These ‘Sunshine In a Bottle’ Scents Are Exactly What You Need To Survive the Coldest, Darkest Days of the Year

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The only thing more depressing than waking up when it's still dark outside is... watching the sunset from your desk and then trudging home when it's, yet again, dark outside. This time of year, most of us are lucky to score even a few sun-soaked minutes outside—and even those precious moments aren't all that great when they're paired with below-freezing temps.

While we may still be a ways away from rooftop hangs and park picnics, there's some light to be had within this months-long tunnel thanks to "solar scents" that have found a way to bottle up some of the sunshine we're all yearning for right now.

Experts In This Article

"A solar scent can best be described as a scent that evokes the feeling of being bathed in sunlight to the user," says Fabrice Pellegrin, the principle perfumer at Firmenich, the largest privately-owned fragrance and taste company in the world. "When creating something of a solar scent, we look to utilize notes that are vibrant and warm, and kiss the skin as the sun would."

He explains that recreating this sun-drenched feeling involves capitalizing on the close link between scent and memory. Since the actual sun doesn't have a smell, this means using notes that remind people of moments they've spent basking in its rays. "To evoke the smell of the sun through a perfume is a challenge because it's an abstract sensation," says Pellegrin. "The perfumer can play with different types of notes to translate this scent."

He points to citrus ("for its luminosity"), orange blossom or ylang-ylang ("for their sunny floral sweetness"), coconut ("for its tropical inflections"), vanilla ("for its warmth"), and warm woods like sandalwood or cedar ("that recall the sensation of the sun's warmth on the skin") as a few favorite components for sunshiney scents.

Though solar scents seem to be exactly what the doctor ordered for our mid-December blues, there's an even broader reason why these types of fragrances have begun to hit the market in full force in recent months. "Solar scents are especially popular at the moment because they offer a contrast to the gloomy and stressful times that many of us have been through in the last couple of years," says Natalia Lebedev, the chief fragrance officer at Native, which launched its Fall Escape collection—a line of sunshine-inspired body-care products—earlier this year. "Solar scents can help boost your mood, confidence, and creativity, as well as make you feel more connected to nature and yourself."

If all of those things sound like exactly what you need right now (me!! hi!!), you're in luck: We rounded up 14 of the best sunshine-in-a-bottle scents you'll want to spritz yourself from now through summer and beyond.

Lumira, "Paradiso del Sole" Room Spray — $85.00

Key notes: orange blossom, bergamot, thyme

“Our Paradiso del Sole fragrance captures the ‘smell of sunshine’ and takes you through a sensory journey of Summer days along the Amalfi Coast,” says Lumira’s founder, Almira Armstrong. “Sailing the Mediterranean is so clear and blue that it’s quite literally dazzling, and the brisk scent of the ocean spray is unmistakable.”

To recreate the feeling of lounging on a boat in Positano, Paradiso del Sole combines notes of citrus and light florals with the surprising spice of thyme and the comforting warmth of musk.

Size: 3.4 oz.

The Harmonist, "Sun Force" Parfum — $350.00

Key notes: pomelo, sandalwood, musk

In Harmonist’s take on a solar scent, “force” is the keyword. The fragrance combines notes that evoke all of the same senses as the sun—Hawaiian pomelo for its energy, vetiver and sandalwood for its warmth, and musk for its enveloping feeling.

“The solar scent has a texture, an energy, a temperature, and a color,” says perfumer Guillaume Flavigny, who worked in collaboration with The Harmonist to create Sun Force. ” It’s an anti-depressive perfume… sun is life and joy.”

Size: 1.7 oz.

Tocca, "Belle" Eau de Parfum — $80.00

Key notes: white freesia, bergamot, musk

For those who prefer a more romantic scent, “Belle” encapsulates the spirit of summer, allowing every spritz to transport you to carefree days and balmy nights. With effervescent top notes of Italian bergamot and grapefruit, this fragrance opens like a burst of sunshine. The heart blooms with luscious jasmine petals and a touch of Turkish rose, evoking a sun-kissed garden in full bloom. As the scent settles, sensuous musk base notes linger, reminiscent of a warm embrace.

Size: 1.7 oz.

Vacation, "Vacation" Eau de Toilette — $60.00

Key notes: coconut, solar musk, Lycra

Jet-set into an olfactory escape with “Vacation” by Vacation, which smells exactly like its iconic sunscreen counterpart. That’s on purpose—shoppers loved the scent of the brand’s SPF so much that it tasked perfumers Carlos Huber and Rodrigo Flores-Roux to turn it into a luxury fragrance, and boy, did they nail it. Every spritz feels like a relaxing pool day at a Miami resort, complete with tropical drinks, Lycra pool toys, and a hint of chlorine.

