14 fresh scents for summer, to give you a vacation feel at home

Our beauty editor rounds up 14 of her favorite scents for summer, with picks for every preference, budget and taste.

Three of the best scents for summer, picked by our beauty editor. They include options by Estee Lauder, Floral Street and Jo Loves
(Image credit: Estee Lauder, Floral Street, Jo Loves)

Scents for summer have the power to transport you to sunnier climates, no matter where you're spritzing them, or what time of year it is.

We all know the effect the best perfume can have on our minds. Sunny perfume notes, from oceanic, solar scents, or the best fruity perfume can work like a mini teleport, whisking away your mind to a summer beach break, or metaphorical sun lounger. 

There's also a case to be made for swapping to a lighter, fresher scent in the sticky summer months, for a more refreshing start to your day. If you have just one signature scent, you may not see the benefits of swapping your perfume seasonally, but according to the founder of Floral Street fragrances Michelle Feeney, it's a powerful way of shifting your mood. "We change our clothes seasonally so why not change our fragrances!" She explains, "It’s about freshening up and matching your scent to how you want to feel.  When you're in warmer climates you tend to go for fresher, fruitier fragrances, or florals. It doesn’t mean it’s less complex - it just uses different ingredients to evoke a different mood."

Here, Senior Beauty Editor (and serial scent swapper) Rhiannon Derbyshire shares her favorite picks for summer.

How we picked the best scents for summer

Why you can trust Woman & Home Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

A selection of Beauty Editor Rhiannon Derbyshire's favorite scents for summer, including options from Floral Street, Estee Lauder and Jo Loves

(Image credit: Rhiannon Derbyshire)

For the purpose of this feature, I tried a lot of perfumes. From warming, sunny scents to zingy, fruity options. Because I wanted a wide range of prices, I tested options from countless brands, spanning the range from drugstore buys to more luxurious designer brands. With scent being such a personal, subjective topic, I wanted to ensure that there was an option here for every taste, budget, and style.

I tested each of these scents for summer for their notes, longevity, and overall feel. Perfumes are big investments, so I wanted to make sure that every option on this list really delivered. Did they feel summery and bright? Were the scents unique? Did they smell as expensive as they looked, or was the packaging unnecessarily frilly? The below buys all passed this rigorous checklist, so you can guarantee that they're all vetted, brilliant picks.

The best scents for summer, as picked by our beauty editor

Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess L'Eau De Lumière

(Image credit: Estee Lauder)

1. Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess L'Eau De Lumière

Best classic scent for summer

Specifications

RRP: $85 / £64
Formulation: Eau de Parfum
Top notes: Lemon Leaves, Italian mandarin, pink pepper
Heart notes: Frangipani, jasmine sambac, coconut milk
Base notes: Tuberose, cristal moss, amber

Reasons to buy

+
Global bestseller
+
Warm, sultry scent
+
Blend of florals and warm notes

Reasons to avoid

-
None, we love this

I can’t talk about the best scents for summer without mentioning this cult classic. I always get excited about using this the moment the sun starts to make an appearance, It’s almost Pavlovian at this point - the sun hits, the best sandals come out of the cupboard, and so does a bottle of Bronze Goddess. 

It just smells like holidays, thanks to the blend of tropical plants like frangipani and tuberose with a fruity note of coconut plus warm pepper. It’s had a new reformulation for 2023, now combining its signature warm amber and florals with lemon leaves. It's sharper, lighter, and brighter. I'm stockpiling.

Feels like: You're at a five-star resort on a Greek island, coconut water in hand. 

ACQUA DI PARMA ARANCIA LA SPUGNATURA EAU DE TOILETTE

(Image credit: Acqua Di Parma)

2. Acqua Di Parma Arancia La Spugnatura

Best luxury citrus scent for summer

Specifications

RRP: $170 / £157
Formulation: Eau de toilette
Top note: Lemon and mandarin
Heart note: Bitter almond and black pepper
Base note: Musk and cedarwood

Reasons to buy

+
Zesty and fresh
+
Gorgeous bottle
+
Luxurious brand
+
Unisex

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive for an EDT

This Italian brand is known for its luxe scents inspired by the country's coastline. To this day, every product, including their fragrances, is made in Italy. I always get excited to test anything by Acqua Di Parma - there’s that sense of everyday luxury that I just can’t resist. 

