Oakmoss Perfume Ingredient: What is It? What Does It Smell Like?

Oakmoss is a beloved base note in the perfume world for its strong, woody, earthy aroma. An oakmoss scent feels like walking through a wet forest of mossy trunks.

The use of essential oil extracted from oak tree moss in perfumery dates back to the 12th century. It’s an essential, unique scent in the chypre type of scent. 

Oakmoss perfume’s history started when a crusader brought perfume to Europe, which inspired perfumer Francoise Coty to create the famous Le Chypre perfume in 1917. Since then, oakmoss perfume has developed considerably and is used as a base note and a fixative for perfumes. 

What is Oakmoss?

Oakmoss is a bushy lichen called Evernia Prunastri that grows in trees, typically in mountainous regions. Some of these regions with lush mountainous temperate forests exist in the Northern Hemisphere, and parts of France, Central Europe, Spain, and Portugal. 

However, it’s also prevalent around the North American mountains. 

Oakmoss has a bushy, curly appearance with delicate features that resemble a deer’s antlers. It grows in a clump-like form up to three to four centimeters long. 

You can spot them growing around oak trees and other deciduous trees, and sometimes even pine trees and firs. 

These antler-shaped lichens come in various colors, from verdant to bright, yellow-green hues when damp. Besides the colors, its texture also changes from crisp and rough when dry, to a more rubbery feel once moist.

What Does Oakmoss Smell Like?

Oakmoss has a signature earthy and woody smell with sensual hints of amber and musk. As you might suspect, the smell of the perfume very much feels and smells as if you’re walking in a damp forest covered in aromatic, bucolic foliage. 

Besides its deep earthy tones, the perfume fragrance also features some dryness with a bark-like, rich undertone. 

Although oakmoss is an essential element as a base scent in a perfume, it’s also a highly valued fixative agent used by perfumers. It has an excellent ability to reduce the volatility of other fragrance notes, so they’re less overpowering in perfume and have a longer life on the skin. 

What Scent Family is Oakmoss?

Oakmoss scent is classified under the chypre olfactory family. These fragrances are often characterized by their richness that mixes well with other aromatics or amber notes to add some softness. 

In addition, perfume makers combine them with more animal leather base notes to enhance the unique aroma of their perfume. 

The chypre fragrance family centers around oakmoss, bergamot, patchouli, jasmine, and rose. But oakmoss, in particular, has a richness that pairs well with other chypre and floral base notes such as bergamot, jasmine, French lavender, water lily, and ylang ylang

What are the Benefits of Oakmoss?

Oak moss oil is typically reserved for use in the fragrance industry, particularly in perfume making. However, less concentrated distillation and natural extract are also used in hair products, soaps, and cleaning solutions. 

Meanwhile, the essential oil has long been used for its restorative, expectorant, demulcent, and antiseptic properties.

When it comes to health and wellness benefits, oakmoss can: 

  • Relieve congestion in the respiratory tract. Oakmoss essential oil is a potent expectorant agent that can give immense relief from chest congestion, coughs, asthma attacks, and other breathing troubles.
  • Maintain oil balance and moisture in skin. Because of the demulcent properties of oakmoss, it soothes the skin by maintaining oil balance and moisture. 
  • Relieve inflammation and wounds. The restorative properties of oakmoss help heal and restore something to its original condition. That includes wounds, inflammation, and signs of aging. 

However, oakmoss is not without its downsides. In fact, IFRA regulations for safe usage of fragrant chemicals listed oakmoss absolute as a restricted ingredient in perfume. 

Oakmoss perfumes that contain 0.1% of the extract as its raw materials are prohibited. This is primarily because oakmoss absolutes in perfume can cause severe allergic reactions. 

Due to the higher risk of dermal irritation from the perfume, many other perfumers had to find ways to replicate the popular scent in their new perfume.

Is Oakmoss Feminine or Masculine Scent?

Woody and earthy scents like oakmoss are often associated with fougère fragrances, especially in a masculine perfume. But, mixing the other notes like fruit, floral, and even amber makes for a versatile, unisex perfume.

Best Perfumes with Oakmoss Notes

Some famous perfumes for men and women with oakmoss notes include:

1. Guerlain Mitsouko Extract

This Mitsouko perfume for women has a mix of oakmoss, cinnamon, amber, vetiver, and spices as bases. For top notes, the perfume features jasmine, citruses, bergamot, and rose scents. 

It’s been a legendary perfume since 1919. 

2. Bottega Veneta Eau de Parfum

This perfume has a nice fragrance associated with its oakmoss, leather, and patchouli base notes. The perfume has a bergamot top note mixed with pink pepper.

It’s the first perfume from the luxury Italian brand, reminiscent of the Venetian countryside. 

3. Rochas Femme Perfume

This musk perfume, launched in 1944, is an ode to love and femininity. It’s a classic, sensual perfume indulged through its oakmoss, amber, vanilla, leather, and benzoin base scents, and blended with cinnamon, peach, plum, lemon, and rosewood top notes.

The Bottom Line

This fragrant oil has been a classic ingredient in perfume for centuries. If you want a perfume that appeals to both men and women, choose one with oakmoss.

Plus, it also blends well with many other perfume scents. 

Reminiscent of the most verdant, wet, and lush forests, if you enjoy sophisticated and complex earthy scents, getting an oakmoss perfume will suit you best.