Summer is now approaching, and it’s soon time to head out to the coast and cool off in the ocean. Time to embrace the feeling of play and freedom by enveloping your senses in beachy, suntan-oil-like fragrances! This post introduces some perfumes that relish memories or dreams of basking in oil on some tropical beach in some random paradise.
The list focuses on those perfumes that mimic the scent of classic, coconut-y suntan oils and lotions, with a few exceptions. Many of these scents are sweet, delicious, succulent, and bright. Not all of them are to my personal taste, but they do all hit the vibe. I’ve attempted to include a variety from different price ranges, and have listed them below according to house genre. None are new releases.
Born in Paradise – by Escada
At first sniff, you get fresh, salty, sea water with lots of coconut and pineapple and watermelon. This is a non-serious vacation scent if there ever was one. It’s a pleasantly optimistic, sweet, summer day scent that is not too sweet and won’t annoy.
Bronze Goddess – by Estée Lauder
I’ve only sampled the 2011 version, and found it a bit sticky and cloying, but definitely suntan-oil like. There are many flankers for this one -Sun Goddess 2011, Soleil, Capri, Eau Fraiche Skinscent… All carry the same delicious summer vibe, and it’s indeed well-loved. Loved to the point where many reviewers have rated it 5 stars. It does have that ability to express summer indolence while being wearable and refined.
Elle L’aime by – Lolita Lempicka
Not too suntan-oily and beachy, but if it’s the coconut aspect you are after, this is a really lovely fragrance indeed. It has that sweetness that Lempicka is famously adept at pulling off without being too cloying or sickly. The top notes of lime, neroli, bergamot are so bright you need sunglasses, and that fresh splash of light slowly disappears into cloud of creamy Pina Colada decorated with white flowers. There are meaty chunks of fresh, woody coconut in this cocktail, and as you’re sipping it with delight, a handsome bar boy comes by to serve you up some complementary coconut cream pie. Obviously I like this one.
Sun Delight – by Jil Saunder
As there is actually no coconut in this, it is not typical beach scent, but somehow still evokes the coast. It is still reminiscent of Pina Colada with a touch of vanilla, but enjoyed in a swimming pool changing room, with a bowl of frangipani flowers on the counter and suntan oil someone spilled on the floor. Carefree, fun stuff!
Terracotta Voile d’Été – by Guerlain
This is a warm, dry, and complex fragrance consisting of spice-dusted carnations toasting slowly under the sun, copper-baked earth drizzled with melted butterscotch and root beer, and vanilla ice cream with a light spritz of vinegar. Somehow beachy, somewhat amazing, and sadly somewhere quickly fading.
Niche / Indie / Artisan
Aloha Tiare – by Comptoire Sud Pacifique
This Hawaiian tiare scent evokes tropical beaches, palm trees, heat, coconuts, refreshing cocktails, and good times. It’s creamy, smacks of dense and loud white flowers (sharp opening, check), oozes luscious silky coconut, has a Flintstone vitamin, candy-like dry down, and is playfully unisex. Excellent longevity. It’s a Bikini Atoll bomb, so one spray will do.
At the Beach 1966 – by CB I hate Perfume
The theme of this one is Coppertone sun lotion from the 60s, blended with the North Atlantic: wet sand, seashell, driftwood and just a hint of boardwalk. Sadly, I’m not sure if this is true, as I actually not put my nose on this one. One thing is for sure: CB I hate perfume is know for creating scents that are real to life; more to interpret memories literally than (just) to smell good. Apparently, some say it bears similarity to Bobbi Brown’s Beach (see below), which is a great deal cheaper.
Beach Walk – by Maison Martin Margiela
This one starts with bergamot and lemon, developing with pink pepper, ylang-ylang, coconut milk, musk and heliotrope. It doesn’t have that salty or ozonic feel to it until the drydown (when it’s a tad synthetic), but definitely replicates an atmospheric beachiness without too much coconut.
Coco Figue – by Comptoire Sud Pacifique
Another successful summer scent by CSP. I almost went through a 100 ml bottle of this a few summers ago. It’s authentic to its name, milky delicious, but not long lasting (though people around me have said they smelled it way later in the day). The fig note contains the whole tree and does freshen up and soften the composition, but not enough to balance it out, as the coconut is very real – earthy and watery, yet also creamy. There is vanilla and a great deal of sugar, but I haven’t been able to decide if it is actually sweet or not. There is a Hawaiian Tropic opening and it can be abrasive. Though I did manage to go though a whole bottle in a short time, my mood dictated when I wore it – sometimes it was bliss, at other times sickly, sticky, and harsh. Better in the dry down, but by then it’s very close to skin.
Fire Island – by Bond No. 9
With neroli, breezy jasmine, cardamom, creamy tuberose, some salty air by the sea, and white musk underneath, this one is potently beachy. I think it smells of high-end, long-lasting European sunscreen. It’s again similar to Bobbi Brown’s Beach in many ways, but this performs better and the cardamom keeps it interesting.
Intense Tiare – by Montale
This Montale beast features tiare flower, coconut, rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang and vanilla – a winning combination. I know many don’t care for Montale for its use of synthetics, but it’s those synthetics that make their fragrances perform so well! This bears semblance to two others on this post – CSP’s Aloha Tiare above and the one by Yves Rocher (below).