Size: 1 oz.

Diptyque, "ILIO" Eau de Toilette Spray — $246.00

Key notes: prickly pear, jasmine, iris

“Diptyque’s Ilio Eau de Toilette is a tribute to the Mediterranean countryside being bathed in sunlight,” says Pellegrin. “For this composition, we utilized prickly pear for its unusual fresh and juicy notes, bergamot to illuminate the liveliness of the fragrance, jasmine to bring forward some nuance with its delicate floral notes, and iris to round out the accord with a velvety softness.”

Size: 3.4 oz.

DedCool, "Sunlit Blooms" Eau de Parfum — $90.00

Key notes: orange blossom, salty vanilla, white floral

“The scent is bright, radiant, and warm,” says DedCool founder Carina Chaz. “The blooms from the citrus paired with vanilla and white florals evoke solar notes to bottle up that sunshine feeling.”

Size: 1.7 oz.

Phlur, "Solar Power" Eau de Parfum — $96.00

Key notes: bergamot, orange flower, solar musk

The “golden, floral musk” that makes up this solar-powered scent is meant to evoke the feeling of sunshine on your skin—and the combination of bright citrus, soft florals, and comforting sea salt does exactly that. It’s sexy without being overbearing, and will mentally transport you to a place where bikinis and beach waves reign supreme (… even when it’s 36 degrees outside).

Size: 1.7 oz.

Future Society, "Solar Canopy" — $98.00

Key notes: Turkish rose, lychee, pistachio

A slightly sweeter take on a solar scent, this perfume pairs fruits and florals (namely lychee, citrus, Turkish rose, and magnolia) with gourmand notes like pistachio and pink sugar. And the coolest part? The brand uses biotechnology to recreate extinct plants—in this case, Hibiscadelphus wilderianus, which was last recorded in Hawaii in 1912—to deliver never-before-smelled (at least by this generation) scents.

Size: 1.6 oz.

Clean Reserve, "Solar Bloom" — $110.00

Key notes: bergamot, orange blossom, coconut water

There’s a certain grit associated with spending time in the sun—camping, hiking, even lounging in the sand—and Clean Reserve has managed to capture that outdoorsy feeling by pairing traditional “solar” notes (like citrus and florals) with earthy charcoal. There’s a subtle hint of coconut water, too, which makes it smell like the most deliciously-scented sunscreen you’ve ever smelled—but better.

Size: 3.4 oz.

Vyrao, "Sunræ" Eau de Parfum — $190.00

Key notes: lemon, turmeric, amber

This artfully crafted “functional fragrance” not only employs notes reminiscent of the sun, but it’s also designed to evoke the same feelings you’ll get from a hefty dose of vitamin D. A few ingredients on the list worth mentioning? Invigorating lemon oil, uplifting turmeric leaf, comforting amber, energizing cardamom oil, and anxiety-reducing black pepper.

Size: 1.7 oz.

Tom Ford, "Soleil Neige" Eau de Parfum — $495.00

Key notes: bergamot, jasmine, lemon

Summer sunshine tends to get all the credit, but there’s something to be said about catching the rays that find a way to peek through during the darkest days of winter. That’s exactly the feeling Tom Ford tried to recreate with this scent, which the brand describes as, “mimmicking the serene shimmer of sun on snow and the cool reflection of winter sun brightening with glacial light.” With notes of bergamot, lemon, and jasmine flower, the fragrance formulation isn’t all that different than the others on this list, but somehow manages to hit an icier note that will make you want to hit the slopes, stat.

Size: 1.7 oz.

Ellis Brooklyn, "SUN" Fragrance Body Mist — $45.00

Key notes: mandarin, clementine, lemon

A slightly more summery scent, this “joyful and playful” all-over spray is meant to make you feel like you’re the life of the beach party. Subtly sweet citrus notes like sweet clementine and orange flower pair beautifully with the warm, gourmand scent of vanilla to give off some seriously flirty “fun in the sun” vibes.

Size: 3.38 oz.

D.S. & Durga, "Rockaway Beach" Eau de Parfum — $210.00

Key notes: ocean air, musk, salt

The perfumers at D.S. & Durga have long been celebrated for their ability to translate everyday experiences into scent, and their take on an afternoon at New York’s Rockaway Beach is no exception. For proof, just take a look at the notes: ocean air, sun tan lotion, salt, flowering privet, skin musk, and hedges—all of which are things you would actually smell while you were lounging in the sand looking out at the Atlantic.

Size: 1.7 oz.

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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