The Controversy Behind the Smell of Musk

The smell of musk compares to the scent of a deer with unpleasant faecal undertones. The Musk smell comes from a mating gland of the male deer and it has a dirty animalic profile with ammonia undertones, especially in high concentrations. In small concentrations, musk smells sweeter and much more versatile as a base note that adds raw longevity to fragrances.

Why is the smell of musk controversial?

Musk extracts were taken from a sex gland of dead Tibetan musk deer. This was an unethical method of sourcing the musk mostly for perfumes. Legislative changes in 1979 finally prohibited the hunting of this magnificent animal for its musk gland and perfumers had to choice but to turn towards aromachemicals or synthetic musk. Since deer were on the point of extension, it’s important to understand the alternatives we have to make musk with chemicals. For those in the industry, the negative impact on the deer population was no surprise. More than 100 musk deer extractions were needed for 1 kilogram of the base note in perfumery.
Musk gland.

Musk is controversial because not everybody likes it

The male deer secrets the musk scent to persuade a doe to mate. But if you’re interested in how musk smells like, you need to know that it’s controversial. Some love it while others don’t. Some compare the smell of musk to poo. Others compare it to rotting fruit. Several people consider the smell of musk sweet and civet-like. Several people even believe the smell of musk resembles the smell of testosterone, which is what attracts females as a pheromone or aphrodisiac.  The smell of musk can be different from one animal to another. But for most, it’s repulsive with ammonia undertones. Castoreum notes are also often tied to musk, especially in synthetic musk production.

The natural sources of musk are also controversial

Sourcing musk naturally for fragrances is no hygienic. However, musk is still widely used in alternative medicine. It costs around $100 per musk pod (dry musk grains) and it is believed to be beneficial in the treatment of depression or sleeplessness. The types of musk used in fragrances There are a few types of synthetic musk scents being used today, particularly in fragrances. Most of these aromachemicals didn’t make it into production. Here’s a few of them. Galaxolide  This syrupy liquid is known for its sweet musk interpretation. It’s even described as fresh. As a result, some compare it to fresh linen being hanged outside to air dry. Habanolide This scent is also similar to Galaxolide, but with elevated elegance. This is achieved with a more metallic undertone and a woodier feel, excellent as a base note in perfumery. It is compared to the smell of fresh linen when its ironed. Ambrettolide This scent copies the natural scent of ambrette from the musk mallow plant. Ethylene brassylate This musk variation comes with spices and sweet vanilla-like undertones. Its spices are usually beneficial in compositions where musk has to liven other floral notes. Cyclomusk This scent was considered a good interpretation of natural deer musk. It had a sweet powdery profile but it never made it to mass production as Galaxolide was already highly appreciated. Helvetolide Part of the linear musks aromachemicals, Helvetolide has a fruity undertone. It is normally compared to deer musk with blackberry hints. White musk White musk is a combination of synthetic musks made by perfumer Alberto Morillas. It combines Helvetolide and Habanolide for fresh cotton-linen-bed sheets drying scent.
The original ad for Musk Cologne.

If you love musk smell, you have to try these fragrances

You can try out different perfumes with musk, especially white musk. But the following selections are a good place to start. Jo Malone London Rose & White Musk (musk perfume for women)White musk as seen in Alberto Morillas creations is found in this revolutionary perfume. It took the fragrance community by surprise as it didn’t feature any top notes. It’s all about the floral midnotes and the animal base notes. It includes rose and rose variations notes. You can expect complex rose water, rose absolute, Damask rose and rose essence whiffs with this long-lasting perfume. Amber, oud, and white musk complete is rather rich profile. This is not a perfume for teenage girls, but rather for women who need to make a strong impression.
  1. Armani Prive Musc Shamal (for men and women)
This perfume is a distinct oriental interpretation from Armani. It’s elegant and made with ingredients which are hard to distil, a scent that is very difficult to clone. Citruses, aldehydes, jasmine, and rose are among its top and mid notes. Amber, vanilla, and cedar of very high quality complete its unique profile. Once you try it, you will think about musk fragrances differently.
  1. Dolce & Gabbana Velvet Oriental Musk for men
Part of the Velvet collection, this fragrance is dominated by spices such as cumin, saffron and cardamom. All of these spices sit on a vivid note of musk, cedar, and sandalwood. Floral notes and rose are also present among its mid accords. The fragrance might be unique, but it’s also very wearable. A 10 out of 10 for many men and even women.