Prodigieux – by Nuxe
More complex than Monoi Eau des Vahïnes (below), this one opens with citrus, drives with gardinia and mongolia, and rests onto pebbles drenched in coconut milk with a dash of vanilla. It’s clean without a soapy feel and isn’t too sweet. It’s neither fruity nor tropical, but very versatile and ageless. Sadly it doesn’t last long, but be wary – over spraying may put you off.
Songes – by Annick Goutal
Frangipani, tiare, ylang-ylang, and vanilla – a simple and slightly sexy, charming concoction that is tropical without the coconut suntan lotion. The indole is slightly over ripe, but it’s earthly and not as headache inducing as it could be. It’s too rich and pretty for my personal tastes, but I admit it is a beaut!
St Tropez Dispenser – by Smell Bent
If you like simple accords, this one might make you sing: jasmine (gardinia-esk), coconut, musk, and green stuff. As a 70s man-made suntan lotion fun scent that does not take itself seriously, it’s not particularly sophisticated. It’s better mixed with the sweat you will ooze off from the sun than on freshly washed skin.
Vanilla Coconut – by Lavanila Laboratories
This one is simply Banana Boat suntan lotion to me. Not synthetic, not lacking in milky coconut cookie goodness… or sweet vanilla syrup.
Wish – by Lollia
I almost blind bought this one – then restrained myself as I am in collection-curb mode (so no, I haven’t sniffed it!). It has a spicy citrus opening of bergamot, cinnamon, and pepper, leading into rice blossoms, jasmine and ylang ylang, joined later by amber and vanilla. It’s described on Fragrantica by reviewers as “sweet almond-y vanilla sugar-y perfect baked glory” and a “sugared pastille.” Some describe it as Christmas appropriate, others as beachy. As I like both vibes, I may end up getting a bottle just yet.
Drugstore / Beauty Brand / Celebrity
Beach – by Bobbi Brown
This one is spot on when it comes to embracing the salt, sand, and the Coppertone thing – with a dash of floor cleaner. It’s fresh, but not clean, and very literal. Actually I’m impressed with how organic and literal it is. Being a completely artificial composition from a conservative brand, I admit I was not expecting such realism. I’m not sure how long I would want to smell it on my person, however. This perfume comes up consistently in the popular choice for beach scents.
Coconut – by the Body Shop
This is baby powder and overripe bananas mashed into lacquered wood and heavily sprinkled with a coconut version of condensed milk. Yet it is also a surprisingly authentic straight-up coconut smell. Too sticky a juice for some in summer, perhaps.
Gold Sugar – by Aquolina
Fronted with screechy synthetic orange citrus, this one thankfully then heads into a sweet creamy coconut Crème brûlée, grounded in some white musk. But if Aquolina’s sugar bomb scents don’t float your boat, although a lot more refined, this one might sink you, too.
Miami Glow – by Jennifer Lopez
In theory: Juicy pink grapefruit, coconut water, passion fruit and black currant fade into orange blossom, helitrope and cyclamen, finishing sensual and sunny in a vanilla, musk, blond woods, and amber. In reality: lemony bug repellent dipped in thick fruit juice that has almost started to ferment in the hot sand where it has been left, alongside a few rancid coconuts. On me it thankfully dies quickly, but taste is subjective; others may not want it to.
Monoï Eau des Vahines – by Yves Rocher
This happy summer fragrance exudes exotic retro notes of tiare flower, ylang-ylang, coconut and vanilla – with nuclear sillage and decent projection. Similar to another from Yves Rocher (Monoï de Tahiti) and also bears a resemblance to Guerlain’s Terracotta once it settles in. A budget gem if you are OK with the the heady synthetic tiare.
Secret Coconut Passion – by Victoria’s Secret
This is a warm vanilla coconut macaroon – much more vanilla than coconut. It’s very goumandy, like warm skin on the beach covered in light, sweet syrup. It’s the typical sweet and girly = sexy equation from VS with which I very often disagree. It projects poorly.
Suntan Lotion – by Demeter Fragrance Library
Linear, literal, and NOT long-lasting, even for a Demeter frag. With the citrus opening, it’s supposed to smell like Bain de Soleil Orange Glacée, but many say it resembles Mr. Clean bathroom cleaner. Worth all the resprays necessary? You decide.
Tiare – by L’Erbolario
Tiara flower, sweetened by coconut milk and Damask plum. This Polynesian delight turns into a gourmandy gardenia in a woodsy base. Both the packaging and sweet, strong scent itself seem more appropriate as room spray to me. Indol from the white flowers might be present for some noses.
Tahitian Holiday – by Avon
A tropical and sea notes of sun, palms, sand and sea, sold for a song. Synthetic-y, but for the price, F&%$ it. There is not much coconut, but a lot of sun cream (cheap sun cream).
Waikiki Beach Coconut – by Bath and Body Works
OK, so it is not exactly Virgin Island by Creed as some suggest, but for the price, it’s bloody close enough!
And that’s what I’ve come up with. Agree with this list? Comment if you’ve something to add!