For many in the perfume world, summer fragrances mean one thing: citrus. But within that category, there’s quite a bit of variety. Citrus scents can include lemon, grapefruit, lime, bitter orange and its many derivatives (like petitgrain, neroli, and orange blossom), and one of the perfume industry’s most beloved ingredients, bergamot. In general, these scents are fresh and uplifting—perfect for hot weather.
How to Choose a Summer Scent
Before you buy, there are a few things you should know about summer fragrances. Citrus scents dissipate quickly (they likely won’t last more than a few hours). That can be a desirable attribute in the summer: A heavy cloud of fragrance that persists all day might be off-putting in the heat. If you prefer a scent that’ll stick around, look for formulations that have longer-lasting notes, like musk or patchouli, in the base.
Alternatively, you can try boosting the endurance of your scent by layering it with one of the many popular minimal scents on the market, like D.S. & Durga’s I Don’t Know What and Escentric Molecules’ Molecule line. These sheer scents feature notes like Iso E Super that can act as a fixative for your favorite perfume without overly changing the scent.
Summer is the prime season for getaways, and many summer fragrances are designed to evoke exotic destinations. The right spritz of aquatic or fruity notes can call to mind an island vacation, even when you’re staying home. Read on for our picks for new scents to try this summer, whether you’re in the mood for a Sicilian getaway or a forest retreat.
The Best Summer Fragrances for Men
1. D.S. & Durga St. Vetyver
Vetiver can go a number of ways in a perfume, from smoky and woody to soft and grassy. Brooklyn perfumer D.S. & Durga packages vetiver as a Caribbean cologne, with both fresh and smoky notes of sour orange, sea grass, and rum.
The Nue Co. takes a “functional” approach to fragrance: The company imbues its scents with notes that not only smell good but can also provide calming effects, too. As the name implies, Forest Lungs recreates the feeling of taking a deep breath in the woods with notes of cedar and pine against tart citrus and bergamot.
3. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Celestia Cologne Forte
“Cologne” and “strong” don’t usually go together in traditional perfume vernacular—a classic eau de cologne is not necessarily a man’s perfume, but a fresh, citrus-based scent. Master perfumer Francis Kurkdjian pushes the concept of cologne forward with a trio of longer lasting formulations in his popular Aqua line. With notes of bergamot, mimosa, and musk, Aqua Celestia attempts to bottle the image of the sky meeting the ocean.
A tribute to the Mediterranean, Diptyque’s Ilio introduces a somewhat unusual note to a classic summer scent: prickly pear. The famed French perfume house contrasts the juicy notes of prickly pear with tried-and-true favorites like bergamot, jasmine, and iris.
Perfume house MEMO expands on its popular leather line, which has already explored Ireland and France, with a tribute to the Italian island of Sicily. Bitter orange, cedrat, and lime open Sicilian Leather, and they’re paired with green notes of patchouli and violet leaf and, of course, a leather accord.
No summer would be complete without a trip to the ocean. Launching July 16, Sigil’s newest perfume, Aqua Viridi, imbues petitgrain and lime with marine notes like blue cypress and seaweed. Better yet, Sigil will donate five percent of the direct sales of Aqua Viridi to the Surfrider Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to protecting the world’s oceans.