Show me some Skin! (scents)

I had planned to do a side-by-side comparison with a couple iris’ today, but, like Tucan Sam, I decided to “Follow my Nose!” I woke up this morning with a hankering for a good skin-scent, which caused me to wonder— what makes a good “Skin” scent? The Your-Skin-But-Better Accord is what I’m talking about here, not a minimal sillage scent, or the wan, thin, offerings aptly labeled iFrags by Denyse at Grain de musc.

I think that Robin, from Now Smell This, said it well:

But to me, a skin scent is something that seems to meld with your skin, e.g. what you might think of as “your smell but better”, as opposed to something that stands out as perfume.

The Perfumed Court offers a “Musk – Luxury Skin Scent Sampler” (and several other collections meant to introduce the idea of the Skin Scents)*, though I’ve tried few, if any, of the ones they’ve listed. For me, not being a musk lover, a skin-scent is something lightly ambery, with salty or leathery tones.

Today I’m wearing one of my favorite skin-scents: Juliette has a Gun Calamity J.

What are your favorite skin-scents?

*I am not affiliated with or compensated by The Perfumed Court.

30 thoughts on “Show me some Skin! (scents)

          1. it is an experiment. not even sure if it is good.

            1lb lean ground beef, 1/2lb ground chicken, 1/2lb bacon (cooked soft and chopped)
            , 1/3rd of a chopped red onion, cumin, chili powder, paprika, rosemary, fresh ground black pepper, celtic sea salt, one egg. glaze; honey, cinnamon and lil’ worcestershire

  1. That’s a good distinction you make between skin scents and low sillage scents. My deeply loved Granville (Dior) is a ‘background hum scent’ to me. (I’m a Granville bore, I know, just shoot me. Hey! My 15 ml decant arrived today. I’m happy.) Also Goutal’s Heure Exquise is a background hum scent and I wore it today. I’m hard pressed to think of anything in my collection that would make the ‘your skin but better’ category. Maybe No 5 Eau Premiere, but that retains a citrusy tang for quiet a while.

    As well as musk, maybe small amounts of vanilla could be constituent parts of a skin scent. Maybe the very far dry down of No 5 itself, the extrait? Oh I give up.

    1. Anne-Marie, you are always good for a laugh (glance, swallow, then read is still my mantra!).

      The fragrances that TPC suggests as skin scents are predominantly musks, and I can see why. I say that I hate musk, but there are a few that I really like, and I just need to explore them a little more—because I really do like the idea of the skin-scent.
      A few others that qualify for this term in my little brain, and that I wear when I’m hankering for skin, are:
      Hermes Eau des Merveilles, Eau Claire des Merveilles, L’Artisan Safran Troublant, and in very small doses, L’Artisan Al Oudh.

      But, that’s just how those wear on me and how I perceive them. I think that, one one level, this goes back to the conversation about how we interpret what we’re smelling!

      I certainly agree that no. 5 can fall into this category, in it’s drydown, as you point out 🙂

  2. I think I only have “half-skin scents”. A part of it melds with my skin and a part is added, I hope it gets clear what I mean and am unable to express, from examples:

    Dans tes Bras = skin an violets
    Musc Nomade = skin and soft spices
    Clair de Musc = skin and chanel n°5
    L’Heure Fougueuse = skin and summer

    Those are the ones that immediately come to mind, they meld especially well. 🙂

    1. The “half-skin scent” is an excellent term! And, if I’m honest, I think that is what all the things that I call “skin-scents” probably are. I especially love your examples of skin + something… especially skin + summer!

      Probably I should be clicking on my own link up there, and trying the musk sampler, so that I can offer a better-rounded idea of what skin-scents really are 🙂

  3. Really like the idea of “your skin but better” scents. Will check out Calamity J and the other suggestions.

    I’ve heard good things about Narciso Rodriguez Musc Oil.

    For a while now I’ve been very interested in Delrae’s Mythique but am yet to try it. Love the thought of an iris and suede scent and the description of it by Angela at NST as “leather chiffon underwear”. Have you tried it, Dee?

    1. Oh, Mythique is divine! I did a bottle split of that one shortly after the “leather chiffon underwear” review, and I think that when I drain it, a whole bottle will join my collection. It’s subtle, very smooth, but has a distinct presence and excellent throw. Iris and me, we’re not sure how much we like each other, but this iris has handed me an olive branch.

      Tara, you should sample it for sure 😉

      Have you tried the Kiel’s Musk? I feel like I hear a lot about that one, but have yet to seek it out myself.

      1. Oooh, I’m definitely going to have to try it now! I have a similar relationship with iris so it’s good to hear you love this one. When it’s right – I love it, when it’s wrong – it leaves me cold.

