Musk Perfume – Guide to Best Musk Perfumes

Hate musk perfumes?  Convinced you will never wear one?   There is one out there for you, trust me.  Have I ever lied to steered you wrong?  Well, okay, maybe once or twice, but I promise never again probably not this time.

Miss Martha Muskypants smoking out the school or building with her musk perfume has ruined the reputation of musk for many people.  How can she not know how ferociously musky she smells?

Christopher Brosius aided in our education.  Musk is a note that has a high level of anosmia to just one or two specific musks.  The varieties of musk are so different in terms of chemical makeup, you can smell one musk clearly and another one not at all.  Martha was putting on that much musk because she was either anosmic to it or became desensitized, putting on more and more musk until you thought a herd of rutting Irishmen Norwegians Italians Brazilians elk were in the next cubicle.  

Musk isn’t always fierce and over the top, but sometimes it is that feral and wild.  Scent is the language that speaks without words, that telegraphs intention and mood.  Musk speaks carnally in whispers or shouts.


musk perfume - rutting Season


Ford, Chrysler, Chevy and Bentley of Musk Perfumes

Narciso Rodriguez Musc for Her (oil and EDT) and Him (only the oil), Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan, Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur (oil and spray) and CB I Hate Perfume Musk Reinvention.  I think of these as the absolutely best examples of what a musk perfume should be – wild, feral, over the top at times, but when applied with some restraint, smoldering sensuality.  

musk perfumes venn diagram

If we start with these reference points in our Musk Venn Diagram, we can see where some interesting intersections might occur.  

Narciso Rodriguez for Her in the EDT is simply an amazing musk/rose perfume at a great price point. No, it’s not really super-cheap, but it can be bought for well below $100 for 100 mls at a discounter. It’s not a masterpiece of musk, except it does the job it is supposed to do – sashay sex fumes when you walk by.  I’m not including Narciso Rodriguez for Him EDT in this.  I can’t figure out why they tried to put that square peg in Narciso’s Musk Hole.  Now, the oil, that is special.  And also completely gone.  Lost, I presume, to IFRA.  Both the Her and Him oils are great, richer versions of the original.  In the case of Him, it is something completely different than the EDT that’s perfect for men or women.  But I’m not going on and on about oils that aren’t available anymore, so let’s slide right over to the…

Genghis Khan Snuggly Bo Peep of Musk perfumes – 

Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan. The name conjures up Mongol hordes sweeping across the barren lands, raping and pillaging and leaving this scent behind as a warning not to, um, be in their way!  Oh, unso.  This is what I had to say about Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan back in 2006:  

“This is the single most animalic thing of beauty I have smelled. It is not the scent of horses or sex or sweat. It is the smell of humanity. Not the idealistic or beautiful part of it only, but the real part, the well-worn place of skin and sweat and memory and emotion.  I can do nothing but bury my nose in this and breathe in all the misery and joy of being human.” 

Nothing has changed in the intervening six years.  I love this musk perfume. It isn’t spunk…y Mongol hordes raping and pillaging.  On me there is softness, a little salt, my skin but better.  Oh, but that open?  Um, if you haven’t smelled it, just brace yourself for a little bit, but don’t panic!  It skids away from rutting territory pretty quickly.

Where does Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur go in this puzzle?  It is sweeter with vanilla, cinnamon and gaiac, smoother. It purrs and is a little bit furry. It’s like the Clark Gable of musks – dashing, warm, sexy and funny; you know he would be a party.  I said I wouldn’t do this, but I have to say I prefer the oil.  I know they don’t make it anymore.  I find the spray to be beautiful, but it’s really big!  The oil is quieter, softer, it hugs closer.  I’m also assuming this oil was an IFRA victim.  

Then we are left with one that threads in between all four of these, CB I Hate Perfume Musk Reinvention. I’ve heard remarks varying all over the place on Musk Reinvention – total skank, post-coital orgy, what’s the big deal, it smells okay, kind of soft.  I attribute those “smells okay, kind of soft” comments to people that don’t know they are anosmic to the musk. there isn’t anything “okay” in this.  Certainly doesn’t mean everyone should or will love it, but when someone says they don’t get the fuss, I think they can’t smell it.  

March’s long review with an amalgamation of comments/reviews and a conversation with CB about it are a great place to get filled in on Musk Reinvention. Her thought sums it up best – “There is something primal about it to me — some sort of first-smell-memory,”  which Christopher agreed with.  

I used to not agree with her, I thought it was just the best/worst kind of raunchiness, but something happened to me on the road to Musk-ascus, and I get all the comfort in it.  It is something raw, vulnerable and protected laid bare.  I think that’s how all musks are – they expose something that we want to keep hidden… our sensuality, our vulnerability, our earthiness, our raw emotions.

You know life has shifted unalterably when you can put on Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan, CB I Hate Perfume Musk Reinvention and Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur and not feel like you are overmusked… much.  

There is one, though, that almost sorta pretty much gets to me… for a while, JAR Ferme tes Yeaux.  It means “Close Your eyes.”  Close them and imagine a Plato’s Sex Club exploding right next to a Kansas City cattleyard, and that is pretty much the open.  Civet, leather, musk, carnation?, some overripe jasmine/honeysuckle/lily bouquet that just started to droop a little after the Bacchanal and maybe a couple of rutting rhinos.  Is this a musk perfume?  Yeah, why not?  Tom loves it too, and I used to think he was cray-cray.

“My Scent Twin had the best take on it – describing it as if CB I Hate Perfume Musk and MKK got together and bred. I’ll add that the kid went to finishing school. I would think of it as a challenging scent. I would think twice about wearing it to a PTA meeting or a Confessional.”

I love this stuff.  There’s not many out there with the stones to make this perfume. Once you get past the beginning, it really is beautiful and skanky and a little foul in all the best ways!  March reminded me that the guy at JAR told us that all the old guys buy this for their wives.  There is so much in that little tidbit that will keep me happy all the remaining days of my life.  

Some comments I found around the internets about JAR Ferme tes Yeaux and include here just so I don’t have to hear later “Hey, you convinced me to spend $600+ on a perfume that smells like the sidewalks around Central Park?!??  Oh, no, not on my watch.  These comments are a very stern warning that your experience of Ferme tes Yeaux could be and probably will be entirely different than mine:

“The perfume version of a Steven King novel. Evil. Terrifying. Vile. Just continue on w/ Thesaurus options along these lines.

“This smells like a mature well fed Tom Cat mixed with rotting flowers.

“what’s that smell…Oh familair…yes that’s it…A dirty New York City subway station or phone booth, where someone has decided to repeatedly relieve themselves.”

 mongol horde - musk perfume

Mongol Horde Musk Perfumes

I’m pretty sure I promised not to use discontinued perfumes in these Perfume Guides, but, um, I lied just a little, just for this one category.   Mona Di Orio Nuit Noire is indeed gone, I guess for good, and after a long time of not really knowing how I felt about it, I finally landed in the Mongol Love Camp.  This scent may be more about leather or civet, but I throw it into musk because it is just deeply musky in an animalic way. Did I lose my skank aversion?  I’m wondering what happened because this is no Mongol, it’s slightly skanky orange blossom. Lovely. 

Miller Harris L’Air de Rien, this is the huge catbutt perfume that skanked its way across the perfume universe!  Right?!?!?  It used to be. I remember putting it on one time and running for the shower, I thought I smelled just like the shitpit we had outside of our dairy barn.  Now?  Lovely musky leathery cuddly scent.  

Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles is probably more about the civet, but there’s enough musk and delicate hidden soft bits in there to make you think musk. Like post-coital musk.  Posse took a vote and has declared it a MUSK PERFUME by virtue of its unbounded wonderful skankiness that makes us cry tears of joy.  You can argue about if you must, but this is a unanimous irrevocable decision.

Kiehl’s Original Musk No. 1.  Hey, I haven’t smelled this in a while, and I am right back in the ’80s at a disco with a sweaty guy covered in BIG musk!  Now we are talking!  But it’s more slippery than skanky in the end. It’s a good musk, it’s still pretty inexpensive, I think.  And it’s got a little bit of unwashed Mongol in it.  For a nice, cheap thrill, I don’t think you can beat it.

I am leaving a space of honor for the new Parfum d’Empire Musk Tonkin that I haven’t been able to smell yet. If it lives up to early reports, all my faith will be restored in musk perfumes and their ability to shock and take my breath away from just the sheer audacity of airing out its dirty laundry in public.  As soon as I can get my musk-laden hands on it, I’ll update this post. For now we will just use Denyse’s words as a placeholder – “The final version is still suavely raunchy: a creamy, waxy, almost fatty blend with honeyed hues and a lick of salt. Musc Tonkin smells like the fur of some mythical creature fed on mulled fruit and candied resins: elegantly indecent.”

