Thursday, February 03, 2011

Kiehl's Original Musk Oil

Kiehl's Original Musk Oil has been around in one form or another for decades (official release date is 1963, though according to the company their musk was first blended in the 1920s. I wonder how it smelled back then and how this oil changed throughout the years, but all I have to work with is the current version and it's a good one.

Some people compare Kiehl's Musk Oil to notorious 1970s staples like Jovan and other drugstore masculine potions, all funny mustache and chest hair. Others see it as a soft unisex scent that shares a thing or two with our favorite Serge Lutens musks. I'm closer to the second camp though I wouldn't go all  the way with the Uncle Serge comparison. Besides, the floral part of Kiehl's Original Musk has more in common with Miel de Bois than with MKK, but maybe it's just me.

In any case, Kiehl's Musk Oil is warm and cozy, floral and gentle with some honey and a hint of animalic musc, not too dirty, but again, I'm the girl who wears CB Musk and asks for more. I find it amusing that musks of this kind were the epitome of male sexuality in the 1970s. It just doesn't compute for me that this soft little thing I wear for comfort was (is?) considered a virile beast.

Kiehl's Original Musk Oil ($36 0.5 oz in a dab bottle or $26 for the annoying little rollerball) is available from

A 1974 men's fashion ad from Found in Mom's Basement (


  1. If they thought Kiehl's was a monster, what would they think of MKK?
    I've worn this for years, it's totally soft and floral on me. Sometimes, I mix this with Montale's Patchouli Leaves or Borneo for a twist.

  2. I love Kiehl's Musk, although I wear the edt. It is a lovely musk, the most "musky" I can handle, so I'd say it isn't as animalic as Uncle Serge's! I love to layer it with florals and have lately enjoyed the snuggly scent it makes when combined with Etro Heliotrope...

  3. That print ad is priceless. OMG the 70's. "Five Easy Pieces" was on TCM last night and we watched it -- lone angry drifter antihero, Karen Black and loads of hair everywhere. Seems like a hundred years ago.

  4. I love Kiehl's musk, though like Daly Beauty I wear the EDT. My only problem with it is longevity. On it's own it doesn't last as well as I'd like. Bestial it's not but I do find it sexy, though it's more of a purr than a growl.

  5. I'm sorry I missed this post when it was new.

    I am a musk fragrance collector and love it in, almost, all of it's incarnations, Kiehl's being among my favorites. However, the appeal of The CB Musk completely eludes me. Am I just gutless?

    Gaia, would you consider writing a piece on the CB Musk one of these days? I respect your taste and opinion, even when I don't agree with you. So many people seem to love it and I just don't get it. I find it to be quite wretched, frankly..

  6. CB Musk makes everything better. I feel like I've gotten a higher and higher skank tolerance. Now MKK is just "nice" and I need more and more to get to the shock factor. Call me a musk-junkie (actually, it's civet-junkie)

  7. my skank level is very high, i think of original musk oil doesn't smell like anything more than cozy, and mkk is like a tender and cute kitten. hell....

  8. I have a small bottle of Kiehl's musk oil from the 60s that belonged to my mother - actually the original oil used actual musk, from deer I think, and maybe civet. Naturally that changed when deer musk was outlawed, but I must say it is still, all this time later, an entrancing scent :)


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