transforms all the parts into a magical whole. 

Musk is also a notoriously elusive note – some people are anosmic to musk, and can’t detect it at all. For some the musk note comes and goes, for others it’s unmistakable. Whichever you are, here are six of our favourite fragrances which feature the musk note in either a “star” or “supporting” role.


Notes Series #25 – MUSK

6 – 1 ml. decants for $25.00, regular $30.00


Musk is the “star” note in these first three fragrances:

Muscs Koublaï Khän – Serge Lutens – musk and leather and balsams and musk and peach and amber and musk and…..

MKK is the Serge Lutens - Chrisopher Sheldrake creation that is referred to in the perfume world as the grand-daddy of animalics, skanky and beastly because of the civet and musk notes. The opening notes are strange, in fact, perfume neophytes often recoil on first sniff. My nose, always attuned to the weird and wonderful, smells sweaty leather, layered underneath with smoky balsams, musky peach notes, beeswax, rockrose, warm vanilla and ambery facets, and those musks……but in spite of this long list MKK is a very quiet fragrance.

As Muscs Koublaï Khän dries down into itself, the warmth of skin transforms it into a soft, intimate scent which works almost at a subliminal level. With low sillage, the scent stays very close to the skin, mysterious and sensual - a party for two.

Kiehl’s Original Musk – Kiehl’s Inc. – Silky, smooth, and sexy

Everyone should own a bottle of Kiehl’s Original Musk. It’s a classic, the original formula was a Musk Oil created by Kiehl’s Apothecary in NYC in the 1920’s. Reintroduced as an EdP in the 1960’s, Kiehl’s Original Musk is one of those fragrances that you reach for when you can’t make up your mind, and at the end of the day you’ll be happy you chose it. It makes you feel good. It’s not too sweet or floral, or too soapy or clean, or too strong or strange. It’s a musk for everyone that wears close to the skin like a good musk should, subtle, silky, and quietly sexy.

Monoscent G – What we Do is Secret – Light, warm, and sensual

Are you intrigued by the idea of a fragrance composed of a single ingredient, plus alcohol, that you could maybe smell, or not smell, depending on your ability of your brain to detect the notoriously elusive musk note? The single special ingredient in Monoscent G is Galixolide Super. Galixolide Super smells light, clean, and musky, too, but adds a soft floral sensual powdery dimension to the original musk note. Monoscent G is a very contemporary musk. It’s a scent that comes and goes through the day, a warm skin scent that is so subtle you’ll wonder what smells so good, and then realize “Oh, it’s ME!” Will YOU be able to smell it?

The next three fragrances are examples of “musk magic”, where the note pulls other base notes into warm sensual accords.

Mon Guerlain –  Guerlain – Feminine and modern and beautiful

The muse for Mon Guerlain was actress, director, film maker and humanitarian Angelina Jolie, and it was created by Guerlain Creative Director Thierry Wasser and perfumer Delphine Jelk. The simplicity of pure fresh French lavender, the beauty of jasmine Sambac, the power of Album sandalwood, the dark sweetness of vanilla Tahitensis represent the power, strength and balance of modern women. Rose, iris and tonka form a powdery floral waft over the four pillars, and the warm sensual musk in the base transforms all these strong elements into a fragrance with deep luminous feminine beauty.  

Dans tes Bras – Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle – warm, earthy, and intimate

Dans tes Bras (In Your Arms) recalls a “movie memory” from a summer’s day in the south of France as I sniff this diaphanous scent…..I meet up with a friend and greet them with a hug and a kiss, and at that moment when I’m close up and my nose brushes their cheek and neck I smell their day on their skin – a hint of sweat, a waft of fragrance, the warmth from the sun. That moment of unspoken intimacy, of entre-nous, is what Dans tes Bras captures so beautifully. The musk effect.

Lovely – Sarah Jessica Parker – sparkling, floral, and musky

Lovely is still one of the very best celebrity scents money can buy! This silky white amber fragrance made for Sarah Jessica Parker creates a timeless allure with classic soft florals, sparkling aldehydic fruit notes, and the deep warmth of musky woods.  Balanced to perfection, feminine, refined and sensual, Lovely is a celebration of elegance, whimsy, and the joy of being alive. 

Notes Series #25 – MUSK is listed in our Decant Store.

6 – 1 ml. decants for $25.00, regular $30.00