5 perfumes: spicy fragrances for summer


For many of us, this is about the time of the year when we start to shuffle the contents of our perfume collection, moving the darker and heavier fragrances towards the back. It's not at all unusual for me to reach for a light citrus or beachy fragrance in winter as a form of denial, but it's sometimes harder to pull off the reverse, that is, to wear a spicy comfort scent in summer. Many of them are just too thick and rich and overwhelming to wear when it's hot, or worse, hot and humid. Here are five sheer spices to try in summer when you're missing your winter favorites.

Demeter Gingerale ~ a perfect rendition of gingerale, including the fizz, and just as refreshing as the real thing. It's too uncomplicated to say much more about it than that, but if you need more incentive to give it a try, hey, it's also dirt cheap. The perfect Demeter for winter, of course, is Egg Nog

Comptoir Sud Pacifique L'Eau du Gouverneur ~ I described this one as "a sheer spice-fest (ever-so-vaguely along the lines of Lubin Idole without the rum and leather)". It's heavy on the nutmeg and allspice, but you'll also make out a nice jolt of clove, and it wears perfectly year-round.

Hermès Épice Marine ~ I admit I don't quite love Épice Marine, but I have found that I like it better in warm weather than cold, and it's certainly transparent enough to work in hot weather. If you like the idea of aquatics but you're not fond of heavy doses of calone, and if you don't mind a bit of cumin, do give it a shot.

L'Artisan Parfumeur Piment Brûlant ~ Hot pepper, cocoa, clove and vanilla don't sound like the makings of a summer fragrance, but Piment Brûlant is lighter and drier than you'd expect, and the raspberry, once it calms (the opening is admittedly a bit sweet), gives it a cheerful air. I can't keep track of what is discontinued and what isn't over at L'Artisan, but certainly you can still find bottles of Piment Brûlant online.

Bvlgari Omnia ~ the original Omnia is discontinued, but as of this writing, it can still be found online at reasonable prices. I was torn about including it here anyway — I probably wouldn't reach for it on the absolute hottest dog days of summer, but Omnia isn't a heavy scent by any means, and its blend of masala tea spices, sandalwood and a hint of chocolate might be the closest you can get to a comfort scent in mid-July without suffocating yourself (and anyone else nearby).

Have a favorite summer spice perfume? Do comment!

Note: top image is Gingerbread Spices via Wikimedia Commons.

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  1. egabbert says:

    I really like 5 o’clock au Gingembre in summertime. The top notes remind me of ginger beer, so it’s kind of the same idea as your Demeter pick.

    • Robin says:

      I need to try that again…it’s floating somewhere in the bottom of my purgatory basket because I never could decide if I liked it or not!

      I also keep trying to find the perfect citrus to layer with a dab of SL Rousse, but so far, Rousse eats up nearly anything.

      • egabbert says:

        Sometimes 5OCAG feels a little like the Jo Malone of the Serge Lutens line — it’s relatively simple.

        • Robin says:

          That made me laugh…and actually, I think some people thought the same of Rousse. Not sufficiently Serge-ish.

          • Omega says:

            I want to try Rousse badly..need to seek it out.

    • rose pepper says:

      That sounds intriguing, I’ll have to try it this summer. I love it in winter.

  2. relleric says:

    Hmmm, that Piment Brulant might be my choice for tomorrow’s forgotten fragrance. I haven’t worn it in ages, it has been far too long!

    • Robin says:

      I hadn’t smelled it in ages either! Starting to think we need to do forgotten fragrances on a quarterly basis.

    • CM says:

      I thought the same thing!

  3. sayitisntso says:

    I like Roger & Gallet’s Open. It’s certainly spicy but still somehow transparent, if that makes any sense. Cheap and cheerful.

    • Robin says:

      Absolutely makes sense, and have never tried it. Wish I had better access to R&G.

