When I think of musk perfumes, I think of dousing myself in sample bottles of the Body Shop’s iconic White Musk while out shopping with my pals. After all, this was one of the very few fragrances back in 2004 that felt like it wasn’t too old lady and didn’t give off a whiff that you’d been chewing endlessly on strawberry Hubba Bubba (why do perfumers insist young girls want to smell like sweets?)
The thing about musk is that there’s a preconception that it’s a really strong, over-powering scent that’s unmistakably heavy but, in fact, in perfumery musk is timeless and changeable, working alongside other notes for a clean, powdery base. Musks are often the secret ingredient in many perfumes, with subtle, balancing qualities that can give a perfume extra va-va-voom – that’s warmth, depth and a long-lasting smell.
Perfumer Beckielou Brown (who created the first 100% natural, vegan white musk perfume, ALTRA Skin) told GLAMOUR that musks have the ability to act like ‘skin scents’ – “They cling to the skin (and hair and clothes) providing an intimate scent experience that can aim to mimic or enhance the scent of your own skin. They have a warm enveloping feel to them, some evoking a sense of freshly showered skin or clean laundry, others are less squeaky-clean but still comforting and sensual, for example Altra Skin uses solely plant based musk notes that create a skin- like effect.”
Brown added: “I’ve always loved a soft musk skin scent, I grew up in the 80s when perfumes based on white musks were everywhere and formed a lasting impression on me. I remember being about 8 or 9 and really trying to work out what the scent was that I kept smelling on people, what it reminded me of in nature (ripe blackberries, curiously) and trying to figure out why it was so appealing. I could never fully comprehend the illusive note, but those early scent memories have always stayed with me.”
While I no longer wear Body Shop’s best-seller, like Brown I still love a scent that has notes of musk running through it. Interestingly, many of the most classic fragrances contain elements of this timeless note because it really is so versatile. Time to rediscover musk? You bet.