Well, that is some perfume catnip, y’all!   And we continue to wait.


freaking out musk perfumes



I am freaking out!!!


I know it may not seem like it NOW, but my Mongol Horde perfumes have always been just pure skank on me with little bits of lovely softness.  All of a sudden they are warm and cuddly?!?! Did I lose my sense of smell?  My mind?  Finally have a mature nose? The last two weeks have been really disorienting because of this, I want you all to know.  


My sense of TruePerfumeNorth® just got reset.

WARNING – your results may be on either end of this spectrum. You may find some of the ones above almost offensive and fear wearing them in public or you may find them warm, sexy and wonderful. I have no way of telling you which end of the spectrum you’ll land on. 

Musk Rule 1 – if you find the musks above all snuggly and warm, it’s possible you’re not too sensitive to Eau de Barnyard. This isn’t a bad thing.  I didn’t notice anything odd until I was headed to bed after a full day of musk testing –  Ferme tes Yeaux going on late in the day – I kept thinking, whoa, did the cat take a crap somewhere?  Um, no.  Me. Shower first, then bed.  Practice Musk Restraint at All Times


Musk perfumes that don’t bite

Serge Lutens Clair de Musc is what some refer to as a starter musk, which somehow diminishes how really beautifully put together Clair de Musc is.  This does the impossible – takes musk, wraps it around iris and neroli and lets the sun shine right through it. It reflects light where musks absorb and ground.  There is a powderiness to this that takes it outside of my musk preference wheelhouse, but it’s a musk perfume that really should have more than dismissive sniffs and furtive glances thrown at it on the way to sniff after Muscs Koublai Khan.  

Sonoma Scent Studio Egyptian Musk is a great straight-up nonskanky, nonsmutty and clean’ish (you won’t think dirty filthy armpit when you smell it at all) musk.  It is well blended and one you can wear out anywhere and feel slightly more risque because it hugs your skin and smells like your skin, but not slutty.  I Coloniali Angel Musk is really inexpensive!  It’s not my kind of musk at all, it’s somewhat sweet, heavily musky, almost Pinkish Sugar meets Coty Musk, but I’m not minding it as much as I thought I would when I first put it on. If you veer to the gourmands for musk, this is a great inexpensive option.

Lorenzo Villoresi Musk is a pretty great non-animalic musk, leaning more into the amber and sandalwood.  Soivohle Alpha Musc does finally get my skankymuskmeter moving on the open, but it was intended to be a lighter musk for summer, and it is.  

Probably one of the most recommended musk perfumes if you don’t want to be skeeving anyone out with your musk is Les Nereides Musc de Samarkand. Soft, white – a good musk that you’d have to drown yourself in before you would offend someone with it.  Great musk for the non-musk lover.  

Tom Ford Musk perfumes. You know, March reminded me of these Tom Ford musk thingies, and I’d completely forgotten about them. Didn’t they all get discontinued except one, the Suede?  I yawned through them when I smelled them initially. Ann also forgot about them. Oh, hey! I bet everyone did, and that’s why they were discontinued.  Not terrible, but basically Coty Wild Musk or Jovan Body Musk with a price tag about 100x higher.  

For something a little more dark’ish, but only like a shade of grey – not that Grey – Jo Malone White Iris and Musk Intense. The darkness is from the rooty iris, and it’s a lot more about the iris than the musk, but it’s really a nice perfume, just not so musk-derived.  i Profumi di Firenze Muschio e Ambre really should have gone in the amber post, but it has a great musk base that the amber rests in.  There’s a lot to love as far as just plain wearability in this one.  Keiko Mecheri Musc also fits in here – a really close, lovely skin scent that’s beautiful to wear. I’m a fan of this. It’s not dirty or skanky at all, but does have a dollop of sensuality in just how warm and inviting it is.

If you have some money to burn, score the Nasomatto Silver Musk.  It’s a cool musk – I don’t mean hip, baby.  It’s cool, not really cold and just slightly chilly.  Lavender keeps all the musk in check and it has a soapy feel to it.  It’s not my thing, but if you like your musk all cleaned up and Fresh!®, this would be the way to go.  Montale White Musk and Montale Ginger Musk won’t get you in trouble in the least.  I know some people are really averse to white musks, and if you are, just skip this. They are both a little sweet, really mild, the Ginger Musk has a great ginger note in there, but neither even hint at any carnal dangers.  Yawn.  Not yawning at the perfume!  I just like my musk to be dirty to quite dirty.


Musk Perfumes that Don’t Bite Hard

For just a touch of the musky sensuality, but veering away from overt skank, Annick Goutal Musc Nomade is perfect. It’s a musk perfume I use as a go-to musk when I’m not sure how exposed I want to be. I know it will never get too strong, I love the way it clings to me, has a great smell.  Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely is also a great choice, and you can pick it up for about nothing.   >$50 is the new nothing. It’s not super-dirty, but it has a great sensuality about it that surprises me in a mainstream celebuscent. Did I mention you can pick it up for almost nothing?   Serge Lutens Bois et Musc might bite you a little on the open, but it will be more for the cumin/cedar than the musk. And after the first 30 minutes, I doubt if you’ll even notice the musk bites.

Ava Luxe True Bluish Light (plus several other musks she does) is a straight-up comforting musk scent. Creamy, a little gourmandy, soft, cashmere feeling, it’s a soaked musk. Soaked?  I guess I mean oily feeling, rich.  Soaked, that’s just how I refer to those that are like this one. Parfums de Nicolai Musc Intense is a 2012 entry into musk perfumes, and it’s a nice musk, it’s just more about the carnation, clove, jasmine and rose than about the musk.  However, it lends a beautiful base to those other notes.


Daddy Warbucks Musk

Yeah, they are stupid expensive, hard to get and heart-breakingly gorgeous.  Le Labo Gaiac 10 is the Tokyo City Exclusive, and it is a shock – gaiac, musk, cedar and olibanum – and it floats heavenly musc from some far-away romantic place where passion is pure and hot and incredibly zen.  I shouldn’t love this, it’s so not me, but I can’t help it, I do.  I want to believe that life is Poodles and Fluffy Clouds, and Gaiac 10 lets me believe that. Can you love a perfume for lying to you? I do.  I think I love it more because we both know it’s lying..

If your wallet is bulging with lots of unspent cash, I think we should be really good friends, first  Then let’s grab a vat of Le Labo Musc 25, the Los Angeles City Exclusive ,and run off to Morocco. I said this about it in 2008

…Musc 25 are aldehydes, civet and muscone.  It’s pretty much everything a musk should be for me – my skin, but sparkling with sun and a little leftover sex, and not just your run of the mill sex, some really luxurious smutty sex on Pratesi sheets.”

See, Rich Guy, we were MFEO.  Or for Tom, who reviewed it in 2008 on Perfume Smellin Things,

“…when mixed with the ambergris, smoke and a hint of eucalyptus (also not listed) becomes a ‘did she or didn’t she’ hint of sexy bare skin that’s gloriously besmirched. It’s an ingenue whose lipstick has been kissed off and she’s reapplying, humming to herself, her Kool burning away in the ashtray.”

montgomery clift and marlon brando - musk perfume

Put this on and you smell  fabulous, all Marilyn Monroe meets Rita Hayworth or Marlon Brando meets Montgomery Clift.  Pick which one fits best.


Served up with fruit! 

Worth Courtesan is one of those perfumes that they make, doesn’t seem to be in wide distribution outside of Europe, if at all. It was a perfume that March pushed over the scented cliff as a PerfumeLemming® back in 2007 with words like “The fortunate would get what I get – an entire day of summer-friendly sensuality – the sun-lit bedroom, the romp in still-warm, rumpled sheets, and your lover´s scent lingering after.”   Oh, FFS, I even bought a couple of bottles.  Luckily! I get the romp in still-warm, rumpled sheets, and there is absolutely a whiff of cumin in the open.  The listing of notes – go read March’s post – are frightening, it’s a fruity-floral frappe topped with vanilla musk frosting that would make almost all of us take two giant steps back.  Pierre Bourdon shows us what a fruity floral gourmand can be and should be – fruity, floral, musky and freaking hot.  If you don’t get that musky part, you’ll have this up for swap on the 16th.

The bell weather for musk perfumes, whether paired with fruit or otherwise, outside of the more animalic area is L’Artisan Mure et Musc (regular and extreme). A heavenly light dusting of musk over blackberries.  It is exactly perfect, blended to perfection, light, mostly blackberry, with that little wisp of musk to keep it interesting.  The extreme is an amped up version of that, the version I personally prefer, but you can’t go wrong with either one. Trish McEvoy Blackberry and Vanilla Musk follows the L’Artisan trail but takes it into a much more gourmand musk fragrance.  If that is your preference, a more soaked musk, the Trish is a good choice while you get to keep the nice blackberry juiciness.