  4. mahgwet says:

    The only one listed that I own is Piment Brûlant, so I’ll give it a try!

    Not sure if it counts as “spicy,” but I do like to wear certain incense frags in summer, such as Passage d’Enfer, because they remind me of being in a cool stone chuch.

    • Robin says:

      Hey, long time no see!

      And same here — was actually just thinking I should do a post on incense for summer. Will have to see if Passage d’Enfer got axed…

  5. monkeytoe says:

    Marni wears nicely in warm, humid weather while have a bit of that comfort scent vibe. I also like a light spray of CDG Harissa during the summer. (And I agree with all of your choices–I might just break out the Omnia or L’Eau du Gouverneur for tomorrow’s SotD!)

    • Robin says:

      Hey, great minds — both of those were on my original list, which was much longer before I narrowed it down to 5. One of my problems with Harissa was that I don’t have any on hand, and just couldn’t remember how heavy it was.

    • Lavanya says:

      ooh just saw this- Marni was my choice too!

  6. jirish says:

    I like to wear Jaisalmer in the summer. I wear it in the winter as well, but in cooler weather it really sticks close to the skin. It’s easier to enjoy in the summer, and is still light enough to not be too much.

    • Robin says:

      Jaisalmer is on the long list of fragrances I need to try again…did not adore it, but I don’t think I’ve smelled it in years.

      (For anyone wondering, that’s Comme des Garcons, in the incense series)

    • mahgwet says:

      I’ve been wearing Kyoto to bed on warm evenings! Love the Incense Series.

  7. Lavanya says:

    Marni is a lovely spicy incense-y perfume for the summer – it has an airy feel though I should probably test it when it gets really hot so I don’t have to eat my words..:D

    • Robin says:

      You know, I really think it would work in hot weather. So would Marni Rose.

  8. Aparatchick says:

    I love spicy scents, but most of my “winter” ones would kill me in the summer. Jacomo #8 is the exception – light enough for summer but plenty of cardamom and ginger. A lovely chai tea.

  9. scentfromabove says:

    When I think of spicy fragrances, Vanilla Anise from Jo Malone is what comes to mind for me. I wear it year round, especially when I want a little vanilla in my fragrance.
    The vanilla orchid together with the oaky caramel-rich vanilla bourbon, and spiced with star anise makes this the perfect, spicy fragrance.

  10. mals86 says:

    L’eau du Gouverneur, which I bought for my husband and still snitch spritzes of from time to time, wears wonderfully in the heat. It’s sort of turned into my “I’m helping with the high school band camp but I need to smell nice all day” fragrance.

    • Robin says:

      I ought to do more for band camp than I do. I don’t know how the kids work so hard in the heat…ours is about 8:30 am to 8:30 pm, is yours that long?

  11. Dilana says:

    Carner D600, which is officially has a grapefruit/bergomat/ opening and an cardamon middle.
    Maybe it’s just because I dislike grapefruit perfumes, but to me it is pure lemon and cardamon, without smelling like a gourmond.
    And I really like cardamon.
    The vetyver keeps this summery.

  12. chandler_b says:

    I like the original Cartier Declaration and d’Un Soir flanker as summery spicy. though they maybe too much for some. YSL L’Homme Libre however is very light and spicy, perfect for hot summer days and I like to even wear it jogging!

    But I really must quit forgetting about Epice Marine, it puzzles me why they released it during winter.

    • Robin says:

      It isn’t really a “sunny” fragrance, but agree, not sure why they didn’t wait until spring.

    • morgana says:

      I was thinking of Declaration too, and d’Un Soir is a great idea!
      But I have to admit that Epice Marine was awful to my nose … I wonder whether I am the only one who likes Declaration and cannot appreciate Epice Marine

    • Subhuman says:

      I was about to post about Déclaration, but you beat me to it! I adore spicy fragrances, and Déclaration is my summer staple – sheer, yet loaded with crisp coriander, cumin, ginger, and cardamom. On some days it’s the only thing I can manage to wear without feeling like I’m covered in a thick blanket of scent.

