11 best men's fragrances for summer: Long lasting must-have scents for every occasion
From citrus notes of orange blossom to honeysuckle and white magnolia, there is something for everyone in our roundup of fragrances for the warmer months
Men’s fragrances are a funny old business. Typically, products are married to visuals of scantily clad hunks wandering about in slow motion on a beach in black and white.
As they stare saucily down the lens, they whisper some bizarre monologue over the top about going on a journey and finding yourself. Not to sound cynical, but rushing out to buy something Brad Pitt spritzed would bring us no closer to the beach or our inner peace unfortunately.
Luckily, beyond the false promises of these neo-noir titbits, there’s more fun to be had on the arguable fringes of what’s considered a man-marketed scent.
Fragrances are incredibly personal; think of it this way, you’re wearing it the same way you would your slacks. If your staple is a skinny jean, you’re not going to shove on a pair of flares because Robert Pattinson told you to.
Scents with “MAN” chucked on the label usually fall into the predictably musky smell we’ve all come to recognise. But one size does not fit all.
With all this in mind, we’ve tested a range of fragrances for longevity, price, originality and appearance, while also imagining the kind of man that we think would wear each scent featured.
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.
Floris London neroli voyage eau de parfum, 100ml: £120, Floris London
Best for The Adventurer: A smooth operator. Passionate and always on the lookout to spice up one’s life with new and exciting experiences. He somehow never has sand in their shoes or pants after a day at the beach.
Floris' latest release is inspired by “Orange blossom trees that grow along the Ligurian coastline of France and Italy”. Upon first spritz, the lemon and neroli take centre stage with notes of ginger and fennel seed as a backdrop. As voyage settles it shifts into more of an aquatic scent with base notes of amber and musk reaching a more reflective, grounding conclusion. What’s most impressive is the wear time on this. It’s still distinctive well over the eight hour mark.
It was inspired after perfumery director Edward Bodenham came into contact with a journal written by his ancestor Robert Floris in the early 19th century. Bodenham set off on an adventure of his own, tracing his footsteps throughout the southern Mediterranean and sourcing ingredients. The result is a distinctive gourmand scent, a labour of love and our most charming top pick for the summer season.
Tom Ford soleil blanc eau de parfum, 50ml: £162, Space NK
Best for The Hob-Nobber: Found swanning about the Caribbean or The Hamptons with an endless array of chums and romantic interests. He wears white and never spills on it.
There’s a significant clue in the name of this one. Well, we translated it as endless summer rather than “white sun”. This is definitely lolling around on a private beach somewhere territory. The brains at the iconic Tom Ford fragrance house are renowned for their original and daring fragrance cocktails. Soleil blanc is a unique balance of crisp but also luxe richness. There are notes of citrus as you’d imagine but underneath there’s vanilla and coconut to really drive the far far away vibe home. Neroli and pistachio add to that effortlessness of smooth. With fear of sounding incredibly vapid, ultimately it smells expensive and interesting. Always a plus.
Le Labo fleur d’oranger 27 eau de parfum, 50ml: £127, John Lewis & Partners
Best for The Listener: Attentive and intelligent. Found in upmarket bistros drinking a long black. He’s great at being brutally honest without upsetting anyone.
This 27 ingredient aroma from fragrance powerhouse Le Labo was three years in production before it found its way to our bathroom cabinets. Orange blossom has undertones of bergamot and vetiver with twinges of grapefruit and amber. It’s lusciously light, breezy and subtle with enough oomph to still catch some attention. Classic and romantic, this is on the sweeter side rather than super citrusy orange. Think thirst quencher in a fragrance and you’re halfway there. Fill up your cup.
Jo Malone English oak and hazelnut cologne, 100ml: £94, Jo Malone
Best for The Nature Lover: Adventurous and always out and about. Somehow charms people who never step out of the M25 to go on a walk in the woods. Grows their own vegetables while living in a flat on a main road.
Jo Malone really has cemented its place as the go-to if you want people to ask on the daily what it is you’re wearing. There’s enough in the range to feel overwhelmed at first glance, but each signature scent differs itself enough from the next to give your choice the edge it deserves. The green hazelnut in this is the main attraction with elemi and roasted oak adding to the combo. It’s simple and effective with a significant longevity on wearing throughout the day. The dry down on this one is top notch with the moss rounding out heavier amongst the notes. It manages to remain surprising while being a mature scent.
Aesop tacit eau de parfum, 50ml: £85, Cult Beauty
Best for The Unconventionalist: Has unique ways of doing things that seem preposterous at first but then make entire sense on reflection. Has a knack for making a statement by doing nothing at all.
It’s hard to believe that Aesop has only been around since 1987. From humble beginnings in Melbourne, the brand has secured itself as a major player in the grooming game. Tacit is our favourite from Aesop’s hats in the fragrance ring. It’s a contemporary take on a classic infusion with citrus and yuzu leading the way with basil and cloves unfolding underneath. This scent is a clever mix of old and new leaving a striking spice to the overall aroma. Inspired by the Mediterranean coastline, it’s clean, sharp and a nice twist on the more generic summer fragrances that lead towards the sweeter floral side of things. A great understated addition that thinks outside the box.
