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While summer gets the obvious association with sunshine and warmth, this season's fragrance trends have honored many other qualities of the season we tend to overlook. Passing showers and the occasional dew have taken the shape of adaptable, gender-neutral scents. Flavors of the summer ice cream truck are also reimagining the way we view the "sweet" category. And of course, florals always stay in style, but some recent iterations feel extra fitting for sunshine and warm weather. Keep reading to learn more about summer's biggest fragrance trends for 2023.
"Marine scents always reign this time of year," says Dana Jasper, fragrance expert and senior store manager at Merz Apothecary in Chicago. While "marine" often evokes salty, oceanic smells, its form for summer is more rainy, crisp, and muted. Think: dew, petrichor, and even steam.
In the case of by/rosie jane's Leila Lou (celebrating its 15th anniversary this year), dewy, fresh-cut grass creates a classic, fresh feel. "I wanted something that felt familiar but addictive," founder Rosie Jane Johnston says. The result is a wearable, crisp, and cozy scent.
Maison Margiela Replica interprets this trending springtime note even more literally with When The Rain Stops, an aquatic unisex fragrance with rosy, sunny notes. One of the most eerily accurate takes on this trend is D.S. & Durgas Steamed Rainbow. The delightful ingredient list incorporates a note for every rainbow color, from red mandarin to yellow resin to indigo grass. And indeed, it smells like weightless vapor. If that feels too sci-fi, don't worry: the purple-violet base note lends a wearable creaminess.
A runaway favorite from this season is L'eau Papier, a subtle eau de toilette skin scent from Diptyque. Here, the key watery note is steamed rice instead of water. "It evokes a sense of place for many wearers," says Eduardo Valadez, the Director of Marketing for Diptyque Americas, "It's warm and cozy and offers a smooth creaminess that helps connect the other notes of the fragrance." L'Eau Papier is bright, warm, and evolves on the skin, and it's perfect for the transitional time between seasons.
One of the more unexpected fragrance trends this summer has been decadent gourmands inspired by notes like pistachio. According to Jasper, many people only think they don't like gourmands. "You'd be surprised how many people say they don't like perfumes in this category but then end up with more than one," she says. "Gourmand fragrances have something that is grounding in them. Think of pistachio gelato–the salinity balances the sweetness."
Pistachio scents, like Kayali Yum Pistachio Gelato, combine nutty, woody, vanilla notes for a summer twist on the sometimes uber-cozy, super-sweet gourmand category. Italian Kush from Boy Smells takes a savory angle on the note. "We want this scent to take you away without having to leave home," says Boy Smells founder Matthew Herman. Instead of emphasizing the "gelato" associations with pistachio, this gender-expansive scent hones in on the green, vegetal sides of the note with basil, citrus, and black peppercorn.
One of the prettiest gourmands to hit the market this season is Un Jardin a Cythere by Hermés. Inspired by a Grecian island, this eau de toilette is salty and citrusy with an olive wood base and grassy notes of mint and sage alongside the nutty pistachio. This is your best bet if you're looking for a lovely, classic way to try pistachio.
Florals With a Twist
Florals are a popular category year-round. Still, with so much newness, perfumers are looking for ways to subvert expectations of what a "floral" can be. By using notes of musk, wood, fruits, and spices, these strange florals are expanding the category and enticing new fans. With unisex and gender-neutral fragrances gaining popularity, florals are no longer just the domain of people who want something pretty or feminine. "You can pair a floral note with something unexpected and turn it on its head," says Jasper.
Sherwood, a new woody floral from Memo, is a warm, glowing floral that melds blossoms with light woods and carrot seed to round out the fruity top notes. Crab Apple Blossom from Clive Christian is lovely and luxe, with citrus, rhubarb, mint, and salty driftwood. With its bittersweet, aquatic notes, Crab Apple Blossom is also good if you seek a unisex, masculine-of-center floral.
One of summer's most potent and surprising smells is the dampness of florals coming to life in unique ways. Gloam from Aesop combines creamy flowers like mimosa, iris, and jasmine with wood, smoke, and peat to build an odd, intense floral that will pique the curiosity of anyone who wants to step out of their fragrance comfort zone. It's animalistic, spicy, and unusual.
If you unabashedly love florals and want an everyday bouquet explosion, you can't go wrong with the aptly named Florist by Ellis Brooklyn. From the nose behind Glossier's cult-fave You, Florist has honeysuckle, lily of the valley, citrus, and amber, and it's highly wearable, fun, and easygoing.
One of the best new florals is a beachy take on blossoms. Lust for Sun from Juliette Has A Gun smells like it was made to wear with sunscreen: Jasmine, gardenia, and orange blossom meet coconut, musk, and vanilla for a sunny, joyful floral that will take you on vacation.
While summer storms, pistachio ice cream, and florals are all trends for summer, they're also three of the most comforting, timeless notes that'll make sense in your collection for months to come. Fragrances of the season are skewing away from avant-garde and leaning into what we love most about summer: warmth, joy, and all the super sweet moments in between, and our senses couldn't be happier.