Fragrance Reviews A Shower in a Bottle:  White Musks for Summer

A Shower in a Bottle: White Musks for Summer

07/14/12 16:33:59 (19 comments)

by: Jodi Battershell


White musk fragrances (and animalic or "dirty" musk scents, for that matter) have been staples on the shelves of fragrance lovers for ages. White musks cycle in and out of fashion every few years (or every few seasons) but never leave the scene entirely. They're regular supporting players in the base notes of many popular fragrances that wouldn't necessarily be characterized as strictly "musk" scents. (Where would J Lo Glow and the Narcisco Rodriguez and Clean lines be without their white musk notes?) White musk's frequent use in body care products, candles, incense and even laundry detergent makes it one of the most pervasive aromas in modern daily life.

My entrance into the world of musk perfumes was with a small bottle of Avon's Soft Musk at age 13. It smelled warm, soft and cuddly as a kitten. Fast forward ten years to my early 20s. My friend C. and I were poor college students who loved perfumes and scented body care products, but our limited funds didn't leave much room for such luxuries. We hoarded our good stuff for special occasions (i.e. dates and nightclubs), but she gifted me a small bottle of a white musk cologne from a discount store that proved to be a perfect everyday scent.

White musks were really not on my radar again until my mid-30s, when a chance visit to a "head shop" (or hippie store) yielded a beautiful Egyptian Musk oil whose persistence and sillage far exceeded any expectations I might have had based on its cheap price. These kinds of stores are still great places to find musk bargains. Sometimes the oils have a brand name—Madina, Song of India, Kuumba Made, Spiritual Sky, Auric Blends (all with wonderful scents, by the way). Sometimes the stores themselves buy large bottles of uncut fragrance oil and sell it in smaller generic bottles.

These examples all highlight two of the best things about the white musk category: you don't have to spend a lot to get a great scent, and you can find them almost everywhere. I did sample a couple of high-end white musk scents in preparation for this article: Serge Lutens Clair de Musc and another which I won't name because I was completely anosmic to it (a risk with musks at any price point. Always sample before you shell out the big bucks for a pricey niche musk that you may not be able to smell!) Clair de Musc is certainly a beautiful scent, but it smelled remarkably similar to some more affordable options that are easier to find, if you don't mind a mass-market or drugstore scent adorning your dresser top.

I'll also throw in a few indie suggestions and even a couple of natural perfumes that fit the bill, though by their nature, there is nothing natural about the aromachemicals that typically produce the "white musk" scent.

Summertime is a great season for white musk scents. They have an amazing ability to give the illusion of fresh, clean skin, even on the hottest, sweatiest day. After smelling a few of these, I'm convinced some people that I thought just smelled great naturally are actually performing a little white musk sleight of hand.


So here we go. If you're looking for the equivalent of "a shower in a bottle" for the warm weather, you may want to check these out.
 

THE UBIQUITOUS: EASY TO FIND ANYWHERE, EASY TO WEAR EVERYWHERE

The Body Shop's White Musk scents: who among us hasn't owned or at least smelled their classic White Musk? This one is so ubiquitous that I opted instead to sample one of their special White Musk editions, White Musk Libertine. With notes of Turkish Delight and whipped cream atop the white musk, the overall effect is that of a freshly-showered female being lovingly dusted in sweet talcum powder by a fluffy pink powder puff.


Alyssa Ashley White Musk
:  the original Alyssa Ashley Musk is a beloved drugstore classic, but to my nose it falls a bit on the "animalic" side for my hot summer days. Alyssa Ashley White Musk, however, is perfect for summer. It's soft, soapy but not too clean and stays close to the skin while being noticeable.   If you don't want any sweetness with your musk, this is the one to choose.
 

Jovan White Musk for women: one of my favorites. It has a honeysuckle note and a touch of amber that give it just a hint of oriental sweetness. Spray a lot for sexy, or just a little for a fresh, slightly sweet skin scent at work.

Kiehl's Original Musk Oil: the EDT is nice, too, but can easily overpower on a sweltering day. The oil gives that perfect "your skin, but better!" aroma to both male and female users, maybe with a touch of salt or clean sweat to keep it interesting. Layer with their sumptuous shower gel and matching lotion to subtly amp it up. (Caveat: some users find Kiehl's to be on the "dirty" side of musk. One to sniff before purchase.)

THE INDIE

The musk line from Ava Luxe: this prolific perfumer is sure to have something for everyone. She actually has a "Musk/Animalic" category on her site with more than a dozen scents to choose from at this time, including a straight-up, no-chaser White Musk. For the "shower in a bottle" effect, I can recommend her Nude Musk without hesitation. All are available in parfum, eau de parfum and oil concentrations, at great prices.


Sarah Horowitz Perfect Veil
: this was love at first sniff for me. Perfect Veil is indeed a "perfect veil" of clean, fresh musk that clings softly to the body, like a beloved and well-worn t-shirt. This one is also available in oil or EDP, and I prefer the EDP for this one, to give a little lift to the lemon and bergamot top notes.
 

