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best women’s summer perfumes to spritz up sunny days ahead

<p>A light, citrus-based scent with staying power is what you should be aiming for</p>
A light, citrus-based scent with staying power is what you should be aiming for(iStock/The Independent)

This summer we’re in the mood to celebrate — with lockdown slowly lifting just as temperatures soar, there’s definitely a mood shift compared to last year. With the increased heat, smell gets heightened — coupled with the fact that sweat magnifies any perfume we’re wearing. Hence, now is not usually the time for heavy, cloying scents.

Leave your hard-hitting patchoulis or rich leathery scents at home — a light, citrus-based scent with staying power is what you should be aiming for. Think sparkling bergamots, together with sharp zesty bites of lemon and grapefruit, combined with a dash of mellow orange blossom. Even cute candy-inspired concoctions are fine for this season, provided they’re not too sweet or sickly.

We tested our summer perfumes on some of the hottest days in the past few weeks to see how long they stuck around and developed on the skin. We chose the ones that didn’t feel suffocating or cloying — think a soft, linen summer dress rather than a skin-tight PVC trouser suit.

We also looked for the more unusual and quirky characters – scents with something to say – not just pretty lemon puffs that disappeared as soon as we sprayed them on.

The below ten scents fit the bill and are as pleasant as sipping a sangria on the orange tree-lined streets of Seville (even if most of us will have to make do with a balcony in Finsbury Park).

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You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

The best women’s summer perfumes for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Boy Smells flor de la virgen: £105, Spacenk.com
  • Best for girls who like to smell like boys – BDK sel d’argent, 100ml: £150, Selfridges.com
  • Best for an escape to the Italian coast – Dolce & Gabbana light blue forever, 25ml: £51, Theperfumeshop.com
  • Best for adash of old-school French glamour – Annick Goutal eau d’hadrian, 100ml: £110, Libertylondon.com
  • Best for getting back in your party heels – Jimmy Choo I want choo, 40ml: £44.50, Theperfumeshop.com
  • Best for pink ladies – Moschino toy 2 bubblegum, 30ml: £39, Theperfumeshop.com
  • Best for feeling serene – Medeau origin, 50ml: £85, Medeaufragrances.com
  • Best for sunny and rainy days – 4160 Tuesdays both sides of clouds, 15ml: £50, 4160tuesdays.com
  • Best for those with the travel bug – 2787 Barcelona wandervogel, 87ml: £155, Harveynichols.com
  • Best for a summery evening scent – Maison Crivelli osmanthe kodoshan, 100ml: £170, Harveynichols.com

Boy Smells flor de la virgen

Best: Overall

If you haven’t discovered Boy Smells candles, they’re a little piece of heaven (move over Diptyque) and flor de la virgen forms part of their new eau de cologne collection. It’s arguably the most summery scent this gender-neutral (or “genderful”) brand have created, with sprightly sweet notes of pomelo and sweet fig, drying down to an enveloping and addictive heart of jasmine, soft saffron and musk. It has all the wearability and cheeriness of a cologne with enough floral flamboyance to see you through till the evening – and honestly, it’s so beautiful it deserves to become a modern classic. Available from June 14.Buy now £105, Spacenk.com

BDK sel d’argent, 100ml

Best: For girls who like to smell like boys

Salty accords in scent are growing in popularity and for good reason – they don’t just remind us of the salty sea air, they are also more subtle than their sweet counterparts and a great deal sexier (the salty tang of a lover’s skin springs to mind). This scent dials up the seductive nature of salt and, despite being a cologne, actually goes light on the citruses – a subtle sparkle of bergamot and some crisp hints of grapefruit are all that’s needed.

It’s an aquatic perfume and its waters definitely run deep, with enveloping orange blossom and green galbanum that emit warm, musky undertones. A masculine (but not “blokey”) scent that’s subtle and insidious – like going skinny dipping with the sexiest Frenchman you’ve ever encountered.Buy now £150, Selfridges.com

Dolce & Gabbana light blue forever, 25ml

Best: For an escape to the Italian coast

You may have heard of 365 Days, a so-bad-it’s-good film on Netflix where an impossibly hot Italian mafia boss kidnaps an equally hot Polish woman and things get steamy (so we’ve heard). Probably the only good thing about the film is the stunning backdrop of the Sicilian landscape – and this latest scent by Dolce & Gabbana is pretty much the olfactory equivalent.

