There is nothing like a summer scent. We wait for the warmer months all year and when the season finally arrives, we want to experience it with absolutely all of our senses. Fragrance is a great way to enhance your summer experience and create more memories (remember the whole scent tied to memory thing?).
What notes define a summer fragrance? Anything you want. Of course, "summer scents" are often thought of as beachy, breezy, sweet, and reminiscent of sunscreen. But summer scents can also be warm, spicy, and sensual. Ahead, we rounded up the 15 best summer fragrances. No matter your fragrance style, there will be something in here you'll love.
Boy Smells Marble Fruit
After the launch of their core fine fragrance collection this spring, Boy Smells is back with a second fragrance launch in celebration of Pride, Marble Fruit. As always, Boy Smells layers unexpected notes and makes it work. The brand is all about taking two dissonant ideas and creating perfect harmony.
Marble Fruit rips open with pear, pink peppercorn, nectarine, and cinnamon. The heart of the scent is very floral, including rose, magnolia, jasmine, and freesia. The base anchors the scent in a warm, woody foundation, including cedar, ambrox, musk, sandalwood, cashmeran. It’s a juicy, textural take on a fruity scent with a lot of depth.
Boy Smells is a queer company that continually puts their money where their mouth is. 10% of the sales of Marble Fruit go directly to The Trevor Project, with a minimum donation of $100,000.
Byredo Open Sky
Last fall, Byredo released Mixed Emotions, a scent inspired by all of the wonky feelings we were experiencing during quarantine. It was fitting, then. Open Sky rolled out when the world began opening back up.
It's inspired by travel, getting back out into the world, and the thrill of possibility. It opens with a bright, searing pomelo note that sticks with you throughout wear. It’s a laser-focused distillation of tart citrus and paired with black pepper to give depth. The heart of the scent is hemp leaves and at the base, you’ll find palo santo and vetiver.
It’s a very lively scent. After over a year of being confined to our homes, this fragrance feels like a celebration of excitement, freedom, and possibility.
Founded by two best friends with lengthy experience in the beauty industry, Liis has been a bit under-the-radar—until now. Bo smells like woody vanilla (which isn't groundbreaking), but it's so good there's not much to critique. At the top, there is resin and tobacco. In the middle, there’s redwood pine and incense. At the base, you’ll find wood and vanilla.
A lot of these notes can often overpower the scent and pull it one way or another, but Bo is beautifully balanced. My favorite thing about it is the way it wears. Often, scents like this can be heavy. This is one that is surprisingly light yet consistent. It doesn’t fade after just a few hours, as most scents that wear so lightly do. It’s a real delight to wear over and over again.
Vacation by Poolside FM
Everyone loves the smell of sunscreen. It’s so nostalgic and immediately brings you back to memories of fun in the sun. Plus, it’s full of warm, and sweet, and comforting notes like vanilla and coconut. How can you not love it?
That sunscreen scent has now been brought to life by Vacation. Rodrigo Flores-Roux is the nose behind some of the most iconic scents of all time, including Clinique's Happy, Donna Karan's Black Cashmere, Tom Ford's Neroli Portofino, and Britney Spears' Hidden Fantasy. He is a living legend and absolute genius.
Vacation is an imaginative, fun scent with familiar notes of coconut, banana, pineapple, and orange blossom, plus notes of pool water and rubbery, inflatable pool floaties. It’s the whole experience of sunscreen in a scent and an absolute must-have for summer.
Issey Miyake A Drop D'Issey
A Drop D'Issey brings together a lot of things currently happening in fragrance. It’s a very clean scent, beckoning to bar soap and clean skin. It also has an almond milk note right at the top. This is still an odd note, to me, but it’s not the first time we’ve seen it. The recent Marc Jacobs release, also boasts almond milk, as does a recent candle from Otherland.
Does almond milk have a smell? Not really, but its inclusion is another way to bring the idea of almond to life in a scent while separating it from the "nutty" note or a more boozy amaretto. It illustrates a soft, creaminess.
The heart includes lilac, jasmine, and anise. The base offers a blend of vanilla, cedar, musk, and ambroxan. It’s light, airy, softly sweet, and is a lovely option if you’re looking for something more than a skin scent but less than a traditional sweet scent.
Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau So Intense
Chances are, you’ve smelled the original Daisy. It is the ultra-successful Marc Jacobs scent that spawned numerous iterations. The bottles are irresistible. They look like art as they sit on your vanity, so it’s easy to see why people love them.
That said, I never did—I don’t love white florals. What I didn’t know is the Daisy collection is full of different scents—some skew fruity and others are more fresh. Daisy Eau So Intense is the newest addition to the collection and it made me a believer. Instead of an intense white floral, as the name would suggest, it’s a juicy red fragrance that is completely disarming.
It opens with strawberries and pear with a heart of honey, rose, and jasmine. The base is vanilla, musk, and moss. It’s so surprisingly lovely. It’s definitely a sweet, vibrant scent that I love on warmer days, but it’s not too fruity or saccharine. I’ve been going back to it over and over again, and I don’t see myself stopping any time soon.
Louis Vuitton On The Beach
Beach scents are the gateway to fun, even if you’re not on the beach. I’ve smelled a thousand beach scents—but this one is different. It’s bright, sharp, and a little salty. Spritzing it on makes you feel like you've been transported right to the water.
It opens with a big burst of yuzu, followed up by the almost equally as bright neroli. At the heart are pink pepper, thyme, rosemary, and clove. The base is leveled out by cypress. It’s fresh and refreshing in the way that a day at the beach is but still has those beach qualities of wet earth, dry wood, and sea air.
