Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Perfumery Material: Cashmeran/ Blonde Woods

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 Womanityor 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.


  1. Anonymous17:14

    Persolaise seems to believe that Cashmeran is about to be restricted or banned by the IFRA. Have you heard anything along those lines?

  2. Anon,

    Operative word: "about to" :-)
    I think until we hear officially, we can't be 100% certain. Look at what happened with vanillin! (and on another level with jasmine; when brands don't use even near enough what is considered the max allowed!)
    Musks (polycyclics at that) always raise an eco-flag, but it's not always warranted. Remember: rather than liver damage, IFRA is concerning itself with skin sensitisation. ;-)

  3. Anonymous19:59

    Thank you so much for your reply, Elena.

  4. noetic owl21:36

    I loved Cashmere Mist but never bought a full bottle. Was this the first fragrance to use Cashmeran extensively? I did not know that it us also in the limited edition of Escada's Sexy Graffiti.

  5. Anon,

    you're very welcome.
    The palette evolves every day. People are devising things as we speak. I don't it's a catastrophe. ;-)

  6. No,

    I bet not many know about the Escada! It's true that one doesn't give them much thought.
    Cashmere Mist was the one which used the patented IFF molecule, DK scents being manufactured by IFF (and same for Lauder scents, which come to think of it, do use Cashmeran in sufficient proportions too). From then on many followed.

  7. noetic owl10:32

    Perhaps I may be the only one who gives Escada's limited editions "much thought". I purchased "Un Ete en Provence" when it first came out during one of my Paris trips. I loved the fragrance (reminds me of cherry blossoms) but adored the bottle. From that point on a new bottle was purchased every year and I have amassed a large collection of empty 50ml bottles from 1994 to present (the only one I am missing is Chiffon Sorbet-the first of the limited edition which came out in 93) but I do have a mini of it. The earlier juices were much better and the bottles were more elegant. The current juices are a bit too "fruity" for my taste (hence, I give to my daughters) and the bottles not as lovely as the older ones, yet I still collect! Un Ete is still my favorite, though, as it reminds me so much of Paris! Thanks for letting me rant :) !!

  8. Oh, I didn't mean to sound dismissive. Hope you didn't take offense. But they have issued so many limited editions that it's both hard to keep track and they seem to give fruity florals long their overdue which make them "forgettable" ("not given a chance" I say) for most perfume lovers. But as you say, that;s not always the truth! LT gives Chiffon Sorbet high praise too, please remember. So your mini is in good order to be appreciated by even more snobby collectors.

    Un Ete en provence sounds absolutely dreamy, though! I don't recall that one. I think I liked Marine Groovy or something other (it was a fresh but non screechy marine, that's what I remember)

  9. noetic owl14:48

    Oh goodness! There was no offense taken whatsoever,nor did I feel as though you were being dismissive! I guess I did a poor job of trying to convey that the limited edition Escadas (which at one time were exclusive to Saks in NYC, before the days of new releases every week and stores like Sephora!) were
    my secret little pleasures! I have original minis of the first 6 from1993-1998. I tried Un Ete last night on my wrist- began so fruity and dried down to the loveliest floral which I could still smell faintly this morning. Ocean Bleue was a fresh unusual marine (and I don't usually care for marine scents) that was also quite lovely and the bottle was absolutely gorgeous!-an opaque aquamarine/teal blue! Too bad we are not neighbors as I would love for you to sample these little gems!

  10. NOwl,

    no worries! :-)
    Your little treasure sounds just like the thing to go through with a friend, if that could be possible, and I wish I were that friend indeed. Ocean Bleue sounds nice! Might that be the one I meant? I don't recall specifics at all. See, this is where the "not too much thought" led me. LOL!

  11. I get mostly the "wet concrete" note from Cashmeran. Sometimes bordering on mildew...still I find it fascinating, and I wear some version of Alien regularly. Doesn't Mathilde Laurent use it quite a bit? Thanks for writing about an amazing aromachemical!

  12. Marla,

    you're welcome!

    I suppose in a context of a woody composition the mildewy quality would come up more, that's true.
    Haven't given much thought in relation to specific perfumers but it's an interesting association (like Ellena or Geza Schoen with Iso-E Super) and one that needs further investigation.


Type your comment in the box, choose the Profile option you prefer from the drop down menu, below text box (Anonymous is fine too!) and hit Publish.
And you're set!

This Month's Popular Posts on Perfume Shrine