There is no way that natural animal musk can ever be used in perfume again, or any way that we would ever want it to be. There are certain plant materials that have a musky tone such as ambrette seed, but the days of a truly commercially viable use of a natural musk scent are no longer with us. Even so, the scent of musk, or an intellectual idea of an enhanced version of the musk effect, is used everywhere. We are surrounded by it, from expensive to cheap fragrances, to fabric detergents and shampoos or paper products or even in so called unscented products (I have read that unscented products have scent molecules in them that block/mask the natural scent of the product). A variety of molecules to mimic various enhanced versions of musk have been developed but seem to be invisible to many people, many (sometimes as many as 40% have selective anosmia to these molecules) can smell one type of musk molecule but not another. So a range of musk molecules are used in products, so that the note will get through to people by one molecule version or another. This explains to me why I don't get some perfumes such as Tresor, because it may well be that the musk molecule in it which comprises about 40% of the perfume is one in a range that disagrees with my brain in a radical way.
I have not really been that much of a fan of musk, so far anyway, or at least my idea of what musk is like, from my exposure to perfumes with the word "musk" in the name. I have had the opportunity to sniff at real civet musk, and it is such a rank and penetrating, strong odor I am amazed that someone long ago realized it was useful a fragrance material if it were to be very diluted. But I realize now that I may not be aware of how much musk there is around me. Apparently it is the most used ingredient across the board in most fragrances, both in perfumes and in scented products of all kinds, from paper products to laundry detergents and every kind of lotion, because of certain qualities it has. From research I find that often musk is used for its property of enhancement and ability to heighten the power of other scents, and even tastes, without it being strong enough to be evident as itself. It is said that if you put a very tiny amount of musk, even the chemical form, in a glass that once held another perfume note, that has been cleaned, the musk will enhance whatever minute trace is left in the glass and amplify and refresh the scent to make it clearly discernible. This almost magical quality is essentially what has made musk so widely used for that quality of enhancing the experience of fragrances in general.
The Perfumed Court has put together three sampler collections of musks, and I have decided to expand my horizons and order one, so that I can really start delving into this note.
I will be getting eight different samples:
- L'Artisan Mure et Musc Extreme
- Laura Tonatto Oropuro
- Lorenzo Villoresi Musk
- Mazzolari Musc
- Montale Ginger Musk
- Narciso Rodriguez for Her
- Parfumerie Generale Musc Maori
- Vinci & Rakos Earth
Above civet cat from the site Maylasia Scrapbook.