They’re all quite dreamy scents for summer, but Arancia La Spugnatura is my current favorite. It sits firmly in the citrus family, it's very orange-forward, which I love - it's as refreshing as your morning glass of juice. Fresh, vibrant, and wearable, it’s not too feminine or floral, making it a great unisex option - that's also thanks to the blend of almond and musk to balance it out. The limited illustrated packaging is also worth noting - it's gorgeous.

Feels like: You’re on a yacht in Capri, sipping a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.

Jo Loves Pomelo A Fragrance

(Image credit: Jo Loves)

3. Jo Loves Pomelo A Fragrance

Best classic citrus scent for summer

Specifications

RRP: $115 / £115
Formulation: Eau de Parfum
Top note: Pomelo
Heart note: Vetiver
Base note: Patchouli

Reasons to buy

+
Zingy and uplifting
+
Clean and fresh
+
Also available as a candle, to scent your home
+
Available in travel-friendly paintbrush formulation 

Reasons to avoid

-
Fruity fragrances aren't for everyone

Staying in the citrus family, Jo Loves' Pomelo is a classic of the genre that's hard to beat. As the name suggests, this scent has one focus, and that's on the zingy pomelo. While it's balanced with notes of patchouli and vetiver, the grapefruit is the real star of the show - that's thanks to the layering of pomelo with pomelo zest, giving a bright burst with a double dose of the fruit. 

This is one of my favorite scents for summer because it's so fresh and uplifting. Citrus always feels quite energizing to me, and this scent is the perfect example of that. This also means it's ideal for adding a touch of freshness to your winter perfume if you want to experiment with fragrance layering

Feels like: A stroll around a farmers' market, picking your selection at the fruit stand. 

Molton Brown Delicious Rhubarb & Rose eau de toilette

(Image credit: Molton Brown)

4. Molton Brown Delicious Rhubarb & Rose eau de toilette

Best fruity scent for summer

Specifications

RRP: $120 / £85
Formulation: Eau de Toilette
Top note: Grapefruit
Heart note: Rhubarb leaf
Base note: Musk

Reasons to buy

+
Unique summer scent
+
Sweet without being sickly
+
Fresh and bright

Reasons to avoid

-
Not for sweet fans

Some fruity scents can be a bit sickly sweet but that’s not the case with Molton Brown’s summer perfume launch. It combines tart rhubarb with zingy grapefruit and is balanced with delicate rose. Delicious is the perfect word to describe it - it smells just like British summer. Minus the rain. 

I’m not normally a fruity perfume fan (as boring as it sounds, I tend to stick to florals), but I really love this. It’s uplifting and bright, and really refreshing. I think I especially like it because I enjoy sours, in general - whether that's a big squeeze of lemon on a pasta dish, or (to be honest and less chic about it) - sour candy. The sharp rhubarb taps into that, while still having that classic rose in there. If I had to pick one favorite scent for summer from the bunch, this would be it. 

Feels like: A dessert table in a stately home on a warm July day. 

Floral Street Arizona Bloom

(Image credit: Floral Street)

5. Floral Street Arizona Bloom

Best floral scent for summer

Specifications

RRP: $89 / £68
Formulation: Eau de Parfum
Top note: Coconut
Heart note: Jasmine petals
Base note: Salted musks

Reasons to buy

+
A fresh take on florals 
+
Vegan, cruelty free and sustainable
+
Long lasting
+
Available in travel sizes

Reasons to avoid

-
None, we love this

I'm a huge fan of all of Floral Street's scents. I'm a big floral girl, but this brand takes traditional petal notes (rose, iris, orchid) and pairs them with unique combinations to give them a more modern, bright feel. They also put sustainability at the heart of their process, with vegan-friendly formulas in eco-friendly packaging, all the way down to the recycled pulp boxes they arrive in.

My pick of the bunch as far as scents for summer go is Arizona Bloom. It's fresh, warm, and inviting, with a slight tropical edge thanks to the addition of coconut. Jasmine is the main floral in the mix, which again adds to that sunny, vacation-esque feel. I've been known to spritz it on particularly gloomy winter days, to lift my mood - it works like a charm every time. 

