15 of the best fragrances for men to wear in summer

It's that sticky time of year when winter wool has been swapped for lighter linens and the nightly fight with the doona (too hot with one, too cold without it) has begun.

This means it's also time to shelve your heavier cold weather fragrances in favour of more refreshing cologne or citrus inspired options.

Lighter, fresher

While the colder months are a chance to wear heavier or darker scents, the rapidly warming weather of spring and summer calls for something more crisp and invigorating.

The reason for this, aside from the excuse of shaking things up and investing in something new, is that as your body heat rises faster your fragrance starts to radiate more loudly and can quickly become overwhelming, especially in an enclosed space.

"Summer fragrances have to be fresh, sparkling and juicy," says Sarah Blair, founder of boutique range Map of the Heart.

"What I like in men's fragrances is the minerality of what we call marine, ozonic notes, that brings this wave of freshness and it's very sexy."

Classic hits

There's good reason why some fragrances and brands have stood the test of time while their contemporaries fell into obscurity.

Traditional colognes are a man's greatest investment and something that, while ideal for summer, can easily be worn all year round. Dior's Eau Sauvage has reigned supreme in the mainstream consciousness since it was first introduced back in 1966. But that could soon change.

Speaking to Barnabé Fillion about the complexities of crafting a fragrance, the French perfumer hinted that the industry could soon face a round of fresh difficulties.


"There are rumours, stories, that bergamot could be the next ingredient banned by new regulations," said Fillion.

In Australia to discuss the inspiration behind Aesop's new addition to their lineup, Hwyl, Fillion expressed exasperation at the seemingly arbitrary nature of these regulations put forth by the IFRA (International Fragrance Association) and RIFM (Research Institute for Fragrance Materials).

"The people who profit from this are pharmaceutical companies," mused Fillion.

"They're the ones who create these synthetics we [perfumers] now use and they're also behind the research that suggests the raw, natural ingredients are dangerous. But somehow you can still have them in cosmetics products that claim to use only natural materials. It's very strange."

The good old days

If you think that this isn't that big a deal, think again. Reformulations, while vehemently denied by many brands, are the reason why so many old favourites don't seem to smell as good as they used to.

Dior's Fahrenheit, for example, was severely impacted by restrictions placed on acetylenic esters aka violet leaf. What was once an incredible gasoline-like blast overlaid with citrus has now turned into a basic wood-and-leather.

Back in 2001, the banning of oakmoss – one of perfumery's most common ingredients used in everything from Chanel No. 5 to Creed's Aventus – saw many perfumers scramble to find a way to preserve its signature bitter note while submitting to tighter controls.

Experimental touches

But it's also been a goad for perfumers to think outside the box when it comes to ingredients.

This year has seen a lot of perfumers veer away from traditional summer notes such as lemon and citrus and tinker with everything from narcissus to triple-distilled cypress to give men something that will guarantee they stand out in the crowd (in a good sense).

Earlier this year, Australian brand Map of the Heart released their latest unisex fragrance V6. Bottled in a replica of the human heart, V6 starts off with burst of green narcissus, basil and neroli. It's floral, and some would say feminine, but this eventually gives way to deeper notes of tobacco and sandalwood a few hours into wearing.

Fellow Aussie brand Aesop took inspiration from the cool mossy floors of Japanese forests. Teaming up once again with perfumer Barnabé Fillion, their latest addition Hwyl is a woody green explosion. Vetiver, frankincense and cypress reworked to the point it basically smells like mountain air, Hwyl feels like it should be heavier than it is but is surprisingly clean in the wearing.

Meanwhile, British brand Penhaligon's took "clean and fresh" in an entirely new direction with their Savoy Steam. Inspired by the old Savoy Turkish bathhouses of London, Savoy Steam employs eucalyptus, rosemary and rose to embody the experience of stepping out of a steaming shower.

Addressing climate change

Splashing on a little something every morning is the easiest accessory you can wear. And by easy, this means knowing what kind, how much and where to spray.

"Spritz the fragrance just below your jawline, on the back of the neck and elbow pulse points," says Nick Smart, Director of Agence de Parfum.

"Knees are another great point – these are places where the veins are closer to the skin, giving off more heat during Summer which warms the fragrance and puts it out there. Also, consider layering alternative scents to give fragrance more longevity."

Check out the gallery above to see the best fragrances you should be wearing this summer.