Scent Gourmand

sinless pleasure for the perfume glutton

Tag: Demeter

Suntan oil perfumes that bring you right to the beach

suntan lotion perfumes - fragrances that smell like suntan lotion

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.

Try eBay to get good prices on these. If you don’t live in North America or the UK, I recommend StrawberryNet, as always (free shipping to just about anywhere!)


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!

“Samples” from Demeter


My Demeter goodies arrived in the post today, earlier than I’d expected. You’ve got to love FedEx! I had been searching for their liquefied and bottled rendition of chocolate chip cookies, recommended to me by a fellow chocoholic friend, but I got a little carried away on their online shop. Demeter’s true-to-real life scents are ultra affordable to begin with, but when you look at their “value sets,” the desire to spend becomes compelling. “Buy more and save, save, save!” Indeed, their perfumes sell at prices similar to some sample sizes.

You’re a sucker for marketing if you let yourself believe that old chestnut, and as I so easily agreed with the logic, I am a marketer’s dream in that respect. I did in fact end up giving a lot more money to Demeter than I would have otherwise had I not seen their wee combo sets. A typical 1 oz (about 30 ml) spray bottle of most of their fragrances costs 10 American dollars, but the price of the set I bought, including 2, 1 oz bottles and 1, 4 oz (around 120 ml) bottle cost a total of $22.50. The same items if purchased separately would have cost almost $80. And when you buy more you save on international shipping, too.

The “Virtual Cocktail Party” set to which I refer above included a large spray bottle of Gin & Tonic (which not only happens to be my favorite adult beverage, but is also my favorite of the three in the set), and two smaller bottles of Cosmopolitan Cocktail and Martini. I had heard good things about Dirt and Laundromat, so I decided to get a set of four small 15 ml splash bottles in their “Clean” package, which included Rain, Pure Soap, Laundromat, and Gin & Tonic. Wait… Gin & Tonic? Wasn’t that last item supposed to be Dirt? Oops, that must have been a wee blunder on Demeter’s part.

The bigger G&T fragrance bottle I received appeared to have been leaking quite a bit when I first handled it, and the labels appeared rather sloppily smacked onto many of the bottles, but this is not high-end perfumery here, folks, so I was not fazed. If I had been disgruntled, my pouty face would have softened quickly when I noted that the company had included in my package a 30ml bottle of a fragrance I had not ordered, Kahala Hawaiian Surf. I think this was a throw-in, and I construe this as good customer service. I had ordered a smaller plastic spray bottles of Chocolate Chip Cookie, of course, and another spray bottle their take on fig, called Fig Leaf. Both are light and great for traveling.

Pennsylvania perfume house Demeter, named after the Greek God with the same name, is known for producing fragrances with aromas and scents of nature such as soil, flowers, fruits, cakes, drinks, and other interesting smells. They have produced over 300 very literal and linear fragrances with thematic names, and the scents keep coming. They use “headspace technology,” which analyzes the air around the source of scent or odor and separates the fragrant molecules, to get some of the weirder brews, such as Gin & Tonic. Sadly, the sillage and longevity of all Demeter fragrances tends to be rather poor, and you cannot expect much complexity. To be honest, I will unlikely be keeping any of these purchases for those reasons. My intent with them was actually just to get my nose on them and pass them off as wee pressies to my students and friends. Well, OK, I might hang on to the G&T, for novelty value, if nothing else. In any case, what of these nine delectables I purchased?

Gin & Tonic

Demeter’s pitch: “End of the day slight intoxication: strong, sweet with a sweet-deep juniper finish and citrus twist. A light, crisp fragrance that is right just about any time and anywhere.” I have alluded to the fact that I love cocktails, and this one really hits this spot. It’s not exactly like the real thing, but it is fresh, soapy, boozy, bubbly and up-lifting, with some faint juniper or perhaps rosemary shining through. This is a fun, zesty day scent for warm weather.