I thought I knew what I was in for with this one, but I didn’t expect it to perform this well.
The Nue Co. Forest Lungs
The Nue Co.’s Forest Lungs is inspired by the Japanese practice of forest bathing, which entails being in nature and experiencing your surroundings with all of your senses. Forest bathing has been proven to positively affect your mental health, including reducing anxiety and depression. The Nue Co. wanted to channel the experience of forest bathing through fragrance.
Forest Lungs is hard to describe because it’s a scent that most of us intrinsically already know. It smells like cedar, pine, maybe a little patchouli, and many green, woody notes that you would find in a forest. It actually uses patented technology to replicate molecules called phytoncides, which are naturally produced by trees, and are credited with creating the positive health benefits of forest bathing.
The Nue Co. actually thinks of this as less of a fragrance more of an “olfactory supplement” to reduce stress and balance your mood. This may all seem a little lofty, but Forest Lungs is a must-try whether you’re looking for a way to center yourself throughout the day or just love the smell of being in nature.
Ex Nihilo Honoré Delights
Honoré Delights is inspired by Paris, specifically the patisseries lining the city streets. It’s warm, buttery, a little sweet, and very delicious. The dessert-like scent is somehow created without any of the notes we usually think of, like vanilla, tonka, or cacao.
The top is a surprisingly bright paring of bergamot and neroli, while the heart features orange blossom, iris, and ambrette. The base is held down by sandalwood, cedar, and musk. At a glance, this looks like a lovely fragrance, but not one that’s especially sweet. But it is in a way that’s insanely inviting. It’s warm and hazy, like a late afternoon when the rays of golden hour start to fall across the cobblestone streets while you’re enjoying a croissant and cappuccino on the sidewalk of a café.
This is a beautiful example of how, when you combine notes in just the right way, a scent can become so much more than just the sum of its parts.
Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb Infrared
Viktor & Rolf knows what they're good at—they made Flowerbomb and Spicebomb. What more do they have to prove?
This one is a flanker (which means the fragrance is a different version of an existing scent to bring out different notes; Spicebomb Infrared is a flanker of the original Spicebomb). And the red habanero chili pepper note stopped me dead in my tracks.
It is very good. It's a warm, round fragrance that catches you by surprise with its habanero note. The spicy note is accented by red berry oil and tobacco for a dark, surprisingly sweet fragrance that makes your nose tingle. It’s familiar enough to make sense in the Spicebomb family but definitely brings something new to the table.
Sol de Janeiro SOL Cheirosa ‘62
The delicious, summery Sol de Janeiro scent finally has its own fine fragrance. And the brand really did this scent justice.
If you're not familiar with the signature scent, it smells like luxurious sunscreen; a warm, sweet blend of salted caramel, pistachio, jasmine, and vanilla. It’s sweet but not exactly as sweet as the notes make it out to be. One spritz of this and you’ll understand why the whole collection is a hit.
Escentric Molecules M+ Iris
Today, the term "skin scent" refers to one that wears lightly and close to the skin. But, the original definition was built around the Iso E Super molecule; a synthetic molecule that smells faintly of blonde woods—almost like nothing at all—and was made to enhance the scent of your skin.
Escentric Molecules is a brand based around the Iso E Super molecule and scents similar to it. The brand is inspired by scents built around one single molecule.
Their latest launches add one more note each—mandarin, patchouli, and iris, respectively. The Iso E Super molecule paired with iris in M+ Iris is stunning.
I didn’t realize I was a fan of iris until I noticed it showed up in everything I love. It’s a soft, warm, plush floral that smells more like a petal than a flower (if that makes any sense). The Iso E Super molecule gives the iris room to breathe. It’s a really great example of how, in fragrance, you can do a lot with a little.
MCM Eau de Parfum
The eye-catching backpack bottle you’ve seen everywhere is MCM's new fragrance. It’s described as a floral amber, but I’d argue there’s enough fruit in the juice that it’s worth mentioning.
It opens with a lovely pairing of apricot and raspberry. The floral heart has notes of peony, violet, and jasmine. The base includes vanilla, moss, ambroxan, and sandalwood. There’s something in there for everyone. It’s fruity but not too sweet. It's floral but not in an overwhelming way. And the base is perfectly constructed to bring everything together and make it wear beautifully all day.
Bond No. 9 Governor’s Island
Governor’s Island is not inspired by the music festival that happens there every year (which is probably for the best). Instead, its notes are based on the dense forests that cover the island. It’s a woody fragrance that’s beautifully accented by amber and incense.
People go wild for woody scents, and this one is sure to be a hit. It gets straight to the point and doesn’t dilute its vision with any unnecessary notes. It opens with resin, incense, and a sea breeze accord to emulate a blast of fresh air coming in off the ocean. Then gives way to ambroxan and cedar and is anchored by vetiver and musk.
Scents like this always hit a certain sweet spot, and this one really nails it. Woody, resinous scents are a staple in any fragrance collection, and this one is an absolute essential.
Vilhelm Parfumerie Moon Carnival
This heated, musky floral will keep you smelling mysterious and interesting year-round. It’s a witchy mix of passionfruit, freesia, and bergamot at the top. Tuberose, gardenia, and orchid are at the heart. Marshmallow, vanilla bean, and tonka come together at the base. It sounds sweet, right? But it’s not. The real stars of the fragrance are the floral middle notes—everything on top and below them works to make them bloom into something else entirely.
It’s a humid mix of florals, fruit, and mellow sweetness that dances on your skin and evolves over time. It keeps me coming back to smell it over and over again. And each time, it’s a little different. It really keeps you guessing.