      I’ll also throw Bulgari’s Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert into the ring. I was surprised by how spicy the opening is when I first sniffed it, as I was expecting something more flat and subdued.

      • Subhuman says:

        Oh, and L’Homme Libre is great, too. I feel no love for any other the other L’Hommes, but Libre is so fresh and sprightly with that violet leaf. Really nicely done.

  13. Nightingale says:

    My only regret I ever have with Omnia is when I wish I had it on but wore something else instead!

  14. Merlin says:

    Since others from CdG incense line have been mentioned…Ourzazate would, I imagine, be nice in warm weather too.

    Today I was out and tested Rocabar and thought it might make a nice spicy summer scent. Don’t know if I truly adore it enough to own a bottle though. Some have said the additional vetiver in Bel Ami Vetiver might make it nice to wear in summer but I’m still trying to decide if I would be comfortable with its masculinity ;-)

    • Robin says:

      That decides it…I’ll have to do an incense for summer post. Ouarzazate would be my #1.

  15. Merlin says:

    The MOST summer appropriate spicy scent is probably Apres la Mousson which has an all-spice note list, but which also begins with a cooling melon-like note that has made many enemies, lol!

    Like other un Jardins it works like a portable air conditioner and made my life bearable before I had a car with air conditioning.

    • Robin says:

      Quite so, and it’s cheaper than the Epices Marine.

  16. sweetgrass says:

    I think Diptyque Volutes could work for summer. I wore it recently, and I found it to be just as yummy on a hot day as a cooler one.

    This is one that I wouldn’t have imagined would work until I tried it: SL Chergui. It is surprisingly good in the heat.

    I always get Piment Brulant and Poivre Piquant mixed up. I think it’s Piment Brulant that I’ve actually tried. It’s been a while since I smelled it, though. I remember it being pretty sheer, but the chili pepper note was something I’d never encountered before, along with a milky chocolate note.

    I love me some Omnia. That’s probably going to be my pick for tomorrow. I think it was my first FB, and I haven’t worn it in ages.

    • Robin says:

      Chergui, really? Would have thought it too heavy. Will have to see if I still have some to try.

      • sweetgrass says:

        Yeah, I thought so too until I did it. I don’t remember why I decided to that day. Just really wanted to wear it, I guess. But it really bloomed pretty nicely.

    • jirish says:

      Oh, I agree about Chergui! A few years back I started wearing it in the summer and it blooms marvelously, without being suffocating.

      • perthgirl says:

        :-/ is your summer 43°?
        The thought alone makes me dizzy! Lol :)

    • Delfina says:

      Second Chergui in the heat. To my nose something green and slightly minty comes out in warm weather

  17. thegoddessrena says:

    Opium Orchidee de Chine has a prominent nutmeg .note and I believe was actually released as a summer flanker

  18. hajusuuri says:

    I think many of the carnations would make a nice spicy summer fragrance. Although I’ve only tried it from a sample atomizer and 4 generous sprays at Barney’s, CdG Red Carnation would fit the bill. Resistance is futile at this point but I will wait until the beauty bag event to buy it.

    L’AP Safran Troublant would be a perfect sheer spicy fragrance.

  19. Rednails says:

    I wore Theorema Leggero today, which my go-to oriental spicy for hot weather. It’s light, like the name says, and has a nice citrusy opening on account of bergamot, I think.

    • Robin says:

      I never got to try that one…is it easier to find than Theorema?

  20. floragal says:

    I really appreciate this post as I’m finding I really like spice with my florals ;)

    One I recently have been enjoying that I can wear in more heat with no problem is Paestum Rose by Eau d’Italie.
    Incense is in there too but it sheer enough to withstand the warmth.

    • AnnS says:

      Ooh – PR – good choice! I haven’t worn my decant in ages. Maybe it’s a good candidate for tomorrow….

