Thanks to its pliability, which fits like a glove many diverse compositions of different fragrance families, or thanks to its diffusiveness and tenacity, Cashmeran or blonde woods is a molecule which forms the core of many a modern perfume formula; a synthetic not found in nature but copiously used in products we use every day from soap to shampoo and deodorant.
The proper name of Cashmeran is 1,2,3,5,6,7-hexahydro-1,2,3,3-pentamethyl-4h-inden-4-one. You might also come across it as "musk indanone" or "indomuscone". Though commonly refered to as "blonde woods" in perfume speak, the reality is that the ingredient Cashmeran (an International Flavors and Fragrances appelation) is actually a musk component with a yellow, trickly texture. Its scent profile takes over a vast sea between woods and ambers, abstract and indefinable. Not currently under the allergens list controled by IFRA it is used in a variety of products. There are som concerns that excessive use of polycyclic musks might do some liver damage, but we're probably talking massive amounts here.
The name Cashmeran derives from its tactile feel which recalls the smoothness and softness of cashmere wool. Among the first perfumes to use it in a considerable degree were Loulou by Cacharel (1987) and Paco Rabanne Sport (1986).
as is Sexy Graffiti by Escada (2002). Tempting though it may be to imagine that modern best-seller Cashmere Mist by Donna Karan (1994) is full of it, in reality the powdery soft perfume doesn't use it.
Insoluble in water and hydrophobic, Cashmeran is therefore a prime target for use in functional perfumery too, since it won't rinse out: detergents, fabric softener, alcoholic lotions, deodorants, shampoos, you name it... But fine perfumery has profited of its advantages as well.
Scent Profile: Abstract, Musky, Woody, Concrete Hit by Rain
The diffusive, musky-woody scent is reminiscent of concrete (especially the abstract woody scent that concrete gives when hit upon by rain, a cityscape in the rain), also lightly spicy, lightly powdery. Though perfumers sometimes describe it to also have apple and pine facets I admit I haven't detected those myself. It is however used as a powerful floralizer as it aids the expansion and diffusion of floral notes, especially accords of jasmine, as in Thierry Mugler's Alien (it's also used in Womanity) or the lighter Flora Nerolia by Guerlain (where it's married to neroli and frankincense as well). Other cult fragrances to feature it prominently include the discontinued Feu d'Issey and Kenzo's Jungle L'Elephante and Jungle Le Tigre.
In Histoires de Parfums' Tuberose Trilogy, Gislain chose to include the note in the Tubereuse Virginale offering, where blond woods coexist with naturally cohabitating, heady white flowers on a base of patchouli and vanilla. Dans tes Bras by Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle contains a hefty dose of Cashmeran alongside the violet nuances and so does his Une Fleur de Cassie, while Wonderwood by Comme des Garcons, Diptyque's Eau Particuliere, Nasomatto Duro, Byredo La Tulipe and Al Khatt by Xerjoff Shooting Stars collection are a few more niche offerings exploiting Cashmeran's diffusiveness. Perfumer Mathilde Laurent, currently in-house perfumer for Cartier, has a particular fondness for it.
How to Incorporate Cashmeran into Perfumes
Blending well with other modern ingredients (ambroxan, allyl amyl glycolate, damascones, ethyl maltol...) as well as natural ingredients (frankincense, clary sage, citrus, geraniol, linalool, patchouli, tonka bean, vetiver, etc.), Cashmeran presents a vista of options for the creative perfumer.
It can serve woody or warm musk compositions (see Miami Glow by JLo), formulae resting on rose and saffron, tobacco or oud masculine blends (see Nomaoud by Comptoir Sud Pacifique or Byredo's Accord Oud), even perfumes with jonquil or cassie. It can even aid aqueous olfactory scapes, such as in Armani's Acqua di Gioia Essenza!
Tocca Florence, Tom Ford White Patchouli, Step into Sexy by Avon, Philosophy Love, Blumarine Innamorata, Kylie Minogue Dazzling Darling, Hugo Boss Hugo (in the flask bottle), Anna Sui Night of Fancy, Oriflame Paradise and Burberry Body are a few more of f the fragrances featuring this musk-woody component.
Another one of the advantages of this fairly inexpensive musky component is that it has a medium potency in volume projection, but a long trail that surpasses a full day's length. Being a mild sensitiser, its ratio is currently restricted to no more than 2% of the compound.
It's clear we will be seeing it more and more admitted as such in official perfume press releases in the years to come.