RETRO - Bonne Bell Skin Musk Cologne

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RETRO - Bonne Bell Skin Musk Cologne
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All sales are final, we are a perfume sampling company - letting you try perfume…


All sales are final, we are a perfume sampling company - letting you try perfume before you invest in a bottle. Unfortunately, we cannot refund any product that you do not like. If you are new to perfume or wanting to break out of wearing the same scent, try our starter sampler packs so that you can find the perfume that works for you.


Bonne Bell was founded by Jesse Bell, a cosmetics saleman, in Cleveland, Ohio in 1927. He named the business after his daughter, Bonne. He directed his advertising towards the youth market rather than competing with other companies. It set the company apart from others and by the mid-1980s this family-run company had annual sales of $50,000,000. Although it has nothing to do with the fragrance part of the company, it is interesting to note that Lip Smacker, created in 1973, was the world's first flavored lip gloss. Since that time more than 800 flavors have been released in more than 50 countries. The company closed just this past year (March, 2015) after a sale of a significant portion of their business. They closed manufacturing operations and 91 employees were permanently laid off. Jess "Buddy" Bell Jr. was third generation at the company. He was the son of Jess Bell who was the son of founder Jesse Bell.  

Skin Musk was released in the mid 1970s and was marketed to teen girls. The culture and lifestyle were different back then; this would never be able to be marketed today with a name like Skin, a scent that is so animalic and their provocative ads. Musk scents were very popular in the 1970s and were advertised as giving you added sex appeal--not exactly what you want to convey to a teenage girl. Skin Musk is a bit more of a skanky musk scent than Alyssa Ashley Musk. It is definitely a soft scent but there is that underlying fecal note not present in Alyssa Ashley Musk. That fecal note mixes with a beautiful soft woodsy note that combined with the sweeter, powdery note of musk blends into a beautiful skin scent. Nutty vanilla drydown that warms the skin. This is a unisex fragrance and smells gorgeous on a man. Not masculine, nor feminine, just really yummy. Sarah Jessica Parker is a big fan - she talked about this fragrance in the book The Perfect Scent by Chandler Burr. This is actually a perfect bedtime fragrance!

Skin Musk is still available but is now made by Parfums de Coeur.

This is the original (Bonne Bell) cologne version of the fragrance.



If you would like to know more information about musk as a perfume ingredient, please read:

Just a bit of background information about musk oil. Musk is one of the most penetrating essences known to man; just a few molecules can scent millions of cubic feet of air. That is why many animals and insects use this bodily secretion to send silent, invisible signals to mates or enemies. Humans are also attracted to (and sometimes repelled by) the smell of musk. Musk comes from a glandular secretion of the mature male Tibetan musk deer during rutting season. The musk deer is found in Pakistan, India, Tibet, China, Siberia and Mongolia. It was first mentioned in the Talmud in the 5th century, B.C. as an animal-based fragrance. Musk also fixes and balances a fragrance. The best quality musk used to come from Tibet and China (Tonquin/Tonkin musk). Since the extraction of the musk pods was fatal to the musk deer, they became an endangered species in 1979. Only old stock is used or musk produced from the little pellets that the deer drop on the ground while they graze. Natural musk is very pungent in its raw state - somewhat urinous and fecal. Angelica and ambrette seeds produce musky smelling compounds which are used in fragrances but are a costly resource for niche and natural perfumers. 

All musk used in perfumery today is synthetic apart from only a handful of exceptions which are usually small artisanal perfumers. Synthetic musks are known as white musks in the perfume industry and are a class of synthetic aromachemicals used to replicate the scent of the musk deer. They have more of a clean, smooth, sweet scent and none of the fecal or animalic notes that natural musks have. Since the high cost and scarcity of natural musk has always been a concern for the fragrance industry, synthetic musks have been around for a very long time - much longer than the other animal notes. Nitro musk was first created in 1888 when Albert Baur accidentally discovered it while working on producing a more effective form of trinitrotoluene (TNT). The five most commercially relevant nitro musk compounds are: musk ketone, musk ambrette, musk moskene, musk tibetene and musk xylene. They are all rich and warm smelling and were used in vintage extraits and colognes. Unfortunately, nitromusks are no longer used in fragrances (since the early 1980s) and polycyclic musk compounds (another class of synthetic musk) are also being phased out. Macrocyclic musk compounds are now the most used class of synthetic musks in fragrances. Synthetic musks are essential in modern perfumery as they form the base note of most fragrances. They smooth and blend all of the other ingredients making it an excellent base material while imparting its own scent into the fragrance. Synthetic musks have a more airy, powdery effect that is said to be more appealing to the modern nose. But to lovers of the vintage scents, the use of macrocyclic musks changed their beloved scent.

Chandler Burr, author of The Emperor of Scent and The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris & New York, a former New York Times perfume critic from 2006 to 2010, and the founder of the Department of Olfactory Art at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City had this to say on real musk:  "Tonquin musk is animalic in its most elevated form. It is a perfumery raw material that was extracted from a gland under the lower stomach and before the hind legs of the male of the species Moschus moschiferus L, the Tibetan musk deer. Tonquin musk is the real, natural, glandular product. It is one of the most astounding smells you will ever experience."

I had the opportunity once to smell the musk from a musk deer blended with Mysore sandalwood. It was the most beautiful raw, natural smell and it seriously brought a tear to my eye.





Bonne Bell

Fragrance Name:

Skin Musk 

Year Introduced:

Mid 1970s






Musk notes, skanky (fecal notes), woody notes    

Advertising Slogans:

Wear a little something, and a lot of SKIN - 1975

If warmth had a smell, it would be SKIN - 1979

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