Perfume Reviews

Neutral Reviews of Jovan Musk for Men by Jovan

Total Reviews: 12
J˘van Musk has one of the most interesting and unlikely of stories one will find in the perfume world. Love it or hate it, the stuff came to define what "musky" was for many people throughout the 70's and 80's. First and foremost, Barry Shipp was not a perfumer or even a colognoisseur himself. He wasn't from France or the UK, didn't study under anyone, and was just a simple entrepreneur when he literally stumbled upon the idea to make J˘van Musk. According to Shipp himself, the idea came about during a business trip to New York. He observed some hippies in a head shop buying musk oil along with their paraphernalia, and when asked why musk, answered with praise for musk's aphrodisiac qualities and ability to mask odors (like pot smoke). Shipp then got the idea to make a mainstream musk with the chemical "white musk" substitute for the pricey natural oils and similarly market it for it's supposed virility-granting properties. Even the blurb on the "talking" box (as Shipp called it) would speak of the wonderous J˘van Musk could deliver for it's wearer, plus with it being given away free at rock concerts and other places youth would gather, this almost guaranteed it's success.
The best part here is J˘van Musk, like all future fragrances made under the brand up until the 80's were created by Shipp's friend Murray Moscona, who was a chemist and inventor who worked mostly with commercial flavorings and not even perfume. He goes uncredited for later things like J˘van Grass Oil (1974) and J˘van Sex Appeal (1976), but all of J˘van's early snake oils were made by a guy more likely to make the flavor of your favorite candy than your signature scent.

The original J˘van Musk Oil released in 1972, but due to American mainstream perceptions of there needing to be a gender divide in fragrance, his and hers eau de colognes and eau de toilettes launched the following year, and were just lighter and darker shades of the original oil to be honest. J˘van Musk for Men is a rather simple affair, combining a laundry-like soapy opening with a few barbershop nods before digging deep into a synthetic white musk base that simulates the sweaty raunch (poorly) of real animal musk with a few flanking base notes. Lime, lemon, peppercorn and carnation create the opening salvo, with an almost amateur straitforwardness that reminds you this was composed by a flavor chemist. The middle of lavender and mint feels almost like an "arbitrary" barbershop vibe tossed into the men's version (absent in the women's take), because that's what would get John Q. Public in 73' to wear it. The synthetic white musk molecule is rather quite heavy as to be expected in a fragrance labeled as a musk, but unlike the competing Alyssa Ashley Musk (1969) or Monsieur Houbigant (1973), J˘van doesn't keep it safe and tosses in some faux ambergris, a peck of cumin, and sandalwood to keep it in that "head shop musk" vein that was the intial inspiration for Shipp. It's not going to compare to anything like Kiehl's Original Musk (1963) or anything a modern niche house would make, so don't expect the fat of the animal you slaughtered to be in this, but it is a nice entry point regardless of gender for a person wanting a musk that is a tiny bit provocative but still relatively safe. This men's version of J˘van Musk does have that clumsy barbershop intro, but it's certainly no worse for the price than anything found in a drugstore also from this era, just with an enhanced bottom end.

The big problem with J˘van Musk for Men in the 21st century is it's former ubiquity in the 20th. This stuff was so cheap, so readily available, it became a dating lure for every sleezeball and alcoholic from coast to coast, since it was actually advertised as such with blurbs like "Made in Chicago so you can get made anywhere". None of this helps it's image for potential new customers since everyone is just going to automatically think of horny, desperate guys in flower print shirts driving 70's land boats down the boulevard looking for action, which was the money maker then, but worthy only of cringe nowadays. J˘van themselves have tried multiple times to address this issue and shake that reputation with new musk flankers every decade or so, with varying degrees of success, but the original is still the best for most folks (but not me). Coty, Revlon, Avon, Shulton, MEM, and everyone in this segment made a standalone musk or musk flanker to their popular lines in response to this, so it must have been a real game-changer. I personally find J˘van Musk for Men hard to wear due to it's barbershop-meets-bordello vibe, even if I put up a mental block to all it's accumulated stigma over the years, and much prefer J˘van White Musk for Men (1992), which is far more balanced and versatile. This old war dog is still made so there must be plenty of brave folks out there sauntering into the night doused in this stuff, ready to practice their one-liners on a fellow barfly that's had one Long Island Iced Tea too many, I'm just not one of them.
14th April, 2018
Jovan Musk is a dignified fresh aromatic musk with a bunch of diverse floral vegetal nuances and a general widespread musky-balmy soapiness. Lemon, lavender and carnation provide by soon a really classic fougere aromatic vibe, spices and probably ylang-ylang imprint a really pleasant exotic twist while woods flank the main note (musk) in order to provide more structure and a typically woody undertone. Unfortunately the aroma smells a bit too much synthetic on my skin along the dry down. Jovan Musk smells anyway fresh, musky and spicy and could be a classic alternative for all the musk addicted which prefer lighter airy white musks over the dark animalic ones and are on a little budget.
23rd September, 2014 (last edited: 27th February, 2015)
There is no doubt that this was king back in it's day but for now I just could not pull this off. When I tested this It felt like I was rolling around in a pit of mothballs and flowers. I dare not speak anything againstit though because 1. It's still on the shelves 2. Longevity is Amazing 3. It projects like a beast 4. It's a classic. What's more to say?
10th March, 2013
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I would describe the smell as dirty soap. It doesn't smell bad, but it doesn't project very well and it's doesn't smell good enough to be worth wearing.
26th August, 2012
man114 Show all reviews
United States
It smells like soap.

