Oakmoss, a complex perfume

Oakmoss is an emblematic ingredient of chypre perfume, but what is behind this mysterious raw material?

Oakmoss is a key ingredient in the perfumer’s palette. Its complex fragrance has been used in many compositions, from the greatest classics to the most confidential juices. The multiple aromatic facets of this raw material are still intriguing, even though it has been in the regulatory sights for several years. Let’s discover together all the secrets of this so particular scent.

The origins of oakmoss

The meeting of an alga and a mushroom

What is commonly called oakmoss in perfumery is actually a lichen. This living plant material is the result of a cross between a fungus and an alga. This lichen, native to the Balkans and Macedonia, nests on the branches and the north face of the trunk of trees, well protected from the sun. It is thus revealed in forest, in an environment far from civilization and pollution. As its name indicates, oakmoss grows on oak trees… But not only! It can also be found on other species such as willows, ashes, firs, and even some fruit trees. The precious lichen is collected by hand during the winter and spring, to be used in the cosmetics and perfume industry.

A thousand-year-old ingredient

The first uses of oakmoss date back to ancient Egypt. Indeed, lichen was already harvested to be used for embalming and stuffing mummies. Beyond its incredible preservative qualities, legends say that it allowed the deceased to attain eternity faster. A few hundred years later, during the Renaissance, oakmoss was used in beauty rituals, or at least in camouflage! The powdered moss perfumed wigs and hair that was rarely washed. It also serves as a formidable mothball. If its fragrance hide unsightly odors, its therapeutic virtues are also widely appreciated. In decoction, in cataplasm or in infusion, the oakmoss cures stomach aches, respiratory diseases and even disinfects wounds. No less!

Oakmoss & perfumery: a story of love and turbulence

Promising beginnings

The entry of the oakmoss in perfumery goes back to the end of the 19th century, when the chemistry of synthesis is democratized and that the processes of extraction are perfected. Perfumers thus manages to manufacture the absolute of oakmoss, a very powerful matter obtained by the extraction with volatile solvents of the lichen. This technique makes it possible to deliver a concrete, a kind of thick and very scented paste, which will be then washed with alcohol to reach the state of absolute. It is necessary to collect at least 100 kilos of lichen to manufacture 1 kilo of absolute! Used for its super fixing powers, oak moss also interests noses for its rich and deep nuances.

We find it since 1850 in Eau de Chypre, a creation of the house Guerlain. But it is the perfumer of genius François Coty, who will build oakmoss reputation with Chypre, one of the first “mainstream” perfumes, released in 1917. He will give life to this chypre accords soon emblematic, which is a combination of bergamot, rose, jasmine, oakmoss, patchouli and ciste-labdanum. In its trail, this fragrance will pave the way for new creations that will feature oakmoss, creating a new olfactory family in its own right.

The olfactory richness of oakmoss

What might seem like a simple matter with vegetal notes reveals itself in a much more complex way to our noses! Oakmoss absolute first gives off green tones, it’s true, with strong notes of moisture, almost salty. It evokes the smell of undergrowth, mushrooms, seaweed and sometimes even mold. Not very “sexy” at first smell, we grant you.

However, this ingredient is also very warm and sensual with a smoky and earthy facet, very tenacious. Star of chypre, it also illuminates the fern accords with its woody and marine nuances. It is a rather easy to handle material that goes well with various ingredients. It can for example be combined with citrus fruits for freshness. Also, it blends harmoniously with floral fragrances to which it brings depth but also invites itself in more oriental juices to reveal much intensity and sensuality.

Regulations and substitutions

For about fifteen years now, oakmoss has been agitating European regulations. Its use is indeed highly regulated by the IFRA, the organization that regulates the entire perfume industry. The reason: the allergenic substances contained in oakmoss, to which 20% of the population is more or less sensitive. Since then, perfumers have been forced to find alternatives to this precious ingredient. A synthetic molecule with the sweet name of evernyl has been developed. Others persist in using natural foam, filtering it to eliminate the allergenic molecules. But the olfactory result is not quite the same as the original version. The last popular method is to (re)turn to patchouli which can evoke the complexity of oakmoss, depending on its dosage in a composition.

Carrément Belle & the oakmoss

The rich and powerful scent of this complex raw material illuminates some of our creations with its autumnal nuances.

the eau de parfum ïōdé unveils a chypre fragrance, with marine and floral notes

The chypre ïōdé

La Baigneuse invites you to rediscover the chypre accord with the eau de parfum ïōdé. In this fragrance that combines freshness and sensuality, we find the very essence of this emblematic accord: the moss-patchouli duo. Here it is bathed in a beautiful marine nuance at the top and a voluptuous floral heart with rose and jasmine. Finally, the composition calms down in an amber and woody wake, as if you were rocked by the lapping of the waves … A fragrance rich in contrasts, to discover absolutely!

the eau de parfum alfred kafé highlights coffee and lavender

Alfred kafé, the incorrigible romantic

Alfred kafé is a fragrance full of nuances, which first releases its full-bodied and roasted aroma of coffee beans. Invigorated, the nose is then led to a softer, green and soothing olfactory path, thanks to the languid and refreshing lavender. This fern accord is followed by a powerful woody base, where the moss reveals all its intensity alongside balsamic nuances carried by vanilla, cedar and sandalwood. Between strength and subtlety, here is a composition that does not leave indifferent…

Did you know about oakmoss? Do you enjoy this scent in your perfumes?

Discover the fragrances mentioned in the article

Discovery Set
Discovery Set
Try our perfumes
eau de parfum ïōdé
eau de parfum
eau de parfum alfred kafé
alfred kafé
eau de parfum


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *