summer perfumes: 34 posts

5 Light and Radiant Jasmine Perfumes

It always surprises me that jasmine, one of the most luminous floral notes, is considered to be heavy and smothering. Then I realize that while my attention is drawn to its apricot jam and green tea facets, many other people can’t get past the indolic, horse-sweat undercurrent. Some of us are sensitive to animalic notes. Others don’t care for the mothball-tanginess that indoles suggest. Yet even more people don’t have the chance to experience natural jasmine, but rather form their opinion based on synthetic jasmine fragrances that don’t even attempt to mimic the real thing. And when we don’t like something, we call it  “heavy.”

I love jasmine in all of its interpretations, and in my new film, I would like to defend this iconic floral ingredient and explain what makes it unique. I talk about the difference between jasmine grandiflorum and jasmine sambac and explain how this note is used in fragrances. Since I appreciate that not everyone enjoys rich white florals, I selected the gauziest, most effervescent jasmine fragrances I could find to illustrate my explanations.

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Three Favorite Perfumes of the Moment

Three perfumes for warm days. Three ideas to evoke freshness. Three different scents for different moods. I originally wanted to make a list of summer fragrances like I always do this time of year, but as I was contemplating my list, my eye fell onto my dressing table and I saw three bottles. To avoid leaving perfume exposed to light more than necessary, I rotate what I wear, and these three perfumes have stayed on my dresser long enough for me to wonder what exactly I enjoyed about them and to share them with you.

You can watch my video for the description of scents and for my opinion on fresh fragrances in general. As a complement to the film, I would like to compare my current summer favorites to other similar fragrances and to give you more ideas on perfumes to sample.

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Vietnamese Green Oil, DIY Colognes and Other Cool Delights

The second part of my refreshing scents series focuses on non-alcoholic and DIY options. Some people prefer to skip alcohol during hot days, and I’m often asked for inexpensive solutions. Experimenting with scents during summer is fun, but when the temperature rises above 35C, the idea of putting on perfume becomes unappealing.

I instead reach for oils from Vietnam or Thailand, especially Dầu Gió Xanh Eagle Brand Medicated Oil. This popular Vietnamese oil is used for headaches, muscle pains, etc, but I also find it effective on hot days when my head feels heavy. The scent is spicy and incense-like, but it’s unexpectedly refreshing. The oil was created in 1935 by a German chemist, Wilhelm Hauffman, for a Singaporean trading house J Lea & Co. Hauffman was perfecting the extraction of chlorophyll, which gave the oil its color, while the other main ingredients included menthol, methyl salicylate and eucalyptus oil

Green Oil became a household favorite in Vietnam once it was introduced in the 1960s. On the other hand, its Art Deco-styled bottle and vivid hue would be familiar not just to those who grew up in Vietnam and other Asian countries, but also the former Soviet ones. During my childhood in Ukraine, medicated oils and Cao Sao Vàng (Golden Star Balm) were considered as nothing short of panacea.

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My Favorite Summer Perfumes (at the moment)

I came back from the market the other day with a big bouquet of cornflowers and as I sat admiring their vivid color, I realized that these blue flowers are my quintessential summer blossom. Their scent is delicate, green, slightly musty, but the fascinating aspect of olfaction is how such subtle aromas can evoke strong memories. I smelled cornflowers and I could see the wildflower meadows of Poltava, the region in Central Ukraine where I spent the first 15 summers of my life. I could smell the watermelon, feel the sticky peach juice on my fingers and catch a whiff of my great-grandmother distilling rosewater. Being unable to travel there makes me more nostalgic–and renders the familiar scents more intense. Instead of being melancholy after smelling cornflowers, as one might imagine, I felt rejuvenated and uplifted.


This experience inspired me to focus my new video on my favorite summer perfumes. I reflected on what fragrances I gravitate to in the summer and why. While the exact perfumes might change year to year, the main idea stays the same–I wear fragrances that feel refreshing in warm weather and that evoke the pleasant idleness of a good vacation.

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6 Luminous Musk Perfumes

Why should summer be all about colognes and fresh florals? Why not don a plush tuberose or a bittersweet chypre? Why not explore how our dark and glamorous favorites behave when the weather grows warmer and days longer? None of the “perfume wearing rules” annoy me more than the set-in-stone seasonal suggestions. I suspect that most of them are designed to make people buy more product, rather than enjoy what they already have. The only rule in perfume is to wear what smells good to you (in quantities appropriate for the occasion, of course). A new season is a new chance to experiment, and there is nothing better than experimenting with your favorites and discovering new facets in them.

Musk perfumes, for instance, are among the most versatile. They can be modulated by the type of application. They linger. They range from heavy and warm to radiant and bright. With this in mind here is my list of summer musks–although I wear them all year round.

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