To get you thinking about your next fragrance buy – one that can stand up to the summer heat – we asked two industry experts to answer the biggest questions about perfume types, the coolest notes and the lowdown on shopping for a summertime scent.
Is it really too hot to wear a scent during the summer?
“If there is one moment where we should wear any type of fragrance, it’s in the summer, because apart from the fashion part of wearing fragrances, because it’s like a fashion accessory, we have to go back to the roots – wearing fragrance is here in the first place to disguise body odours,” says Lisa Mammeri, international director of training at Valmont Group, a Swiss brand with luxe skin care and fragrances on tap. That said, many people prefer to wear light, fresh fragrances in the summertime, when the weather is warm, acknowledges the pro.
What formulas are best for hot weather?
“We have a tendency to call everything perfume, but there are different concentrations with different names,” says fragrance designer Ruby Brown. “During the summertime, an eau de cologne would be very appropriate because the concentration is very low. We’re talking about 6 to 10 per cent concentration of raw material.” Eau de toilette, which Brown believes is the most popular category in the Canadian market, typically has anywhere between 10 to 12 per cent concentration, would also be good to wear in the summer. In contrast, eau de parfum might be at 12 to 18 per cent, and extrait de parfum can go from 20 to 30 per cent concentration. “You will have a longer lasting effect, but the impact will be much stronger when you spray it on,” Brown says. “So if it’s really warm outside, that will probably be a bit overwhelming.”
What makes a fragrance light?
To formulate a light or “fresh” fragrance, citrus family and light flower ingredients and notes are key, says Mammeri. At the same time, warmer, heavier ingredients such as oud, sandalwood and some types of musks would be used very sparingly.
Brown, who offers bespoke perfume making workshops in Montreal, agrees that a light fragrance is typically one where the main inspiration is either green or floral (as opposed to amber, woody or earthy). In the summertime, she says, workshop participants often gravitate toward citrusy scents such as bergamot, grapefruit and orange blossom, and white and green tea, which are “transparent notes that don’t have such a strong character.”
What notes are the most summer friendly? Which ones are complete no-nos?
For summer, Canadians and Americans like citrus and floral fragrances that are light and fresh, and offer “a little bit of zing and freshness and tang when you smell them at first,” Mammeri says. “Also, the pink and white flower fragrances are very, very popular.” Think freesia, pink rose, lily of the valley, gardenia and jasmine.
Brown adds that light, green, herbal fragrances with notes such as fresh cut grass, galbanum and gardenia are popular during the hotter months, but points out that there are no firm rules. “It’s not a science. It really is just a question of a state of mind … and what inspires you.”
Mammeri, too, points out that cultural preferences may play a role. “In the Middle East, where the weather is hot pretty much all year long, [Valmont’s] clients love to use very strong fragrances at all times, and especially when it’s hotter than hot,” she says.
How does sweat and humidity affect fragrance throughout the day?
“Most of the perfumes that we find in the market are alcohol-based. So obviously the hotter it is, the faster the alcohol will evaporate,” Brown says. “It will have an impact on the tenacity of the fragrance but it won’t have an impact on the scent itself.”
If you’re going to be in the sun, Mammeri suggests not applying any fragrance directly on your skin to avoid potential discoloration, as they can be photosensitizing. And if you’re wearing an eau de cologne or eau de toilette, you may want to reapply it frequently, two to three times a day. “I say that an eau de toilette is like a lip gloss. It has a lot of shine and when you apply it first, you see it very, very clearly. But as the day goes, it wears off and you [need to] reapply it,” Mammeri says. “An eau de parfum would be a little bit more like a regular lipstick.”
Six scents that are everyone’s best bets for summer
For her, him and them, these scents are genuine crowd-pleasers
Polo Earth by Ralph Lauren
$129 for 100ml at Shoppers Drug Mart.
This new eau de toilette is made with sustainably sourced ingredients such as bergamot heart, diva lavender and green mandarin.
Fizzy Mint by Valmont
$240 for $50ml at Valmont.
Part of Valmont’s Palazzo Nobile collection, this refreshing eau de toilette features notes of bergamot, mint and lemon verbena.
Sea Daffodil by Jo Malone London
$138 for 1.7oz at Nordstrom.
Jo Malone’s new cologne combines a yellow mandarin top note with a heart note of sea daffodil and a vanilla base note.
Ilio by Diptyque
$205 for 100 ml at Ssense.
Discover prickly pear, bergamot, jasmine and iris notes in this floral fragrance.
“PAPERWORK” Solution No. 2 by Off-White
$230 for 100ml at Holt Renfrew.
Launched in April, this citrusy fragrance features top notes of bergamot, tangerine leaves, ginger and lemon.
Eau de Basilic Pourpre by Hermès
$165 for 100ml at Hermès.
Purple basil, green bergamot and geranium define this new, airy eau de cologne.
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