THE NATURAL

Make no mistake: white musk by its nature is absolutely synthetic. Traditional animal musks are no longer in use. Our writer Mary did an excellent article on musk back in January, so I won't get into the ins and outs of how white musks came into usage. What's important to note is that a musk perfume can be achieved through the use of botanical ingredients. Some of the strongest and most "animalic" musk scents I have smelled were actually plant-based ingredients.

angelica, one of the botanical sources of musk scent

Botanical ingredients that have a musky aroma include angelica root, ambrette seeds, labdanum, spikenard and others. Some creative natural perfumers are also tincturing essences like the hair of a billygoat in rut, or the excretions of the hyrax, in pursuit of an animal-based musk that causes no harm to the animal.

hyrax

As Mary notes in her musk article, " In perfumery, the term 'musk' doesn’t always apply to a concrete perfume component, but rather designates the overall impression of the fragrant composition."

Many natural perfumes that feature a botanical or animal-friendly musk note trend toward the darker, heavier musk aromas, but I can recommend two that are perfectly suited for summer, abundant with clean, fresh notes atop a sexy musk-like effect:


That 70's Smell by Esscentual Alchemy
: the name alone conjures up images of an open-shirted man with a hairy chest and gold chains, probably wearing some 70s powerhouse fragrance like Jovan for Men. Perfumer Amanda Feeley has created a fragrance that supports that image, without the musk overkill. That 70's Smell is a clean, fresh and sexy aroma, like good clean skin with a strongly-scented soap aroma still noticeable. Manly, yes, but I like it, too.

Anya's Garden Kewdra: in this one, the natural musk effect is uplifted by classic feminine and summer-y Gardenia and Boronia, an intoxicating and sweet -scented flower.  Kewdra is a freshly-showered and perfumed woman with a tropical flower tucked behind her ear and nothing on beneath her sarong. (Wink! Wink!)


Stay cool and smell fabulous, dear readers!


 

 

Author: Jodi Battershell (NebraskaLovesScent)

Fragrantica Editor & Writer
[email protected]
 

 



 



Previous Fragrance Reviews Next


Advertisement

flhterrie
flhterrie

Thank you so much for this article. I enjoyed it very much. I have always been a fan of the "dirty" musks. I am older and fell in love with musk and civet scents in the 60's and early 70's when they were probably still the real thing. That kind of horrifies me now.

I still love white musk, especially Alyssa Ashley for the drug store variety and Muscs Koublai Khan for niche. Some that I loved, like Keiko Mecheri's, I couldn't smell but a few seconds. Oh well, thank goodness there are lots to choose from and you have given me some new ones to try.

Sep
01
2012
librarygirl
librarygirl

Ok so I knew about Jovan's musk but I didn't know that they did a White Musk also! I'll definitely keep an eye out for that one.
I used to love TBS White Musk, but everyone was wearing it and I like to be a tad more individual. I hadn't realised the formulation had changed. Maybe the soap will smell the same. I really don't like it when companies do that...it can set my sensitivities off. (Anyone else remember the amazing fragrance of Revlons shampoo and conditioner?)

Aug
30
2012
hessa71
hessa71

I liked your article so much, I love musk too. For body shop I'm using white musk for men as it smells muskier than the for woman one!some times I layer it with other flowery perfumes for evening out. I liked kheil's musk too.

Aug
25
2012
Hija
Hija

Thank you for the article! One of the best musk fragrances I have ever smelt is called "Musk Oil No 6" but I don´t know where it could be purchased out of Scandinavia.
Kind regards

Jul
20
2012
ANGELICA07
ANGELICA07

"Shower in a bootle for summer heat" is definitely not what come into mind wen refering to musks : I love soapy scents but what corresponds to "shower in a bottle for summer heat" is MINT, not musks.

Nice article though . :-)

Jul
20
2012
crikat
crikat

Thanks for the great article! I didn't realize that one could become anosmic to certain scents...perhaps this explains why I cannot smell my beloved Coty Wild Musk mere moments after applying it to my skin? But thanks for mentioning the others, one of them is sure to tickle my nose.

Jul
17
2012
LunaPearl
LunaPearl

Musks truly are versatile and timeless. Animalistic and sexy for Winters. Clean White musks for the hotter months. Jovan White Musk is my staple :P

Jul
17
2012
AbsintheDragonfly
AbsintheDragonfly

Thanks so much for your kind mention Jodi!

Such a great variety of musks for summertime :)

Jul
16
2012
tschiepchen
tschiepchen

THIS is a great read!
My favourite musk is Jovan, TBS's White Musk Breeze is a close second, though.

Jul
15
2012
evah2003
evah2003

Thanks so much for this article! I am currently totally crazy for musks. Now I have to hunt down some of the mentioned perfumes because I am pretty sure The Body Shop changed something in their White Musk. It just doesn´t smell the same to me...I guess it happened when L´Oreal took over.