I put it on this afternoon for the heck of it havning never tried to wear it but having picked up a gift set for a few bucks.

It smells exactly like bar soap. I noticed very little progression throughout wearing it. Only it was much more astringent when you first put it on. The progression would be akin to putting the bar of soap up to your nose than slowly moving it away.

At the end of the road (I must note I've had other cheapy cologne last much longer), it smells somewhat softer.

I wouldn't call it good but its not bad. Having worn their more modern (and discontinued) Hot Bod Musk a few times lately, I think the softer Hot Bod Musk is more enjoyable, complex and smoother.
27th January, 2011
An easy to access time capsule that has the added bonus of actually being quite wearable. The musk and amber presence are pretty restrained, and beyond the lightly citric opening it, this barely evolves,and remains pretty close to the skin. I don't see this being more than a seventies curio, and I remain doubtful that this would be one to reach for on a regular basis.
05th August, 2009
dreese Show all reviews
United States
A strange mixture of gruff, antiseptic tones along with the softer lavender and carnation. Wore this alone for about a year and have not gone back since. Likable one minute and slightly nauseating the next.
03rd June, 2009
I sprayed it on and my initial impression was ôOuch!ö. The top verged on being harsh and it was very loud as citrus and spice seared their way into my consciousness. I was beginning to think my 14-year old self had a much stronger constitution than my current incarnation. Then just like that too loud person you meet at your high school reunion who first bowls you over with too much information but then eventually lapses back into the personality you remember you liked; so too does Jovan Musk for Men. Once the top burns off, fairly quickly, there is a straight-forward lavender and woods before the musk makes its appearance in the base. As this dries down the musk takes a solo turn on my skin and really smells very nice. The longevity is not so great but for something that is less than $10 a bottle I think it is certainly adequate.
28th February, 2009
Jovan Musk is okay, I guess...

I have always enjoyed wearing fragrances - even when I was about eight years old, and even before that, I remember asking my Dad before he went to work "can I PLEASE use some Lagerfeld?", " can I use some Fahrenheit?", "can I use some Eau Sauvage?" or, believe it or not "can I use some Aramis?"...Yes, I know, for an eight year old, that was a bit excesive.

A short while after, I went through a 'dry' period where I didn't bother with cologne for about three or four years. But then, when I was turning twelve, My mum asked "Is there anything special you have in mind for a present, honey?" And I said "Can I have some cologne?" At which mum said "okay, we'll see."

About two days later, I went to do the groceries withmy mum at the Shopping Crntre, where we visited the perfumery. My mum said "just wait out here, I'm just going to duck in for a sec..." I knew what she was up to, and I over-heard her ask the sales assistant if they had anything that would suit a 12 year old boy.

Lo and behold, on my birthday a week later, I recieved a Jovan Musk gift set, with cologne spray, deoderant stick and body spray, along with three Nintendo 64 games (keep in mind, this is eight years ago). I wore it every day until I ran out five months later. I haven't worn it since, but I remember very well it's soapy-flowery-citrusiness, nestled on a light-but-loud muskiness...The smell itself was 'faltering-' or 'uneasy-' smelling, but pleasant enough, and easily adaptable to a very diverse age range...the one thing, other than the fact that I remember the fragrance itself was 'stable', if that's how it can be put, neither on clothing, nor skin, that I didn't like, was a weak, but persistent "sweaty", but never body-odour-like presence.

This aside, and despite it's 'generic' smell and sillage, it was a nice enough fragrance, and nowadays, esily affordable. But I'm not sure I'd ever go back to it, though...My nose has become a lot more sophisticated...Even if there is that semintimental/nostalgic connection, with Jovan Musk being my first fragrance that I OWNED...
23rd March, 2007
RobX Show all reviews
United Kingdom
Lovely top note - S O A P Y

The spearmint makes it

A very musky base note for me though

It's quite nice
30th August, 2006
Well, I think the top notes are terrible and really reminded me of vintage hairsprays... They're strange and result in a weird floral accord. If you can pass these notes, you will find a fragrance similar to Monsieur Musk: a spicy powdery musky scent without a hint of sweetness. At this point It's nice, although I can't deny the smell is a bit old fashioned.
19th August, 2006
The first time I smelled Jovan Musk I thought it was great. That was back in the Disco '70s when I was young and didn't know beans. (I now know some beans). I think young guys (and some women) would just love this; but it is nothing I would wear these days unless I want to make my friends wonder what the hell happened to me.
10th March, 2006