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lESSONS:

A GUIDE TO
SENSATIONAL 
SUMMEr SCENT

Here's what to wear when the heat is on.


Written ByAPRIL LONG

Photography ByVICEN AKINA

Summer is a time of simple sensorial pleasures — the bracing herbaceous greenness of garden paths, the salty tang of windswept beaches, the radiant aura of sun-warmed (SPF-prepped) skin. And just as we find ourselves gravitating toward salad instead of pasta, or to silk instead of cashmere, it also feels natural to reach for an airier, more transparent fragrance, something that floats around you like a chiffon scarf rather than enveloping you like a blanket.

It’s a psychological shift, certainly, as the atmosphere gets steamier and sultrier, who wouldn’t want to pivot into the breezy and bright? But it’s also chemistry: Fragrance molecules evaporate and rise into the air more rapidly in heat, so scents become more noticeable and smell more intense. That’s why the smoky, woody, spicy spritz you might have loved in winter suddenly makes you want to open a window, and why marine, green, and floral notes that seemed negligibly lightweight in January are exactly the right pitch for July. “You have to think of a perfume like you think of garments,” says renowned perfume maestro Frédéric Malle. “Some are fresh and light, to be worn in the summer or as something intimate in the winter. And some are warm, soothing, but probably too heavy for the summer, except at night.” Because perfume, like fashion, is about self-expression, there are no rules. But consider these suggestions for finding, and wearing, your perfect seasonal sillage.

RETHINK YOUR NOTES

As the planet tips towards the sun, imagine the aromas carried by the gentle breezes on the Mediterranean coast, or the narcotic spell of gardenias blooming in the sun. “When I think of summer, I think of white flowers,” says Malle. “Perfumes such as [Editions de Frédéric Malle] Carnal Flower and Lys Mediterranee would be ideal (though very expensive) scents for sun-tanning products. I would love to smell them on the beach.”

 

Heat, after all, can do some deliciously sexy things to floral notes — a tuberose, for example, will foreground its carnal facets; a rose may deepen into something voluptuous rather than prim. Green notes, too, can take on a crisp clarity that really sings on a summer day. Effervescent citrus fruits come into their own as the mercury rises, and watery, aquatic notes feel especially fresh and revitalizing, like a cool shower or a dip in the sea. For most, it’s a time to shelve smoky, woody, and spicy fragrances — but they don’t have to be completely abandoned. “I personally like heavy amber, patchouli, and oud in the heat as a way to accept the dank humidity of summer,” says D.S. & Durga perfumer David Seth Moltz. Just remember that anything you do spray will smell stronger, at least at first.

MAKE IT LAST

While the evaporation-boost that perfume molecules get from warm air means that their scent is more diffusive, it also means that they don’t last as long on the skin. So, if you think your perfume disappears faster in summer, you’re not imagining things. You can help your favorite eau linger longer, however. Scent clings better to hydrated skin, so make sure to moisturize before spritzing (and you can really amp up a specific perfume by using a matching perfumed body lotion to anchor it). Another trick? Layer on an aromatic oil — Moltz suggests sandalwood, patchouli, or rose — to give oomph, dimension, and staying power to an airy fragrance. For those who wish to keep their scent true (and topped up) think about investing in a chic, purse-sized atomizer or rollerball like Maison Louis Marie No. 04 Bois de Balincourt Perfume Oil.

VENTURE BEYOND THE PULSE POINTS

Because scent is more diffusive in summer weather, it can also be the perfect time to play with different formats or with layering techniques. There are now countless ways to wear fragrance without applying anything to your wrists — from sumptuously scented body oils to featherweight hair perfumes.  “Hair mists are ideal for summer months as they are lighter than the real perfume yet quite present,” says Malle. “I also love the idea of using perfume oil as there is nothing more soothing for your skin after a sunny day, though amazingly fragrant.”

Keep in mind: All of these formats can be mixed and matched to create a multi-dimensional scent effect. Plus, having multiple fragrance points on a body in motion means that you will leave an even more dynamic, ethereal wake.

INTO
THE LIGHT

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An olfactive ode to the desert, Mojave Ghost leaves a hauntingly lovely trail of light, musky ambrette, blooming magnolia, powdery violet, and cedarwood.

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Inspired by the clove-scented orange pomanders that were carried in the Middle Ages to ward off plague, this bewitchingly green-hued juice goes on bright and fruity, with a long-lasting, subtly spicy sillage.

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A new approach to this rose-and-patchouli perfume classic. Slick a few drops of this nourishing oil on strands or limbs to create a mysterious, sensuous scent aura.

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Reminiscent of soft roses wafting on a gentle breeze from afar, this unique floral, laced with geranium, vetiver, and leather, may be the most mysterious (and memorable) summer scent.

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Notes of herbaceous lavender and sheer, luminous frankincense make for a beautifully unusual, exquisite scent.

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Those in search of something equally ethereal and memorable should wear Nuit de Cellophane — a beguiling blend of mandarin, Osmanthus, and jasmine — like a gossamer veil.

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Raise your home vibrations with CBD-spiked wax — a fresh, calming concoction of grassy vetiver, soothing violet leaf, and zingy lemon zest.

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Notes of blue chamomile, linen, sweet musk, and white cedarwood smell as crisp and clean as freshly laundered sheets.

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Summer 2020’s perfect companion: A clean, woody, sophisticated scent specifically formulated to summon calm and encourage relaxation.