Musk fragrances haven’t been this popular since the 70s

Musk hasn’t been as popular since your grandmother wore Jōvan in the 70s. Searches for musky scents have increased 109 percent at the end of last year. The latest releases, however, are a new breed.

The scent of synthetic musk molecules has a skin-like quality that has been in the background of big perfumes as a base note for the past 50 years, but now niche brands are making it their own. stuff with scents that smell of musk – period. Top notes, like Givaudan’s Moxolane, mean fragrances can smell musky as soon as you spray them, says Sonia Constant, senior perfumer at Givaudan. No need to wait for drying.

If an immediate burst of musk sounds a bit intimidating, don’t worry: these aren’t the heavy, musky musks of the past. “We are able to isolate and purify the isomers of the molecules to achieve much cleaner, modern and lively versions of musk,” says David Moltz, perfumer and co-founder of DS & Durga, whose untitled peach musk is in preparation for.

Musk is “fresh, but also very cocooning,” says Yves Cassar, senior vice president perfumer at International Flavors & Fragrances, Inc. (IFF), which created Henry Rose’s new musky fragrance, Sheep’s Clothing. Cassar paired musk with rose for an effect he says is “transparent and blooms around the wearer with more diffusion.”

Some of the most popular new musks – Le Labo Another 13, DS & Durga Crystal Pistil, Diptyque Fleur de Peau and Ellis Brooklyn Myth – are blends that “mimic the skin just out of the water, the skin of your well-being.” loved, even sweet. , sexy skin,” says Moltz. “We’re in a time where we like amorphous, ethereal things.”

Musks have long been used in perfumes and colognes because they are genderless “cuddly toys” (perfumer-speak for something you only smell up close). “Fragrance trends often reflect what’s happening in the fashion world and right now we’re seeing ’90s androgyny and minimalism revisited,” says Mackenzie Reilly, perfumer at IFF, whose musky mask Milano Lost Alice was launched last year.

This mirror has made these kinds of fresh, sexy scents a favorite on Instagram and TikTok, says Bee Shapiro, founder of Ellis Brooklyn. “No one knew what musks were five years ago, but they’re being discussed so much on social media that that’s changed.”

Our attraction, however, goes far beyond double taps and trends. It comes down to a subconscious level, posits Cecile Hua, perfumer at Mane, who created the Philosophy Amazing Grace fragrance, a 26-year-old musk that has recently enjoyed a surge in popularity on the NDP Group’s bestseller list.

“Musk makes you think of clean laundry, clean sheets, clean skin, and let’s face it, clean means safety and comfort right now,” Hua says. These are deeply rooted and deeply calming associations. They can make walking in a mist of perfume feel like snuggling up in your childhood bed. According to Cassar, “the world can feel heavy and intense right now, [and] the musks are comforting.”

Ahead are seven comforting musky scents you’ll want to add to your fragrance collection.

A version of this story originally appeared in the May 2022 issue of Allure. Find out how to subscribe here.

Sarah C. Figueiredo