Monday Question – What Is Your Favorite Musk Perfume?

Do you like musk as a note?

What is your favorite perfume prominently featuring the note?

Do you like your musk clean or are going for the dirtier variety?

What is the most perfect musk scent for you on the market right now?


My Answer:

I have musk phases, like I have phases when I crave other notes. The one perfume that reliably hits the spot in such a phase is Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur, although our history is complicated, I have learned to adore it.

Serge Lutens has two famous musks, Muscs Kublai Khan and Clair de Musc. The latter is sophisticated and pretty, with touches of Chanel N°5 devolving to a cuddly and warm skin scent. The former is just too indecent for me to wear in real life, although I find it way less threatening than I used to.

Annick Goutal Musc Nomade is lovely, soft, cuddly and unthreatening, but still a far cry from clean musk. I used to have anosmic issues with this, interestingly enough that hasn’t happened for a while now. It is all there, all the time for me now.

Calamity J by Juliette Has A Gun is a great choice for everyday and my newest musk discovery Ramon Monegal’s Cotton Musk (formerly known as White Musk, but they had to rename it for copyright reasons. Hey there, The Body Shop!) works beautifully in warm weather.

Patricia de Nicolai makes a lovely rose-centric musk, Musc Intense I’m getting to know and love since last week. It’s my newest obsession.

I’m looking for more musks to love. What are your favorites?


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108 Responses to Monday Question – What Is Your Favorite Musk Perfume?

  1. Vanessa says:

    My favorite musk perfume of all times is Fahrenheit for Men. The combination of leather and musk in this combination makes my senses go wild.

  2. Tatiana says:

    Dominant musk is not my favorite note. I do own a bottle of Annick Goutal Musc Nomade and wear it occasionally, but that’s about it.

  3. Alice says:

    I love musks! Musc Intense is my favourite, I also like the crisp SJP Lovely, and wear both of these often spring/summer. I have tried and liked the Goutal and Clair de Musc, but not so keen on Musc Ravageur. For more sensual musc I prefer L’Ombre Fauve, although I don’t have a bottle as I doubt I would wear it much. Just read your review of the JHAG: that sounds wonderful, so I will test – was planning to buy PG iris oriental this autumn, but will try this as well.

  4. Sandra says:

    I am just coming around to trying different musk perfumes and am liking Bruno Acampora’s Musc.

  5. Ellia says:

    I have 2 sides of musk preferences: one is Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur and Mona di Orio Les Nombres d’Or Musc (sensual and loud type of musks), another – Arabian Musk by Arabian Oud (very soft, light and intimate kind of musk)…

  6. behemot says:

    My favorite musk is Patricia de Nicolai Musc Intense, and I really love Mona di Orio Les Nombres d’Or Musc on cooler days.

  7. Vanessa says:

    Musc Nomade for me, though Mono di Orio’s Musc is nice. Used to like SSS Opal, but it was discontinued. Not mad about musks as a rule, it musk be said!

  8. Ines says:

    I used to think I didn’t like musk but that started changing with MdO Musc and now I have several musky perfumes I enjoy wearing. Nez a Nez Bal Musque would I think top the list.
    And I do prefer my musk on the dirtier side… 😉

  9. lucasai says:

    I definitely prefer a musk in its clean form. From things tried lately I really like the mentioned Cotton Musk from Ramon Monegal. It made me think of a freshly ironed white, cotton polo shirt.
    Etro has a nice musk too.

    Parfum d’Empire Musc Tonkin was dirty but I quite liked it but Kilian Oud Musk was not for me.

  10. Muscs Koublaî Khän and Musc Nomade I wear fairly regularly. I own Musc Tonkin, but find it a bit sweet.

  11. Jackie b says:

    I have not tried many of these musks although I seem to be anosmic to Musc Nomade, I wonder if there any that I should sample. I don’t think I even know what I am looking for when sniffing it.
    Big gap in perfume education!

  12. judith says:

    I love musks! My favorite, in no particular order : SL Clair de Musc, FM Musc Ravageur, Kiehl’s Musk, AG Musc Nomade, FM Dans Tes Bras, Lorenzo Villoresi Musk, Keiko Mecheri Musc, Nasomatto Silver Musk, Montale White Musk, Réminiscence Musc, Helmut Lang, and Carrément Belle Musc. Whew, I know I’m missing some too.

