Ask anyone who knows me, and I’m sure they will all agree that I am what many would consider to be an oversharer. Whether it be information, feelings or material goods, I firmly believe in the old saying, What’s mine is yours. And while this mentality certainly has its pros and cons, it is a personality trait so deeply ingrained in my psyche that I apply it to every aspect of my life, except for one particular topic: I do not share when it comes to fragrance.
And I’m not just talking about letting people have a spritz of my perfume. (Although, that is also firmly off the table.) I’m talking about sharing anything to do with it whatsoever. When asked what perfume I am wearing, I try to lie whenever I can. When someone asks me for perfume recommendations, I almost always recommend a perfume that I don’t wear myself. The reason for such pettiness, you ask? I want to keep special perfumes all to myself.
I know what you must be thinking: Isn’t it your job as a beauty editor to share perfume insights and recommendations? Yes, it is, but there’s something a whole lot easier about sharing such things with people I don't know on a personal level. My biggest fragrance fear, after all, is turning up to an event wearing the same perfume as somebody I know.
This complex that I have with fragrance is a real nuisance, especially considering that my favourite group of perfumes tends to be the one that people copy the most. There's something about the subtle and comforting nature of musk fragrances that draws people in like magnets. So much so, in fact, that whenever I wear one of my favourite musk scents, I can basically guarantee that someone will copy it.
This is very annoying for me. You see, musk fragrances are by far my most-worn thanks to their clean, subtle, fresh, warm and skin-like nature. In my opinion, it’s impossible not to love a great musk fragrance. They’re so likeable that I ran out of lies long ago for when someone asks after my musk perfume. Now, through gritted teeth, I simply have to tell them the truth. And that truth is I’m likely wearing one of the below perfumes.
So before I change my mind on this, keep scrolling to shop the 17 best and most desirable musk fragrances that money can buy.
1. Chanel 1957 Les Exclusifs de Chanel Eau de Parfum
Key notes: white musk accord, bergamot, iris, neroli, cedar
I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I was only introduced to this perfume recently, and ever since smelling it, I've been tempted to take it off this list. It's just too good. It's the kind of scent that oozes wealth and charm in an effortless sort of way. It doesn't try too hard; it just drifts nonchalantly from skin to nose before taking over every fibre of your being. It's so exquisite, in fact, that I beg you not to buy it.
2. Altra Skin Eau de Parfum
Key notes: musk (and more)
The contents of this rather beautiful bottle are top-secret. We know for certain that musk is the power note, but as for the rest, they remain elusive. Summed up perfectly by its name, Skin smells just as you would expect—like freshly showered, clean skin. The most fascinating thing about this fragrance is that it doesn't smell like perfume at all. It's so subtle that it merges with your being in a way that has people complimenting your natural scent, not your fragrance choice.
3. Byredo Blanche Eau de Parfum
Key notes: musks, sandalwood, peony, violet, aldehyde, rose centifolia
My first-ever introduction to Byredo Blanche was via a hand cream. I like my lotions and creams to be fresh-smelling and mind-soothing without causing offence to the person sat next to me if I were to use it on the tube. Blanche's cosy, sweet and clean scent felt like the perfect fit. It was shortly after the fifth stranger asked after my hand cream on a train that I figured it was about time I added the EDP to my collection too. I like to think of this stuff as the fragrance equivalent of a cashmere jumper.
4. The Body Shop White Musk Eau de Parfum
Key notes: aldehydes, jasmine, cruelty-free musk
The Body Shop White Musk is what we in beauty like to call a Golden Oldie. I wore White Musk every single day of my pre-teen years, and I still love it every bit as much now as I did then. It's inexplicably fresh, uplifting, empowering and iconic at all once.
5. Maison Margiela Lazy Sunday Morning Eau de Toilette
Key notes: pear accord, ambrette seeds, iris accord, rose petals, orange flower, white wood, musk
Looking at the list of notes in this fragrance, you'd be forgiven for thinking it would be sweet and floral. In actuality, Lazy Sunday Morning smells more like a state of mind than it does anything else. It smells like waking up at sunrise on a Sunday with crisp, freshly washed sheets touching your skin and the smell of the fresh spring air pouring in through the window. It's cool, laid-back and totally effortless. I like to think of this as the perfect perfume partner for jeans and a white shirt.
6. Loewe Paula's Ibiza Eclectic Eau de Toilette
Key notes: orange flower absolute, jasmine sambac, Madagascan mandarin, black pepper, frankincense, coconut, vanilla, ylang-ylang, sandalwood, musk
I'll admit I was sold on this perfume by the bottle alone, but the fact that it smells the way that it does is what makes me reach for it every time the sun is shining. It's warm, sunny and hedonistic in the best of ways. A little bit fruity and a whole lot creamy and musky, it's the kind of perfume that has me dreaming of lounging on the beach in a far-flung destination.