Feels like: A walk on a beach lined with coconut trees, with a fresh ocean breeze blowing.

L'Occitane Verbena Eau de Toilette

(Image credit: L'Occitane)

6. L'Occitane Verbena Eau de Toilette

Best herbal scent for summer

Specifications

RRP: $80 / £56
Formulation: Eau de Toilette
Top note: Lemon, orange
Heart note: Verbena, petit grain
Base note: Rose, geranium

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Fresh and green
+
Unisex
+
Beloved classic

Reasons to avoid

-
Verbena may be a bit strong for some

L'Occitane has a couple of great scents for summer, but I've picked Verbena because it's such a classic. Although technically it's floral, taking notes from the verbena flower, it's more green than most of the more blooming options. That's because they use the lemon-scented leaves from the plant rather than the flower itself - this gives this scent a more lively, herbal feel.

I forgot how lovely this was until I was testing buys for this guide. Immediately I felt energized and uplifted - the verbena seriously packs a punch. This might be a bit too strong if you prefer more delicate options, but I think it's just the antidote for stuffy, sweaty summer mornings. It's also available as a shower gel, bath foam, soap and deodorant, so you can layer up the scent for ultimate freshness. 

Feels like: Picking fresh herbs from a Provence garden, and prepping for an unimaginably chic dinner party.

Escentric Molecile 01 with mandarin, picked as a lovely scent for summer with a personalised touch

(Image credit: Escentric Molecule)

7. Escentric Molecule 01 + Mandarin

Best personalised scent for summer

Specifications

RRP: $145 / £95
Formulation: Eau de Toilette
Top notes: Iso E Super, Mandarin

Reasons to buy

+
Works with your skin 
+
Addition of mandarin gives a zesty twist
+
Unique scent

Reasons to avoid

-
Hard to predict how it will smell on you

Many perfumes end up smelling different on each wearer. That could be down to a few things, like what your best body moisturizer smells like, or what kind of environment you live in. Or, even the more scientific stuff like your skins’ pH levels. Escentric Molecules lean into this fact, creating unique, hard-to-describe scents. So, forgive me in advance for this somewhat vague description. 

The brand uses a unique formulation note called Iso E, which sounds elusive but is generally regarded as a warming, velvety note. Each of their perfumes feature different levels of this mysterious note, and smell totally unique on every person. Their newest options blend their classic Molecule 01 scent with new elements mandarin, iris and patchouli. My pick of the bunch is mandarin, which is light, bright and juicy, It’s a whole new take on scents for summer. 

Feels like: The world is your oyster. With a hint of orange. 

Chanel Paris Eau de Toilette

(Image credit: Chanel)

8. Chanel Paris Eau de Toilette

Best Chanel scent for summer

Specifications

RRP: $142 / £122
Formulation: Eau de toilette
Top notes: Damask rose, lemon and mandarin
Heart notes: Patchouli
Base notes: Rose, pink peppercorn

Reasons to buy

+
A lesser-known offering from a designer brand
+
Smells luxurious but still light
+
Feminine and floral

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive for an EDT

Chanel is known for their classic designer, if slightly heady scents. Sure, Chanel No5 is a decades-long bestseller, a museum-worthy perfume - but will you really want to spritz it on a sweaty summer day? 

Paris is the solution. It's a burst of roses, brightened by lemon and pepper to give it a bit of a more uplifting edge. It's a nicely balanced blend of woody, spicy, and floral notes, which still feels quite immediately identifiable as Chanel. This also means - classic Chanel - that it's expensive. While I firmly believe you don't have to spend over $100 to get a gorgeous scent for summer, if you're a Chanel fan with a budget to spare, I can guarantee you'll love this.

Feels like: Sitting on a terrace in a Parisian cafe, with a bunch of roses as a centerpiece.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Media Cologne Forte

(Image credit: Maison Francis Kurkdjian)

9. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Media Cologne Forte

Best oceanic scent for summer

Specifications

RRP: $140 / £135
Formulation: Cologne
Top notes: Italian bergamot, aniseed
Heart notes: Crystalline hedione, citrus
Base notes: Verbena, sweet fennel

Reasons to buy

+
Gorgeous bottle
+
A new take on scents for summer
+
Luxurious branding and feel
+
A refreshing scent

Reasons to avoid

-
Very expensive

For serious luxury, you can’t go wrong with Maison Francis Kurkdjian. Their scents feel rich (and to be fair, so they should at these price tags). They’re also a brilliant brand for creating long lasting perfume. If you’re looking for some beauty gift ideas, I can think of nothing better. 

