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Thread: Civet vs. Musk

  1. #1
    M.deCaillavet
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    Default Civet vs. Musk

    They're the two most common (if not the only) ingredients derived from animals, not counting the whale barf that is ambergris.
    What's the difference between the two?

  2. #2
    dpak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civet vs. Musk

    Civet is musk that comes from the animal called a civet (or civet cat). Musk originally (?) came from musk deer. I think musk can come from other animals as well.
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    Default Re: Civet vs. Musk

    dpak beat me to it

  4. #4
    VM I hate civet's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civet vs. Musk

    This is interesting - I have a problem with perfumes containing the smallest trace of civet as my nose seems to pick out that note like a heat seeking missile, and I really don't like it. I have heard the term: "selective musk anosmia" - does this mean that some people may not in fact be smelling the civet in the first place ie it is not necessarily (as I had assumed) that everyone can smell it, and some people just happen to like the stuff?

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    dpak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civet vs. Musk

    Quote Originally Posted by VM I hate civet View Post
    This is interesting - I have a problem with perfumes containing the smallest trace of civet as my nose seems to pick out that note like a heat seeking missile, and I really don't like it. I have heard the term: "selective musk anosmia" - does this mean that some people may not in fact be smelling the civet in the first place ie it is not necessarily (as I had assumed) that everyone can smell it, and some people just happen to like the stuff?
    There is an artificial musk that some people (half, I think) can't smell, but that seems different from your experience with civet. I have something similar with violet - it overpowers everything else, so scents like Touch and Grey Flannel just smell like sharp violet and nothing else.
    Marge: Do you want your son to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or a sleazy male stripper?
    Homer: Can't he be both, like the late Earl Warren?



  6. #6

    Default Re: Civet vs. Musk

    VM, I'm also very sensitive to civet but I find the real stuff beautiful. You can still smell it in vintage perfumes such as Jicky, l'Heure Bleue, etc. Il has an animalic smell mixed to blossom notes, It's a fantastic thing.

    The synthetic material used now to reproduce civet (and I don't know it's name) is very strong and quite present in Muscs Koublaï Khan and in Kieh'ls musc. The notes are like bleach, amoniac and/or urine and certainly overhemling (to my point of view).

    Synthetic musks are all different and sometimes with clean notes. There are several of them in washing powder and in perfumes.

    Here are some examples : Mûre et Musc (L'Artisan Parfumeur), White Musc (The Body Shop), Musk (Alyssa Ashley), Musc Blanc (Lothantique), Musc (Les Bains du Marais), Cotton Musc (Ulrick de Varens), Clair de Musc (Serge Lutens), Musc de Samarkand (Les Néréïdes), Cristal de Musc (Comptoir Sud Pacifique), Petite Chérie (Annick Goutal), Ultimate (Clean), Musc Ravageur (Editions Frédéric Malle), etc.

    All these fragrances contain musks but different musks. This is why finding the right musk is so complex.
    L'amour fait songer, vivre et croire. Il a, pour réchauffer le coeur, un rayon de plus que la gloire; et ce rayon, c'est le bonheur. (Victor HUGO)

  7. #7

    Default Re: Civet vs. Musk

    This thread should even go into the "DIY section" where some basenoters might give us the names of the ingredients used.
    L'amour fait songer, vivre et croire. Il a, pour réchauffer le coeur, un rayon de plus que la gloire; et ce rayon, c'est le bonheur. (Victor HUGO)

  8. #8
    VM I hate civet's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civet vs. Musk

    Thanks for those helpful comments on civet and different sorts of musks. I am not sure I have ever smelt a vintage perfume - the Jicky sample I got this year from a decant site would be a modern formulation, right? That was too "urinous civetty" for me I am afraid, so I am assuming it was synthetic. Other perfumes where I really struggle include Schiaparelli Schocking, Mona di Orio's Nuit Noire, 24 Faubourg, Miss Dior (though I see no civet listed), Miller Harris L'Air de Rien, Annick Goutal Ce Soir ou Jamais, Van Cleef & Arpels First, SL Sa Majeste en Rose, Paloma Picasso, Ysatis and Lancome Magie Noire. There have been numerous others, but these are the ones I can recall off the top of my head.

    I am fine with most musks as far as I know - it's that "dirty" quality in what I now know to be synthetic civet that really troubles me. I don't go a bundle on indoles either, as a matter of fact, but "VM I hate civet and indoles" wasn't so snappy.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Civet vs. Musk

    What do you smell exactly ? Can you describe the common point ?
    L'amour fait songer, vivre et croire. Il a, pour réchauffer le coeur, un rayon de plus que la gloire; et ce rayon, c'est le bonheur. (Victor HUGO)

  10. #10
    VM I hate civet's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civet vs. Musk

    Oh, that is a challenge, and I am not sure I have the vocabulary other than to say that the same smell is present in all those perfumes I have named. I believe I am able to distinguish between the unpleasant fecal odour of indoles and the smell of civet. Miss Dior (to my nose) appears to have both, and it is an evil brew! I guess I could best sum civet up as male tom cat spray - that is the closest analogy. I can tolerate a little bit - eg at the end of L'Arte di Gucci, which I love so much it is like a spouse with an annoying habit that you can work around owing to their other good qualities. Those perfumes I named don't have enough good things going for them imho for me to forgive their sinister civet underbelly...

    Okay, maybe I could forgive Sa Majeste en Rose - that is pretty great till the far drydown! And I wore Magie Noire in the 80's - how come I didn't notice the civet and upset myself back then? It is puzzle to me...
    Last edited by VM I hate civet; 7th September 2008 at 04:30 PM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Civet vs. Musk

    Hey all- interesting dicussion...