  21. pyramus says:

    Escada Casual Friday, alas discontinued but perfect for warm summer days if you should happen to have some: fresh-ish at the top without any of that synthetic ozone/water/melon freshness, vibrant with spices and licorice, unexpectedly floral (lots of carnation, of course). Utterly fantastic.

    • Robin says:

      I don’t know that one…was it one of their summer limited editions?

      • pyramus says:

        No, it was a big launch in 1999: the men’s house bottle but in opaque khaki glass, back when Escada had such a thing, with a label made of striped fabric like a man’s jersey-knit shirt. It is entirely wonderful (I bought two bottles), one of the best men’s scents of the last twenty years, and what a shame it was discontinued.

  22. AnnS says:

    I don’t know how this ranks on a spicy list, but I sometimes find that what would otherwise be considered a fall/winter fragrance, if applied very lightly, is actually amplified and smells differently in the summer. My fav in that category are Lancome Magie Noire, AT Maroc pour Elle, and FM Noir Epices. They just kind of bloom up off the skin when there is that extra radiant heat. I also find that in hot humidity, Annick Goutal Heure Exquise has a very spicy vibe – maybe it’s the sandalwood, I’m not sure, but it is definitely enhanced by humid heat.

  23. yukiej says:

    I love these ideas! I will have to try Chergui in the summer…and that might also mean I don’t wait until winter to get my fb :) Excellent!

    I really like AT l’Air du Desert Marocain in the summer…maybe not on the most humid days? But that isn’t to say I wouldn’t try it!

    • Robin says:

      Humidity matters even more than heat, I think.

  24. nozknoz says:

    I’m not usually thinking about spicy perfumes for summer, so I appreciate this post and discussion. I do like Frapin Caravelle Epicée for summer.

  25. raymond says:

    For me, Summer = Timbuktu (L’Artisan)

    • Robin says:

      I think I wear that more in cool weather? Actually don’t reach for it as often as I should.

  26. Calvados says:

    The whole trio of Artisan’s Les Epices de la Passion (L’Artisan Safran Troublant, Piment Brulant, Poivre Piquant) is excellent any time of the year. Unique and sheer enough to wear in any circumstances.

    And second Timbuktu and Passage d’Enfer, I love them in summer.

    Also come to mind: Frapin Passion Boisee; Histoires de Parfums Jules Verne (1828), great blend of spices, and Mata Hari (1876) – cumin, cinnamon, carnation; Tom Ford Cafe Rose (applied with a needle, great pepper!) and Hermes Voyage d’Hermes (love that cardamom!)

  27. Delfina says:

    I find Malle Géranium pour monsieur very invigorating after a day at work

  28. johannabaum says:

    i like lolita lempicka si lolita edt in summer, which has a spicy peppery note!

  29. pigoletto says:

    I love Costes (red bottle) and L’Instant Homme Exteme when it’s warm. The Costes is a super sheer but tenacious spice on me in the heat and the LHE in the heat brings out the black tea note on me.

  30. MikasMinion says:

    Not super spicy but De Profundis has that chrysanthemum bite that places it into the spice category for me and I find super wearable and cooling in the heat. I also got a sample of Anya’s Garden White Smoke and am loving it for summer so far. The ethereal feel reminds me of the GdG Incense Series which are all a bit ephemeral to me. Incense light if you will. I have also found myself reaching for Eau De Epices and L’Air du Desert Marocain, both of which, in small doses, are great in the heat. Spicy is not my favorite category but when I do wear them, it is usually in the heat.

  31. SuddenlyInexplicably says:

    Eau Lente by Diptyque. It’s super spicy and I find it both uplifting and comforting at the same time. It cheers me up on a foggy summer morning (SF Bay Area), but I could totally see it working on a hot day as well because it’s kind of brisk and spicy rather than rich and spicy.

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