If you're someone that longs to be by the sea (same here), you'll love this invigorating, oceanic new scent. It blends bergamot with aquatic crystalline, with richer notes of fennel and aniseed. It's a really unique, addictive scent. One spritz of this feels immediately refreshing - it's as close as I'll get to a dip in the ocean while trudging on my sweaty commute. 

Feels like: That first dip in the Ocean on a long-awaited summer vacation.

The Body Shop Full Ylang Ylang Eau de Parfum

(Image credit: The Body Shop)

10. The Body Shop Full Ylang Ylang Eau de Parfum

Best affordable scent for summer

Specifications

RRP: $46 / £39
Formulation: Eau de Parfum
Top notes: Vanilla
Heart notes: Ylang ylang essential oil
Base note: Pepper

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable price point
+
Eco conscious and vegan friendly
+
Light and wearable
+
Sunny and warm

Reasons to avoid

-
None, we love this

The Body Shop's scent range is so underrated. Of course, the brand is most famous for their body butters - which are still great, affordable buys, but don't underestimate the rest of the range. The Body Shop perfumes in particular, thanks to a recent revamp, are gems at brilliantly affordable price points. My pick of the bunch is this golden buy, which I haven't stopped wearing since trying it. 

It starts off floral, opening up with vanilla and a sparkly hit of ylang ylang. Then as it settles it becomes warm and musky, thanks to a hit of spicy black pepper. Luminous and warm, it will transport you to far-flung vacation destinations, without having to step foot on a plane. I'm also impressed with it's eco credentials (which is very apt, for The Body Shop), and the fact that it's an EDP, which will last longer on the skin. If I had to pick just one of these scents for summer to wear this year, it'd be this one. 

Feels like: A warm evening vacation stroll, post-shower, pre-dinner. 

Marc Jacobs Daisy Paradise

(Image credit: Marc Jacobs)

11. Marc Jacobs Daisy Paradise eau de toilette

Best crowd-pleasing scent for summer

Specifications

RRP: $90 / £68
Formulation: Eau de Toilette
Top notes: Poppy
Heart notes: Oak
Base notes: Ambergris

Reasons to buy

+
A revamped classic
+
Crowd pleasing, easy scent
+
Pretty bottle

Reasons to avoid

-
It's hard to beat the classic Daisy

Marc Jacobs' Daisy is still a global bestseller, decades on from its 2007 debut. Every year, it's available in different formulations - either deeper, lighter, more floral, spicier - it's one that's had a lot of different eras.

The newest iteration, Marc Jacobs Daisy Paradise may be my favorite. It still feels very true to the classic Daisy (which will always have a place in my heart/bathroom shelf), but slightly more grown up. This is thanks to the ambergris, a form of amber - it means that the scent is warmer and deeper, all at once. I had a lot of compliments when I wore it, followed by a lot of 'really?' comments when I explained what it was.

Feels like: Sitting in a field of daisies, during a heatwave. 

Roger & Gallet fleur de figuier

(Image credit: Roger & Gallet)

12. Roger & Gallet fleur de figuier Eau Fraîche

Best affordable scent for summer

Specifications

RRP: $42.95 / £36
Formulation: Eau de toilette
Top notes: Tangerine, Grapefruit, Cumin
Heart notes: Fig, Fig Leaf
Base notes: Fig Nectar, Musk, Cedar

Reasons to buy

+
Great price point
+
Recently redesigned
+
A pretty, easy scent to wear

Reasons to avoid

-
Doesn't last very long

Roger & Gallet makes gorgeous scents at affordable price points - they're all under $50. In a time where we've all noticed everything creeping up in price, it's nice to know that you can still get some gorgeous scents for summer, without having to remortgage your home.

My pick for this season is Fleur de Figuier, which blends warm fig with soft floral notes, for a really pretty, easy-to-wear scent. It also has bright grapefruit and tangerine in there, for a little hint of zing. Sometimes you don't really fancy those bold, complex scents - sometimes you just want to wear something lovely, and this definitely fits nicely under that umbrella. I loved wearing this one - it felt clean, easy and fresh.

