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  1. #1
    Frip's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009

    Default Descriptions: Oakmoss / Medicinal / Musk


    How many people have actually smelled oakmoss on an oak tree? Not me. I used to live in the woods as a kid, but now I live on a Los Angeles freeway. I have no idea what wood, forests, or oakmoss smell like. Any ideas for how I can smell what oakmoss smells like?


    There are many many medicines out there with different odors. When a reviewer says a fragrance smells medicinal, what kind of medicine is he/she most likely referring too? I assume, cough syrup?


    I don't hang out with deers, so again I'm at a loss. Any help?

    I don't think fragrance aficionados realize how unfamiliar city people can be with natural or animalic scents.

  2. #2
    PaulSC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    SF Bay Area

    Default Re: Descriptions: Oakmoss / Medicinal / Musk

    Even a forest-dweller is unlikely to experience deer musk in its natural context.

    Medicinal refers to a variety of different effects. Benzoin is used in both medicine and perfumery; it smells like a "sharper" version of vanilla. Sometimes the description is attached to camphoraceous notes (clove, eucalyptus, menthol). Hmm, probably more. I don't think "city people" are at any disadvantage here.

    You can get a small quantity of synthetic oakmoss quite cheaply from suppliers such as The Perfumer's Apprentice ( I guess small quantitites of the real thing are still used in perfumes (and certainly it is found in older formulations), but the synthetic should be a good reference point.

    In general, you'll acquire a good sense of the major perfume notes by noticing what different fragrances have in common. Smell several scents with prominent musky bases* (best: spray them on paper strips and smell the strips several hours later) and you'll get to know musk. (It's a bit more complicated, however: most musks are synthetic these days, and they have a variety of effects, from light and powdery to strong and stinky!)

    *try a sample of muscs koublai kahn, kiehl's original musk, jovan musk
    Last edited by PaulSC; 4th September 2009 at 01:08 AM.
    Spray it, don’t say it…

  3. #3
    bokaba's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Redlands, CA

    Default Re: Descriptions: Oakmoss / Medicinal / Musk

    In perfume, certain things may not smell as they do in natural, especially if they are synthetic. Oakmoss is (or was) used as fixative to keep the scent on your skin; it smells largely powdery. Musk has been used for the same purpose although it smells more like a sweet dirt. And medicinal generally refers to a menthol or camphor note that reminds one of some antiquated cough syrup or tonic.

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