Musk that has me scratching my head

Most musks don’t seem to want to go in a category. When I planned out this post, I knew there were like 6-7 musk perfumes that would go in that “lethal musk” category. They all escaped the prison I had made for them by being a lot less hyena-wildcatty than I used to think they were.  My whole musk perfume pyramid has fallen apart.  

More than just the musk perfumes listed below have me scratching my head.

Amouage Musk Abyadh is a puzzlement.  White musk with sandalwood and vanilla.  It’s like the catbox, something got covered over and buried really well, but I swear there is some serious musky mojo in there, but it just won’t pop up.  Is this more of TruePerfumeNorth® being reset?  It’s more sandalwood than musk for me, and I had such high hopes that this would be the musk that would just topple me over.  Fine, I’ll continue resetting.  Bruno Acampora Musk won’t fit in my musk puzzle box now either. I think I called this subtle at one time?  Taking a quick trip downstairs to yak with my sons while I was waiting for it to settle down, their horrified looks when I walked in and more explicit demands to leave tells me this thing is way more potent than what I’m smelling.  Mmmm, I may never be able to wear musk in public again because I think my nose kinda likes it and refuses to see it for the sexual raconteur it is.  

Réminiscence Musc is a completely puzzlement.  I read in one place what I get – something vaguely sweet and rich and slightly musky, and other people get full-on dirty underdrawers.  Puckrik said something about growly animal. Huh.  Toss a coin on this – it could go either way.  Parfumerie Generale Musc Maori is all chocolate and musk, and just when you are still reeling from that opening blast of rich, dark chocolate, the musk shows up and parts the chocolate river. Weirdly enough, you don’t feel like a musky chocolate truffle, you feel kinda hot and kinda hungry too. I’m not sure. I like this one, it’s interesting, but I’m not entirely sure I would ever wear it.  If you’re into chocolate, this is your scent.  It’s not heavy and much lighter than you would think when you first hear the words “chocolate and musk.”

Strange Invisible Perfumes Musc Botanique walks in the shadow world between herbs and smutty musk, never landing on either side.  It’s a neat trick, and you really have to just hang on during the first 10-15 minutes before deciding if you like it or not.  It helps understand it when you get that the inspiration was a mating between plants.  So smutty, dirty plant sex.  One thing it’s not?  Boring.  I’ve never quite decided if I like it or not. What I do know is I’m mesmerized by figuring it out.   Tom really got the closest to explaining it with this

“It gets earthier and earthier as the frankincense and amber come in, until the whole thing gets surprisingly, delightfully slutty. But slutty in a wholly different way that you would imagine: not human and not even animal. It’s as if you’re walking in a night-time garden and suddenly the whole place starts giving you the glad eye; the woods, grass and flowers are waving their little fronds at you with a decided “Hello, Sailor” attitude. Not in that somewhat confrontational Satyr-of-the-berries CB I Hate perfume way (which, as you all know I adore) and not in some Majicky, Sci-Fi way either.”

muskank-ature for musk perfumes

As I rolled up next to Mona di Orio’s Les Nombres d’Or Musc, I am thinking, come on!!! Surely, surely Mona was going to give me what I’ve been seeking the last two weeks – the musc that would send me screaming for the shower. I didn’t even screw around, I dumped a half a vial on me, then poured the rest on, looked defiantly at my wrist and waited for the muskankature reading…

Oh, hey, have I been living in a bog for the last few years? When did we get these very cool gizmos to get temperature readings from all the crap I’m close to burning my fingers on when I cook?  Someone really could have TOLD me.  

I’m still waiting. Bubblegum and musk.  Rose bubblegum. It’s soft, sweet, a little powdery, and way at the bottom of it, it wants to get all skanky, but it just ain’t gonna happen. Rose bubblegum that you think the cat might have peed on.  Just to be clear, it’s not like I think that’s a bad thing. It’s not enough of a good thing.


::::::::::::::  sigh :::::::::::::::::::

I am looking at my now-finished supply of musk samples  There was not one in there that horrified me while blowing up my skirt.  How did that happen?  

Dear Perfume Diary – Have I become the Skanky Girl

the other Perfumistas laugh at when they read my

reviews of Eau de BadgerButt that go on and on

about how it’s a soft, cuddly little scent while they

are wrapping it in several Baggies to dispose of it?

There are some glaring omissions, like Coty Wild Musk, Jovan Musk, etc.   My memory is any of them are about as good as anything else in the musk category if you want some basic musk to get down and roll around in.  Okay, the real reason –  I didn’t have any of them laying around anywhere.  Feel free to hop on comments and tell me what I”m missing.

Posse picks!  

March – Bal a Versailles, and she reiterated how much she hated Borneo. I think just because she hasn’t had a chance to say that in like three months and needed to affirm it to the universe as a ward against it ever showing up somewhere near her nose again.  Then she went and put on her CB I Hate Perfume Musk Reinvention just for this post and said “My original bottle has congealed down to a half-inch of something truly terrifying.  I can’t believe how beautiful it is.  I bet you could smell me a block away.”

Anita – I do like a bit of Musc Ravageur  – and Missy March sent me a hit of CBIHP Musk which I didn’t hate…….so there.  That’s really a non-list, eh?   Hey, I smell musk in Bal a Versailles…and I LOVES me some BaV.  Does that count?  Or am I smelling something else…(P – yes, it’s something else.  Cat-butty civet combined with musk)  

Portia – Kiehl’s Original Musk (Body Lotion), Narciso Rodriguez for Her, Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan, Gwen Stefani L (The Body Lotion for this is so cheap and excellent), Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely, Bud Parfums Gamekeeper, Smell Bent Commando & Lumberjack Werewolf (I know! The names are awesome aren’t they)? Though these are not STRICTLY musk perfumes I get a musky hit through their life:  Rochas Byzance & Femme and Clinique Aromatics Elixir.

Ann – I do like Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur, which to me seems somewhat classy and wearable; I find its slightly animalic nature falls under the radar in barely discernible hum: Someone’s got to get pretty close to take it in.  Not sure if they qualify, but I think Le Labo’s Gaiac 10 (which uses several different varieties, I think) offers a beautifully meditative take on musk, and the late, great Indult Tihota created a sweetish cocktail of musk and vanilla that was nearly edible.  



We are going to try something different this week!  I found this cool little widget that manages tracking for comment entries, Twitter follow entries, Tweeting entries, Facebook likes, shares, so I don’t have to go count them all up!  I’m excited. So just click on each of the things you want to do to enter below (each one counts as one entry, so you can enter multiple times) and that’s it!  Of course we are doing a giveaway of two musk perfume sample sets of most of the perfumes listed in this review.  

Entries must be made by midnight Sunday November 18, 2012.  I’ll announce the winner on Monday November 19, 2012.   If you want to do it the old-school way, just leave a comment to be entered.  Tell me your favorite musk, that you hate musk, love musk, tell me if you survived the Hurricane if you’re just now joining us with some power restored!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • I think I may be anosmic to Ferme Tes Yeaux. I was all excited when I got my samples and decided to dive right into the deep end and try that one first. So I was expecting a big ol’ nasty filth-fest. I got the rotting flowers aspect of it, like a weird rubbery zombie tuberose that wanted to eat my brain. But I didn’t get much else. It was weird. I’m afraid I may have fumigated my neighborhood Kroger with death fumes late last night when I put on a bit of my sample (a little bit more than I had intended to, actually) and then realized I needed to make a run for cat food. I have no idea what I must have smelled like to people around me..Luckily it was after midnight and there weren’t that many people around. As I was walking in the store, I passed by the self-checkout machines and a lady started coughing a lot.. I had to wonder if that was just a coincidence. I didn’t think I passed terribly close to her, but I don’t know what kind of range this thing has if you can smell it properly.

  • mim666 says:

    Oh, please count me in! I have a love/hate thing with musk, but MKK is aaalll love. Maybe a little too much ‘love’ or something, I dunno, I love it but can’t wear it around other people because I’m so worried they think I smell skanky/funky in a bad way. But I love it! Weird how musk is kind of dirty/clean rather than hot/cold or lush/dry…the dirty makes sense but the clean less so.

    I wore some soapy ‘white musk’ sprays in high school and now they all seem harsh and a little headachy, white musks generally do to me now unless they are super gentle in which case they smell like baby products. I liked reading all the reviews and mining the comments for recs! would love to try musk candy, omg. so weird.

  • I like musk, but narcisco does nothing on my skin – smelled lovely on the sales person at nordstrom, on me just smells like a nice, mainstream perfume. would love to try some others!

