What Is Musk Scent?

What Is Musk Scent?

Perfumes contain a variety of scents that make them smell amazing all day long. A high-quality fragrance will have layers of notes that develop on your skin. You may feel comforted and soothed by your favorite perfume, but have you ever thought about what goes into your scent?

Musk is a popular scent that smells earthy, woody, and slightly animalistic. The perfume industry has found the musk scent works as a base note that makes your skin smell amazing for hours. We are going to go over everything you need to know about musk. You'll find out where it comes from and musky-smelling products you should try!

Musk Origins

You may be surprised to know that musk has a very long and interesting history. The raw musk scent is ammoniated and isn't a very pleasant scent. However, once refined, musk has sensual notes perfect for fragrances. It was a very popular ingredient in ancient times and considered a luxury product.

It had a high trade value, and explorers exported musk to different Mediterranean countries. It became incorporated into various cultures, religions, and medicine.

Arab people gravitated towards musk and began using it in their rituals. In the Muslim religion, they believe that the blessed will smell it in heaven. Chinese medicine claims it can purify the air and that it can also get rid of parasites in the body. The wealthiest people used musk to counteract bad smells in the middle ages.

It is a very expensive animal product to make, but things changed in the 1880s. A scientist named Albert Baur accidentally made a synthetic musk when trying to create a more potent form of dynamite. However, mammal hunting continued through the 1900s to create the musk scent. It was a lucrative business, but it over-exploited certain species.

In 1979 laws were passed banning the hunting of male musk deer. Male deer secrete musk during mating season to attract females. Some people tried to breed musk deer to continue to extract the glands that create musk, but secretion stopped in captivity.

However, thanks to chemistry and the synthesis of raw materials, they can now affordably create musk without hurting animals.

What Does Musk Smell Like?

The scent of musk is a strong and captivating aphrodisiac and has the ability to become one with your skin. It doesn't always smell exactly the same. Sometimes it has a floral, fruity aroma. Other musk scents can smell very earthy, like wood or nuts. It can also smell waxy or leathery.

Many ingredients are often described as “musky,” including patchouli, bergamot, sandalwood, oud, and many more.

Musk Misconceptions

Since the natural musk scent has been used for centuries, there has been time for a lot to be said about it. Now, there are various misconceptions when it comes to musk. Let's set the record straight on this ingredient.

Somehow the rumor started that the scent of a few drops of a musk tincture can last on a handkerchief for 40 years. This misconception may have started because of how strong it smells before it's refined. However, musk isn't going to last for decades, and it often isn't as heavy of a fragrance as people may think.

There are perfumery musks with subtle scents. Plus, with new modern synthetics, musks can range from sweet to metallic and everything in between. Decades of research have gone into creating all of the musk alternatives that are in circulation now. It's not the same product that was being traded in ancient times.

Different Types of Musk

There are two main types of musk: animal musk and white musk. As we mentioned, animal musk was made from hunting deer. Once that practice was banned, synthetic musk became more popular.

Out of synthetic musk came white musk, which is made out of a myriad of diverse molecules. It can serve as a binder for fragrances that are mellow, floral, or cottony. Synthetic musk is categorized into three separate families.

1. Aromatic Nitro Musks

This type of musk is what was originally used in soaps, detergents, and lotions. Since the beginning of the 20th century, companies have stopped using nitro musk because scientists discovered it could disrupt human cell functions and also affect hormones.

2. Polycyclic Musk Compounds

There are a few detergent companies that still use polycyclic musk compounds to get that pleasant fresh scent. Everyone loves that clean laundry smell. However, it's not the most environmentally friendly because the molecules fail to degrade properly.

3. Macrocyclic Musk Compounds

Most modern perfumers now use macrocyclic musk compounds. It's mostly made up of muscone molecules.

4. White Musk

When it comes to white musk specifically, there are dozens of variations. It can be hard to tell the difference when you smell them if you have an untrained nose.

One of the main ones is galaxolide, which is a syrup that has a subtle sweetness and floral scent. It also has a powdery, fresh, clean scent popular for laundry detergent, unisex fragrances, and air fresheners. There's also habanolide which is similar to galaxolide. However, it has a woodier and metallic undertone.

For soapy scents, they use ambrettolide. It has a fruity aroma and smells like ambrette seed oil. The last common form of white musk is ethylene brassylate, which is a sweet scent with hints of vanilla.

Musk & Perfumery

There are various combinations of musk scents that perfumeries use. Here are a few perfume ingredients you may see in musk fragrances.

Violet Pomegranate

This fragrance features violet and pomegranate, but it also has a tangy, woody scent. There are also apple and raspberry notes. These scents are combined with floral middle notes from roses, jasmine, a woody violet, and earthy musk.

Currant and Amber

This type of scent is often found in candles and room sprays. They can include bursts of citrus scents like grapefruit and mandarin. It features black currant and golden amber with an earthy musk capped off with sugary vanilla.

Oak & Lavender

This musk perfume has a spicy mandarin top note with apple and grapefruit. The middle notes are made up of lily, jasmine, and lavender. Like a true musk scent, the base notes are woody with a sensual musk scent and aged oak.

Lily & Grapefruit

Invigorating grapefruit is paired with lemon and pineapple as the top notes. The middle notes are floral with lily, orange blossom, and gardenia. The scent finishes with musky, woody scents.

Coconut Milk & Mango

This scent is often found in tanning products. It includes mango, orange, and tangerine top notes. Coconut milk is the middle note, along with redolent florals. The base notes are vanilla and earthy musk to round out the fragrance.

Musk-Have Scented Products

Spongellé has its own unique products that feature musk. If you're looking for a memorable fragrance, look no further.

Peony Flower Perfume

The Peony Flower Private Reserve Perfume features poetic yet sensual notes of spice, musk, and exotic flowers. The top notes are rose stems petitgrain and red apple.

The middle notes are damascone rose, waterlily, and papaya flower. The scent finishes with cashmere and a clean musk scent. Spritz it on after you shower to smell the perfume all day.

Lavender Botanica Body Buffer

Spongellé's Botanica collection celebrates the metamorphosis of nature's pharmacopeia. The Lavender Botanica Body Buffer is infused with skin-nourishing herbal extracts. The herbal extracts are rosehip, hibiscus, and green tea. The top notes feature rosemary and cardamom with spearmint and lavender middle notes. The base note is a soothing and aromatic musk.

Bulgarian Rose Body Lotion

Our Bulgarian Rose Body Lotion offers the perfect combination of shea butter, jojoba oil, and vitamin E. You will feel like you're pampering your skin whenever you put it on. It has top notes of cinnamon sticks, sliced ginger, sweet clove, and juicy orange. The middle note is tuberose with base notes of whipped vanilla and cozy musk.

Blackberry Private Reserve Diffuser

Spongellé's Private Reserve Diffuser in Blackberry has top notes of sparkling citrus and blackberries with middle notes of pink jasmine and vanilla sugar. The base notes are sweet musk and white amber. The diffuser time releases fragrance so that the scent will linger for up to eight weeks.

Try Musk Scents

Musk scents can add a touch of something special to fragrances. You now know everything you need to know about musk. Try one of Spongellé's many musk-scented products if you're looking for an unforgettable fragrance.


Why Musk Is Such A Prevalent Base Note In Fragrances | Alpha Aromatics

Traditional Chinese Medicine: What You Need To Know | NCCIH

Musk Deer | WWF