Cooling Perfumes : Seeking Freshness

This summer has been strange in many ways, and the sudden onset of heat threw everything off-kilter. Normally I’d escape my sweltering apartment–this is Belgium, we don’t have air conditioning–and head to the local mall or library, but that’s not possible. Instead, I’ve dipped into my perfumer’s toolkit, made a few cooling colognes and lined up refreshing fragrances. A jug of fennel and rose sherbet is cooling in the fridge. Cold buckwheat noodles will require only a few minutes in the kitchen later, and for lunch there is watermelon and feta. Thus prepared, I can work in relative comfort.

I will share my DIY options on Monday, but for this week’s video, I’ve selected a few perfumes that are cooling. Cooling, not just cool. Is there a difference? To a perfumer, there is, and it’s an important one. A cool perfume evokes a particular refreshing association through the use of notes like green leafy notes, citrus, green fruit, green florals or aldehydes. A cooling perfume, on the other hand, usually contains menthol. Menthol activates the cold-sensitive receptors in the skin which is why menthol-containing perfumes feel cooling.


In the video, I’ve mentioned four fragrances: Guerlain Herba Fresca, Parfum de Nicolaï Cap Néroli, Cartier Roadster, and Frédéric Malle Géranium Pour Monsieur. I would like to add a few more options to this list.

Comme des Garçons Sherbet Series Peppermint

Refreshing, crisp, instantly rejuvenating, Peppermint smells like crushed mint leaves. It’s sharp, but that’s exactly what makes it so appealing on a hot day.

Jo Malone White Jasmine & Mint

Mint pairs well with white florals, which you can explore by adding a splash of orange blossom water to your mint tea. Jo Malone’s jasmine is a delicate, fruity creature, but in this context, its freshness and lack of an animalic tinge works. It has more presence than a cologne, but it’s not as demanding as an Eau de Parfum.

Cartier Eau de Cartier Vetiver Bleu

The salty brightness of vetiver laced with mint and musk. It has something of a sports cologne–bright, crisp, efficient, but for a fresh summer option, it’s a good choice.

Korres Ginger Mint Eau de Cologne

Korres fragrances are fresh and simple, and Ginger Mint is a bright cologne that won’t last long, but that will instantly make you feel refreshed.

Diptyque Eau de Minthé

If you like Frédéric Malle Géranium Pour Monsieur but find it too expensive, Eau de Minthé is a passable alternative. It’s a good perfume in its own right, blending mint with the shimmering notes of nutmeg and geranium. While mint perfumes can occasionally smell too rustic, this is one of the more elegant interpretations.

What fragrances do you find refreshing?

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19 Comments

  • Elizabeth: Rogers Gallet has some nice, with a reasonable price point in Europe, cooling summer scents. I like Gingembre Rouge Fragrant Wellbeing Water. I would try the Jo Malone White Jasmine Mint you mentioned, too. July 31, 2020 at 9:59am Reply

  • pklagrange: In the summer I tend to wear the Hermes Jardin series and Neela Vermeire perfumes. However, today is slightly cooler and very humid so I am wearing Amouage Interlude Black Iris. The scents is swirling around me and it is creamy, deep and gorgeous July 31, 2020 at 10:21am Reply

  • Matty1649: Guerlain Vetiver today. July 31, 2020 at 11:37am Reply

  • Julie N DeMelo: I had You Or Someone Like You on the other day, by ELDO. I am quite sure there is a mint note in that perfume. It’s very pretty for a summer fragrance. Today after my shower I put on a tie-dye tee-shirt, jeans and Chanel 19…One of my favorites! Have a great weekend. 🥰 July 31, 2020 at 12:19pm Reply

  • Robin: I like citrus on hot and humid days. Today,I’m layering Orange and ginger lotion with Peace Love and Juicy Couture..very refreshing… July 31, 2020 at 1:08pm Reply

  • Peter: Mahalo nui loa for the refreshing cool breeze. The lesson of the “cool vs cooling” notes was instructive. Except for citrus, these are notes that I’m not familiar with. The only fougere that I have is Jicky. I’m not fond of lavender, but I wonder if I might like geranium as an aromatic note. I’m planning to save my pennies for Geranium Pour Monsieur. July 31, 2020 at 6:33pm Reply

  • Joyce: Great recommendations, Victoria, and your lunch of noodles and a salad of watermelon and feta sounds delicious!

    I love ginger perfume for summer. Origins Ginger Essence is very refreshing (but doesn’t last long, alas). Not a perfume, but the cooling effect of orange blossom water is marvellous for those very hot days with stuffy air.

    Looking forward to your next instalment of DIY suggestions and tips. July 31, 2020 at 6:49pm Reply

  • Tami: I eagerly await your DIY suggestions! I would love to smell like “just” mint or “just” orange but it’s tricky to locate what I’m looking for. I will have to look for that Korres offering because I think they do some of the best, most natural-smelling products. I have an old bottle of Vanilla Cinnamon body milk that’s lost some of its oomph, but I can still tell it’s very natural and smells like what it says it smells like—it smells like I rubbed a cinnamon stick doused in vanilla on my skin (NOT sweet). The CdG sounds like it’s worth it for me to seek out, too. July 31, 2020 at 7:18pm Reply

  • Tourmaline: Dear Victoria,

    Thank you for your refreshing post and video. I like your mint-coloured top!
    I also like the sound of the jug of fennel and rose sherbet in the fridge. How do you make that? I think I’d like to try it.

