Summer in a vial: Refreshing fragrances to keep you cool this season
As a riot of refreshing fragrances marks the arrival of a new season, we pick out a selection of the best notes to keep you cool
The froth of the Italian Adriatic, creamy white sand, a chilled limonata and the captivating whiff of mandarin orange and musk from a swaying signorina… summer never got better! No season is complete without its sprinkling of scents.
Nature plays the best stylist and our innate rapport with her fragrant bounty impacts the psyche at various times of the day and during different seasons. And so in summer, we choose cooling, effervescent scents to soothe our senses in the sweltering heat!
Khus and effect
Right since the Vedic era, India has pioneered making perfume from natural ingredients. While some pure extracts are known for their intensely warming effect, many are inherently cooling and preferred for summer. “Due to their cooling ‘taaseer’, Ruh Khus or ‘vetiver’ and Kewda, a flower native only to India have been age-old summer fragrances,” explains Krishan Mohan Singh, one of India’s senior-most perfumers upholding the ancient tradition of non-alcoholic fragrances.
‘Attar Gil’ or ‘Mitti ka Attar’ with its fragrance of moist earth after the first monsoon showers, he explains, is yet another summer favourite. “We conduct steam distillation on actual earthen pottery over a sandalwood base to give it the authenticity,” he explains. The aroma not only cools the senses but creates a sense of anticipation of monsoon during the peak of the Indian summer.
Khus was the summer signature of Ustad Ahmedjan Thirakwa, the legendary 20th century tabla maestro. The sillage of the attar, a gift from the Rampur Nawab, would cool the mehfil halls during his sizzling solos.
Water way to go
Around the globe, light, cool and cheery notes are preferred as perfume ingredients for summers. Effervescent citruses like bergamot, lemon and orange refresh you, make you feel clean on sweaty days and bring cheer. While light floral blends with rose, the jasmine family, and tuberose to name a few, provide a sense of shade and calm, aquatic notes remind you of water bodies, water being the greatest coolant.
White Musk has been a sought-after summer ingredient with its light, gentle romance. It provides blends with a refined tone and ethereal dry-downs, diluting assertive notes and adding subtle class.
Armani Acqua di Gio for men is a unique fresh spicy, aromatic-marine summer bouquet, a combination of notes from diverse scent families. With top notes like jasmine, orange, bergamot, lemon, heart notes like calone, violet and rose and a woody base of cedar, amber, patchouli, oakmoss and white musk, it creates the perfect summery effect of sea, sand and sun.
Appealing to higher scents
Culture and geography do play a role in selecting scents that cool you off. “Tunisia’s Mediterranean summers call for leitmotif sparkling, bright florals like jasmine that remind you of blossoming gardens”
says Tunisian mathematician Sidi Ben Haj Yedder, with a smile.
Fragrances depend on heat, and in summer, their molecules rise naturally from the skin, creating a chemistry with the wearer and his surroundings, believes Fiona Caroline, Retail and Education L’oreal Luxe. “The choice of a summer fragrance depends on everything from where you live to the culture to
personal taste. It is important to choose crisp, light fragrances that are enough to cut through the heat. Just like we choose casual summer clothing, so should be the choice of fragrance.” she opines.
According to London-based perfume expert Grant Osborne, summer calls for replacing heavier,
overpowering notes like sandalwood and patchouli with zingy ones like ginger or mint. “While a traditional cologne like 4711 or Chanel’s Eau de Cologne work well during summers, many perfume houses create special summer variants of their more popular fragrances,” he explains.
It is said that while the skin produces more oil during summers, acting as a natural scent magnifier, calling for lighter colognes, humidity can alter the way a fragrance reacts with the skin, causing it to smell differently with the increase in temperature.