Io by Chris Rusak

Notes: incense, soil tincture, cedar, peat, cypress leaf, labdanum, dried peppers, smoke, and tree resins.

Io is first and foremost an incense composition, but not in your typical way. I am Catholic and grew up going to Catholic school, so my immediate incense association is with attending mass. I think one of the reasons I’m so drawn to Io is that it is decidedly not a church incense. It’s not necessarily a warm and snuggly scent to me either, although it’s very appropriate for Autumn.

I’m describing what Io is not, but what does it actually smell like? On first spray, the soil tincture comes through most prominently to me. It’s the pure smell of nature. You can almost feel the texture of the dirt. It’s very primal. Then, just in case the smell of actual dirt isn’t enough nature for you, the unmistakable smell of forest fire smoke wafts through along with an intense, black cedar wood. Yes, indeed, we are well out of the realm of church incense here! The opening of Io is elemental. It’s earth and fire and blackened wood.

So, where is the incense? Give it some time. Io’s powerful opening takes about 20 minutes to settle down on my skin. The swirling smoke dies down to a more gentle waft of dry incense. The intense earthy soil note also settles, but the composition retains that textural aspect. It’s dry in texture, almost flinty, even. But, what strikes me, is how rich the resins feel. It just goes to show that you don’t always need to amp up creamy vanilla or amber accords to create a richness of depth. Io’s resinous base has an elegance to it because of the balance between richness and texture.

I said that I don’t find Io particularly cuddly or snuggly. It’s not a comfort scent for me. It’s meditative, which is different than pure comfort. I wear Io in the evenings at home. It’s September and it’s Virgo season. I’ve been getting back to my to-do lists and my daily routines. Io serves me well in my nighttime routine when I do evening yoga and my skincare routine. Io has a sense of grounded earthiness, but it also has a spiritual or cerebral component with the resins and incense. Io is a great companion for this transitional time of year, as we all try to ground ourselves and find our footing between the seasons.

*I’m friendly with Chris on social media. I gave him a heads up that I was planning to write this post about Io just so he would be aware of it. This post is not sponsored content. Chris actually has a note on his site stating that he doesn’t do influencer giveaways or content of that nature.

Edited to add: Chris is super friendly to talk to and, best of all, is a perfume junkie. He can be found on twitter @chrisrusak and on instagram @chris.rusak.perfume — if you have any questions for him!


The photo of my sample was taken by me. The information on raw materials and notes is via Fragrantica and Chris Rusak’s site. As stated, nothing in this post was sponsored or gifted.

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