Whether you’re longing for sunnier climes or looking for a bit of a treat to lift your mood, fragrance has the power to conjure memory and atmosphere, and brighten gloomy days.
When it comes to summer scents, you’ll mostly find citrus at the forefront, with the addition of ambrette or woods to deepen, or greenery or pink pepper for crispness.
Our favourites evoke sunscreen on warm skin, fresh ocean spray and pink sunsets.
Eau de parfum (EDP) is a stronger concentration of compounds, usually around 15 per cent, whereas an eau de toilette (EDT) is around 10 per cent; hence why EDTs tend to be cheaper.
This can be a false economy, however, as an EDP will last longer on the skin, so you may find you use up a toilette more quickly.
When testing, we’ve looked at how the fragrance changes over time, how long it lasted on the skin and, of course, considered how proud we’d be to display the bottles on our dressing table.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.
Tom Ford neroli Portofino eau de parfum, 50ml
We’ve been longing for a full-size bottle of this since it launched nearly 10 years ago; it’s a scent so delicious you’ll never forget it. Tom Ford fragrances have a way of making the wearer feel elevated and special (and it’s not just its luxury price). It’s crisp, splashy and sophisticated, with bergamot, lavender and neroli. As the blue bottles suggests, it’s very evocative of the Med.
Loewe Paula’s Ibiza eau de parfum, 50ml
Taking both name and inspiration from the famous Ibiza boutique known for its flower filled interiors, OTT fashion shows and customers such as Freddie Mercury and Donna Summer, fashion house Loewe has been releasing its Paula’s Ibiza fashion collection every summer since 2017. Now a new EDT, in a gorgeous rainbow bottle that reminds us of ice lollies, this brings Ibiza to you at home. Laidback, bohemian and extravagant all at once, it has notes of mandarin, driftwood, coconut oil and patchouli.
Malin + Goetz stem eau de parfum, 50ml
This is a fresh, outdoorsy scent that brings together all the elements of a garden – except the flowers, so there’s no risk of it being powdery or potpourri-esque. It smells green, leafy and earthy, with the stalks of hyacinth and lily of the valley, and leaves of freesia, softened and given depth by musks. It’s an unexpected but delicious summery scent.
Nuxe prodigieux le parfum, 50ml
The perfume version of the body oil we’ve been slathering on since we were teenagers, nothing smells like summer more than this, and it has a sweet note of nostalgia, too. With hints of orange, coconut and vanilla, it smells like an old school tanning oil. It lasts remarkably well when compared with far more expensive fragrances, too.
DS and Durga radio Bombay eau de parfum, 50ml
For everyone who misses travelling to far flung climes, this perfume, from the cult Brooklyn-based parfumier, is an incredibly evocative scent. It transports the wearer to Mumbai under the scorching summer sun with its heady fragrance, which features cedar, musk, cream, peach, coco and ambrette.
Louis Vuitton California dream eau de parfum, 100ml
Never mind its scent, California dream looks like summer, with its pink and baby blue, sky-inspired bottle. Bright mandarin is complemented by warm ambrette, balmy vanilla and soft pear; it’s the perfume version of a warm, long summer’s evening spent sipping cocktails and watching the sun go down.
Byredo lil fleur eau de parfum, 50ml
The latest fragrance from uber cool brand Byredo is "lil fleur", a youthful, sweet and sophisticated creation, with top notes of saffron and tangerine, a heart of Damascene rose and a base of blonde woods. This is what we’ll want to be wearing when we’re finally reunited with our friends; it feels like a scent to build good memories on and is sure to get lots of compliments.
Acqua di Parma blu Mediterraneo Fico di Amalfi eau de toilette, 150ml
Just looking at this bottle has us longing for blue seas and Aperol spritzes on the Amalfi coast. Blu Mediterraneo is a range of fragrances all inspired by the Italian Mediterranean, from Arancia di Capri and Bergamotto di Calabria to our pick, Fico di Amalfi. It’s a punchy, enlivening fragrance, bursting onto the skin from the first spritz with bergamot, lemon, grapefruit and citron. It has a rich heart of fig nectar (fico means fig) and pink pepper, and a base of woods and further fig. Bright, sunny and distinctive.
Maison Margiela replica beach walk eau de toilette, 100ml
The replica collection from Maison Margiela is designed to evoke memories and conjure particular atmospheres or scenes in your mind. So, while we’re all stuck at home, a perfume called “beach walk” couldn’t be more appealing. It’s a fresh, ocean spray of a fragrance, with notes of bergamot, lemon, pink pepper and ylang ylang.
Prada les infusion de Prada mandarine eau de parfum, 100ml
This is a very happy, zesty, citrusy scent that has lifted our moods on cloudier days (literally and otherwise) during lockdown. On first sniff it has that fresh burst of zestiness, like you get when you first peel an orange, followed by orange blossom, which gives a slightly floral note. Once it settles on the skin you get a warm, amber-y scent, with vanilla, benzoin and yet more orange. Sunshine in a bottle.
The verdict: Women’s summer perfumes
For a reasonably affordable scent, we love Loewe’s Paula’s Ibiza, while Malin + Goetz’s stem eau de parfum is unexpected and fresh. If your budget can stretch, nothing says Mediterranean sun-like Tom Ford’s luxurious neroli Portofino.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.