  • Merlin says:

    I bought Jovan’s musk for her recently as it smelled nice in the shop, had never seen it before, and it was cheap-ish. The same night I compared it to my little decant of Claire de Musc and now I think I may have to give it away. Predictably it smelled harsh and synthetic in comparison!

  • noddi says:

    I’ve been on the lookout for musks that work for me. So far the d/c Ava Luxe Nude Musk and SL clair de musc have been my favorites. Musk Reinvention and L’air du Rien were a little too dirty for me. (thought the rien has a fascinating drydown)

  • Dubaiscents says:

    I love Mona’s Nuit Noire! Thanks for another wonderful guide!

  • Damir says:

    A year or two ago I had perfume oil of Musk rose. by Ajmal. I loved it a lot. It smells simple and warm. It was interesting to me how I felt more rose one day, more musk another. Probably there was also a note of agrum as orange in it. Exactly I don’t know much about it. In this moment I’m in love with Musc Ravageur.

  • Amer says:

    l’Air de Rien is a musk I am very conflicted about. I think it really depends on the day. On the right day it smells smoldering sexy-mysterious. On the wrong day it smells like the dirt of an unkept loft with melting electrical cables… I love it for its weird factor any day anyway.

  • unseencenser says:

    Actually, Kublai Khan did no marauding. He was the citified Mongol who grew up in China, not Mongolia, and built Xanadu. His musk should be pretty classy. But still, you know, bad to the bone.

  • Lynne Marie says:

    Another great, comprehensive post that leaves me adding a bunch of “need to smell” perfumes to my want list! I’m not really sure how I feel about musk – I’ve never pursued it as the overarching note in a fragrance but I know it plays a supporting role in some of my favorites. Now I want to smell something where it is on center stage. Probably start with Clair de Musc given my affection for Lutens in general. Thanks, Patty!

  • Holly F. says:

    I’ve so wanted to try MdO’s Musc. I have had the opportunity to try and fall in love with several of these, such as L’Air de Rien, Worth Courtesan, and Musc Ravageur. Seems I like both the dirty, and the cuddly. MKK is another one that has eluded me though, and I think I would love it. Thanks for the musk-loving fun!

  • I love musk! I do like Mona di Orio’s Musc, which is super-cuddly. But I think that Tuscany per Donna is very similar, a little dirtier and a ton cheaper- one of my fave perfumes. I also like Musc Ravageur… what else? I’d reaaaaaally like to try that Courtesan…

  • helen says:

    MKK is my favorite 🙂

  • Sandy C says:

    I have had a love affair with musk for many years, starting with TBS White Musl – and I always come back to it.

  • Ro says:

    I’m still looking for a musk I can love. I’ve been cursed with have an unfortunate scent association with musk stick sweets, see Musk sticks seem to be an Australian and New Zealand thing which I guess is why no one else has mentioned them. Musc Ravageur to me smelt a bit like interesting spice and a lot like a bag of sugary pink treats.

    • Patty White says:

      Okay, I just read that musk stick sweets thing, and I’m a little squicked out, it sounds awful! 🙂 MR can definitely go that direction, and with that association, I can see why. Have you found anything yet you like really hard?

  • queencrone says:

    I do love Coty Wild Musk it’s cheap and warmly musky. Musc Koublai kahn I love too, but for different reasons. And I used to not get Bal a Versailles when I was younger, but I love it now. I have always been in love with Nasciso Rodrigues for her.

    The first time I sampled Muscs Koublai Khan, I gently dabbed it on and went to an afternoon matinee at my local movie theater. Boy, I smelled like I hadn’t had a shower in a few days. (I went camping once, and I smelled just like this…) As weird as it seems, Muscs Koublai Khan is strangely compelling to me, i this smell feels good….but when I don’t shower-that version of the smell just makes me feel awful. ???

    Narciso Rodriguez for Her I sampled on vacation, but that turned out well.

    Musks are so much fun to play with. I just need to learn to try them at home that first day.

    • Patty White says:

      Yeah, that’s it! Me really unshowered is so awful! MKK making me smell a little unshowered is beautiful. LIke dewy dirty instead of lush and plumply dirty. 🙂

  • FearsMice says:

    I dunno about musk… I think I may be anosmic to some of it. I do have some samples I need to try (Musc Ravageur, Courtesan, Ginger Musk). Maybe one of those will convince me that musk-love is possible…

  • LORRAINE says:

    There was a musk oil I loved – Musk Oil No.6 by Gosh – it disappeared years ago. If anyone knows where I can get a bottle please tell me. Bottles don’t even show up on ebay!

  • I would love to sample musks. I really have not found one yet that speaks to me. I tend to dislike any fragrance that does not make me feel comforted.

    • Patty White says:

      Have you tried the Serge MKK or the Clair de Musc? I think the musk Serge uses is a really warm one that feels like your skin, if you like the smell of skin. I do, so MKK is one of my favorites just for that reason.

  • Farawayspices says:

    Love musks, the cozy, the animal, the slightly disturbing, not as much as when they are clean

  • rosiegreen says:

    I never realized there were so many musk perfumes. Sounds like I need to start sampling

  • Jane says:

    I wish I could get some of the alleged funky wierdness from musk. I love it on me, but it just smells…pretty.

    • Patty White says:

      Anosmia? Have you ever done a really heavy application of a musk centric perfume, like – just pick up Coty Musk or something like that, spray liberally, then go ask someone you trust to tell you how you smell. If they tell you you smell like a musk bomb and you just get pretty, you are anosmic to musk. At least that particular musk chemical in that fragrance. There are a lot in use, so some other musk perfume might come through loud and clear. Or they may all read the same way.

  • Gatto Nero says:

    Though I doused myself in Coty Wild Musk in college, I mostly steer clear of musks now. Just the hint of it in an otherwise gorgeous fragrance is enough to send me scrubbing. I have a healthy respect for Bal a Versailles, though it’s not an everyday kind of scent, but hated Narciso Rodrigues for Her and was underwhelmed by SP’s Lovely. However, I adore civet, in the right proportion, fancy myself to be mysterious and seductive (delusional?), and am keen to try “challenging” fragrances. I guess I’d like to be persuaded that I’m a musk girl after all. Please persuade me!

    • Patty White says:

      do you think it was just an overdose of musk, too much of a good thing, or you just got sensitive to the note? I’m always interested in sudden shifts in tastes in smell because I wonder what they mean or what caused them.

      The musk in MKK and a lot of these are so different from that “soaked” musk that I think of from the Coty, etc, where they feel oily. Musc Ravageur feels soaked to me too, but it’s saved from being a no by all the lovely spices and a very, very spare application.

      I think the MKK could work for you, honestly. And maybe the CB. Everything else will likely come too close to the Coty Wild Musk smell. Those are the two I’d start with, see if you can swallow them and even like them. If not, then probably musks are a big no. If you do, then there might be a couple more!

      • Gatto Nero says:

        It’s odd, but I never really went “off” of the Coty — I just discovered other scents that were more interesting (on my way to total fragrance obsession). There’s a sweetness and heaviness (creaminess, almost) along with a kind of complexity to the Coty that saves it for me. But in most modern fragrances I’ve tried, the musk note (even if lurking way in the base) just puts me right off in a way I find hard to describe. (“Skeevy” comes to mind.) I don’t know why civet doesn’t send me running, too — but it doesn’t; and used properly I find it beautiful. I may try some of your recommendations to see whether they work for me. Thanks so much for your reply, Patty.

  • lilacskin says:

    i would have to say that while i would love to try most of these (all but the ‘rien’…ick), my Skin Musk (Coty ?) is most often used as an underpinning for something floral around my wrists and neck. that, and the boy i dated in high school wore Jovan Musc for Men and that shizz still turns me on 30 years later. does this make me a cheap date?

    • Patty White says:

      So do you use that as a base, then spritz something else on? I may have to try this, but I’m worried that smelling some of those musks again may just prompt some bad flashbacks.

      I think more guys got lucky wearing Jovan Musk than probably anything else. Well, Eau Sauvage. Nowadays probably Abercrombie & Fitch Fierce.

  • Magdalena says:

    How lovely, another guide to one of my top 3 favorite notes. 🙂
    I used to hate musk a few years back, but it’s grown on me – thanks to the combination with the other two in a Narciso Rodriguez for Her edt, I guess. I really should try Narciso Rodrigues Musc for Her edt, but I’ve never come across it in the nearby Sephora stores yet. And SJP Lovely is… lovely, and very affordable.

    Annick Goutal Musc Nomade sounds interesting. I only know some Annick Goutal’s sweet fragrances (and only like Rose Absolue out of these few), I wonder what musk smells like in her rendition. I guess I should check out Montale musks… but I admit, I dislike the design of the bottles so much, it keeps me away from what’s inside.