No one does a cologne quite like the Italians, and this is what you might call the “braggadocio” of the bunch, boasting some serious lemony swagger, tempered by sweet notes of apple and heady orange blossom. A “happy perfume” if ever there was one, it dries down to a soft whisper of cedar and musks and is perfect for spending a balmy summer evening with a brooding mafioso.Buy now £51, Theperfumeshop.com

Annick Goutal eau d’hadrian, 100ml

Best: For a dash of old-school French glamour

Who said citrus scents can’t be chic? They might not have the “oh la la” chutzpah of many classic rose and jasmine perfumes, but when a citrus is as good as this, it really outshines its showier floral counterparts. This under-the-radar classic was created back in 1981, becoming the fragrance to wear with your shoulder pads and bubble-perm, and was reportedly loved by the likes of Madonna, Sharon Stone and Oprah Winfrey. This sparkling citrus practically shimmies out of the bottle, enveloping the wearer in a fragrant cloud without the risk of giving your colleagues or family members a migraine.Buy now £110, Libertylondon.com

Jimmy Choo I want choo, 40ml

Best: For getting back in your party heels

If your summer Spotify playlist is full of classic R&B hits from the likes of Mariah Carey, Lauryn Hill and TLC, then Jimmy Choo’s latest launch is the summer scent for you. This cheery crowd-pleaser harks back to the fragrant, feminine scents of the 1990s, starring a chorus of peach, mandarin and jasmine sambac, underscored with sweetness of vanilla to give it extra staying power. It’s a guaranteed mood-lifter, providing the perfect olfactory soundtrack to the long evenings, when it’s still light at 10pm and the fun is far from over.Buy now £44.50, Theperfumeshop.com

Moschino toy 2 bubblegum, 30ml

Best: For pink ladies

There’s nothing wrong with being a girly girl with a sweet tooth who loves pink (it never did Emma Bunton any harm) and one’s perfume should reflect that. But in the wrong hands, sweet girly scents can smell all manner of awful cupcake blandness – but not with Moschino toy 2 bubblegum. The way they’ve managed to capture the scent of bubblegum is uncanny, but unlike the popular tuckshop treat, it doesn’t turn bland once the initial sweetness subsides

Warming up on the skin, it reveals a pleasant heart of rose, ginger and peach, with warm musks and cedarwood at the base that are far more sophisticated than the scent’s name and packaging suggests. Not that we’re complaining about the packaging: the pink teddy bear bottle is a miniature piece of pop art in itself, and a nod to designer Jeremy Scott’s cheeky signature style.Buy now £39, Theperfumeshop.com

Medeau origin, 50ml

Best: For feeling serene

Despite what many people think, perfume isn’t just about smelling attractive or pretty to others. It can also tap into our emotions on a deeper level, allowing us to de-stress and reset. This is one such perfume, with a beautiful, fresh-floral bouquet inspired by the English countryside – think elderflower, cyclamen and cedarwood.

We found this was perfect to spritz on come 4pm when we were feeling a bit frazzled after our sixth Zoom call of the day. What’s more, all of the ingredients are EWG-approved and mainly natural or bioidentical, while the bottles are 95 per cent recyclable.Buy now £85, Medeaufragrances.com

4160 Tuesdays both sides of clouds, 15ml

Best: For sunny and rainy days

Lots of 4160 Tuesdays scents have a boho 1970s vibe to them, and this latest offering is no exception. Described as a “floral citrus chypre with a light gourmand touch” it’s a tribute to the legendary Joni Mitchell whose track “Both Sides Now” will be forever associated with Love Actually and Emma Thompson posh sobbing over a Christmas necklace that will never be hers (seriously, no piece of jewellery that ugly is worth crying over).

We’d take this beguiling concoction over that hideous necklace any day with sunny, slightly sweet accords offset by richer, slightly moodier base notes. The brand also do a sunnier version of this scent “Fluffy Lemon Top” but we prefer this slightly more melancholic incarnation, like we prefer the odd rainy day after a week of relentless sunshine.Buy now £50, 4160tuesdays.com

2787 Barcelona wandervogel, 87ml

Best: For those with the travel bug

Not everyone is a fan of citruses for summer – that’s fine. This gloriously fresh, sprightly scent works just as well, and is ideal for anyone who loves getting out in nature (even if travel options are limited at the moment). Once spritzed on, it wastes no time in announcing itself – with a sharp bite of Morrocan mint, given added warmth with fennel and musks. If you don’t feel like wearing perfumes that are too heavy, especially first thing in the morning, this is light and sharp enough to get your brain in gear for the day.Buy now £155, Harveynichols.com

Maison Crivelli osmanthe kodoshan, 100ml

Best: For a summery evening scent

If you like your summer scents with a good dash of smoky depth, this latest creation from quirky fragrance house Maison Crivelli is just the ticket. While it’s definitely light and wearable – perfect for the warmer months – the star of the show is osmanthe. This rich, earthy vegetal note is neither masculine nor feminine but a totally addictive character all of its own, heightened by Sichuan pepper oil, together with black tea and tobacco absolutes. Anyone looking to invest in a signature scent that really stands out should snap this up.Buy now £170, Harveynichols.com

The verdict: Women’s summer perfumes

A good summer perfume shouldn’t just be a holiday fling, but instead stick by your side come rain or shine. We couldn’t fault Flor de La Virgen for its staying power – a few spritzes of this and the comments were flooding in all day long (with some even some saying they could smell it through their face masks). Great to wear throughout the summer – we can imagine this being equally exquisite for the winter months too.

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25 Best Summer Perfumes for Long Days at the Beach

summer perfumeCOURTESY

If you’re packing up for a day on the beach, going to a cookout or grabbing a drink on a warm summer night, the perfect summer fragrance is inspired by the season itself. There are classic summer fragrances with notes like vanilla, coconut and lemon, and then there are more unique summer fragrances that blend together notes like salt, bergamot and florals.

Below, find the best perfumes to wear at the beach or just in the heat if summer. These perfumes are playful, sexy and beachy — and some are downright unexpected (which is what makes wearing perfume fun). Complement the smell of your favorite SPF with a good summer perfume, which is just as essential as a beach towel or waterproof mascara. Whether you’re looking for a classic perfume or a unique fragrance, you’ll find the perfect one for you.1BEST OVERALL SUMMER PERFUMELight Blue Eau de ToiletteDOLCE & GABBANADOLCE & GABBANAsephora.com$29.00SHOP NOW

This classic summery scent never goes out of style. Evoke memories of boating on clear blue waters and sipping spritzes with this scent that blends Sicilian lemon and jasmine.
2BEST VALUE SUMMER PERFUMEIsland Vanilla Hair & Body MistPACIFICAPACIFICAulta.com$12.00SHOP NOW

Mist this sultry scent all over your body (and even in your tresses) to transport yourself to island time. Tahitian vanilla, honey, jasmine and tea make this mist downright hypnotic.3BEST OVERALL BEACH PERFUMEReplica Beach Walk Eau de Toilette FragranceMAISON MARGIELAMAISON MARGIELAnordstrom.com$72.00SHOP NOW

Ocean air and sun-drenched days get bottled in this beachy fragrance, which is made to smell like sun-kissed skin. Lemon, coconut milk and amber come together to create a beachy, salty scent.
Advertisement – Continue Reading Belowhttps://bedcb430bf855f11284c178395a5696d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html4BEST SWEET SUMMER PERFUMEBEE Eau de ParfumELLIS BROOKLYNELLIS BROOKLYNsephora.com$30.00SHOP NOW