Jul
15
2012
Glückskind
Glückskind

LOVE this article! I'm a Fan Jodi :-D
Realy nice written! And I love White Musk!

Jul
15
2012
dina
dina

Never thought that musk could be derived from botanical ingredients!
Very informative article. Thanks Jodi, looking forward to the next one!

Jul
15
2012
ailishlu
ailishlu

A very well written article. I enjoyed reading it. I also love musk. I remember Just Musk from Yardley (I think?) and it was just that. Very strong. I loved it. I´m not sure if I´ve ever tried many white musks, so I must have a look for the Jovan White Musk. What you write about not being able to smell musk is interesting. I used to wear the Body Shop´s White Musk way back in the 80s and I loved it. I bought a bottle recently and find it very difficult to make out the musk in it. All I do is sneeze. It could be that I have a problem with my sinuses. Anyway, I do find musk to be a very sensuous scent and will always be attracted to it. Thanks. Top marks for the article!

Jul
15
2012
artemis27
artemis27

Very Informative article, thanks Jodi! That is a lot of information and its very easy to read and relate to. I remember someone quoting Luca Turin here that artificial musks are used very widely in detergents - its why some people associate some light musks to the 'clean/soapy/freshly laundered clothes' smell. Personally, I LOVE the smell of Tide.

This kind of makes musk a little paradoxical: on the one hand we have the animalic, 'dirty' musk, while on the other hand, we have 'clean/soapy' musk. :)

Well, thanks for the article! And I LOVED the picture of that little hyrax - almost like the fellow is smiling at me!

Jul
15
2012
naheed
naheed

Great article!! I love the clean and powdery feel of white musk on the skin, it actually makes me feel so relaxed. I think I can get my hands on Jovan White Musk as it's available in my country. It really is time for some damage ;).

Jul
14
2012
marshallsx2
marshallsx2

Thanks for the very informative, well-written article. I'm a fan of more animalic musks for cold weather. White musk hasn't ever been my thing, but this article makes me want to go try a few.

Jul
14
2012
Simon Pure
Simon Pure

I've always been a fan of "White" musk because of that (clean) element it has, which I personally think is sexier than the so called dirty musk. Nice article!

Jul
14
2012
QuiltFinger
QuiltFinger

Very interesting! I think I'm a big fan of musk, but I always thought they were cooler weather scents. I guess that's what's so fascinating about the world of perfume.

Jul
14
2012
livingdedgrl
livingdedgrl

Thank you for the article! I am a musk lover and was so happy to see/read this article!! Again, Thank you

Jul
14
2012

Add Your Review

Become a member of this online perfume community and you will be able to add your own reviews.

Advertisement

Advertisement

New Perfumes

OthocaAcqua di Sardegna
Othoca

BoeliAcqua di Sardegna
Boeli

MianaAcqua di Sardegna
Miana

Shalimar Souffle de ParfumGuerlain
Shalimar Souffle de Parfum

Desire ExtremeAlfred Dunhill
Desire Extreme

KaralyAcqua di Sardegna
Karaly

LòAcqua di Sardegna

CorosAcqua di Sardegna
Coros

Ladies Day ParisEtienne Aigner
Ladies Day Paris

Never Hide For HerOtto Kern
Never Hide For Her

Never Hide For HimOtto Kern
Never Hide For Him

Zorya VechernyayaBlack Phoenix Alchemy Lab
Zorya Vechernyaya

Zorya UtrennyayaBlack Phoenix Alchemy Lab
Zorya Utrennyaya

Zorya PolunochnayaBlack Phoenix Alchemy Lab
Zorya Polunochnaya

Feels Like Summer Mens.Oliver
Feels Like Summer Men

Feels Like Summer Womens.Oliver
Feels Like Summer Women

CharcoalPerfumer H
Charcoal

Diamond GreedyMontale
Diamond Greedy

Diamond RoseMontale
Diamond Rose

Diamond FlowersMontale
Diamond Flowers

Bois DoreVan Cleef & Arpels
Bois Dore

Uomo Salvatore Ferragamo Casual LifeSalvatore Ferragamo
Uomo Salvatore Ferragamo Casual Life

SolsticeBjork and Berries
Solstice

Histoire d'OrangersL`Artisan Parfumeur
Histoire d'Orangers

The Norns` FarmhouseBlack Phoenix Alchemy Lab
The Norns` Farmhouse

The IfritBlack Phoenix Alchemy Lab
The Ifrit

Technical BoyBlack Phoenix Alchemy Lab
Technical Boy

ShadowBlack Phoenix Alchemy Lab
Shadow

Mr. JacquelBlack Phoenix Alchemy Lab
Mr. Jacquel

Amber AbsolutelyFort & Manle
Amber Absolutely

Popular brands and perfumes: