There are two main reasons for wearing oud: for one’s personal enjoyment, and for others.
It is an absolute delight studying the evolution of the complex smell of oud on your skin for hours, for your own enjoyment. Many specimens of oud evoke olfactory memories, and it often becomes a fun exercise trying to identify them.
For one’s personal enjoyment, it is recommended to apply the oil to one’s outer forearm, 2 – 3 inches above the wrist. Even a tiny amount, the size of a cumin seed, will be sufficient. This is then gently dabbed below the jaw line.
Needless to say, oud oil is so potent that even this tiny amount you apply can scent the entire room you are in.
It is important that you do not rub too hard. There should be a sheen remaining on your arm, after applying to the neck. The skin is highly absorbent, and rubbing too hard will make the oil (and the scent) disappear much faster. It can also damage the scent molecules.
Moisturizing your skin will also ensure that the smell lasts longer.
For the ultimate ‘broadcasting’ effect, there are two ways to use the oil:
1) Applying to your clothes, bracelet, or other item: This will give you the longest lasting smell as the oil will not be absorbed by the skin. For clothes, it is best to apply a bit to the shoulders, and some to the chest and back of your shirt.
2) Applying to the skin: while this will not last nearly as long, in most cases the smell will be much more appealing due to the unique chemistry between the skin and oud. Apply the oil just below your outer wrist, then smear it onto your neck. Once again, remember to keep a sheen remaining so don’t rub too hard!
About 1 – 2 healthy swipes of the dip stick should be used if you want to share the beautiful smell of oud with those around you.
Don’t forget that others might not be accustomed to the smell of oud like you! So do not over apply, even if you yourself can not detect too strong a smell. Remember that one’s own nose gets quickly accustomed to the scent due to olfactory fatigue. It’s usually a good idea after applying oud, that you wait about 15 minutes before meeting someone.
Different ouds have different scent lives, and different chemistries with the skin. You may find, for example, that you like your Indian oud best applied to the skin, while you like to have your Cambodian oud scenting your clothes.
What is oud?
Also known as agarwood, aloeswood and jinkou, oud is nature’s most exquisite fragrant offering.
Deep in a Far Eastern jungle, an evergreen tree is attacked by an infection. Much like our bodies’ immune system produces white blood cells, the tree starts producing a substance to combat the infection.
Over the years, the infection grows – as does the substance the tree produces. This is agarwood.
There are few natural aromatics that have as complex a scent spectrum as agarwood (oud). Natural ambergris, musk and rose also rank as some of the most valuable natural fragrances, but none come close to oud in the sheer transcendence and sublimity its fragrance boasts.
More than just a scent, oud can be mentally and spiritually engaging. In fact, specimens from different regions also seem to have an effect on a person’s emotions.
What is the difference between oud and attars/ mukhallats/ perfumes/ colognes?
Attars, mukhallats, perfumes, colognes and other commercially sold fragrances are a combination of different ingredients.
In contrast to the above, with regard to its composition, pure oud oil is itself the fragrance, not being blended with any other ingredients.
This was in regard to the composition. As for the difference in their scents, then none of them can be compared to oud. While many attars and other fragrances can be quite pleasant, oud is more than just a scent, and it engages the one wearing it on many different levels.
Can I combine oud with other fragrances?
If you are new to oud, you might find that you like it better blended with a cologne, attar or mukhallat because oud itself has a very powerful smell. You might want to tone it down a bit.
However, once you get more and more accustomed and addicted to the fragrance of pure oud, you might become more reluctant to mix it with anything else.
And that is, in fact, giving oud its due right!
I heard oud is very strong, and I’m afraid I will be overwhelmed
It’s true that oud has one of, if not, the most powerful smell in the world of perfumery. But it is usually the initial hit after application and smelling it right out of the bottle that can be overwhelming for the unexperienced nose. That is why, we strongly recommend starting off by applying very tiny amounts, and not smelling the oils directly.
Over time, as your nose gets used to the smell, you will find the smell of oud an absolute delight in its entirety, from application to the dry down.