7. Glossier You Eau de Parfum
Key notes: pink pepper, musk, iris root, ambrette, ambrox
Disliking Glossier You is simply not an option. In fact, someone recently told me that they don't like it, and when I wore it around them the following week, they couldn't stop complimenting me on it. It is, if you ask me, one of the most distinctive perfumes out there for all of the right reasons. Creamy, zingy and full of heart, You will remain on my perfume shelf for as long as Glossier continues to make it.
8. Aerin Amber Musk Eau de Parfum
Key notes: ambrox, coconut water, rose centifolia, muguet, benzoin, sandalwood, musk
What's funny about my inclusion of Amber Musk on this list is that out of all of the Aerin perfumes I love (it is definitely my favourite perfume brand out there), Amber Musk doesn't sit in the top five. However, that's not to say it isn't one of the most beautiful perfumes I've ever smelled. It's so beautiful, in fact, that the last couple of times I have worn it, someone has bought a bottle right there in front of me. It's warmer and headier than other perfumes on this list, but it has a rich sense of comfort that goes totally unrivalled.
9. Diptyque Do Son Eau de Parfum
Key notes: tuberose, orange blossom, jasmine, musk
Forget everything you think you know of musky perfumes. This stuff is fresh. It is water-like and floral in a way that is reminiscent of an exotic sea breeze. This fragrance is the kind you reach for when you want to start the day with a totally clear head. It's strong but not in an imposing or offensive way. Rather, it remains on the skin all day, radiating freshness.
10. Juliette Has a Gun Musc Invisible Eau de Parfum
Key notes: jasmine absolute, cotton flower, white musk
I like to say that this perfume is the grown-up older sister of The Body Shop White Musk. It has the same musky, clean scent just with an extra serving of class and sophistication. I have worn this perfume for over three years, and I have entirely lost count of the number of people who have asked after it.
11. Creed Wind Flowers Eau de Parfum
Key notes: Tunisian orange blossom, peach, jasmine, tuberose petals, rose extract, sandalwood, iris, musk
At first, this delicate perfume seems like a floral fragrance through and through—it has all of the powdery calmness of a fresh floral. But after a little while, you'll spot something a little different about it. It has a long-lasting creaminess that other florals just don't have. It lingers on the skin in a way that feels as though it's meant to be there. I truly can't get enough.
12. Jo Malone London Moonlit Camomile Cologne
Key notes: moonflower, camomile, white musk
Jo Malone London has had a lot of launches as of late, which is why I think this one slipped past my radar. Launching as part of The Night Collection (which includes an array of products designed to be housed in the bedroom), this cologne is absolutely divine. In fact, I'll go as far to say it is my favourite Jo Malone London launch of the past year. Much like the sleep-inducing aromas you might expect to smell in a pillow spray (but a whole load more wearable), everything about it is totally intoxicating. It's light, soft and impossibly comforting.
13. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Gentle Fluidity Gold Eau de Parfum
Key notes: juniper berries, nutmeg, coriander, musks, ambery woods, vanilla
If I were to create my own musk fragrance for evening wear, I would concoct something not too dissimilar to this. Thanks to vanilla and nutmeg, it's sweet and creamy, while coriander and musk give it a rich depth that oozes luxury and expense. Whenever I swear Gentle Fluidity Gold, I feel like a million dollars.
14. Narciso Rodriguez Musc Noir Rose Eau de Parfum
Key notes: tuberose, Italian bergamot, pink peppercorn, musk, plum, vanilla,
I am a total sucker for Narciso Rodriguez perfumes, but on first sniff of this stuff, I decided it wasn't for me. It's almost offensively floral and has a strong depth to it that leaves a trail behind you as you walk. But then I found myself complimenting a fellow beauty editor's perfume one night at dinner, and she told me it was Musc Noir Rose. As soon as I got home, I pulled it out of my perfume stash and gave it another go. Since then, it's become my go-to for evening soirées, and everyone I walk past has something to say about it.
15. Yves Saint Laurent Libre Eau de Parfum
Key notes: tangerine, neroli, lavender, orange blossom, jasmine sambac, white musks, vanilla extract
If you are yet to smell YSL's Libre, I urge you to stop what you're doing and head down to your nearest counter. Not only is the bottle a work of art, but the perfume itself is equally stunning. With citrusy neroli and orange blossom, it's fresh and light on the nose, but lavender, jasmine and musk give it a depth that makes it a real head-turner.
16. Commodity Milk
Key notes: marshmallow, mahogany, tonka bean, milk
Sweet, soft, and sensual, this subtle fragrance is everything that a musk-based perfume should be. What's more, this is perfect for layering with and enhancing other fragrances—it works particularly well with light florals that lack depth.
17. Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur
This story was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.