Crisp Summer Fragrances : Not Colognes

As much as I love colognes and find them refreshing on a hot day, sometimes I want to mix things up. After all, citrus is not the only thing that feels cool and uplifting. This is the topic of my recent FT magazine article, Summer scents that are crisp, cool – and rather unexpected.

Even more unusual, however, is the coolness suggested by myrrh, a rich and complex ingredient hinting at liquorice, driftwood and green sap. In ancient times, it was burned as incense, added to wine as a digestive or blended into perfumes to give them a lingering, suave finish. The latter is the reason I seek out myrrh-based fragrances; they are at once velvety and cool – the most intriguing of contrasts. One of the best examples is Serge Lutens’ La Myrrhe (£170 for 70ml EDP), a languid rose, smothered in myrrh and bitter almond. The champagne-like effervescence of aldehydes, the aromatic compounds found in rose petals and orange peel, lights up the composition. To continue reading, please click here.

What perfumes are you currently wearing and what is your fragrance today?

Image via FT



  • Muriel: Ahlala, Angéliques sous la Pluie, what a beauty! Bought it last year during the hot summer and wear it with a lot of pleasure during the warm days, it is so energizing! when the days are a little cooler (like today for instance), I turn to my new acquisition: Chamade (yes, I finally fell for it and love it more and more). On the very hot days, I enjoy stealing a bit of Eau Sauvage from my son and Eau d’Hadrien is another very nice summer companion! July 8, 2019 at 7:47am Reply

  • Gretchen: I do love myhrre in the summer, and also sandalwood (but not Bois des Iles-it’s too much). I get tired of florals and need a break from my greens, and if I could find the perfect summer incense that didn’t go too warm by it’s drydown, I would be elated. July 8, 2019 at 10:08am Reply

    • OnWingsofSaffron: Thanks Karen! Unfortunately, the shipping rates from the US to Germany are quite high. And customs can be a hassle. Perhaps it is the easiest to hop on to the train and go to Paris—it is but 4 hours away 😃 July 8, 2019 at 3:58pm Reply

      • OnWingsofSaffron: Oh dear, my comment also seemed to hop onto some train!? I thought I had answered Karen below!
        Sorry 😔 July 8, 2019 at 4:00pm Reply

    • cookie queen: Gretchen, IUNX L’Ether is a beautiful summer incense. Tranquil and peaceful, cedar and a touch of myrrhe opens the way for the incense, with a transparency that is quite lovely in the heat. Val x July 9, 2019 at 1:54am Reply

      • Gretchen: That sounds like one I will plan to try very soon! July 9, 2019 at 2:32am Reply

  • Heidi Czerwiec: It might be a variation on the citrus, but I am adoring Aedes de Venustas’ signature scent, with its tart rhubarb accord — it’s so refreshing! I also wear green scents (galbanum and/or iris) to cool off. Or, I just lean into the heat and wear my biggest Big White Florals, like Carnal Flower, SL’s Fleurs d’Oranger, or Salome. July 8, 2019 at 11:10am Reply

  • Tara C: My summer incense is SL L’Eau Froide, but I also love the two FM’s you mention. Another summer favourite is Etro Palais Jamais, a cool refreshing vetiver tea scent on me. July 8, 2019 at 11:23am Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: La Myrrhe! I‘ve been slinking around this one for ages. I have not gone for it (yet) as I am very wary about the reformulations in the Serge Lutens range. La Myrrhe—like Sarrasins—is one of those early Lutens‘ that I’ve always wanted and never found. The only chance is to blind buy it. Yet, I was always worried that it would have been reformulated and watered down beyond recognition. But as you recommend it I feel on the safe side.
    One small problem is having to blind buy it as it‘s in the bell flacon and nowhere available outside of Paris… July 8, 2019 at 11:29am Reply

    • Karen A: Luckyscent now has the bell jars. July 8, 2019 at 2:17pm Reply

  • Karen A: I may have mentioned this last summer, but Chanel No. 18 is my perfect summer fragrance. When okra in the veggie garden was flowering it reminded me of something. Spritzed some No.18 and realized they were similar. Looked up ambrette and okra and discovered both are in the mallow family, thus the link.

    It’s funny, because normally I’ll wear most fragrances in any season, but No.18 I save for summer. July 8, 2019 at 2:23pm Reply

  • Austenfan: Summer for me is about big white florals, and thick orientals. I prefer to wear those in high temperatures, Chergui in particular really seems to bloom in the heat. Other than that I do love me some citrus in the heat and some crisp fruit.
    There are a few fragrances I don’t like wearing in the heat: Iris Silver Mist, Aromatics Elixir, Mon Parfum Chéri par Camille and Bois d’Encens. I love wearing those when it’s cold and rainy.
    It was interesting to read what works for you when it’s hot! July 8, 2019 at 3:58pm Reply

  • kat: I rarely wear perfume during summer. Yet today I unearthed my Biotherm Eau Vitaminée (I think it’s vintage by now as they also had to reformulate). It’s such an easy summer scent, orange and grapefruit, some jasmine and musk, not too tart and not too sweet with a lovely soft dry-down. July 8, 2019 at 5:16pm Reply

  • Madaris: Etro’s Messe de Minuit is one of my favorites year-round — I wear it happily in the heat or cold. My husband oddly smells cinnamon though I mostly detect the candle wax, reminiscent of Midnight Mass in my little hometown’s lone Catholic Church.