Demeter describes this as a simple blend of Gin and Vermouth with a hint of olive. When a girlfriend gets tipsy and starts talking close to your face, this is the vibe you might get. But it’s not unpleasant, really, because she’s wearing some benign floral fragrance with cloves. In a very subtle way, this scent is actually sexy.

Cosmopolitan Cocktail

Demeter says, “True to the legendary Cosmo, this fragrance is an inviting and refreshing combination of Vodka, Cranberry Juice, a hint of Lime Juice and a touch of Cointreau. Maybe it will evoke memories of a sunset on the pier in sandals, or maybe an elegant black tie affair.” Among all the fragrances in my Demeter haul, this one scores at the bottom. It’s a sweet take on cranberry, more cloying than its drinkable counterpart.

Chocolate Chip Cookie

Demeter says this one is “a combination of light and dark chocolate, freshly baked but not too doughy. All of the flavor, none of the calories!” Yes, this is the Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe in a bottle, but it soured out and faded quickly on my skin. It’s more of a fragrance you’d wear at home to snuggle with. I see myself indulging in this when I’m on a diet, which happens every tomorrow. Chocolate lovers will naturally like this one.

Fig Leaf

This scent is described by Demeter as “fresh, fruity, subtle and true… like a sun-drenched weekend on the Mediterranean coast, refreshing and calming at the same time. Not Adam’s Fig leaf at all.” I love fig, both the fruit itself and it’s tree components, and this one did not let me down. The scent is fresh, earthy, clean, delicate, and actually evolves a wee bit on the skin, sweetening up from an initial bitter grassy to a sweet fruity – perfect for a pick me up and suitable for work. No, of course it doesn’t come close to Diptyque’s divine Philosykos, but you cannot complain much for the price.

Pure Soap

Demeter says, “Pure Soap is inspired by the scent of skin freshly scrubbed with Ivory Soap… clean skin with just a faint trace remaining of pure soap smell… almost like a memory of the soap, rather than the soap itself.” As you might expect, this one is synthetically clean, right-out-of-the-shower, and highly inoffensive, somewhat like Ivory brand soap, but definitely sweeter. Using the adjective “soapy” to describe a perfume in other contexts might be insulting, but not in this case. There is an innocent, child-like quality to this scent. It’s perfect if you want to take that squeaky clean feeling with you on your morning commute.


According to Demeter, “This is simply the freshest, cleanest scent imaginable. We don’t know if anyone can tell us why, but this may be the most comforting, comfortable scent in the Library.” This is a fresh linens sister scent to Pure Soap, also clean and fresh but with more metallic violet-y detergent and fabric softener. It opens with an astringent alcohol, perhaps vodka as it’s so clean. I’m back in my university days at the coin laundry studying for an exam.


“Step outside after the first storm after a dry spell and it invariably hits you: The sweet, fresh, powerfully evocative smell of fresh rain.” This is wet, slightly sour cucumbers with a splash of watermelon, and a dash of vodka with dried citrus peelings and dirt lying on damp pavement. Maybe a couple of flower petals are in the mix, too. It’s quite lovely – reminds me of playing outside on the driveway as a kid after a thunderstorm in very green suburbia. It’s soft and ephemeral, almost like water itself. This, as with the others in the clean collection, is a perfect example of what Demeter is good at – capturing and bottling memories.

Kahala Hawaiian Surf

When I went back to Demeter’s website to find out what the company had to say about this fresh, summery and salty scent, it was nowhere to be found, which made me wonder if it is a new release, but I’m inclined to think it may be a discontinued fragrance. It smells like an empty beer bottle stuffed with jasmine with a little coconut-free suntan lotion and soap suds squirted on top, all floating to your nose on a warm tropical breeze. I’ve not yet sniffed out Tom Ford’s Bronze Goddess, but apparently some say it is a uber cheap version of this. The scent fades fast, just as any spring break to the beach would.

You can get all Demeter fragrances through their website.

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