The Body Shop White Musk Libertine ~ perfume review

The Body Shop White Musk Libertine advert

I was looking forward to The Body Shop's new White Musk Libertine. Admittedly, I was never a fan of the original White Musk, which has reached the grand old age of 30 — in perfume years, that means it's now eligible for social security. I did like (but didn't really adore) the White Musk Midnight Iris, and I'm always up for a cheap thrill of the scented variety. I know some people around here complain about The Body Shop not being what it used to be, but if I had $15 or $20 and wanted something scented from the mall, I'd be far likelier to find it at The Body Shop than at Bath & Body Works (I did some investigating recently and there's virtually nothing there I like any more) or L'Occitane (they've done some nice scents lately, but they've mostly upscaled themselves out of the cheap thrills category).1

So anyway, White Musk Libertine was developed by perfumer Vincent Schäller and the notes include Turkish delight, Chantilly cream, orchid and signature musk — sounds like a good contender for sweet but fun, right? And I'm already a sucker for sweet Turkish delight. If you could come up with a really good one for less than the going price for Serge Lutens Rahät Loukoum, I'd buy it.2 White Musk Libertine, as it turns out, is more of a nouveau powder + vanilla musk mash-up.

And it's not all that sweet. Despite the gourmand billing, it's no more than mildly sugared, and the vanilla cream (which isn't as as hard to come by as Turkish delight) is really the star player. On my skin, it runs something like this: first, a bright, pinkish fruity-floral opening, closer to 'chain store cherry blossom' than to the glorious cherry cough syrup of Rahät Loukoum. Then a creamy vanilla, slightly fizzy at first, over a musky base that is similar to the original White Musk, but softer, not so harshly clean and white. There's a vague hint of something nutty, and later, an even vaguer hint of middling-dark woods mingling with what eventually builds to a decent level of powder. It's sheer in any case, and like many white musks, it can be very hard to smell consistently, that is, the lasting power (for the Eau de Parfum, which is the only version I tried on skin) is excellent, but it induces olfactory fatigue quite rapidly.

The verdict? In my book, a notch above the White Musk Midnight Iris. Like Midnight Iris, it's more interesting than the original White Musk, and it's less like wearing laundry detergent. Plus, it's fun and wearable, and it gets extra points for not settling into a complete dupe of White Musk within the hour. But I will also readily admit that like White Musk Midnight Iris, it isn't really something that is going to whip your average perfumista into a frenzy.

Would I buy it? Well, strictly speaking it is not something I need. But the day I walked into The Body Shop to try it, a nice lady was letting customers reach into a bag and pull out a little paper square. You ripped off the top and it told you the discount you could have if you bought something. My square said 50%, and in no time at all I was walking out with a half price bottle of the Eau de Parfum for $12, and since we all know $100 is the new free when it comes to perfume, it's very nearly like they paid me to remove it from the premises.3 If they used the same marketing tactic at Neiman Marcus, I'd be in very big trouble.

The Body Shop White Musk Libertine, fragrance bottle

The Body Shop White Musk Libertine is available in 30 and 60 ml Eau de Toilette ($17.50 and $26) and in 30 ml Eau de Parfum ($24), there is also a 100 ml Body Mist ($15) and Body Lotion, Body Wash.

1. Lush is still a viable option on the cheap thrills front; some of the body products are crazy-expensive but the twist-up solid perfumes are still only around $10 a pop. In all fairness, L'Occitane has a $10 solid of the new Délice des Fleurs, too. I was very sad to see Crazy Libellule & The Poppies go out of business though — they were a reliable source of under-$15 fun. Pacifica's roll-ons ($12) and solids ($9) are still affordable, and easily found if you've got a Sephora nearby. If you have a favorite budget perfume option I haven' t mentioned, do comment!

2. Some of you old-timers may remember a time when reasonably priced replacements for Rahät Loukoum were a frequent topic of discussion on MakeupAlley's fragrance board. Personally I never found one that really did the trick, but I just checked and you can still buy an oft-mentioned contender, Lagniappe Oaks' Lady Evangeline, in a travel sized Eau de Toilette for only $7.50 at Bourbon French in New Orleans.

