It’s drugstore week! Robin is on vacation, and once again I’ve commandeered a week to review fragrances you can buy at the same time you pick up aspirin and kitty litter.
One thing you can say for drugstores is that they aren’t afraid to stock musk. Musky stalwarts from Coty and Jovan have been selling steadily for more than 40 years, and despite the reluctance of department stores to go there, Rite Aid appears to see no reason to fool with success. Alyssa Ashley Musk has been a drugstore favorite since 1968.
Last week I stopped by Nordstrom for a lipstick and ended up engrossed at a temporary display table for Houbigant. Michal Gizinski, billed by Nordstrom as an international fragrance consultant, stood over bottles of Houbigant Fougère Royale, Oranger en Fleurs and Quelques Fleurs, enticing shoppers with his European accent and Prince Matchabelli looks to try one of the fragrances. I told him I was doing a week of drugstore perfume reviews, and he quickly recommended Alyssa Ashley Musk. “Yes, Alyssa Ashley,” he said and nodded. (He also raved about Norell, said that the jasmine in Windsong is “quite good,” and put in encouraging words for Parfums Grès Cabaret and Rochas fragrances.)
Hey, if an international fragrance consultant recommends a perfume, it’s good enough for me. My next stop was Rite Aid, where I bought a quarter ounce bottle of Musk by Alyssa Ashley perfume oil, because at fifteen dollars it was the least expensive formulation. The Alyssa Ashley website describes the oil as “pure and alcohol free essential oil, the ultimate concentration of Alyssa Ashley Musk fragrance.”
The musk oil comes in a gold screw-top glass bottle with a glass wand to apply it. Its box is surprisingly classy, in gold, black, and white with linked male and female signs to show it can be worn by both genders. Tiny print on the back tells me the company is situated in Monaco, and the juice was make in Italy.
And the fragrance? It’s a pretty floral perfume that in my mind skews feminine. I smell rose, ylang ylang and lily of the valley with the tiniest hint of clove. As the fragrance settles, an almost incense-y wood quietly rises.
The fragrance’s heart is musk, of course. The musk is not as animalic as Jovan Musk for Women, another floral musk. It’s also not as clean and sweet as Coty White Musk. It’s fresh and innocent but not a soapy musk. It has quiet sillage and lasts about six hours on me. Beware, though. The perfume oil is a true oil and takes about ten minutes to dry to something that won’t transfer to fabric. If you try it, apply it where you don’t have to worry about anything getting greasy.
Online reviews from people who wore Alyssa Ashley Musk long ago say that it isn’t the same anymore. It doesn’t last as long, and it’s flat and powdery compared to what it used to be. I can’t speak to that, but I can tell you that today it’s a lovely, inoffensive, clean fragrance that I would — and probably will — happily pass on to my niece to wear.
As for me, I have plenty of other perfumes that prod my imagination and kick my senses into gear that I’d reach for before I turn to Alyssa Ashley Musk. But if you’re a musk fan and looking for an easy, nicely balanced fragrance to wear just about anywhere, it’s worth a try.
Musk by Alyssa Ashley comes in 7.5 ml perfume oil for $15 or 15 ml for $21, 100 ml Eau de Parfum for $46, 50 ml EdP for $33, 100 ml Eau de Toilette for $28, 50 ml Eau de Toilette for $21, and 25 ml EdT for $18. It’s also available in lotion, body crème, bubble bath and powder.