  13. annemariec says:

    I’m a total bore on this one – NR for Her. Love the stuff enough to drink. And for years before that, SJP Lovely. Where does the Nicolai Musc fall on the clean/dirty scale? I find it hard to imagine Patricia doing anything the least bit impolite. Dirty musks are not for me, at least not so far.

    • Olfactoria says:

      No worries, Annemarie, Musc Intense is intensely polite. 🙂 It is a clean, but not super-screeechy white musk.
      Love NR For Her too. My first long-term perfume love.

  14. Tara says:

    Like others, I love Mona’s Musc. I also like Calamity J but never thought of it as a musk perfume – more patch/tabacco. I will re-try with that in mind. Musc Intense is very nice and very wearable but I thought I’d pass my sample on to Lady Jane Grey as she is such a musk fan.

    Does Musc Maori count? Or is it really a chocolate perfume?

  15. dremybluz says:

    I love my musk down and dirty. Serge Lutens MKK is my all time favorite I do love Kiehl’s. My newest find is Black Musk by Illuminum. I have many Arabian Musk Attar oils. When I want my musk less intense, then I layer it with one of my floral fragrances.

  16. Suzanne says:

    Serge Lutens MKK is my absolute favorite; it smells sexy and comforting and beautiful to me and to those who’ve smelled it on me, but I do seem to have the kind of skin that tames dirty scents. I also love Miller Harris L’Air de Rien! I’ll make it my goal to try Musc Ravageur sometime this year, as a few of my favorite people really love it, including you, of course. 🙂

  17. Annina says:

    I love musks!

    My first loves: Jovan Musk, Bonne Bell Skin Musk, Body Shop White Musk

    Current loves: Musc Ravageur, Kuumba Made Oriental Musk, Strange Invisible Musc Botanique, SSS Sienna Musk

  18. ringthing says:

    A few years ago, I had what I thought of as “The Summer of Musk”, where I sampled everything musk that I could get my hands on. My most reliable favorites are Les Nereides Musc Samarkind, Kiehl’s, Musc Ravageur, Clair de Musc and a vintage bottle of Coty Wild Musk. Lots of other musks have appeared since then that I want to try, esp. the Nicolai.

  19. TerryM says:

    One of my favorite and most complemented musk fragrances is Essence of Color by Narciso Rodriguez. Starts out a lovely floral and morphs into this fantabulous musk. Not too over the top and great for day wear. Love it!

  20. Isabeau says:

    I love musk…also love the dirty Musc Tonkin, Musc Ravageur and Musc koublai kahn.
    Bruna Acompara is really great as wel as Mona di Orio.
    Musk to Musk by Montale is also lovely, just as White Musk.

    Narciso Rodriguez has an anniversary collection…with the great oil version!

  21. dkchocoman says:

    I love musks in my fragrances. My favorites include Kiehl’s Original Musk, Muscs Koublai Khan, SJP’s Lovely and Chanel No 5 vintage extrait. I’ve tried Musc Ravageur, but I find it quite lacking in the musk department. Rose 31 is a good one that has a clean type of musk included in its composition. I have to try AG’s Muscs Nomade from the Orientiales Line, hopefully I’m not asnosmic to the musks in it. As you can tell I like my musks on the dirty or slightly dirty side.

  22. Cybele says:

    I do like musc but always wish I would love it more than I actually do, that’s how I came to layer it a lot. However, my favorites are Clair de Musc, NR Musc Oil For Him and Chanel 18 if this counts. I also like Acca Kappa Muschio Bianco and I used to wear Le Labo Musc 25 but it somehow smells too much like hospital to me. My favorite clean musky drydowns are those of Gucci Envy and Outrageous. Funnily, I always thought of Yatagan to be my favorite skanky musc, but apparently there’s no musc in there…

    • Olfactoria says:

      I must re-try Musc 25, it was horrible on me when I first tested it, I think I used an image of the Joker to illustrate my review. 😉 But now I think it can’t be that bad…
      Maybe there is musk in Yatagan and it is just not in the official notes list? Happens often.