        I have tried Kiehl’s Musk and have to say I really didn’t like it. I got a distinct “hand-wash” vibe from it. Hope you have better luck. I have yet to find a musk I really like; even Jicky was too animalic for me. Though B’s comment makes me want to perservere and try Musc Nomade. Skin + soft spices sounds nice.

        1. Hmmm… I don’t want hand-wash vibe! I know that Birgit likes Musc Nomade, but it’s a total scrubber on me…with intense sillage and incredible lasting power to boot! If these aren’t evidences of the need to sample first, I don’t know what are 🙂

  4. Interesting post! I’m not much of a musk fan either (may be a scent association thing).

    I remember discovering that skin has a scent as a pre-teen. It was summer. I was wearing a golden yellow terry cloth halter romper (!) and sitting in the sun. I had my knees pulled up with my head rested on them. Breathing in, I smelled a soft scent I later dubbed “knee smell”.

    I told my husband about this a few months ago. Imagine the look on his face when I asked if he had experienced “knee smell”!

    For a skin scent, I might choose a perfume with that “scalpy/sebum” note I love and many hate. Penhaligon’s Elixir has this note, but the incense/eucalyptus takes away from the skin effect.

    1. JE, What a beautifully evocative description! And, I know exactly what you mean by “knee smell”! I think that knee’s have their own special smell, and it’s lovely. Very different from neck smell, or top of head smell 🙂

  5. I was about to mention Musc Nomade but you beat me to it!
    Hmm, Ansolue pour le Soir is very worthy addition, even if it doesn’t resemble your skin at all. It’s swoon worthy (and quite “dirty”! In a good way.)
    Musks do smell like skin to me, though not always. Depends on the musk, it’s got to be beyond the drugstore (unless we’re talking Coty Wild Musk which is breath-taking). The Musc Oil by NR is FAB if one can smell it (some can’t).
    I think you might find MJ Amber to your liking for that effect: it’s very light for an amber, but it has that smooth effect of skin. Also have you tried L’Eau Ambree by Prada? The ambergris-laced modern orientals sometimes give that effect.

    Hmmm….I must put on my thinking cap and compile a mental list.

    1. You know, I’ve been thinking about snapping up a Wild Musk for a while, since it’s so cheap, yet musks are so hit or miss for me! Of course testers don’t seem to exist 🙂

      I liked L’Eau Ambree quite a bit (one of the blind-buys from my dark past 🙂 ), but it doesn’t quite do it as a skin scent for me: it’s more of a light-frosting scent! LOL, whatever that means.

      Another one I love is the Youth Dew Amber Nude body oil—an almost perfect skin scent! I haven’t tried it in the perfume form, but I’m guessing that it would work too.

  6. I went through my whole collection trying to find a “skin scent”. Either I do not feel the definition or it might be that I’m not attracted to those scents. Or I’m not mature enough to start liking them just yet: for me a perfume is a part of decorating myself, standing out (even if for myself) and not blending in.
    The closest thing I can think of is Diptyque’s Tam Dao.

  7. First time commenter here! Eau de Merveilles is salty, so that seems like skin to me. While i’ve only tried this once, one would imagine something called “Bare Skin” would be a skin scent! Leslie Blodgett’s bare skin is a little musky and a little woody, and I recall my husband did not like it.

    1. Hi Julie,

      Thank you for commenting! We’re very happy to have you here 🙂

      I do really like that salty note in Eau des Merveilles; for a while it was getting lots of skin-time in the evenings at the Howe house! I saw that Bare Skin scent–I’ve never tried any of the Leslie Blodgett’s—what did you think of it??

  8. I’ve never gotten much into the skin scent thang… I have some that seem to just sink in and get cozy and don’t radiate much (vtg Emeraude… Mariella Burani, in the drydown…) I dunno, I’m a light applier anyway.

    Mythique really is lovely. Jovan Musk for Women is one of those your-skin-but-better things (hey, a lot like SL Clair de Musc, IMO, but waaaaay cheaper, and I like it better anyway).

    1. I worked with the loveliest woman who always wore Jovan Musk, and I was always astounded by how really good it smelled, especially after I asked her what it was. She was almost embarrassed, saying, Oh, it’s just a cheapie… but, my goodness, did it smell divine on her!

      Mals, how do you feel about Wild Musk? I know it’s practically free, but I just can’t seem to actually purchase it because I’m so afraid of musk (darn you, Mure et Musc!).

      1. I don’t think I’ve ever tried Wild Musk.

        The Jovan Musk for Women was my mother’s everyday scent when I was growing up. Her dress-up fragrance was No. 5 edc, which has quite a musky undertone, too.


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