Body Shop White Musk Oil: The Last Man Standing From the Long Lost Perfume Bar


Sometimes the ageing classics get overlooked. It dawned on me that there is one perfume that I have been wearing for at least twenty five years and yet I haven’t reviewed it yet.

I first came across Body Shop White Musk at the glorious and much pined for (by me) Perfume Bar that every Body Shop used to have years ago. For those who have youth on their side and cannot remember this wonderful creation, please indulge me as I go down  Memory Lane.

In the 80s and 90s, each Body Shop had a Perfume Bar consisting of large glass jars with narrow necks, and long glass dipping sticks in each one. The jars would be on a circular stand, surrounded by eager customers, sniffing and testing. The happy bodyshop oilcustomer (i.e a younger me) would dip, dab and sniff until finding a scent she or he could not live without. The nice ladies at the counter would then fill a little plastic refillable bottle for you to take home, for a very reasonable price.

For many years I had tiny plastic 15ml and 30ml bottles of such much missed gems as Japanese Musk, Mostly Musk, and White Musk (sensing a theme?). I was not alone.  My mother loved “Annie” and always carried it in her handbag, and “Dewberry” was practically The Smell of the 80s.

Sadly all but a tiny few are discontinued, but if the Body Shop were ever to create this mirage of happiness again, I would be their most loyal customer. How I wish they would bring it back.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rex Features (1350527r) Anita Roddick of the Body Shop Various
 Photo by Rex Features (1350527r)
Anita Roddick of the Body Shop

This review is for White Musk Oil. You will see that it is not for the White Musk EDT, Sheer spray, or for any of its flankers such as Libertine.  I find them all too light and fleeting. White Musk Oil has a particular staying power that I have not encountered with the EDT or flankers, or in fact any of today’s Body Shop fragrances.  A dab of White Musk Oil on the neck, crook of elbow and wrist and you are set up for an entire day.

It’s subtle enough not to offend in a small office, and lasting enough not to have to top up in the day.  One of my favourite things about this oil is that a 30ml bottle lasts me a year.  The Body Shop website often has half price offers on, which can make this even more of a bargain.


So what of the fragrance itself? Well according to the Body Shop website, this has notes of Lily, Iris, Rose and Vanilla. Personally I get Musk and maybe a very faint background of Lily, but no Rose or Vanilla and no cold hearted Iris.

I am shameless about never having grown out of it. Many people see it as student perfume they have left behind, but I have had more misty eyed compliments about this than about any other perfume I have ever worn.

The Good Old Days- photo from
The Good Old Days- photo from

I often forget I’m wearing it and spray another fragrance over the top, but I find this just makes both fragrances smell even better. It’s close to skin: people will get a waft when you hug them or lean over them, but they won’t faint like dominoes when you get in the lift.

You may well find a man sniffing nostalgically to himself and remembering his first girlfriend though.

This is proof, if proof were needed, that you don’t need big bucks to smell good.


13 thoughts on “Body Shop White Musk Oil: The Last Man Standing From the Long Lost Perfume Bar”

  1. You are a veritable aide memoire today – I remember the perfume bar and of buying frangrances as festive gifts for female relatives as a child.
    And yes, the musks were always the best!
    I’m trying to recall if activist and the rest of the – much less extensive – male line were also available… happy days!
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

  2. I do – it was great! Exactly as you said, a place to sniff and ponder without feeling rushed by assistants. And PerfumedDandy – I’m sure it was where I first encountered Activist, which I used to buy for my Dad. 🙂

    1. You know, the fragrance retail industry could learn a lot from the Perfume Bar. We want to sniff and ponder, exactly as you say, without being rushed, pressured, or given something on a bit on a paper that never smells the same as on skin. Leave a perfume-head alone with some fragrances for a while and they will soon make their own way to the till.

  3. Like your mum, I loved Annie. My home and everything I wore bore the scent of it. My sons (all grown up now), remember its beautiful perfume and have always associated it with me. I have tried abd tried to get another bottle, but without luck. I managed to get a bottle about 6 or 7 years ago from a Body Shop who fortunately for me, still had one under the counter! To this day, I have a few millimeters left at the bottom of its glass bottle, and am terrified of it completely running out! I can’t even find anything like it. I think the Body Shop would be pleasantly surprised at how well the old perfume oils would sell. I’d be joining you at the perfume bar, with the lovely glass bottles, and stocking up on my favourite ever fragrance!!

    1. Hello Joy, thank you so much for coming by and sharing your perfume memories. In a blind test I could immediately identify Annie- the memory is so vivid and there is nothing I can think of that is similar. I think both The Body Shop and Avon need to start chasing our dollars instead of catering to the young crowd. There is a real market for nostalgia perfumes. We over forties have good money that we will spend on the right stuff! Don’t they want our custom? Maybe it’s time for a letter to the Body Shop. I’ve already written to Avon! Thank you again Joy. I hope you enjoy the blog. Best wishes Samantha

  4. Oh dear I’m just so depressed reading all the comments about the past perfume bar in the Body Shop. I too loved Annie. It’s my very very favourite with White Musk a close second. I would love if they brought back the perfume bar. I haven’t been in the body shop for years for this very reason and I was once their best customer. Sad.

    1. Hi Liz, I quite agree. The Body Shop is like a boutique now and its used to have such a lovely hippy vibe. What I wouldn’t give for a perfume bar!

      Just recently I found a little phial of old Body Shop perfume oil and it has no label on it. I’ve been puzzling over it for days. I was so excited when I found it though- it was like finding treasure!

      best wishes

  5. Hi, Sam! I just today received a (half-off) 30ml (purple) bottle of the White Musk Perfume Oil from The Body Shop’s current sale (along with the stunning Atlas Mountain Rose perfume oil and a Smoky Poppy that I don’t care for). I’m curious about whether or not you feel the current iteration of the WMPO smells much as it used to or, if, like reviewers on Amazon seem to feel, the formulation has been drastically altered. I never wore the oil back in the day, so I don’t even have a memory to compare it to, but I did used to love the EDT and the Perfume Bar! Thanks for your input! — Ginny

    1. Hi Ginny,

      Thanks so much for dropping by. Personally I don’t think White Musk has changed all that much. I know this because I have worn it almost solidly since the eighties, but I also know it because when I wore it to a work meeting in the early noughties (circa 2001), the man I met said “You smell like my ex girlfriend from back in the 80s!”. Another man once told me it smelled like his student house when he shared with girls, again, back in the 80s.

      If I’m honest I don’t think its’ quite as concentrated as it used to be,but the scent is the same, at least in my opinion.

      I’m glad you remember the perfume bar. The Body Shop tells me there are no plans to bring it back, but how I wish they would!

      warmest wishes

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