    • Patty White says:

      So what’s the other two? 🙂

      The whole Orientalistes four-pack were an interesting departure for Goutal, I always think, except I forget she also did Sables and Eau de Fier, and others, which are not that lilting floral or citrus I usually associate with her perfume house. I’m more fond of her oddball things than her mainstream perfumes, except Petite Cherie, and I think there are three of us that like that. 🙂

      • Magdalena says:

        At this stage of my discoveries, orange blossom and osmanthus… 🙂 I’ve been a bit less enthusiastic about orange blossom lately, though, as I bought an argan oil & orange blossom body balm and gosh, not only it smells terrible, but it’s also unbearably intense… 😉 Osmanthus is the main reason I’m so excited and can’t wait to try that new By Kilian, Good Girl Gone Bad. 🙂

  • Elena says:

    I have at least 3 of these as samples that I’ve been ignoring over the summer. Today it snowed (!!!!) so it’s time for me to bust them out. I’ve only been into perfume for about a year, and from the beginning I have found things like Bandit and Fleurs d’Oranger to be just lovely (though I do NOT get Mitsouko or any other chypre). I will be terrorizing the neighborhood with Bal a Versailles soon, no doubt.

  • I’m beginning to think “all roads lead to Rome” and that there is a musky quality to most perfume components. Many florals have them, rose, jasmine, TUBEROSE, heavens even the linden blossom CO2 I just got. So many base notes have them too: vetiver, angelica root, musk ambrette. Truth is I love ’em all. BTW, musk anosmia is REAL. Fortunately, it’s not permanent. I went through a period of not being able to smell ambrette, but now . . . it jumps out at me and I pounce on it. I haven’t smelled many of the contemporary frags you listed (and I’d like to), but the older ones are musk heaven. I think we’ve gotten too squeeky clean and need to get back to our dirty roots. Vive la musc!

    • Patty White says:

      Yeah, it is a really common base note in a lot of perfumes, if not all. It’s usually pretty mild in most of them, so the musk prominent perfumes stand out a little more.

      Interesting! Yeah, musk anosmia is just so common, but people that have it very rarely know it.

  • I love musk! Clean, dirty, white, body, cheap, expensive — I love it all. Everything is better with some warm, furry musk in it.

  • farmerjk says:

    I must be anosmic or have a high tolerance for musk. MKK and MR smell nice & cuddly to me. BaV smells like sweet leather and incense, but the vintage EdP smells like powder and wet Depends. The earthiest thing I have is Attar Bazaar’s Hina – I dare not wear it to work, but revel in it at home. Layered with their Persian Amber, it is bliss.

  • I like musk, but there are a lot I haven’t tried. I have tried MKK, with some trepidation after what I had read about it. On skin, I remember liking it, thinking it not so scary after all. On a blotter, on the other hand, it definitely went a bit unwashed man-crotch after a few minutes. I also have a sample of L’Air de Rien, and I really like it. It is kinda barnyardy, but I find it pleasantly so. I think the sweetness in it helps, maybe. And in the drydown it’s still a little skanky, but it goes a little incensy on me. I think maybe my barnyard tolerance has gone up. In the beginning of my perfumistahood, I got a sample of Aftelier Sepia, and I found it really barnyardy and didn’t like it. But then I revisited it a little while later, and while I still got the barnyard in it, it didn’t crowd out everything else for me.

    • Patty White says:

      That sounds like MKK! The skin has to warm it up for the really beautiful parts of it to bloom!

      I think the barnyardy reference is to something in it that really isn’t that, and you just sorta have to power through that and keep smelling it and then your mind finally rejects some scent memory and lets you smell what is actually there, which is a little barnyardy, but other things too!

  • hongkongmom says:

    another great work!!! thank you. need to go and resniff the mk…i did only once and it seemed to me to be so similar to clair de musc with a kind of something added to jar away from clair de musc ..a bit of voom? dont mind muscs…they just don’t really move me?!

  • *shivers* Musk… Thy world I dare not enter…

  • Dina C. says:

    I like the mild-mannered musks best, so my favorites are NR for Her edt and Clair de Musc by SL. I’ve also worn Bal de Versailles when I was dressed up as Marie Antoinette one Halloween. 🙂 I remember that it smelled very cozy, warm and soft to me.

  • makinalist says:

    I adored the musks we had in the 70’s and always hope there will be one that smells like that again. My fave then was Satana Musk Oil. Kiehl’s is close, but no…Sigh.

  • E. Lime says:

    I am new to musks, but as someone who is married to a history geek who is obsessed with Mongol history, I would love to try MKK!

  • Cybele says:

    I am a musc hater and lover at the same time…favorites are Yatagan- if that counts, Narcisso Rodriguez for Him Musc Oil,
    Clair de Musc and Musc Samarkand. I learned to hate Le Labo Musc 25- it
    just began to smell like hospital and surgery. I appreciate Musc
    Ravangeur oil and Narcisso Rodriguez for Her and don’t care for Kiehls

    • Patty White says:

      I think Yatagan as just an all-around fierce perfume fits in a lot of categories.

      did the Le Labo give you a sharp alcohol smell? Did you get anosmic to it or just smelled too simlar to something else?

      you definitelike the chewy musks. You must be totally on pins and needles waiting for the new PdE. God, that thing better be as nasty as I’m hoping it is. I want barnyard feral skank that just rocks me back on my heels. 🙂

  • Cool widget! 🙂

    I am one of those perfumistas who have found the one and only musk in Musc Koublai Khan and I have never looked back but your post is so descriptive that my interest was resurrected.I also love L’Air de Rien although it is too emotional and requires a very specific mood. My toy-musk is Fleur Poudrée de Musc, light, playful, powdery and pissy

    • Patty White says:

      I LOVE that widget. It will save me so much time going around and collecting al the shares and likes and twitters and blah, blah, all that stuff every blog wants, but is a total PITA to count and keep track of for a giveaway.

      I adore MKK. I’m still afraid to wear it in public, for fear that I’m anosmic or just tolerant of some aspects of it that may be incredibly offensive. I think maybe tomorrow!

      Where do you get the Fleur Poudree de Musc? I don’t think I’ve heard of it!

  • Kirsten D says:

    Whoo-hoo! Loaded Chrome and can now post comments again! Yay ! And the formatting is all fixed – yay ! Loved the post today, laughed out loud in the office at the rutting deer pics, and that venn diagram is going up on my wall 🙂 Fave musks are NR For Her Intense (doesn’t give me the pounding headache the original does), and SL Clair de Musc. I need to try MKK. I’ve printed off all the ‘guides’ so far, and I’m formulating the mother of all to-try lists.

    • Patty White says:

      Yeah!!! I hate IE. it won’t even load for me anymore, so I take every opportunity in the world to tell everyone to just retire it forever. It really is just crap.

      That Venn diagram was a last-minute inspiration. I was proofing and re-read “Musk Venn diagram” and then the picture came in my head. A little bit of photoshopping and boom, just what I needed! I think I need to put it on a t-shirt just so people will ask me what the hell it means. Oh, yeah, I should do that.

      Yeah, you have to try MKK. Do you like the Malle MR? If you like NR, I suspect you would like that. if you tell me you don’t and hate it, I’ll be sad. 🙁

      • Kirsten D says:

        Be happy! I love MR, but then I love L’Air de Rien too (maybe not as much as my tom-cat does!). My inner-perfume-geek wants one of those T-Shirts baaaad!

        I just wish the original NR didn’t give me such a headache, otherwise I’d be H2T in shower gel, lotion, body creme and hair mist! The Intense is getting hard to find so I think I need to start stockpiling a lifetime’s supply while I can (that and Seville a’laube, too).

  • MARK NEWMAN says:

    I have always been a great musk lover—the skankier the better. My favorite mainstream musk fragrance would be Luten’s MKK. My favorite musk perfume is a concoction of pure Valencia orange oil mixed with a pure Galaxolide musk oil. I found this combination mixed in a small Dallas perfume boutique 36 years ago, They mixed you private formulas from their vast selection of stocked oils. When the shop was going to be closed, because the owners wanted to retire, I was able to buy their stock oils used in my perfume formula. It never occured to me at the time to ask them who manufactured their oils. When my supply ran out, I guess I fell down the perfume rabbit hole searching for my beloved oils.

    • Patty White says:

      Yeah, skank lover! Where do you get the musk oil? Oh, wait, you’re out? Well, crap! That sounds heavenly. I have an sweet orange oil that’s amazing, and I love to mix it with benzoin and labdanum. If I had a great musk oil to throw in there, that could just make me swoon.

  • Am I the only one who suffered a Coke spew from ” Narciso’s Musk Hole”?!!! Gasping for air over here!

    Musk and I are not good friends, but I do so want to find one to love. I know I will never find it amongst the Smell Bent line, which nearly kills me, or Sonoma Scent Studio, which has a sweet musk that makes me nauseated, Not sure if there’s any similarity in the musks used in those two lines?

