40 Days and 40 Nights Of Fragrance Notes: Oudh
Oudh by Ceil
aka MUA's Tussah
Well… I realize that there are experts that can tell you the details about and the history of Oudh in much greater detail and can give you an encyclopedic listing of fragrances that feature oudh. But, I am not going to attempt to cover this very fascinating perfume/note with that kind of expertise. I will instead tell you how I got interested in oudh and how I feel about it.
Oudh is a very personal and emotion note in perfumery. Very few fragrance friends of mine feel ambivalent about it. It’s love/hate all the way…and from what I’ve smelled in most commercial fragrances I have to say it is a note that I both adore and dislike at the same time. How it’s handled and the quality make an amazing difference in the final scent.
One of…if not the most expensive natural ingredient in perfumery is oil of Agarwood. Oudh. Used for centuries for religious, spiritual, medicinal purposes and in perfumery, oil from the resinous heartwood of Aquilaria and Gyrinops trees is a precious commodity. These evergreen trees from Asia become infected with a mold. In response to this they form a resinous substance in the heartwood of the tree from which the Agarwood essential oil is extracted. This aromatic oil has ancient and modern use for perfumery and incense. The rarity of this oil is due to depletion of the trees that are the natural source for this oil. There are now also synthetic aromachemical versions of this note as well, which is a much more affordable, but not the same way to introduce this representation of the natural oil into a perfume.
I got interested in wanting to smell “good quality” natural Agarwood/oudh fragrances from reading descriptions of it’s fascinating beauty. And…interested in reading about the huge difference that the quality of ingredients make to that smell. Quality oudh can smell woody, incense-y, sweet and rich, smoky, floraly resinous, and fruity, in a rich long lasting multifaceted way. The smell is calming and richly beautiful. Poor quality oil can produce oily, sharp, leathery, sour and bitter smells. Smells that are acrid and irritating.
I finally got to try this good quality oudh…and it is stunningly beautiful, and lasts days on the skin. I have yet to find a commercial fragrance that comes close. I also have the synthetic aromachemical and it is pleasant but thin, and not really any comparison to the real thing. But for the price, I use it, and can certainly see why it is used in commercial perfumery.
Oudh seems to be quite the popular ingredient these days in fragrance. Some I personally like and others not so much. I will say with the variations in quality and types of chemicals natural and synthetic, it is always worth trying oudh fragrances. They vary so very much, and react so individually with body chemistry that you never know how it will turn out on you until you really test it for yourself. Something that can smell really questionable on a blotter card can turn into something truly lovely when applied on the skin…and vice versa.
I have a love affair with natural quality oudh however…it’s stunningly gorgeous on or off of the skin. It is the stuff of dreams to me….beautiful, resinous, magical and spirtual.
Review by Ceil aka Tussah
Graphic Credit: Melanie Parker