Find Your Scent: What Does Musk Smell Like?

When you flip over a perfume bottle and read the ingredients, there’s a good chance you’ll see “musk” listed. Musk is a common base component in fragrances, and while you may think musk is a heavy or musty scent, that's not necessarily the case. 

Each perfume has different scent layers that come together to create the final product. At Snif, we know you just want to smell authentically you, and fragrance can often feel a little secretive. Since musk is a popular ingredient and can often be misunderstood, we wanted to give you the lowdown. 

Find Your Scent: What Does Musk Smell Like?

Originally, musk was more of a rich leather scent, but now musky fragrances are more subtle. They have mellow undertones, and smell clean and fresh. Musk has a three-dimensional quality that allows it to be used in various ways. 

You can find musk as the base, mid, or top layer of a scent. However, since musk doesn't fit a particular category, it's often used as a base. The scent can also amplify or diffuse certain fragrances, which is another reason it's so popular. 

You may see patchouli used in the place of musk since it has a similar quality. It has a sweet, spicy, and, of course, musky scent that helps enhance other fragrances. 

You can find patchouli in Snif's Sweet Ash fragrance, helping to create its subtly sweet, earthy, and addictive blend of moss, woods, tonka bean, and black vanilla bean.

Is Musk an Earthy Scent? 

Natural musk can take on a more woodsy, earthy scent. However, it can be better described as “your skin but better.” It can be sweet, earthy, and natural all at once. 

What Is Musk

Traditional musk is a secretion from the glands of the male musk deer. If this sounds a little icky, don't worry — this isn't where musk comes from anymore. Now, the musk you find in fragrances comes from other resources, like plants. At Snif, our musk is 100% vegan. (No animal products here!)

Many common musks are often referred to as white musk. This type of musk can smell floral, coppery, or cottony, but are three specific categories of white musks.

Aromatic Nitro Musks

These nitro musks used to be found in soaps, detergents, and lotions. However, it's no longer used today because researchers believe it can affect people's hormones.

Polycyclic Musk Compounds

This type of musk is only used by a few laundry companies now. It's a fresh scent, but the molecules it's made from don't degrade properly and aren't the most eco-friendly choice.

Macrocyclic Musk Compounds

Macrocyclic Musk is the type most used today by fragrance creators. It contains the muscone molecule, floral exaltolide, and powdery ambrettolide. All the sciency words just add up to a scent that complements plenty of fragrance blends, from our Sweet Ash blend to our Birds and the Breeze candle. 

What Makes Musk Smell So Good? 

The clean scent that musk fragrance gives off is one of the reasons people like it, as many people are naturally drawn to cleaner smells.

When you smell musk, you may even be associating it with a certain memory. It could be the way your mother smells or happier times. The reason you like musk so much could be hard to put your finger on, but you know you want to keep smelling it. (Maybe that’s why Way With Woods is our hands-down fan favorite scent.)

The other main draw of musk is its natural skin smell. The natural elements of the scent help it work with people's body chemistry. It responds to everyone's skin differently but still smells good. 

The other fragrances paired with musk are another reason you may find yourself drawn to this scent. There are so many different perfume ingredients that work with musk, from the plum and red poppy in Poppy Issues to the ink and black amber of our Prenup scented candle.

What Fragrance Should You Wear If You Love Musk

There are many fragrances you can wear if you love the scent of musk. Since it's such a versatile ingredient, you can find it in everything from floral fragrances to spice-based scents.

Way With Woods

Spritz on Snif's Way With Woods fragrance for a light, woodsy scent that's easy to wear any day or night. It features white tea, mandarin, sandalwood, amber woods, vetiver, and musk to create an earthy and slightly sweet smell. Think: inviting, subtle, and long-lasting. 


Try Snif's Suganami fragrance if you want a creamy and smooth scent. It features incense, myrrh, and amber and finishes with cypress and bright spices like angelica seed and pink pepper for a subtle powdery after-effect you will love. 

Plus, the scent will stick around since Snif's fragrances are formulated for long-lasting wear. You only need two to three spritzes a day to get a whiff, and the bottle will last up to three to four months!

All of Snif's fragrances are formulated with industry clean standards, plus they’re vegan and cruelty-free. These scents are formulated without parabens, preservatives, phthalates, or synthetic dyes, so you can feel good about trusting your own darn nose.

What Scents Layer Well With Musk

The clean scent of musk allows it to be layered with many scents. Musk blends especially well with sweet, woody, or earthy scents. Try white tea, sandalwood, amber, and mandarin if you’re creating your own layered fragrance for the day. 

When it comes to layering fragrances, consider layering scents by intensity level. The base should be the strongest perfume, followed by a scent with lighter elements. 

Try to stay within fragrance families if you're playing around with layering for the first time. There are floral, warm, sweet, and citrus scent families to consider — citrus layered with vanilla and musk blends particularly well. 

Our Natural Talent and Show Pony fragrances are two that may layer nicely with your favorite musk-based scent. Snif's Natural Talent is a smooth scent that's leathery and juicy, featuring apricot, clementine, and iris blended with suede and cashmere wood for a rich finish. Meanwhile, Show Pony features black tea, saffron, vetiver, sandalwood, bergamot, black pepper, and golden plum to create a warm and mysterious fragrance that’s always ready to hold court. 

You may have to play around with layering a few different fragrances before you find the perfect combination for you, but the payoff is worth it! 

Simple, Straightforward Scents

There are endless scent possibilities when it comes to musk. The versatility of this ingredient makes it ideal for layering and combining with many of your favorite fragrances. Snif offers perfumes featuring musk that smell incredible and will be your new go-to scent!


The 'musk' smell of cologne used to come from a pretty bizarre, unexpected place | Insider

MUSK: Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, Dosing, and Reviews | Web MD

Patchouli Oil: Uses, Benefits, and Side Effects | Healthline

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