    I think what we need to do is find someone who can recreate the headspace of Tom when he wears musk. Despite me knowing darn well musk doesn’t work well on me, that man has talked me in to buying musks time and time again with his descriptions of how they smell on him.

    Eau de Musk de Tom de Hills of Bever-lee, that’s what I need.

    Serge, Demeter or Chris, get on it, please!

    • Patty White says:

      Haha! I was *hoping* someone would catch that.

      tom is the MuskMan, that’s for sure. I know better now. Except now Tom and I have merged, and I like the stuff he does. There was one day I put on Ferme tes Yeaux and jardenia at the same time and thought I was in heaven. Crazy, seriously.

      So, yeah, whatever tom gets when he smells musk, it’s catching, so just keep sticking close, and one day you’ll put on some of those and go OH YES!!!

  • MARK NEWMAN says:

    Patty this is another fantastic perfume project post. I don’t know how you have the time to research and write all of these

    • Patty White says:

      Me neither! 🙂 Weekends, evenings. I know most of these perfumes from playing and handling them for years and years, so I have an idea where they are going to go in my Musc Venn Diagram. This one took so much longer because I was shocked my former really rank ones were so darn friendly for me now.

      This is also why I’ve got to every other week. The writing and researching takes around 20-40 hours for each, especially on these bigger categories. No can spend that much time, y’all! 🙂

  • Claudia says:

    Though not a huge fan, I am definitely a fan of musk. Probably comes from having grown up in the 70’s, when it was everywhere! As for the hurricane, we in Northeast Ohio have survived, though there are still many without power. Bad, but not nearly as bad as New York/New Jersey. Personally I was lucky; power was only out for 8 hours! Thanks for the giveaway! 🙂

  • Dionne says:

    First off, I love the new look, it’s definitely better than how it’s been for a while, although I’ve have to get the hang of watching the conversation evolve from the bottom up now.

    I’ve not tried a lot of musks yet, but this last week a perfume friend sent a sample of Musc Ravageur, and it was sweet and vanilla-ish on me, and I actually found myself feeling bummed about that, and lamented to The Engineer “Where’s the naughty? I want naughty!” which just made him smile. It’s obviously time for a skank-search, so I might as well cannonball naked into the deep end and order L’Air de Rien

    Since we’re talking about musks that aren’t around anymore, I’ve got one that might win in the category of “impossible to find” now. I won a bottle of DSH’s Musk eau Natural in parfum extrait from the Mystery of Musk event, and it’s amazing stuff. How she managed to evoke musk with only natural ingredients (my son Bones summed it up as “BO and chocolate, but in a good way”) is beyond me. She doesn’t sell it anymore…. I think. I can’t tell from her website. (It’s actually WORSE to find your way around than before. Someone seriously needs to have a frank conversation with her about that.)

    • Patty White says:

      Do you just love that new edit button? I do too!

      I think MR is gorgeous and sensual, but it’s not that naughty.

      wow, that DSH sounds amazing! I know, I love her, but I can’t figure out her website at all! The only way I can find anything is to do a search for it.

  • Jeneen Preciose says:

    I loved reading this post. I typically like musk with rose so, some of these have piqued my interested. Will have to sniff SL KK, i think.

    • Patty White says:

      Thanks! rose and musk are a great combination. The new PdN has rose as one of the notes, and it smells amazing.

      I think every perfumista has to do the SL MKK test – it’s like a rite of passage. Then they have to dot he Miller Harris L’Air de Rien test, it’s the other rite of passage. 🙂

  • Andrea says:

    Finally! This is what I call a great and useful post! Lots of details, personal impressions, comparisons between perfumes… Love it!

    I am a big fan of musk, most of the perfumes I like then I finally discover they have musk in it. I fell in love with Musc Ravageur (it was one of the very first niche perfumes I tried), I got a sample, but I think I am allergic to something it: therefore, I’m not going to buy it (talking about new EU laws…). I liked Nasomatto’s, but it is not for my wallet…I just find Musk really sexy and I think it leaves a clean/animalic smell on my skin that I appreciate.The only musk I couldn’t stand (of the ones I have tried) was Piver’s.

    • Patty White says:

      Thanks so much, glad you liked it and found it useful and hopefully entertaining too.

      Did you ever try the MR in the oil? Piver’s, is that a vintage frag?

  • KathyT says:

    I can’t believe how many of these musk fragrances I have NOT tried yet! Some of them sound scary though…

    • Patty White says:

      Not that scary! Hey, listen, it’s nothing a shower won’t cure. 🙂 Well, in the case of a couple of them, it may take a shower, scrub brush and some time.

  • Musette says:

    You are SO gonna get beat DOWN, li’l Missy. I am reading this in the office, laughing my musky butt completely OFF…the phone rings…it’s one of my most important customers…I can’t stop laughing…but I HAVE to answer the phone….luckily he’s a deer hunter…

  • Sandstorm936 says:

    I’m just all over the place with musk. L’eau de Rien smelled like dirty, damp underwear of a homeless guy from start to finish on me. MKK, depending on the day can either smell really good on me or like I’ve been bedding someone all weekend. I adore Worth Courtesan, it hints at naughty. The description of Courtesan did throw me off at first because of all the fruit. BaV in eau de parfum is probably my top favorite because it is not out and out slut but sensual. I’m about to try Musc Ravaguer, after I order a decant that is.


    • Patty White says:

      yup, that’s Rien! 🙂 Oh, yeah, Courtesan fan! That’s like five of us. I love it more because it’s a fruity floral and you just aren’t expecting that dirty bottom to show up. If you like the others, MR should be great on you. It can be too heavy, which is why I like the oil better, I can control it by using just a drop.

  • ringthing says:

    I think you mentioned all my favorites. A couple of years ago I had what I thought of as the summer of musk – I went musk crazy and tried everything I could get my hands on. During that time someone sent me a bottle of vintage Coty Wild Musk and it’s one of my favorites, esp. great for bedtime.

    • Patty White says:

      Summer of musk? Dear god, in the heat, that sounds awful! I can’t do musk in the summer. Nope, not ever. How vintage was your Coty Wild Musk? I keep thinking I need to try some, but I don’t want toe current version.

  • aimtx says:

    I do love and always have loved Musc Rav, but on me it’s way more spice than musk. Specifically, cinnamon. Which is a-okay by me.

    • Patty White says:

      Huh? Wow, I get the spice and cinnamon as a part of a huge musk bomb underneath. Cracks me up to read the different interpretations of musk, it’s probably the most difficult note for anyone to agree on.

  • Joaquim says:

    I’m looking for the ultimate musk scent, and CB MUSK can be the chosen one but I never tried it, MKK isn’t THAT skanky on me, but I suspect that this is due to skin chemisty (in my girlfriend’s skin is like an horde of mongols trying to smell worst than their own horses, which is amazing!). This is a great sample set, hardcore musk is one of my favourite type of scents, thanks for the draw!

    • Patty White says:

      I think CB Musk could be your winner, but it could also be the Miller Harris or the JAR. Hope it isn’t the JAR. Or hunt down some Arabian Oud Black Musk. That stuff is musk that will stand up and salute in a F5 tornado. Amazing.

  • Miller Harris L’eau de Rien smelt of horse poo on me after a few minutes. It was interesting that they brought out L’eau de Petit Rien without the civet note. I like SJP’s Lovely and L’Artisan Parfumeur Mure et Musc.

    • Patty White says:

      That sounds about right. That’s what most people say it smells like,and it does. I need to go try it again in isolation because that’s what I used to say it was like until the Great Change seemed to have happened. Maybe it’s related to menopause?

  • Matt says:

    I don’t know why I never get anything dirty with musks. Could it be that people associate it with other smells? The only thing that reads dirty to me is cumin. Oh that can be vile!!

    Anyway, even if it’s a relatively clean musk to me, I do LOVE MKK. That’s actually my favorite perfume from all the ones I know 🙂


    • Patty White says:

      so musk never smells like barnyard at all? I don’t know if that’s an anosmia or just no relational basis in the mind. I grew up on a farm, barnyard is a really familiar smell. 🙂 So when I get it in a musk, it’s really apparent.

      Like the smell of armpit odor, I can’t bear it. it’s sour and somewhat sweet and just so foul. When I smell it, I have to exit quickly, it makes me nauseous, where other people don’t seem to mind it. I’m not sure if it’s how we perceive it or if it’s a taste thing. I wish I knew!

      cumin is a dirty little thing, huh? That is complete BO when it shows up, no? Wait, don’t you get all of that big cumin in the open of MKK?

      Love, love, love MKK. I can’t believe at one time I thought it was so nasty. I just didn’t give it enough time!

