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How to Choose a Summer Scent You’ll Love

Woman spritzing perfume on her neck.
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

If you’ve been wearing the same perfume all year, why not shake things up with a unique summer fragrance?

While there’s nothing wrong with using the same fragrance year-round (and our comprehensive guide to perfume shopping can help with that) switching things up with the weather can add some welcome variety to your routine. And since scent is closely linked to memory and emotion, picking a summer-friendly one can put you in the mood for summertime fun.

Above all, we think you should wear whatever perfume makes you happy. But if you decide to pick a seasonal summer scent, here are some ideas to guide you.

What Makes a Good Summer Scent?

When you wear perfume, the heat of your body helps release the fragrance into the air. This means the summer heat often makes perfume smell stronger. Rich, heavy scents that work well in winter can become downright overpowering when the mercury rises.

So, the best summer scents tend to hit lighter, fresher notes. Here’s what to keep in mind when shopping for summer fragrances.

Consider What’s in Season

Summer is the time of fresh fruits, sweet berries, and long grass in the fields. The plants in season now often make perfect notes for a summer scent. From crisp citrus to summer-blooming flowers, use the plants of the season to guide your fragrance choices.

Pick Tropical Notes

There are some scents that people almost universally associate with the warm weather of the tropics, like pineapple and coconut. These notes work perfectly in summer fragrances. Plus, if you pick a tropical scent that reminds you of a past vacation, it can immediately put you in that laid-back, warm-weather mindset.

Choose Based on Memory

You can also let fond memories of summers past drive your choice. For example, if you love drinking alfresco Moscow Mules on a hot summer day, you might pick a scent with notes of lime and ginger.

Add More Depth at Night

There’s no reason a summer fragrance can’t also be sultry, musky, or spicy. But deeper, heavier notes, like vanilla and sandalwood, often smell too strong if you wear them in the full summer sun. Save fragrances with intense notes for after sunset, and look for perfumes that balance their heavy notes with lighter, fresher ones.

Reduce the Number of Notes

Complex scents can also become overpowering during summer. Keep it light by picking fragrances with fewer notes. Single-note perfumes are a popular, summer-friendly option.

The Best Fragrance Formulas for Summer

When shopping for perfume, don’t just think about the fragrance—you should also consider the formula and application method. Summer scents work best with softer methods that don’t produce such strong scents, like these.

Eau de Toilette

Eau de toilette (EDT) is less concentrated than eau de parfum (EDP), so it’s easier not to overdo it in the summer.

Scented Lotion

A scented lotion is also a great way to get a mild dose of your favorite summer perfume. Just make sure the sunscreen you layer it with is unscented so that it won’t interfere with the fragrance.

Solid Perfume

A solid perfume lends itself well to lighter application—plus, it’s super-easy to pack in your suitcase. Solid perfumes last a long time because they cling to the skin well, but they’re also subtler than liquid formulas.


Wearing perfume is a fun way to tap into a season. And for many people, summer brings up some particularly powerful memories and feelings—all of which can be expressed through scent. So, why not jump into summer with a new fragrance that perfectly suits the season?

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a Seattle-based writer and editor with a Master's in Writing Studies from Saint Joseph's University. Her work has appeared in publications like Racked, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and Rum Punch Press. She was awarded a 2017 Writing Between the Vines residency.  Read Full Bio »

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