3. Newbies take note: you may think that what you need to graduate into real perfumista-hood is to familiarize yourself with the output of 20-odd obscure niche perfume houses, but a handful of really excellent rationalizing strategies will serve you just as well over the long run.

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37 Comments

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  1. Karin says:

    Funny cause I haven’t been to a Body Shop in years cause there isn’t one nearby. Just checked their store locator, and turns out they just opened one in the mall in my town!? Ha. Guess I’ll have to stop in and check it out!

    Crazylibellule went out of business? That’s too bad. I always thought they had fun scents, though I never did buy anything from them. Guess I should have.

    Another budget perfume option is Yves Rocher. Good quality fragrances, and they’re always offering ridiculously good discounts. Plus, they throw in a ton of free stuff. I made a $30 purchase of some of their travel-sized perfumes, and they included a free set of Christmas coffee cups, candle holders, and a full-sized bottle of the most amazing coffee-scented shower cream (for coffee lovers, ya gotta check this stuff out – it’s called Brazilian Coffee Beans Shower Cream, and it’s only $3.95 for a 8.4ml bottle. It smells fantastic)! Crazy, huh?

    • Robin says:

      And I lost my local Yves Rocher shop a few years back, sadly. That shower cream sounds fabulous, and I know just what you need for after: Alba Kona Coffee after sun lotion, which Jessica reviewed ages ago and which is now one of my staples.

      • odonata9 says:

        I didn’t know they had stores in the US! It looks like it’s just Canada now. I ordered my stuff online with no problem.

        • Robin says:

          I don’t know how many there were, but there was a nice one in King of Prussia mall. Gone now.

      • Karin says:

        Ooh! I’ll have to try that one. Love Alba Botanica products.

        • Robin says:

          I use it all the time — not just after sun. Great stuff.

    • mossygreen says:

      Oh good god, the Brazilian coffee beans shower cream is the best thing ever! Like bathing with European wafer, in the best possible way.

      • mossygreen says:

        Where did the word “cookies” go?

  2. annemarie says:

    After Jessica’s review the other day of Gorilla Perfume’s Cocktail, and now this one on WM Libertine, I think my feet (car) are going to take me to the local mall very soon.

    Funny how, as young things, many of us start out at the Body Shop. We travel the world, so to speak, via perfume, and in our more (ahem) advancing years, we return again to … the Body Shop.

  3. key change says:

    I actually own this, and think your review is spot on–right down to your comment on olfactory fatigue/being osnomic to many muscs–it’s been a while since I’ve gotten a compliment on what I’m wearing.

    • Robin says:

      I have an esp. hard time with White Musk…usually about 30 minutes is it, then I think it’s gone.

  4. Ikat says:

    Aack. I can’t stand The Body Shop. They seem to spray some icky sweet strawberry thing that seems like stale bordello.

    Nothing at all would compel me to buy this scent. Especially not the anemic and undernourished model.

    • annemarie says:

      Yeah, the combined effect of some of those fruity scents can be a bit overpowering. Still, it’s fun for a browse. One tactic I like to employ is to take my curly-haired 9 year old daughter to try stuff together. That way I can channel my inner girl on to her, and enjoy myself testing stuff that on my own I would be WAY too much the serious perfumista to go near!

    • Robin says:

      LOL! I don’t mind it so much as I mind BBW.

  5. RusticDove says:

    I will definitely stop at The Body Shop next time I’m at the mall. I’ve never tried any of their products! Isn’t that silly? What’s not to love about a cheap thrill?

    I really must get my hands on some Rahat Loukoum already! Every time I hear something about it, I crave it. I wonder if it’s similar to Traversee du Bosphore? That one I have and love, and doesn’t it have that Turkish Delight accord also?

    Karin already mentioned Yves Rocher as a great source for enjoyable cheapies. And yes, all the free goodies they load you up with – it’s crazy.

    • Robin says:

      Really, in Rahat that accord is nearly the whole thing, so they’re pretty different. Rahat is probably love it or hate it.

  6. faylene505 says:

    More (relatively) cheap thrills – TokyoMilk. The creator has two other lines but I’ve never investigated them to check the prices.

    • Robin says:

      Yes, good point! The other line I know they own is Love & Toast, which is also cheap.