This sweet fragrance complements sticky, late-summer heat. Dripping with notes of honey, rum and vanilla, this mist smells good enough to eat. 5BEST LEMONY SUMMER PERFUMELemon Island Cologne AbsolueATELIER COLOGNEATELIER COLOGNEnordstrom.com$68.00SHOP NOW

Bursting with bright citrus from Rodrigues, this lemony scent will transport you to the secluded island. Top notes of salt and jasmine add elements of the seaside. 
6BEST WARM SUMMER PERFUMESOL Cheirosa ’62 Eau de ParfumSOL DE JANIEROSOL DE JANEIROsephora.com$26.00SHOP NOW

Sol de Janeiro’s signature fragrance will make you smell like a pistachio caramel sundae — in the best possible way. Like Rio’s beating sun in a bottle, this electric fragrance will warm you up.Advertisement – Continue Reading Belowhttps://bedcb430bf855f11284c178395a5696d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html7BEST CRISP SUMMER PERFUMEAqua Universalis Cologne Forte Eau De ParfumMAISON FRANCIS KURKDJIAN PARISMAISON FRANCIS KURKDJIAN PARISnordstrom.com$119.00SHOP NOW

Imagine a crisp linen shirt in a bottle — that’s exactly what this fragrance smells like. Notes of soft bergamot and white musk bring instant freshness to this scent.8BEST SUNNY SUMMER PERFUMESoleil BlancTOM FORDTOM FORDsephora.com$65.00SHOP NOW

Bergamot, pistachio and coconut are the stars of this sun-drenched scent, which is one of Beauty Director April Franzino’s summer favorites. “True to the name, this smells like a sunny day on an exotic faraway island,” she says. “Bright with a hint of citrus, yet a little warm.”9BEST WOODSY SUMMER PERFUMEGypsy Water Eau de ParfumBYREDOBYREDOnordstrom.com$190.00SHOP NOW

Unleash your inner adventurer with this sexy, uninhibited scent. Incense and sandalwood blend to make a heady, hypnotic fragrance.Advertisement – Continue Reading Belowhttps://bedcb430bf855f11284c178395a5696d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html10BEST LATE SUMMER PERFUMERomance Eau De Parfum SprayRALPH LAURENRALPH LAURENulta.com$98.00SHOP NOW

Inject some romance into your everyday life with this delicate, subdued perfume. Effervescent notes of mandarin, pink pepper and violet leaves envelope you in a sweet, ultra-feminine haze. 11BEST BOTANICAL SUMMER PERFUMEEau de Campagne Eau de ToiletteSISLEYSISLEY PARISnordstrom.com$100.00SHOP NOW

There’s nothing like the scent of sticky, earthy sweetness from a tangle of tomato vines in a backyard. Lemon and vetiver balance out middle notes of tomato leaves, making this perfume both nostalgic and wearable. 12BEST CITRUS SUMMER PERFUMEGood Energy Eau de ParfumEAU DE JUICEEAU DE JUICEulta.com$40.00SHOP NOW

This fragrance perfectly captures the feeling of drinking a juice box on a hot summer day. Top notes of mandarin and passionfruit make this citrusy perfume pop.Advertisement – Continue Reading Belowhttps://bedcb430bf855f11284c178395a5696d.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html13BEST VACATION SUMMER PERFUMEMediterranean Honeysuckle Eau de ParfumAERINAERINnordstrom.com$185.00SHOP NOW

Visit the sparkling blue oceans of the Mediterranean with this unique spritz. Sweet honeysuckle and delectable grapefruit make you feel like you’re brunching on vacation.14BEST POOL DAY SUMMER PERFUMEBeach Eau de ParfumBOBBI BROWNBOBBI BROWNnordstrom.com$79.00SHOP NOW

Jasmine, sea spray and mandarin come together to create the perfect beach day mist. “One of the original beachy fragrances, this has that iconic fresh, sunscreen-like scent that instantly channels summer,” says Franzino.15BEST COCONUT BEACH PERFUMEB.Bungalow Bondi Beach Day Eau de ParfumB.BUNGALOW BY BEACHWAVER CO.B.BUNGALOW BY BEACHWAVER CO.ulta.com$68.00SHOP NOW