  23. Tora says:

    I love musk perfumes in the summer. My favorite and most complimented are Kiehl’s and Bruno Acampora. I adore MKK, but I wear it mostly at home, because so many folks out there report just horrible responses to it’s smell, and I don’t want to scare anyone away. I wear it in abundance at home as a comfort scent. It smells like candy and happiness to me. I recently tried SSS Rose Musc and it is quite wonderful. I just made a list from all of the above suggestions of ones I have not tried yet. Thanks for posing such a fun question, that leads us further down the musky rabbit hole!!

  24. Musk is one of my favourite notes. I prefer clean musks, but the more experience I have with trying different fragrances the more comfortable I am becoming with the dirtier side of the note. Muscs Koublai Khan is one that I have disliked in the past, but I keep sampling it in hopes of getting more used to it.

    Among the musks that I like that others have named are: Narciso Rodriguez for him and her, Kiehl’s Musk, ck be, Musc Ravageur, SJP Lovely, Jovan Musk, Bonne Bell Skin Musk.

  25. florence raab says:

    Hello Birgit, really I’ve been hating the musk note for a long time till I meet “Musc” by Mona di Orio I love so much (almond, soft) and more weird “Geste” by Humecki and Graef which a clean musk with violet leaves and amber…… great in particular just now.

  26. patricia says:

    Oh yes love musc but don’t have a favorite yet. I am listening to all of your preferences and googling them thanks!

  27. Kafkaesque says:

    It’s interesting, until I read your question, I realised that I never think of musks as their own separate perfume group. I think I’m far too used to them being supporting players, and not the stars of the show. As for the type of musk, I can’t stand the clean, fluffy kind. The whiter it is, the more it’s like the fabric softener sheets that you toss into the dryer with clothes, and that sends me completely round the bend. (No, really, it does. Clean, fresh, cotton synthetics trigger feelings of deep hostility. LOL.) On the other hand, I have difficulty with the truly furry, dirty kind as in Musc Tonkin. (FUR, as in *actual* fur with some fat and skin and… and… *shiver*)

    So, I guess I’m still on the fence about a perfume that is solely and totally musk in nature. I liked MKK, but I think I’m still more comfortable with musk as a supporting player. I *ADORE* MFK’s Absolue Pour Le Soir which has some musk, and is of a slightly dirty nature, but there is so much else going on as else from gorgeous sandalwood to rich florals and spices that I don’t see it as a true musk fragrance. Yeah, Absolue Pour Le Soir is my perfect amount of musk, and in a perfect balance that never goes too dirty while still not being clean. Mmmm, have to get a full bottle and soon!

    • Olfactoria says:

      The musk in APLS is pretty wonderful, I agree. If it weren’t for the cumin, I’d have a bottle already for sure.

      Pure laundry musks are a horrible thing indeed and I share your feelings of hostility towards them. 🙂

  28. lila says:

    I prefer my musks clean, but I feel the same as you about MKK. It’s beautiful, but I try to be very diligent about NOT smelling dirty, so why would I pay for it? 🙂 I’ll stick with Clair de Musc for now.

    I’m sure if this has enough musk to warrant a mention, but I just sprung for a bottle of Tom Fords Violet Blond. Elegant, crisp, feminine with just a touch of a candied violet and clean musk. I was looking for a feminine lavender and the SA had me try VB which is not a lavender, but a great alternative until I find “my” lavender. Don’t you love it when the SA gets it right?! She sent me home with a sample and I had a full bottle by the end of the week.

    • Olfactoria says:

      I do love it when a SA gets it right (happens rarely enough! 😉 ) I’m glad you found such a perfect scent for you.
      As for the lavender, have you tried Vero Profumo Kiki?

      • lila says:

        I have not tried it, but just ordered a sample (edp and extrait) per your suggestion. Thanks! l like that Kiki is what I used to call my sister when I couldn’t pronounce her name, Kathryn.

        I spritzed on some Violet Blond and maybe it’s just the power of suggestion, but I do get a decent amount of musk from it. I also think SL’s Fleur d’Citronnier is more musky than floral. Maybe I’m sensitive to that particular note.

