A few things you should know about smelling good this season: For starters, your skin produces more oil during the summer months, which acts as a natural scent magnifier, meaning less product goes a longer way. That’s also one reason why summer colognes are lighter and crisper, so as not to overpower.
Another consideration: Summer’s heat and humidity can alter the way certain ingredients react with your skin, so the way a cologne smells on a 30-degree dry winter day will be different than how it appears in 85-degree humidity. Colognes labeled specifically for “summer” take this into account in the formulations.
“Winter is when everything’s gray, everything’s cold, and the last thing you want is something that’s going to be heavy and oppressive,” says Chandler Burr, curator of olfactory art at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City. “In the summer, it can actually be more interesting to wear things that are more substantive.”
There’s also the whole psychology bit — in winter, along with dark ale and down jackets, we gravitate toward scents that are smoky and woodsy (think warming by the fireplace on a snowy night). Come summer, we seek fragrances that remind us of the beach—citrusy, floral (yes, floral), and fresh mint are popular notes.
For men who don’t want to switch their scents with the seasons, many companies have created lighter versions of their classics, so you can have the comfort of that familiar smell without the heaviness that screams Vail in four-foot snow banks.
Where you go from here is really a matter of personal preference. Is your style city smooth or country funk? Do you prefer big brands or small batch brewing? We’ve covered all the angles with our top picks for this summer.