    Today it is 92 degrees Fahrenheit and I am wearing Pure White Linen Pink Coral by Estee Lauder. July 8, 2019 at 8:18pm Reply

  • Filomena: Today I wore Chanel Boy EDP. July 8, 2019 at 8:57pm Reply

  • Sariah: I still like L’Eau d’Hiver, but no longer love it in the current formulation. It doesn’t wear the same. The original wore like a perfect halo of scent, the current still smells lovely but is flatter. My other favorite halo scent is Del Rae Mythique.

    I agree the Etro is great in summer. Other favorite incenses in the heat are Guerlain Bois D’Armenie (l didn’t love it until l tried it in summer) and Aedes Musc Encens. July 8, 2019 at 9:46pm Reply

  • Angela: I wear eau d’ hiver in the summer too!
    Also Angelique, dans de bras, sometimes en passant (the Malle coffret)

    Don’t reallu wear any Serge Lutens in the summer

    Iris silver mist is perfect for spring IMO

    My usual ones are : EL bronze goddess (beach); Chanel cristalle or 19 (prefer vintage EdC) or Narciso Rodriguez oil; or a citrus like Hermes vert orange or guerlain pamplemousse.

    I’m working up the courage to try malles Fleur de Terese in the summer. . . Am not sure about the overwhelming melon.

    Today splashed a bit of the inexpensive 4711. July 8, 2019 at 9:48pm Reply

  • Tourmaline: Hi Victoria,

    Today I am wearing Femme by Rochas, because I’m wearing coral pink, and this colour seems very feminine to me. Also, it is mid-winter here in Brisbane, so I have been wearing more cold weather fragrances.

    Last Tuesday, I wore Insolence into town to have my hair done and visit my Guerlain rep. I was wearing purple, so it seemed to go well!

    Recently I have been using a lot of an almost-empty bottle of Yardley Rose, so that I can throw the bottle away. (I have plenty in stock.) I’ve also been using up a newer version of Demi Jour (Houbigant), because it seems to me that it has been “Angelled”, if you know what I mean. I don’t recall the caramel toffee notes having been there when I smelled the original many years ago. I was so disappointed when I received it. But this altered version does work well in the cold weather, and I have been spraying it on day and night (before bed) just to use it up.

    Enjoy the warm weather!

    With kind regards,

    Tourmaline July 9, 2019 at 7:51am Reply

  • rosarita: Messe di Minuit is a year round staple, that cool stone building it conjures up is very refreshing. Commes des Garcons Kyoto is another favorite incense in hot weather. My favorite summer iris is Lutens Bas de Soie. As always, I appreciate your writing, V! July 9, 2019 at 8:05am Reply

  • spe: Sometime ago I overdosed La Myrrhe. Simply cannot wear it now. However- Hermes to the rescue with Myrrhe Eglantine this summer! July 10, 2019 at 10:08am Reply

    • spe: Forgot Eau de Soir by Sisley! July 11, 2019 at 2:35pm Reply

  • Figuier: Lovely to see Angeliques sous la Pluie cited as a perfect summer scent, since it’s one of 2 bottles I’ve brought with me on my 4-week holiday – the other is the more typical The pour un Ete, but actually I’ve worn Angeliques much more often so far. Now I have to try L’Eau d’Hiver in hot weather as well! July 10, 2019 at 12:29pm Reply

  • Aurora: What a great article, only wearing citrus in summer lacks imagination.

    Non-citrussy perfumes I wear in summer are Un Jardin apres la Mousson, exclusively in the dry heat of Provence where it is at its best; anis/liquorice scents like Anisia Bella and Caron Eau de Reglisse (with its terrific ginger note), Cacharel Eden – this strange perfume feels so good in summer, the herbal Herba Fresca; fig scents like Caligna which always has interesting new facets when I wear it, sometimes herbal with a lot of sage, sometimes a lot of fig at other times all pine needles or the nutty fig Au The Rouge; coconut white florals like Nuxe Prodigieux le Parfum and the 2008 Bronze Goddess which found this winter and has the myrrh you noted as a note blooming in summer. July 17, 2019 at 1:07pm Reply

  • Wendy: I’m a first time contributor, and am fascinated with this blog, and what I’ve learned here! Funny story: I’m blind-leaping into some classics, based on reviews I’m reading here. Yesterday I tried my first spritz of White Linen. I was immediately horrified, and could not get it off my arm fast enough. I wiped. I slathered it with Noxzema. I thought, o no, never again! 12 hours later I’m sitting in a warm frothy tub, and the most utterly delicious scent wafted up from my arm! I could not believe it. Needless to say I’ve decided to play with it a little more today!! A word to the unwise newbies like myself: whatever the product, give it time,
    and work with it in different ways before
    writing it off! Thanks so much for wonderful info- August 9, 2019 at 9:51am Reply

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