      • Matt says:

        That must be it, I haven’t smelled enough animal in my life I guess…

        But you know what? I have to thank you for pushing me to try -once more- to smell cumin in MKK. I’m a skeptical person, so I need to clearly smell a given note in perfume in order to say it’s there, not being easily influenced by the «idea» of a note.

        This time, I tried a side by side comparison with the real thing (I do like cumin in food). Well Patty I DO SMELL IT!!! And it’s A-MA-ZING. This was so masterfully blended that I wouldn’t refer to it as dirty. Yes, I can see the resemblance with sweat, only this is so… perfect.

        Thanks to you, my love for this perfume (and perfumery in general) continues to grow day after day. 🙂


        • Patty White says:

          You are lucky about the animal smells. 🙂

          Oh, yeah!!! I love cumin, and I remember one day someone was cooking, and it stated with sauteeing cumin seeds, and my house just smelled like locker room for a few minutes, and it just makes me laugh. It’s a great spice but shares some chemical with armpit odor. It’s weird, huh? I’m glad you kept trying. It’s so much fun to finally smell what you’re looking for.

          I know I read Tom and Gaia going on and on about JAR Ferme tes yeaux and how it smelled of all these flowers, and I’m thinking does NOT. It’s just rank and foul and barnyard. once I made myself go past that open and the space in my mind that was classifying as foul and had a memory attached to it, there it was, the florals. It was so fun!

  • Melissa says:

    I’m so glad that you gave the heavy hitting skank monsters a fair shake here. To my nose, these are the real musks, while all of that white musk that’s listed in the base notes of so many modern fragrances just registers as a clean chemical smell. Since when was musk meant to smell like laundry detergent? Anyway, I’m a fan off Musc Ravageur (especially in oil), MKK and Bois et Musc. Thanks for the fun read!

    • Patty White says:

      Of course! I love those heavy hitting skank monsters! White musk does come off that way. I guess someone decided to sanitize it, and that’s how it turned out.

      Though I do like some of the nondirty musks too. It’s those soaked ones that I have trouble with, they cling to everything. MR comes closest to it of the ones I love, so I always tell people they can’t put on more than one spray. 🙂

  • Ines says:

    It seems at some point I went into musch territory and stayed there. I really love Nuit Noire, Courtesan and Mure et Musc. I even got my friend onto Courtesan and now she is impatiently looking for a bottle. 😀

    • Patty White says:

      Oh, a Courtesan fan! There’s so few of us that get the musk in that, it’s exciting for us to find each other! I think you can find some Coutesan on Amazon UK or eBay, if that helps her! I still find them, but it’s tricky, and it’s a shame. I love, love, love me some Courtesan.

    • Patty White says:

      Oh, another courtesan lover! Yeah!!! Did she find one?

  • Oh, er…. forgot….

    “Of course we are doing a giveaway of two *amber* sample sets of most of the perfumes listed in this review.”

    Looks like a copy-and-paste incident 🙂

  • I have to confess, I am totally anosmic to Narciso Rodriguez for Her – to the point I wondered what the fuss was all about when I tested it. Can’t say I have tried many musc-based perfumes since but I’m very attracted to MKK and Musc Tonkin (although the latter will be hard to catch, I’ve read something like 1000 bottles released?). Just bought a large decant of Olfactive Studio Lumière Blanche, not a musc perfume as such but it has plenty of cuddly muscs in the drydown. It’s lovely.

    • Patty White says:

      I think the funnest part of the comments for this post is learning about musk anosmia and how people smell different musks.

      Have you tried the new Musc Tonkin? I’m very worried about that limited number of release bottles too and hope they change their mind, but suspect it has to do with the raw materials – they got so much of something, made that many bottles, release them, and they don’t know if they’ll ever get the same smell.

      I’m horrified that if I fall in love with it, it will be a fleeting memory!

      Wow, March has an anosmia to NR for Her — or had one, she didn’t get it. I don’t know if she tried the EDT and got it and had only tried the EDP before? I know I was with her in Los Angeles, I think it was,when she smelled it for reals after smelling it a bazillion times. The lightbulb going on was pretty cool to see.

  • Sherri says:

    Musk is so strange. I can get anything from cuddly, snuggly kitten (Mona Di Orio) or dirty old man (Kiehl’s) and some I’m sure I must be anosmic to, like L’air de Rien. Before I read L de R was a musk sex-bomb, I thought that it was supposed to be very subtle, like its name “Nothing”; shows what I know! 🙂 Always intrigued by musk, but basically a lightweight in this category (MdO, Clair de Musc and the new Nicolai are my favorites.)

    • Patty White says:

      See, my nose is tracking with yours. I think Mona is snuggly. In a dirty humpy kind of way. Kiehl’s is that soaked musk. I wish I had a better word or could describe what I mean. It’s oily and a little smarmy.

      I’ve heard that Rien turns out that way on some people. It’s really barnyard, honestly. My nose is interpreting it differently now, like the JAR, but just rank.

      See, but I love your favorites. They just aren’t really dirty ones. That new Nicolai is really gorgeous. It took about an hour before I really appreciated it, and then I was all swoony. Really beautifully done. but it’s that new PdE that I’m impatiently waiting for. If they do to that what they did to Ambre Russe, I’ll be in heaven.

  • Zazie says:

    My favorite musk is musc ravageur. But musk based perfumes, like most solinotes, fall a bit short in terms of my personal satisfaction.
    Oh, on some days nothing else will do. But, if I want mu skin to smell floral musky, I would turn to kai, if I want to up the ante I’d go for Shalimar….

    • Patty White says:

      MR is pretty much one of the best ones out there. Probably the rankest musk I’ve smelled was an Arabian Oud thing called Black Musk. I don’t have any still, but Wow! That thing could drop you at 30 paces, it was so rank. I need to see if I can find more of it!

  • Gabriella says:

    My favorites are Bois et Musc by Lutens and the Nereides Musc Samarkande. Guess I like my musk soft and not very prominent.

    • Patty White says:

      I think those actually have pretty prominent musk, it’s just not dirty musk. 🙂 Well, the Bois et Musc is on the open, but only from the cumin/cedar. After that, I think it’s amazing, and it gets a skosh dirty way underneath it all.

  • Lisa D says:

    I don’t think of musk as being a note I adore, though it’s probably a major component of many perfumes I enjoy, like Narciso Rodriguez For Her or SJP Lovely. Of the musk-in-the-main scents that I have, the skankiest of the bunch is Ava Luxe’s Shisha. I don’t wear it, but I do put a drop of it on the furry toy that dangles from the end of Da’ Bird, and it drives both my cats into a frenzy. True story.

    • Patty White says:

      I have some Shisha, I know what you’re talking about. She does some great musks, but they can be overwhelming if you wear too much of them. I have had perfumes that make my cats insane, or one of them, but it’s not the musk that does it, it’s that civet!

  • Heather says:

    I can remember using some musk in 9th grade, probably Coty or similar, then forgot about musk for a few decades. Recently I thought I’d jump in at the deep end by getting a tiny vial of Montale Black Musc, but all I smell is tarry-asphalt. I wonder if I’m anosmic to it, or if the musk really isn’t there. Has anyone else tried it recently? And thanks for all the great suggestions; I’ll be trying them as fast as I can afford to.

    • Patty White says:

      I’m not sure I’ve tried the Montale. If it’s got oud in it, and I figure it does since everything they do does, that’s the tarry-asphalt. It may just be covering over the musk. I hope someone who has tried this one chimes in and helps you out!

  • My first experience with musk started with Coty and Joven. These drugstore classics really got my pubescent senses going, and I have always thought of them as easily accessible sexy scents.

    • Patty White says:

      They really are, which is the great thing about musk perfumes, you don’t have to venture out from the drugstore to get the basics that will serve you well. I can’t do those because of a lot of memories of people that seriously overapplied them, but done with a light hand, they are really great.

      • They are great basics, but truth be told, I can’t wear them. I like them in the bottle and on a person with a light hand. On me? Yeaaahhhhh, I end up smelling like I ran the mile in the noonday sun, then smoked a pack of Marlboros, THEN went dancing in a club that doubles as a deli during the day. So, not exactly the sexy skanky musk that I detect on others.

  • Alica says:

    Ahem, not much experience with musk scents except for LV Musk and Coty Wild Musk, the latter I didn´t get at all. I am curious about SJP Lovely since I used to avoid celeb´s scents. I own vintage Ball a Versailles, the cologne version, heading to retest it. Thx for this opportunity!!!!

    • Patty White says:

      I think the LV Musk was really nice. It was different, but I liked that it was different. Nice to wear. I really like Lovely. It’s probably the only celeb scent I wear and wear happily other than Kate Walsh’s Boyfriend which I think is good too.

  • MADCUTE says:

    This was such a fun read! Smell Bent’s “Walk of Shame” is a fun one, too.

