Where it’s From
Muscone, the compound that gives musk its characteristic odor, was once extracted from the genital secretions of male musk deer found in Asia. Since these animals were declared endangered in 1979, a ban has been placed on hunting them. Now most muscone produced today is either derived from plants or made synthetically.
Where it’s Found
It’s used as the heart—or loins—in most fragrances, from Chanel No. 5 to BVLGARI Man. Its aroma can also be detected in shampoos, soaps, deodorants, detergents, and various cosmetic products.
How it Works
With its large molecular structure, musk evaporates very slowly. As such, it's used to anchor top notes and prolong a perfume’s intensity. It adds a distinctive warmth to fragrances and gives them a seductive feel.
What it’s Good For
In ancient times, musk was used as a stimulant to spur health and virility in men. While Henry III’s infatuation with the scent led him to spritz it on all his courtesans, Alexander the Great used it to command the attention of many a Macedonian babe. Today, synthetic musks are made to approximate the libidinous fragrance of natural musk. In Cartier’s Déclaration, for instance, musk blends with bergamot and Moroccan Artemisia. The combination conjures pure confidence.
Need to Know
Restraint is important when applying an especially musky scent. Don’t overdo it—simply hold the fragrance at arm’s length and spritz on pulse points. You want your scent to linger in someone’s memory, not induce olfactory post-traumatic stress disorder.
For Birchbox Man’s full list of ingredient decoders, go here.