And that’s something natural ones do so well. They’re largely handcrafted in small batches and made with wild-crafted plants, organic flower extracts, and essential oils. And because these perfumes tap nature and reflect its seasonal whims, they stand apart as bespoke bottles in the sea of synthetic, mass-made scents. (They’ll also come in handy during those pesky times when your workout ran long. French bath, anyone?)
Here are nine top sunny scents of the summer that are beautiful, bespoke, and—bonus—won’t break the bank. —Molly Gallagher
(Photo: Anne Nelson Sanford by LurkShop)
Casey Coyle’s perfumes are made in small batches in Brooklyn, but this one conjures up summer in Hawaii. “Island Lei is a tropical floral with layers of frangipani (the flower they make leis out of), sandalwood, and vanilla,” says Coyle.
Her preservative-free organic blends are made with botanical essential oils, and the glass bottles have local, artisanal wooden tops and Coyle’s illustrations on the labels.
Lurk “BS003,” $55
Perfumer Anne Nelson Sanford’s small-batch blends are super cool, and this one is like having that post-beach feeling in a bottle. “There’s sandalwood, a lot of really beautiful citrus in it, a little bit of lemon, bergamot, and black pepper,” she says. All of her natural perfumes are hand blended, and made essential oils and organic jojoba (which doubles as an incredibly effective natural preservative, Sanford says).
Her shop recently relocated from Soho to Sag Harbor—where all of her natural fragrances are now made.
“Saffron of Kashmir is ideal for summer. Warm summer temps seem to highlight the buoyancy of neroli and orange blossoms, and I love how they mingle with saffron’s complex, warm-spicy honeyed notes, and the milkened essence of sandalwood,” says Julie Elliot, founder and formulator of the luxe apothecary brand, In Fiore (which means “in bloom”).
The compact packaging is sublimely chic and it travels well in your bag for sunshine-filled getaways—whether you’re headed to Greece, the Great Lakes, or Greenpoint.
(Photo: In Fiore)
Wear your scent on your neck—or around it—with this pendant by Intelligent Nutrients (IN), whose elixirs and essences are USDA organic-certified. It comes filled with Inner Calm, which mixes sweet orange, white grapefruit, and mandarin orange, with notes of neroli and pettigrain. But you can fill it with whatever calls to you most.
Nicole Rechelbacher, IN’s co-president, says she wears her summer favorite, Cistus Spirit Essence, in the pendant. “It was actually the favorite of my father’s [Horst Rechelbacher, who founded the company and Aveda and recently passed away] and is very personal to me,” she says.
(Photo: Intelligent Nutrients)
Perfumer Alexandra Balahoutis is known for creating high-end perfumes with organic, botanical ingredients, using “a strictly botanical palette” (no synthetics). Her scents are hand-blended in Venice, California, and are all made with certified organic, wildcrafted, and biodynamic ingredients. Balahoutis’ androgynous Atlantic scent is like a bottled vacation—in the South of France. The blend has notes of peppermint and sandalwood, punctuated by Jamaican bay rum and frankincense.
(Photo: Strange Invisible Perfumes)
Sage Lifestyle “Diamond,” $45
Sage Machado, a jewelry designer and natural perfumer, gets inspiration for her fragrances the same way she does for her jewelry—from gemstones. The newest one, Diamond, is filled with Indian sandalwood, white crisp amber, and oceanic musk.
“Diamond is the perfect choice for summer. It embodies such purity and airiness, it will not overwhelm even on the hottest of days when scent can clash with our overheated chemistry,” says Machado.
(Photo: Sage Lifestyle)
Honoré Des Prés is a luxury certified-organic French fragrance brand created by legendary perfumer Olivia Giacobetti, who previously designed fragrances for well-known houses like Diptyque and Guerlain before turning a new, natural leaf.
Vamp à NY conjures up the feeling of a sexy summer night in the city with tuberose, rum, bourbon vanilla, and smoky benjoin. Think of it as inspiration from Giacobetti for a summer of steamy rendezvous.
(Photo: Honoré Des Prés)
Tsi-La founders, Natalie Szapowalo and Annie Morton, make artisan batches of their flower- and plant-based perfumes using only essential oils and active plant botanicals. Their newest fragrances, L’ Absolu Vanille, is a sexy summer scent with vanilla bourbon, Indonesian sandalwood, and cocoa. “Natalie loves layering our vanilla fragrance with our Fiori D’Arancio perfume,” says Morton, giving it a playful-meets-seductive feel.
Give Scent “Orange,” $48
Celebrated yogi Elena Brower originally debuted her Give Scent line with one fragrance, inspired by a perfume she created for herself with essential oils. Now, her line with Alexandra Lyon Perelman includes three—including the newest one, Orange. And it’s inspired by summer afternoons on the coast of Sardinia, which you can channel every time you dab it on.
(Photo: Give Scent)