Which oud will I like the most?
We recommend you get samples of the different ouds. Many people absolutely love the earthy, barnyard and slightly fecal quality of Hindi (Indian) ouds, while others are all for the sweeter, more ethereal Indonesian specimens.
Ultimately, you may find that you like ouds from all the regions since they all have something unique to offer, even if they all vastly differ in their characters and scent profiles.
Why do different ouds smell so distinctive?
The climates the trees were grown in, the age of the trees, the distillation and aging techniques all have an effect on the smell of different ouds.
How long will the scent last on my skin?
Different oud oils have different scent lives on the skin. You will find some ouds that are of very high quality whose smell will fade before that of much lower grade specimens. The same oil, however, might be incredibly long-lasting if applied to clothes, bracelets, etc.
In general, every oud oil, should be discernable to your nose for a good 2 – 3 hours. After that, your nose may get used to the scent, but those around you will still be able to smell it for hours to come.
How long will a bottle of oud last?
The short answer is: it depends on how frequently you use the oil, and how much you apply.
Used for personal enjoyment, a bottle could last you a whole year or more with daily use. Oud, however, is generally not used as an every-day scent and so a bottle will probably last you much longer.
Is oud gender specific?
In the Gulf countries of the Middle East, where oud oil is most celebrated and used, men use oud for special occasions, parties and things of that sort. In Yemen, a gift of oud is an expected part of the dowry that the bride receives from the groom.
Oud is more than just a ‘scent’, which could be classified as masculine and feminine.
Rather, it has so much more to offer, and gender requisite is not a condition to be able to enjoy the offerings of this precious gift of nature.
When should I use oud?
You may initially find that you want to use oud for special ocassions.
However, as is usually the case, you may find yourself loving oud so much that you will want to use it daily. In fact, some people even use it several times a day because they can’t get enough of it!
Where do Oud Oils get their distinct aroma?
Oud Oils owe their distinct aromatic scent to naturally-occurring organic compounds called terpenes and terpenoids.
Chemical composition of Oud Oils
A terpene is an organic compound which is widely produced by a variety of plants. These terpenes can be found in the essential oils and resins of plants as well as in the scent glands of flowers, and often are characterised by their strong smell and aromatic qualities.
Chemically, a terpene is an unsaturated hydorocarbon which consists of a combination of isoprene units (C5H8) and have the general formula (C5H8)n. Simple terpenes can be modified chemically through the natural process of oxidisation (reaction with oxygen in the air) to produce more complex compounds known as terpenoids. These natural terpenes and terpenoids are the major constituents of the essential oils of many plants and flowers.
Terpenes are structurally diverse and may take on different molecular structures despite having similar chemical formulae. Subtle variations in the basic terpene molecular structure have resulted in tens of thousands of unique terpene profiles present in our natural environment, each possessing its own unique chemical and aromatic qualities. Some plants may possess a particular terpene profile which gives the plant its distinct flavour. Other plants, on the other hand, may possess an endless variety and combination of terpene profiles, resulting in these plants having a wide diversity of possible aromas and flavours.
Why are Oud Oils so diverse in aroma?
Precisely because of their chemical composition (above). Different terpene profiles can be found even within the same species of agarwood tree. The type of terpene known as sesquiterpenes is an active compound in agarwood. The possible sequisterpene chemical structures of each extracted agarwood essential oil are endless and coupled with the various rates of oxidation, would result in an even wider diversity of Oud scent profiles.
Factors which may affect a particular Oud Oil’s chemical composition and scent profile includes the age and quality of the agarwood tree’s fungal infection, the age, species, environmental conditions and geographical location of the agarwood tree, the age of the extracted oil and the amount of its exposure to air and sunlight (this affects oxidisation), the type of distillation used and the purity of the oil (blended v. pure, diluted v. undiluted).
Terpenes and terpenoids are known to contribute to the scent of eucalyptus, cinnamon, citrus, cloves, ginger, and menthol, among others, which are just some of the scent notes typically found in Oud.