Feels like: A particularly delicious patisserie, eaten outside in a fully-bloomed garden.

Sol De Janeiro Brazillian crush body spray, picked by us as one of the best sunny scents for summer

(Image credit: Sol De Janeiro)

13. Sol De Janeiro Brazillian Crush Body Fragrance Mist

Best body spray for summer

Specifications

RRP: $35 / £32
Formulation: Body spray
Top note: Pistachio
Heart note: Jasmine
Base note: Vanilla

Reasons to buy

+
A more affordable way to buy perfume
+
Smells just like their bestselling Bum Bum cream
+
Works for body and hair

Reasons to avoid

-
Is often sold out

Generally regarded as one of the best-smelling body lotions of all time, Sol De Janerio’s iconic Bum Bum cream is my favorite body moisturizer for summer. The mix of coconut and orchid makes it a truly delicious scent, that works as a gorgeous treat for your whole body, not just your bum (bum). 

It was only a matter of time until they bottled the iconic scents for summer into a fragrance. They have a traditional Eau de Parfum but I prefer the body spray, for a more wearable, affordable everyday spritz. I keep it in my bag in the summer, for a quick refresh after the long, sticky commute. This one can also be used on your hair to give it a bit of a zhuzh and refresh. The only downfall is that everyone else seems to love it too, so it’s often sold out. If you can get your hands on it it’s definitely worth putting in your shopping basket. Sunny and tropical without being sickly, you’ll be complimented left right, and center. 

Feels like: A sultry day in Rio De Janeiro, pina colada in hand. 

Nivea Sun Perfume, picked by our beauty editor as the best affordable scent for summer

(Image credit: Nivea)

14. Nivea Sun Eau de Toilette

Best drugstore scent for summer

Specifications

RRP: $39.50 / £21
Formulation: Eau de Toilette
Top note: Solar
Heart note: Floral
Base note: Powdery

Reasons to buy

+
Brilliant price
+
Nostalgic scent
+
A warm, sunny fragrance 

Reasons to avoid

-
Bottle not the most glamorous

Nivea is such a classic heritage brand that feels so familiar - even Kate Middleton’s go-to drugstore cream is one of theirs. I was hugely surprised by their foray into fragrance, but I’ve been so impressed by this product. 

Sun worshippers will love this perfume, which smells exactly like the classic Nivea sun cream. It instantly transported me to a sunny poolside at a vacation hotspot, a cocktail or three down. The power of scent never fails to take me by surprise, and this nostalgic sunny scent had the most evocative effect on me. I love it. It’s strangely comforting and nostalgic but in the best way. It's definitely now become one of the key scents for summer in my book. The price is brilliant too.

Feels like: You're on a girls' vacation, sunning it up on a sun lounger. 

How to pick the best scents for summer, according to an expert perfumer

Expert parfumier Emilie Bouge shares her tips on picking the best scents for summer.

  • Curate a scent wardrobe: “This is a personal choice, and not at all a necessity - but scent wardrobes have become more and more common. The change in seasons is one of the key definitions that people use to differentiate between fragrances, as well as having different options for days and evenings.” 
  • Pick sunny notes: “Summer perfume has always had an association with the citrus family and specific combinations of this family with florals, aquatic and aromatic notes. Think bergamot, mandarin, gardenia, and crisp woods. The Neroli flower is a real summer favorite of mine.” 
  • Make it last: “Citrus scents often have a light molecular structure, so sometimes these fresher scents are quicker to dissipate. Look for Eau de Parfum as these have a higher level of scent concentration. Or, apply a matching body lotion before application, to boost the scent for longer.”
  • Layer up: “Layer a fresher scent with another slightly darker scent underneath to get a longer trail, and create your own bespoke fragrance.”

What are warm scents for summer?

Floral Street's Michelle Feeney says that this is quite a subjective question. "There are no rules to perfume wearing - it’s very individual," she says. "Personally, I prefer a lighter, fresh fragrance during the day in the summer, then a more exotic fragrance in the evening."

She continues, "I always feel that Jasmine brings an aroma that is so lovely during the summer months. I also love bergamot and citrus fragrances in the warmer seasons."