Along with autumn, summer is possibly the best time of year for a man to re-evaluate his fragrance wardrobe. Oh sure, that bottle of Le Male or Oud Wood might have served you well during the colder months, but with temperatures rising, now’s the time for something lighter, fresher and altogether more summery.

But what should you go for? “As a rule, fragrances featuring citrus notes or ones with ‘marine’ accords work particularly well in summer as we tend to associate them with freshness and coolness,” says perfume designer Azzi Glasser.

Look out, too, for traditional colognes, which are both fresh and herbaceous, as well as special summer versions of your favourite scents. Here’s a closer look at what’s on offer…

Super-Fresh Citrus Scents

Nothing says summer quite like the uplifting freshness of citrus fruits. We naturally associate them not only with the warmer months, but with cleanliness too (hence the inclusion of so many citrus notes in cleaning products). Not only that, the smell of citrus keeps us alert – handy when it’s hot and muggy outside.

One of the most popular fragrance categories, the appeal of citrus scents is their initial zingy freshness. It might not last long (citrus notes are famously volatile and short lived on the skin), but it’s ideal for summer.

Not a fan of sharp citrus notes? Then keep your eye out for fragrances like Ermenegildo Zegna Italian Bermamot and Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis, which are big on bergamot. “It’s still a citrus fruit and usually burns off pretty quickly, but it imparts a palpable sense of cleanliness and freshness without appearing too blatant and chilly like some other citrus notes,” says James Craven, Fragrance Archivist at independent perfumery Les Senteurs.

Perfect For: Sweltering city breaks, Mediterranean destinations, balmy evenings, work.

What To Buy: Geo F Trumper West Indian Limes, Clinique Happy For Men, Molton Brown Cool Buchu, Ferrari Bright Neroli, Miller Harris Citron Citron, Tom Ford Neroli Portofino, Acqua di Parma Colonia, Eau de Lacoste L. 12. 12. Jaune, Balmain Monsieur, The Body Shop Satsuma, Creed Citrus Bigarrade, Hermes Eau D`Orange Verte, and Library Of Fragrance Tangerine. Also worth checking out is L’Occitane’s brand new Cedrat scent.

  • Geo F Trumper Trumpers Limes Cologne – 200ml
  • Clinique Happy For Men After Shave 100ml
  • Molton Brown Cool Buchu Eau De Toilette 50ml
  • Miller Harris Citron Citron Eau De Parfum
  • Tom Ford Neroli Portofino Eau De Parfum Spray 50ml
  • Acqua Di Parma Colonia Eau De Cologne Spray
  • Lacoste Eau De Lacoste L.12.12 Jaune 50ml Eau De Toilette
  • Balmain Monsieur Balmain Eau De Toilette 100ml
  • The Body Shop Satsuma Eau De Toilette
  • Library Of Fragrance Tangerine
  • Ermenegildo Zegna Essenze Italian Bergamont 125ml
  • Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis Eau De Toilette 70ml

Sparkling Marine Fragrances

The other type of fragrances that works particularly well in summer are those classed as ‘aquatic’ or ‘marine’ – in other words, scents that have a distinctly watery vibe or an echo of the sea.

Sometimes fresh, sometimes slightly bitter and salty, they became popular with the launches of Issey Miyake’s L’eau d’Issey Pour Homme and Acqua Di Gio, two of the most famous fragrances in the genre.

“Aquatic notes in perfumes are an abstract concept,” admits Will Andrews of the P&G Fragrance Design Team. “People often ask how a fragrance could smell of water, when water doesn’t actually smell of anything but, of course, watery environments like lakes and oceans do have distinctive aromas and we are able to recreate those smells with modern perfumery materials.”

One of the most common ingredients is called Calone, which, depending on your point of view, smells just like the ocean, oysters or water melon. “This molecule was solely responsible for the watery fresh smell in nearly all the aquatic fragrances of the early 1990s,” he says.

Perfect For: Action-adventure holidays, outdoorsy types, vacations by the sea (obviously).

What To Buy: As well as Acqua Di Gio and L’eau d’Issey Pour Homme, try Davidoff Cool Water, Bvlgari Aqva, Z by Zegna, Creed Erolfa, Kenzo Pour Homme, Baldessarini Nautic Spirit Marine, James Bond 007 Ocean Royale and Library of Fragrance’s Salt Air.

Paco Rabanne’s Invictus has a bracing marine accord, too, as does Burberry’s latest fragrance for men, Burberry Brit Splash.

  • Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio Homme Eau De Toilette 100ml
  • Issey Miyake Leau Dissey Pour Homme Eau De Toilette
  • Davidoff Coolwater Man Eau De Toilette Spray 75ml
  • Bvlgari Aqva Pour Homme Eau De Toilette Spray 50ml
  • Ermenegildo Zegna Z Zegna Eau De Toilette 50ml
  • Creed Erofla 75ml – 120ml
  • Kenzo Pour Homme 50ml Eau De Toilette
  • James Bond 007 Ocean Royale Eau De Toilette Spray 50ml
  • Library Of Fragrance Salt Air
  • Paco Rabanne Invictus Eau De Toilette 50ml
  • Burberry Brit Splash Eau De Toilette
  • Baldessarini Nautic Spirit

Special Summer Variants

Proof that people generally want lighter, more seasonally-appropriate fragrances once temperatures begin to soar can be seen in the proliferation of ‘summer versions’ of classic scents like Terre d’Hermès and CK One Summer.

Reformulated, remixed and repackaged, they’re designed to be lighter and fresher while retaining the essence of the original fragrance. To achieve this they often trade off heavier, punchier notes for zingier or juicier ones such as mandarin, grapefruit and melon, or invigorating ones like mint and ginger. They’re easily identified by the words Eau Fraîche, été or, of course, plain old ‘summer’ in the title.

Perfect For: Guys who don’t want to abandon their signature fragrance but want something more in tune with the season.

What To Buy: Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male Cologne Tonique Stimulating Summer Fragrance, Versace Man Eau Fraîche, Issey Miyake L’eau d’Issey Pour Homme or Eau de Toilette Pour L’été; Davidoff Cool Water Summer Seas, Thierry Mugler A*Men Ultra Zest, and Victor & Rolf Spicebomb Eau Fraîche.

Terre d’Hermès Eau Très Fraîche, meanwhile, is that rarest of things: a summer variant that’s almost as good as the original it’s based on.

  • Issey Miyake Leau Dlssey Pour Homme Eau De Toilette 125ml
  • Versace Eau Fraiche Eau De Toilette 50ml
  • Davidoff Cool Water Man Summer Seas Edition Eau De Toilette 125ml
  • Thierry Mugler A Men Ultra Zest Eau De Toilette 100ml
  • Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb Eau Fraiche Eau De Toilette 90ml
  • Hermes Terre Dhermes Eau Tres Fraiche Edt 125ml

Crisp Colognes

In many ways colognes are the ultimate summertime scent: crisp, fresh and light as a feather, they’re perfect for when you want to smell good but not overpoweringly so. The original eau de cologne was created way back in 1709 in the German city of the same name.

Characterised by their combination of citrus and herbaceous notes, eau de colognes are ideal for summer but their modest 2-5 per cent pure fragrance concentration makes them fleeting on the skin, so it’s advisable to keep a bottle with you (or decant some into an atomizer) so you can reapply throughout the day.

Confusingly, ‘cologne’ has come to mean any men’s fragrance in some quarters, and a lot of fragrance houses use the word to signify a lighter version of a punchier fragrance (Paco Rabanne’s 1 Million Cologne, for example), but you can still find plenty of colognes that stay faithful to the spirit of the original concept.

Perfect For: Work, gym bags, holidays.

What To Buy: 4711 Original Eau de Cologne is a must and exemplifies what colognes are all about. Also worth trying, though, are Cologne du Maghreb, Comme des Garçons Series 4 Citrico Cologne, DKNY Men Energizing Eau De Cologne, Frederic Malle Cologne Indelebile, Hermès Eau d’Orange Verte Eau De Cologne, Cologne Bigarde by Jean-Claude Ellena for Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle, and Alvarez Gomez’s delightfully fresh Agua de Colonia Cologne.

  • Muelhens 4711 Original Eau De Cologne Splash 100ml
  • Comme Des Garcons Fragrance Series 4 Cologne Citrico
  • Frederic Malle Cologne Indelebile 100ml
  • Hermes Eau Dorange Verte Cologne Spray 100ml
  • Frederic Malle Cologne Bigarade 100ml
  • Agua De Colonia Concentrada Cologne 220ml

How To Wear Them

According to Glasser, warmer temperatures affect the diffusion of fragrance notes, meaning they don’t stick around as long on the skin as they tend to in winter. With this in mind, you might need to be a little more generous with the application of your fragrance than you would normally be.

Layering (applying the EDT, shower gel and deodorant from the same fragrance range to create a longer lasting, all-over scent impression) is also a good idea in hot weather. “This allows the fragrance to last on the skin as a base layer for most of the day, plus the deodorising benefits work well in the heat,” says Glasser.

A word of caution though: don’t be tempted to wear your signature scent to the beach or when sunbathing. Certain ingredients in fragrances can react with intense sunlight and cause skin sensitivity and hyper-pigmentation. Besides, when people hit the beach they generally want to smell the sea (or the occasional summer cocktail), not you!

Final Word

Do you have a favourite summer fragrance? Use the comments box below to let us know your personal recommendations.