This scent evokes tropical weather and dazzling white sand. “For a sweeter summer scent, this is the true essence of creamy coconut and vanilla bottled,” Franzino says. Advertisement – Continue Reading Below16BEST ZESTY SUMMER PERFUMETangy Rhubarb CologneJO MALONEJO MALONE LONDONmacys.com$74.00SHOP NOW

Sharp rhubarb and orange zest meld together for a fragrance as sweet as homemade jam. “The zesty scent of ripe summer fruit, a spritz instantly uplifts the senses and makes you feel more vibrant,” says Franzino.  17BEST GARDEN-INSPIRED SUMMER PERFUMEUn Jardin sur la Lagune Eau de ToiletteHERMÈSHERMÈSsephora.com$72.00SHOP NOW

Hermès perfumer Christine Nagel modeled this fragrance after an imaginary garden. Woody and floral with salty notes floating in, this scent delivers on its inspiration.18BEST SOFT SUMMER PERFUMEAmazing Grace Eau de ToilettePHILOSOPHYPHILOSOPHYulta.com$52.00SHOP NOW

Perfect for sensitive noses or those who prefer a more subtle scent, this floral perfume imparts a whisper of scent. Lily of the valley is blended with fresh citrus and musk for a balanced, delicate fragrance. Advertisement – Continue Reading Below19BEST UNISEX SUMMER PERFUMEWood Sage & Sea Salt CologneJO MALONEJO MALONE LONDONnordstrom.com$74.00SHOP NOW

This elegant, unisex fragrance has just two notes — sage and sea salt. Perfect for anyone looking for a more mysterious, unique scent.20BEST FLORAL SUMMER PERFUMEBloom Eau de Parfum For HerGUCCIGUCCIsephora.com$34.00SHOP NOW

Smell like a freshly picked bouquet from the farmer’s market with this flowery spritz. Rangoon creeper, a flower that changes from white to deep scarlet as it blooms, is blended with jasmine and tuberose for a scent bursting with blooms.21BEST AIRY SUMMER PERFUMEDo Son Eau de ToiletteDIPTYQUEDIPTYQUEnordstrom.com$98.00SHOP NOW

Diptyque founder Yves Coueslant modeled this scent after Do Son Bay in Vietnam, where he spent his childhood years. The resulting fragrance is light and airy, laced with tuberose, orange blossom, jasmine and marine accord, which gives it an oceanic, salty effect.  Advertisement – Continue Reading Below22BEST FRESH SUMMER PERFUMEGingham Eau de ParfumBATH & BODY WORKSBATH & BODY WORKSbathandbodyworks.com$49.50SHOP NOW

If you could bottle a summer picnic in the park, it would smell like this perfume. Anyone looking for a fresh, crisp scent will instantly fall in love with the notes of blue freesia, citrus and violet petals. 23BEST SENSUAL SUMMER PERFUMESantal 33 Eau de ParfumLE LABOLE LABOnordstrom.com$285.00SHOP NOW

Chances are, you’ll catch a whiff of this iconic scent on the corner of every New York City sidewalk (at this point, it’s the unofficial scent of the city), but cedar, leather and sandalwood transport you to a roaring bonfire.24BEST SALTY SUMMER PERFUMESALT Eau de ParfumELLIS BROOKLYNELLIS BROOKLYNsephora.com$30.00SHOP NOW

If your idea of a perfect summer day is sprawling across a sandy towel on a sun-soaked beach, this is the perfect summer perfume for you. Ylang ylang, white florals and grey amber blend together in an ocean-blue bottle.25BEST SOPHISTICATED SUMMER PERFUMEARMANI My Way Eau de ParfumGIORGIO ARMANIARMANIulta.com$98.00SHOP NOW

Sophisticated, sweet and an instant classic, this scent is like swiping on your favorite red lipstick. Notes of orange blossom, tuberose, jasmine, cedar and vanilla evoke memories of late night laughter. 

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