    I love Herba Fresca; as you say, it is so cooling in the middle of summer, but I must try storing it in the fridge for an extra cooling effect. I don’t know the other fragrances that you mention, but I would like to try them all. I love that you have given us so many mint fragrances, and one with sherbet, too. The post made me feel a bit hungry! Thank you for pointing out the difference between cool and cooling fragrances; as Peter said, that is a useful distinction to know.

    I am very sensitive to menthol; every time I brush my teeth, my nose runs, and it’s the same with mouthwash. It’s as though it were suddenly a freezing cold day! So it would be interesting to try a menthol fragrance and see how I react to that.

    I bought both watermelon and feta cheese during my last shopping trip, but I didn’t think to put them together. At Sizzler restaurants, which have now gone from Brisbane, sadly, they used to have a delicious salad containing watermelon, feta, spearmint leaves and pine nuts. I must make some of that at Christmas time. It would be a nice light salad to go with our Tiger prawns on Christmas day, and the Pavlova that I make for dessert.

    Apart from Herba Fresca, my favourite cool or cooling fragrances are –

    – Eau de Guerlain (Guerlain 1974)

    – Green Tea (Elizabeth Arden 1999)

    – Eau Dynamisante (Clarins 1987)

    – Le Chèvrefeuille (Annick Goutal 2002)

    – Pleasures (Estée Lauder 1995)

    – Anaïs Anaïs (Cacharel 1978)

    – Miracle (Lancôme 2000)

    – Clair de Jour (Lanvin 1983)

    – Y (Yves Saint Laurent 1964) July 31, 2020 at 10:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: What a nice list with so many choices, thank you so much for sharing.

      I forgot to link the recipe for the fennel-rose sherbet, so here it is:
      https://boisdejasmin.com/2018/07/fennel-cardamom-sherbet-saunf-ka-sharbat.html
      It’s easy to make, and it’s fragrant. I wish there could be a perfume like it. August 1, 2020 at 1:59am Reply

      • Tourmaline: Thanks so much for the recipe link, Victoria.

        Perhaps you could make a fennel-rose sherbet perfume sometime. I have no doubt you have the ability! Peter and I were just “chatting” today about the extent of your skill. August 1, 2020 at 2:52am Reply

  • Aurora: I like your list very much, Victoria. Very impressed by your description of Geranium pour Monsieur I think I make a somewhat similar choice when I reach for Paul Émilien Une Belle Journée on hot days. August 1, 2020 at 6:17am Reply

  • Silvermoon: A very timely post, Victoria. Enjoyed the video and what a beautiful coloured top. So fresh – both cool and cooling! 😊

    It was very hot in the UK yesterday (apparently reaching third highest temperature ever recorded here). In other words, a two shower day followed by JM Orange Blossom Cologne in the morning and SMN Ginestra in the evening.
    Today I am wearing L’Ombre dans l’Eau. I find it very refreshing on summer days. August 1, 2020 at 9:20am Reply

  • Charity: I really like Diptyque’s Oyedo for its menthol / eucalyptus type note, and L’eau des Hesperides for what is almost a minty grass like zingy note.

    I also keep mindlessly wearing Cristalle edt. It also seems chilling.

    Love your list! I still need to try Eau de Minthe. It’s on my list. August 2, 2020 at 2:27am Reply

  • Stephanie F.: I am loving these video posts! And this has me really wanting to try Herba Fresca. August 3, 2020 at 8:21pm Reply

  • Ninon: Victoria, thank you so much for these wonderful videos. After reading Bois de Jasmin for many years, it is a delight to “meet” you again in this way.

    I can only use alcohol-free fragrances at the moment (horrible!!), but my favorite cooling summer fragrances are Profumum Thundra–an odd mint patchouli that manages to smell fresh and also like gentle decay–and Maria Candida Gentile Lady Day, which pairs camphorous gardenia with loads of galbanum.

    Thank you again! August 4, 2020 at 1:59am Reply

  • paola: I agree with you, Victoria, HERBA FRESCA is my favourite too.
    But on my perfume shelf, in summer, you can also find STUDY N.17 by Miller and Bertaux a melange of estragon and mint,geranium et cedrat with lichen notes, GREEN TEA eau parfumée E. Arden et Caudalie FLEUR DE VIGNE eau fraiche. August 6, 2020 at 8:25am Reply

  • Inma: Dear Victoria,

    Herba Fresca is with me these days and it is being a pleasure.

    Now it is in the fridge, after your recommendation, and the cooling sensation has clearly enhanced.

    As always, thank you! August 8, 2020 at 3:44am Reply

    • Victoria: Always one of my top favorites for these warm days! August 8, 2020 at 8:10am Reply

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