    Night- Synthetic Civet is known as "Civetone"

    VM- I suspect the Magie Noire that you wore in the 80's had the real civet in it, not the synthetic that is found now. From what I've read, Civet was a natural ingredient until fairly recently (SARS was carried by Civet cats). Perhaps the lab made product doesn't agree with you.
    - A spritz of Caron may be quite continental, but (a flacon of) Guerlain is a perfumisto's best friend...

  12. #12
    VM I hate civet's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civet vs. Musk

    Oh wow, how interesting - I thought maybe you had to go back to the 50's or earlier to find real civet, but my differing responses to Magie Noire in the 80's vs now might well be evidence of Night's point about the non-palatability of synthetic civet. Gosh, this forum is instructional! I wore Ysatis quite happily around the same time and can't stomach it today for the same reason. I get a weird sort of "sparking civet" vibe with that one. And as you can see from my name, I find the ins and outs of civet fascinating - or dare I say "riveting"?!

    PS Just spotted where you are - I have been to Edmonton and love the place. I have a picture of the Hotel McDonald right behind me on my pinboard, and a pottery mug I bought in your "largest-mall-in-the-world".
    Last edited by VM I hate civet; 7th September 2008 at 09:25 PM.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Civet vs. Musk

    VM, if you can, just pop into a Penhaligon's boutique and have some Victorian Posy sprayed onto your wrist. You might find part of the answer in it.
    L'amour fait songer, vivre et croire. Il a, pour réchauffer le coeur, un rayon de plus que la gloire; et ce rayon, c'est le bonheur. (Victor HUGO)

  14. #14
    VM I hate civet's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civet vs. Musk

    Hey thanks for that tip off - you've got me majorly intrigued now! I will be down in London in the next month (to catch the latest Jo Malone launch amongst other things!), so I will check that one out...

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Civet vs. Musk

    I haven't been able to dig as deeply on this as I would like, because I can't use the work system for playtime research. However, I would say that VM may be a member of people who are called "MSHM1" by the researchers in this paper. The acronym stands for "multiple specific hyperosmias to musks - type 1" - and means otherwise
    musk-insensitive individuals who are exceptionally sensitive to these two musks - cyclopentadecanone and musk xylol. Well, she could be MSHM2 - people who are hypersensitive to two other musks. But my guess is the first, because cyclopentadecanone (aka Exaltone and Normuscone) is a component of natural civet, albeit a lesser one than civetone (at least, to normal noses), but now a common synthetic macrocyclic musk.

    I think the main message is that there appears to be evidence that certain people are hypersensitive to certain musks, as well as larger groups of people who are either generally sensitive or generally insensitive to musks. I'm probably in the latter camp. I could spray Kouros up both nostrils and my reaction would be "Oooooo. So fresh and creamy! I love it!" The level of civet in Kouros barely registers, and is wrapped up on so many other nice odors that I find the whole thing joyful. But I did just sniff some pure synthetic civet from my notes project, and it's a bit weird when I smell the pure mixture straight off the test paper with my nose really close. I guess that must be what even a little smells like to MSHM types. I agree that wouldn't be fun. As for my other musks - mostly I get nothing straight off the bottle, or a little freshness. Synthetic castoreum does smell really nice to me. No wonder musks never really bothered me.

    Feel free to ask me questions when you read the linked paper, if you find something hard to understand.
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  16. #16

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    Default Re: Civet vs. Musk

    Quote Originally Posted by dpak View Post
    Civet is musk that comes from the animal called a civet (or civet cat). Musk originally (?) came from musk deer. I think musk can come from other animals as well.
    More on civet
    Turin quote (today, here)
    Last edited by narcus; 8th September 2008 at 09:13 AM.
    'Il mondo dei profumi è un universo senza limiti: una fraganza puo rievocare sensazioni, luoghi, persone o ancora condurre in uno spazio di nuove dimensioni emozionali' L. V.

  17. #17
    VM I hate civet's Avatar
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    Default Re: Civet vs. Musk

    Thanks, Red, for that very interesting paper - some of it was a little technical for me, but I got the basic principle of the experiment and understand that I am most likely to fall in the selectively hyperosmic category MSHM1, which is more civetty in character! It came as something of a relief to realise that my "type" is scientifically documented - if relatively rare in the general population - and that I am not just a curmudgeon, thinking all these classic perfumes smell gross!

    Thanks to Narcus too for the link to the Fougere Royal review, which I had read, but forgotten. It has struck me before that some of the things LT rates very highly are what I would class as "weird s***", most notably to my nose S100%Love, and this may lend weight to my view! : - )

    As I mentioned, I have the same issue with indoles and my absolute nemesis perfumes to date have been ones featuring indoles and/or civet eg DelRae Amoureuse, Mona di Orio Nuit Noire and Caron Narcisse Noire (actually I don't know what it is about the Caron one that makes me gag - from memory I think it was more of a molten industrial plasticky thing), . Amarige was pretty nauseous in fact for the same reason.

    So my other selective hyperosmias may concern "hardcore indoles" and a "molten industrial plastic" note. There are possibly two other identifiable hate notes, namely "chocolate mixed with Hoover dust" and a "cumin-heliotrope"? or "mothball accord". I got the former with Aftelier's Pink Lotus and S100%Love and the latter with Lalique Le Parfum, MDCI's L'Enlevement au Serail and Aftelier's Parfum Maroc . I completely accept that there may be no scientific basis whatsoever to these more esoteric aversions...

  18. #18

    Default Re: Civet vs. Musk

    There is virtually no use of deer musk in fragrances. So to ask about civet vs. musk you must be asking about civet (real or a simulant) vs pure musk chemicals.

    There is really no similarity. While it is true that civet contains a macrocyclic musk the stench of skatole and lower fatty acids are so predominate in civet that the delicate smell of the macrocyclic musk is not noticeable.
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