Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What's That Smell? MYRRH


In the "What's That Smell?" series,  I'll explain some of the less obvious perfume notes that crop up in many indie perfumes. Keep in mind my descriptions and comparisons are based on my own experiences and your impressions may not be the same. Perfume notes are NOT ingredients. They can be natural essences, artificial isolated compounds that imitate the natural substance, blended accords, or a combination. Therefore, the note you like in one perfume may be unrecognizable in another. As with all sensory, subjective things, your mileage may vary.


You were probably first introduced to myrrh as a companion piece to frankincense, maybe in the Christian nativity story. It's a scent component that's been used since ancient times, and for good reason. Myrrh is a tree resin that is still used today in its natural oleoresin (type of essential oil) form, but of course there are also accord blends and synthetic notes that mimic or make up the myrrh scent in many perfumes. 

Myrrh is characterized by its ultra-sweet, powdery resinous smell. It's warm, spicy, and a curious mix of both dry and sticky. There's a deep woodsy background, but the predominant smell is sweet, warm spice. It smells like a mix of caramel, dry woodchips, and kitchen spices. Somehow, even though it has that spiced feel, myrrh doesn't smell foodie. However, its sweetness makes it an excellent pairing with fruity notes, and of course it complements its partner frankincense (a fresher scent) very well. Myrrh is often used to add more nuance to an amber/resin scent, and it brings some fun to more serious wood notes.

Perfumes featuring myrrh:

  • NAVA Ember: Here, myrrh is used in a very traditional way. It mingles seamlessly with frankincense, creating a celebration of sweet vs. fresh, warm vs. cool, feminine vs. masculine. It's an all-weather perfume that warms on cold days and cools you down on hot ones. One of the best examples of a true resin perfume. Spicy, sweet, fresh.
  • Cocoa Pink Spell Caster: Myrrh is paired with honey and mulberries in this festive, warm, sweet scent. I've found this scent can go a bit cloying if you're not careful- here the myrrh isn't tempered by anything fresh, so the whole scent is very sweet and heavy together.
  • BPAL Darkness: Another sweet myrrh scent, this is more sinuous and sexual. The narcissus and opium's natural spiciness are enhanced by myrrh's deep, broad spicy aura.

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