      • KateReed says:

        She’s got Lollia (not sure of the spelling of that, I haven’t been fond of any of that line,) which I think was the first one, Love+Toast, TokyoMilk, and Nectar&Pollen is “upcoming”, though I haven’t heard anything about when it goes live, and the web page for it was still just a place holder last I looked.

        • Robin says:

          Ah, thanks! If I knew she owned Lollia, I’d forgotten. I don’t care for that line either.

    • Meg says:

      Love Tokyomilk! Already have two bottles and already know exactly what the third will be. I also have a Lollia…so I guess I will have to check out Love & Toast as well.

  7. halimeade says:

    The Pacifica spray perfumes are also a really good deal, I think. $22 for 1 oz. And its worth checking out their website or your nearest Whole Foods, because there are many scents in the line that Sephora doesn’t carry, such as my favorite Tibetan Mountain Temple.

    • Robin says:

      I am *finally* getting a Whole Foods in early 2012; for now, I have to drive 45 minutes & I don’t do that often. Can’t wait — I love the body products aisle.

  8. mireille says:

    R, LOL “rationalizing strategies…” xo
    m

  9. Lexy says:

    I am really looking forward to the re-launching of L’Occitane Ambre this coming Spring 2012. I already have the Immortelle, and I am loving it! Now, I am thinking about buying a cuddly comfort smell wearing it at home, before sleep etc. Initially I opted for Bulgari Petits et Mamans, but now the Libertine body mist seems also appropriate. What would you suggest??

    • Robin says:

      I don’t know…I tend to go for creamy woods at bedtime. This one strikes me as too bright to fall sleep to?

  10. Veronica says:

    How about Crabtree and Evelyn?

    Oh The Body Shop! Sweet memories of wearing Tea Rose oil as a teenager!

    • Robin says:

      Yes, they’ve been revamping their scents too.

  11. julia7 says:

    I do like White Musk Libertine but prefer the shower gel and body lotion over the EdT/EdP. I found that the almond/pistachio note is more prominent in the body products compared with the perfume.

  12. tulp says:

    Thanks for the review. This one sounds good. I didn’t like the white musk. In my teens I had Alyssa Ashley Musk (I went through many bottles). I haven’t smelled it for a long time.

    • Robin says:

      I don’t think I ever smelled that one…

  13. ockeghem says:

    Crazylibellule went out of business? So sad! Loved their solids — great to travel with, and I travel a lot for work.

    I can’t think of White Musk without wanting to buy the soap they used to sell (and don’t apparently anymore — I’d buy it in a heartbeat for the scent memory). I first discovered the Body Shop in Germany, during a summer working there in university, and the scent of white musk soap always, inevitably, takes me back to that summer.

    Crabtree & Evelyn falls into that category, too — I could get it in the Midwest when I was in high school, so it was my decadent, grown-up pleasure (Spring Rain, I believe it was), and I could buy it in Germany in university (Summer Hill, the fragrance was then). Ah, the scent memories. But hard to come by these days.

    Seriously, though, I’m totally mourning Crazylibellule. My sister, who doesn’t have tons of money in this recession, liked their scents and I never had to feel guilty about giving them to her because I knew she could afford to refill. And I loved the idea of solids. Sigh. There’s a shop on Whidbey Island that had their stuff last winter; I’m there for Thanksgiving, so maybe they’ll still have some stock? Will search them out on purpose now…

    Bath and Body Works is like Yankee Candle to me, although maybe not *quite* as chemical when you walk in. Wish I liked Pacifica more. But alas, otherwise, I think I’m stuck in the stratosphere, perfume-wise. Sigh.

    • Robin says:

      Totally agree about Crazylibellule — they made some really great solids. I was not so crazy about the liquids they did, and maybe they just couldn’t make enough $ off the low-priced solids. I do like Pacifica too, but Crazylibellule was doing more interesting & complex fragrances.

  14. Pimpinett says:

    Vintage perfume is my favourite thrill – I have a good source in my favourite second hand shop, recently found an unopened bottle of Coty Chypre EdC in the original box there, for about $15, along with a number of less exalted finds. They have a little old Hungarian lady leaving things on consignment to them at the moment, so I also bought a very old bottle of Krasnaya Moskva there recently, and should probably pick up one of the many bottles of another Chypre from behind the iron curtain. Best way of trying out odd things at a low cost, by far.

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