Clean Reserve sueded oud eau de parfum, 100ml: £82, Space NK
Best for The Explorer: Always up for trying new things and usually spurring friends to do the same. They always seem to know where they’re going but never uses a map.
Oud might seem rather unsummery but this is a much fresher take on the traditional woody favourite as opposed to the heavier, leathery approach we’ve come to know and love. Clean Reserve has salty praline, honeysuckle and white magnolia that give it a lighter lift. The brand also prides itself in paying fair wages and helping to bring sustainable economies across the world throughout the entire range and give back wherever they can. Bushman candle is harvested from the nomadic Himba tribe of Namibia in this particular scent for instance, supporting their development without disrupting their way of life.
Their packaging is fully recyclable and the range is also designed to be layered with one another. We delved into smoked vetiver with the sueded oud which was a real treat. Try this if you’re after something unusual yet familiar. Like an old friend with a mad hat on, but somehow they pull it off.
Molton Brown geranium nefertum eau de toilette, 50ml: £45, Molton Brown
Best for The Risk Taker: Likes to take a chance and doesn’t care much about trying to get people to like them. Which of course means everyone does. Has never needed to run for public transport in their lives
The black pepper from Molton Brown has been the go to for many a fella, so we’re going with something a bit different this season. Their new addition is a rather enigmatic and intriguing concoction of fig leaf, geranium and jasmine. On paper, it doesn’t sound too groundbreaking but it’s the perfect balance of salty sweetness that sits decorously on balmy days. There’s a slight minty undertone which gives it an extra boost of freshness while drying down to something much lighter throughout the day. It’s a stand-out from the bustling crowd despite being quite laid back.
Malin and Goetz dark rum eau de parfum, 100ml: £130, Malin and Goetz
Best for The Host with the Most: Not adverse to being in the limelight, they count champagne as one of their five a day. Has never taken a bad photo.
Matthew Malin + Andrew Goetz profess that this fragrance is their modern interpretation of the traditional bay rum scent. Since the brand launched in 2004 it has become an international bestseller and for good reason. Zesty bergamot and plum are the primary notes here married with tattered leather and warming amber undertones. The result is a suitably dark, deliciously fruity aroma. It's now the brands signature scent and we think the perfect night time addition to your summer calendar. Keep this one closeby though, as it’s not as long lasting as some of our other honourable mentions.
Acqua di Parma cipresso di toscana, 150ml: £108, Space NK
Best for The Intellectual: Has their finger on the proverbial pulse without any effort whatsoever. Has access to a holiday home in France all year round but no one knows how. Enjoys humming Tristan and Isolde in the shower.
A top note of star anise with petitgrain and pine needles to follow, Acqua di Parma’s transformative range grows with their latest addition – cipresso di toscana and is as fresh as it gets. As part of their blu mediterraneo line, it doesn’t get more summery than this. Wonderful citrus notes are enveloped between a cacophony of moods transporting you to the landscapes of Tuscany. Well, not quite, but you get the gist. The result is a rather natural and soothing scent which dries down to a sentimental sour, in a good way reassured. Think sitting by the sea, reading something incredibly pompous while dry martinis are served instead of lemonade. Our kind of holiday.
Murdock avalon cologne, 100ml: £88, Murdock
Best for The Playful One: Always upbeat and knows the best spots to go to. Makes people laugh without doing anything. Always wakes up looking as good as they did when they went to bed.
Oranges, lemons, lavender and musk sounds a bit like a table we’d rather not sit at, but this harmonious collection of guests provide a party where all are welcome. Murdock prides itself on looking after chaps in a quintessentially British manner, with their expert barbers knowing a thing or two about making a man look sharp. Their capsule fragrance collection is a great accompaniment to their ethos. This is an incredibly crisp and natural scent with a herbal undertone. It’s cool and traditional without being old fashioned. A great daytime delight on warm skin. Potent and playful with lemony goodness on the rebound.
Le Couvent des minimes remarkable perfumes – valparaiso, 50ml: £65, Look Fantastic
Best for The Traveller: Been around the block and has the tales to prove it. Doesn’t have a camera on their phone – their memory is perturbingly photographic.
2018 brought a new asset to the Le Couvent range; valparaiso is meant to transport you to the Chilean coastline with its hits of cedar and vetiver. This dries down to notes of myrrh, frankincense and patchouli, slowly offering a more earthy tone. Bizarrely, for something that seems so heavy on paper, it sits surprisingly well as a summer offering. Housed is a striking black glass bottle, its equal parts spicy and bitter without being overpowering. Inspired by the travels of botanist Louis Feuillée, it’s an alluring and memorable option for something a little more venerable.
The verdict: Men’s summer fragrances
Floris London comes out of top for its multi-layered, long wear, sunshine escape in a bottle appeal. Aesop is terrific for those who want something unexpected with its take on the classics. And Acqua di Parma is always fresh, even if you’re not.
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