Rethinking Jovan Musk (As An Aftershave)

About six years ago I got into the two big Jovan masculines: Musk and Sex Appeal. I liked and enjoyed both, but preferred Sex Appeal by a wide margin. Its rich patchouli-herbal twang, bolstered by a surprisingly mellow lavender note, simply worked for me. It helps that its fragrance profile is closely aligned to more classical orientals of its era, namely Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur and (a bit later) Ungaro Pour L'Homme II. I can wear either of those two fragrances and use Sex Appeal aftershave without conflict.

Musk for Men was always a tougher sell. For one thing, it doesn't match well with anything, except maybe Lagerfeld Classic, and even then it's risky. Musk is also an unreliable performer; I've worn this fragrance enough to know that it can be like wearing three different fragrances, a gamble not entirely welcome when personal insecurities accompany me to my wardrobe in the morning. The stuff changes between wearings. Some days it's a grassy floral musk, and others it's a skanky, semi-animalic beast. And every blue moon it smells like the freshest, cleanest laundry detergent money can buy. That kind of split personality is a little unnerving.

It's been about four years now since I smelled it, and I recently happened across a super cheap bottle of Musk in aftershave concentration, so I decided to revisit my memories of the fragrance. My prior bottle was just the cologne concentration, and I always wondered about the splash. I have to say, I'm not disappointed. As an aftershave it performs exactly like Sex Appeal, with a gentle alcohol snap and bracing herbal camphor.

Jovan is, contrary to popular belief, a decent brand. They make surprisingly complex fragrances with good performance and longevity, they're adequately priced, and most importantly, they're memorable. Once you smell Musk for Men, you can't forget it. Ditto Sex Appeal. (I guess Black Musk is discontinued - I haven't seen it in a while.) Ginseng NRG isn't too bad either, although it really only works in the summer. Musk for Men's aftershave splash smells like I remember the cologne on its best days - rich, sweet, citrusy, slightly floral, with a shimmery skin musk in the old world tradition of Aqua Velva and Max Factor.

I don't consider this a must have fragrance for musk lovers. If you're really into musk, and you're interested in the incredible places it can take you, Kouros, Azzaro Pour Homme, Paco Rabanne, and vintage Brut will get you there faster. My feelings for this Jovan have gone from a half-hearted "like" to a whole-hearted "like a lot," by virtue of the aftershave concentration. Something about the extra dilution and sturdier carrier oils eases up the scent structure and allows the best aspects of the pyramid to relax and shine. You wear Musk for Men not because you want the best musk, but because you want an easy musk.

The retro seventies packaging and fragrance style are an added bonus, but then again that's why I like Jovan. I feel like William Holden in Breezy whenever I splash this sort of stuff. And that's not a bad thing.


  1. I like all of the Jovan masculines. (Except for their recent unisex offering of Intense Oud) I really like the clean Amalfi lemon in Jovan Musk for men (which lasts a surprisingly long time for a citrus note) sitting atop that shimmering musk base. The musk in JMfM can be a little animalic & "sweaty" shall we say? But it's the glistening, shimmery, and very sexy scent of fresh human sweat. Sweaty humans smell good to me for about the first half hour. Then depending on weather conditions, gender, & microbial flora & fauna that sharp & slightly sweet musky sweat festers into the rank stench of unwashed human. After about a half hour in Monsoon conditions (soaring heat & sweltering humidity) everybody stinks. Cumin, onions, ambergris, diesel, urinous santal, rotting mangoes, tunafish, Gruyere cheese, & assorted barnyard aromas- welcome to the human zoo! Whether you're riding the Indian railway from Delhi to Agra in August or on the Paris Metro in July, it stinks!
    Jovan's masculines are great quality, have stood the test of time, and are a fabulous bargain. Unfortunately due to their low price they suffer a bit of a 'working class' image. In my mind Jovan's masculines will always be associated with the swingin' 70's. Even though Bibi was in elementary school during that era she'll always remember those fabulous powerhouse fragrances with character that accompanied male relatives young and old wearing polyester easy care leisure suits, gold chains, puka shell necklaces, feathered hair, fantastical facial hair, shirts unbuttoned to reveal hairy chests, flared trousers, Adidas tracksuits & assorted tackiness. Multicolor shag carpet & beanbag chairs anyone?

    1. I sense a minor (very minor) reformulation of this scent, namely in how the citrus and amber notes play. They toned up the lemon and added a hint of mandarin, and there is a mild soapy lavender amber that I don't remember before. Again, could be the aftershave is just a more expansive concentration, and Sex Appeal is the amber monster anyway.

      Human sweat is incredible in the first half hour, and as you said it then turns rank. Pheromones still hold the throne for best human scent in my opinion. I recently met someone who wears one of Rihanna's perfumes. She always smells incredible. I enjoy it on an intellectual level. But there's something that comes off her skin and hair that isn't perfume. THAT drives me wild. I literally have a physical response every time she walks by. Definitely pheromones.

  2. This reminds me that I still have to buy Sex Appeal myself, last time it was sold out hence why I haven't bought it yet. I like the Jovan brand too, rudimentary but quality sprayer. Oh and it's featured in one of my favorite movies; Blade Runner in the from of neon advertisement.
    Their White Musk is quite enjoyable too and as crazy as it may sound Basenoters seem to compare it with Tom Ford's White Musk Collection Musk Pure.

    I might actually try this after shave splash once my Floid's mentolado vigoroso runs out.

    1. There's a Sex Appeal sign in Blade Runner? How far into the film? One of my favorite movies, and I'm psyched they're releasing a sequel later this year.

    2. Oh no, not Sex Appeal - I meant the Brand name "Jovan" is displayed in neon sign. You can see it more than once too. Ok - what version? jk - you can see it in the background around 58:40 in the final cut. If you google "blade runner jovan" in image search you'll see a screencap.

      Yes, I'm looking forward to the sequel as well with both anticipation and anxiety. I sincerely hope they won't ruin it (sequels tend not to fare well in Hollywood) but since it's Denis Villeneuve in the directors chair I still have hope it could turn out well.

  3. So I sprayed myself & El Hub with Jovan Musk for Men (purchased in Kathmandu for $7/3.4 oz) today-

    On me- smells like Johnson's Baby shampoo + a tinge of Aqua Net hairspray (which is not a bad thing) stayed linear for 3 hours, I got bored & sprayed Tea Rose over it hoping for a more exotic Rose & Musk effect. It was ok, nothing wonderful.

    On El Hub- Smelled fabulously lemony without being acrid & just a peep of shimmering musk coming through. At lunchtime it was 90F here & the lemon was fading to the background and the fabulously sexy fresh & sweaty musk going strong. (I have to add that the sillage of JMfM is a gently discreet & tasteful 3-4 feet. This is NOT what JfMM smelled like in the 70's. 70's JfMM was a nitromusk monster that would knock you down at 30 ft. Still, prepubertal Bibi quite loved it then too.) After a long hot day at 9 pm there was the merest whiff of lemon but that fabulously sexy fresh sweat was fainter yet still scintillating. Even though El Hub was to the 'probably needs a shower' stage it was still making me want to lean in for another whiff. Can't ask for a better performance out of a fragrance than that!

    Dupe Alert- Jeanne Arthes' Extreme Limite Energy edt for Men is a great dupe for the $$$'s Chanel's Allure Homme Sport. It is missing the black pepper entirely & the vetiver seems to be replaced by oakmoss but it's got the same citrus/ozone/aldehyde/woods structure for $10/3.3oz, I got mine in Kathmandu-not sure if it's in the US? (the notes on Fragrantica for this fragrance are wrong & do not even match what is on the box)


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