    • Patty White says:

      Thanks! I had fun writing it, but I’m not sure I had so much fun wearing it! 🙂 It was a rough couple of weeks and I sorta OD’ed on Musk for a while, but came away with a whole new appreciation for how we all interpret that smell.

      • MADCUTE says:

        It’s much appreciated! I loved reading this line: “i think that’s how all musks are – they expose something that we want to keep hidden… our sensuality, our vulnerability, our earthiness, our raw emotions”…so true!

  • hollyb says:

    I love Musc Ravageur, Narcisco Rodriguez, and LeLabo Musc 25. If I had a full bottle I’d wear Musc 25 all the time. I wore it to a job interview for a job I did not get…hmmm I wonder if that made a difference? Body Shop white musk is a nice daily driver.

    • Patty White says:

      Me too!!!! The rest of the time I’d wear Gaiac. Well, as musks go. Nope, Musk 25 is awesome, nobody would turn someone away on that, it’s too good.

      I’ve heard that about the BS. I can’t do BS or BBW. I don’t know what they use in their scents, but I can take them for about 20 minutes, and then I start melting down and need them way from me. Weird, huh?

  • Mals86 says:

    Oooh, the Musk Project at the Posse!! Fun.
    Having read Tom’s delightful review of Smell Bent Commando – I think at PST, though I recall his having mentioned it frequently – I got a sample of it, expecting the clean-baby skin he called it. Uh, NO. No, this was a whole football team’s worth of sweaty hairy teenage guys in desperate need of a shower. (My 14-year-old son plays football. Trust me on this one.) After that experience, I got skeered of the samples of MKK and L’Air de Rien and they’ve sat undisturbed in the to-test dish ever since… I should woman up and just test those suckers.
    I liked Musc Ravageur in oil, and BaV, and DSH Perfumes’ Special Formula X is a very comfortable clean-skin musk. Skin Musk is still attractive. Clair de Musc is pretty but not worth buying, IMO, not when Jovan Musk for Women is so similarly floral-pretty and SO SO much cheaper. Really, the plain-jane Jovan for women is just really attractive, warm skin and cool florals all wrapped up together. I could be biased because my mom has worn the thing for forty years now, when she isn’t wearing No. 5 or something clean-smelling like Anais Anais or Coty L’Effleur… but I don’t think I’m THAT biased. Speaking of which, No. 5 particularly in the vintage parfum has a huuuuuge musk presence, very warm and golden. So does Mariella Burani, along with its benzoin.
    Gres Cabaret and Citizen Queen I find quite musky and verrrry sexy – Cabaret on my husband is way musky-incensey-peppery and just irresistible, yum. PLEASE DO NOT TELL HIM IT’S FOR WOMEN, he’ll stop wearing it and I will Be Sad. (I decanted it into a plain atomizer.)
    Couldn’t smell any musk in SSS Rose Musc; must be anosmic to it. But I’m excited about that new PdN Musc Intense – I want to smell that one.

    • Patty White says:

      Huh, this one just showed up for me! woman up, put on that MKK and Rien. Do it when you don’t have anywhere to go! Maybe that’s the problem with CdM, you can get a similar white musky smell from things that are a lot cheaper. I have to remember that.

      Musk in 5 parfum? Now I need to go work on that again!

  • Ann says:

    Hey, Patty, so glad you mentioned the NR musc for her oil. Completely slipped my feeble mind. That is some really nice stuff; I used to wear it a lot. Think I might have a dab around here somewhere, so need to go find it. Thanks!

  • Katharine says:

    This is such a cool post. I would like to try some musks… except I think I might be disappointed. (I am a total perfume noob, here… just learning.) I just ordered a big bunch of Smell Bent stuff, and read reviews of Werewolf and Commando and was all “oo!” I like skank. I like the actual smell of a human body, including armpits and crotch, without deodorant or other scent… and on me Werewolf smelled like musty Nag Champa sticks, and Commando like Ivory soap and I went “wha?”

    I had a friend who was the kind of friend who wore black and had a collection of essential oils and made his own hallucinogenic blends, and HE had a vial of actual and probably illegal deer musk, and I do NOT remember it smelling like Ivory soap…. so I don’t know what’s going on. Am I anosmic? Or maybe “skanky” in perfume language means something different?

    • Patty White says:

      It may be chemical musks or some varieties of chemical musks that you jut don’t read. Have you tried anything else and had the same reaction? If you got ivory soap,I’d say yea. Tom and Portia have done the Smell Bent ones and declared them crazy musky good, I believe. Now it could also be that the musky, more dirty bits of the human body don’t read either. I’m not about the armpit at all, especially one that’s been cooking for a while – that sour, overpowering sickly sweet smell – that is just foul. But if you are anosmic to some part of that, you may not mind it at all because it’s not registering.

      Tough to tell because it’s hard to describe what I smell and what you smell.

      • Katharine says:

        I def. think I get the dirty bits of human bodies, yeah. Some humans smell gross and rank; my current partner smells delicious to me and also rank — differently rank depending on stress and eating (bottled him would be my ideal musk perfume, honestly). Hence the bafflement. Reviews compare the perfumes to human odour and I smell NO similarity, unless we’re talking “freshly showered human odour wearing clothes washed with scented detergent and dried with a dryer sheet” which seems to be the 21st century’s idea of “hot” but certainly isn’t mine.

  • Ninara Poll says:

    Miss Patty, is it possible you are coming down with a sinus infection or have made a change in any medications you may/may not be taking? Those two factors could very well explain your sudden change in musk perception. *If* this change continues, worsens, or you notice any other changes in perception, sensation, cognition, or balance, you *might* want to visit a neurologist. But I’m just a med school dropout, so take all medical advice of mine with a mountain-sized boulder of salt 🙂
    As to musk… My experiences with it as a main note in perfume are limited, and generally not that great. I’m beginning to come to the conclusion that I must be anosmic to a good deal of the synthetic musk compounds that are in common use, or that I have no idea what musk actually smells like. Now I know what musks to try whenever I decide to go on a musk bender! I wonder how my hubs will react (he’s horribly anosmic to bodily odors and the scents of decay, but dab the lightest, weakest, most inoffensive edt within a mile of him and he throws fits about how powerful it is!)… oooh, I think I have the makings of a potentially very, very cruel April Fool’s joke for next year. Thanks 😀


    • Patty White says:

      Nope, none of the above! No meds at all, no sinus problems. I will keep an eye on it. I think I’ve just shifted my perception. I get my nose down in the Ferme tes yeaux, and I can smell all the bad parts, I just don’t think of them as bad – interesting and really beautiful. It happens, I think.

      L’Air de Rien or the Ferme Tes Yeaux are the ones to go with. MKK only in the first 10-15 minutes. this sounds great!

  • Il Profumo Musc Bleu is my go-to musk, but it’s very soapy-clean. I’d love to try some deliciously skanky musks!

  • Angelique says:

    I have to laugh. Just on Friday, I saw Jovan’s Musk oil, which I used to wear in High School. I thought “Oh! I bet I made the male teachers half crazed with my adolescent Lolita vibe. Hmmm … unless, of course, I actually smelled like cat piss and THOUGHT that I was sizzling and sexy!” Here in my nostalgic reveries, I’m now thinking that I should probably go on a New Musk Scent Hunt as a symbol of growing up into Sex&Decadence. I’ll be using your very funny review to choose THEIR poison!

    • Patty White says:

      yes, yes, you did! and the rest of the class were scooching their chairs away. 🙂 Naw, Jovan’s Musk was pretty mild mostly, but it could and did get overdone There you go, time to find a grown up slutty scent! Every girl should have one, seriously. The one that you just feel a littel raw when you go out in it.

  • Tony says:

    My fav has gotta be Musc ravageur… Blow me away each time I smell it

  • SBE says:

    This is so timely for me! I do love musks, but, I too fear smelling too ranky/skanky 🙂 I’ve been dying to try SL Bois et Musc. My favorite is AG Musc Nomade…LOVE! So great to see this comprehensive list…thank you!

    • Patty White says:

      I’m more afraid than I used to be. I mean, when I get just a little foulness where i used to be horrified, it’s scary!! bois et Musc is really great and doesn’t get enough love at all. You are so welcome!

  • Spiker says:

    I’m both intrigued and a little terrified of musk perfumes. Maybe with this post as guidance I can screw up the courage to check a few out.

    • Patty White says:

      There are some that really can work, I swear! But I’d stay in the bottom half of the post to start off with. That top half — oof! But it could be perfect!

  • Monica says:

    Hey I’m so glad you did your own MUSK project, very thorough and impressive. There ARE for sure some I would like to try. I did like the SIP musk even with the “two perfumes in one” feeling. Would love to try the Serge.