  29. Dubaiscents says:

    I used to hate musks and now I can’t get enough of them and the dirtier the better! Besides the usual suspects, I adore a lot of the Arabic musk attars such as Abdel Samad al Qurashi’s Kaaba, perfect for layering. I’m definitely getting some Kiehls Musk Oil while here in the US and I can’t wait to try the Kilian Musc Oud ( since they are still holding out on us in Dubai). I wish I could smell the NR line but I seem to be completely anostic to them :-(. Bruno’s are in my sample to try pile…this makes me want to dig them out now.

  30. BB says:

    All of my favorites have been mentioned except for CB I Hate Perfume Musk Reinvention. Complex, dirty, and animalic. The only unwearable musk for me was Untitled #8 from Luckyscent’s LE series.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Thank you, BB, I was wondering about the CB musk. It is more on the dirty side, isn’t it?

    • dkchocoman says:

      Is Untitled #8 still available from luckyscent? i found Musk Reinvention unwearable. it was very weird smellng. Well maybe I shouldnt say unwearable, but difficult to wear and understand. It literally smelled like wet cardboard and the wetness being dog or cat urine. I still have my sample vialnd I take it out every now and again to see if my feeling about it has changed.

  31. Lady Jane Grey says:

    Tara is right, I like musc, very much so. Recently I realized that it was the first note I sought after in parfumes back then, some 20 years ago – without even knowing it’s called musc…
    My favorite one is definitely Clair de Musc- because I like my musc clean and serene. I quite like Nasomatto’s Silver Musc as well.
    And then again, I can smell musc even when there is none, like Chanel’s No.18.
    Finally, there is the one, neither serene, nor clean : Roja Doves Oud Musc… I’m not sure I can resist much longer…

    • Olfactoria says:

      Well, there is a lot of ambrette seed in No18 and that is vegetal musk after all, so trust your nose.
      I’m glad to hear you are a long-standing musk lover, I will pick your brain next time I see you, I’m sure you know a few secret musks that are great!

      Oh and Roja – go for it! You’ve never regretted a Dove perfume (as far as I know!)…

  32. Eva S says:

    It’s clear I need to try more musc perfumes! Favorites are already mentioned Musc Ravageur and Mona di Orio- also I think Jul et Mad Terrasse a St Germain has quite a lot of musc?

  33. Undina says:

    When in response to your question (in e-mail header) I draw blanks I figured out the answer was clear: I don’t like musk perfumes. After reading your answer and comments from others I can say that I was right 🙂 I do like two of those that you mentioned – Musc Nomade and Calamity J – but they both are very fleeting on my skin (which isn’t something I’m used to) so I’m happy currently with the decants and not sure if I’ll ever go for a FB. Most of the other perfumes mentioned I either haven’t tried or didn’t care for.

  34. I love musk fragrances, but besides Musc Ravageur, Kiehl’s (which was one of my signatures for years), I think musk appears predominantly in the base of the perfumes that I like best. I’m surprised no one mentioned Coromandel . . .

  35. Melis says:

    Love musk perfumes. Mostly the dirties…MKK Musc Ravageur. Musc Nomade is very pretty. I also like Musk Reinvention. It has an odd oily smell at first and when it settles on my skin it is quite masculine but after an hour it is a powerful straight up musk. Would have loved to try Musc Tonquin. I also have a fondness for vintage Coty and Alyssa Ashley musks.

  36. Joe says:

    Musc Koublai Khan for me and also Roja Dove semi-bespoke 7 which is lovely if slightly disturbing with heavy musk along with civet, ambergris and castoreum. A bit of a beast!

  37. My favorite overall might be Musc Ravageur. It’s so warm and yummy. MKK and Musc Tonkin are also great, but I don’t know that I’ve ever worn either of them in public. 🙂 I know I have a sample of Musc Nomade.. I remember really liking it but I haven’t smelled it in a while. I’m also a big fan of PdN Musc Intense. I’m pretty sure I have anosmia issues with Narciso Rodriguez for her. I can smell a little musk and orange blossom, and then after about half an hour it’s gone.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Hi Jennifer,
      I’m relieved to hear you prefer the safety of your home to wear the dirtier musks as well. I’d just be too self conscious wearing them outside. 🙂
      Musc Intense was such a great find!

  38. Pingback: Monday Question – What Is Your Favorite Vanilla Perfume? | Olfactoria's Travels

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