It’s summer! And the best way to keep freshly scented is with our selection of the best citrus fragrances.
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We love citrus fragrances for their refreshing, uplifting qualities when temperatures rise, but also wear them in winter when we want a reminder of the warmer months to follow. They often have a classic and timeless profile.
While citruses are indeed fruits, there are more than enough types to warrant their own fragrance family, from the more obvious – orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, bergamot – to the more exotic. Hassaku, anyone?
Citrus notes feature in most perfume structures and are generally the first to evaporate. For this round-up, we’re focusing on fragrances that are unmistakably citrus in character.
Where known, the name of the perfumer is included in brackets after the name of the fragrance.
Our Shortlist For Best Citrus Scents
Maurer & Wirtz 4711 Original Eau de Cologne (Wilhelm Muelhens)
Launched in 1792 and created by Wilhelm Muelhens, apparently, its formula hasn’t changed 230 years later.
What also hasn’t changed over the decades (no, we haven’t been around as long) is the effect this fragrant tonic has on our mood.
The intro is all about uplifting citrus notes, including orange, lemon, and bergamot, with basil, rosemary, and lavender adding aromatics to the freshness.
A big dose of neroli brings the best kind of feel-good sunshine whenever we douse ourselves in the stuff.
Boucheron Pour Homme EDT (Francis Deleamont, Jean-Pierre Bethouart & Raymond Chaillan)
It opens with the wondrous freshness of lemon, lemon verbena, bergamot and orange notes. Hints of lavender and basil add to the aromatic appeal.
The heart features a light sprinkle of floral notes, including rose and lily-of-the-valley.
The drydown is woody in character, with notes of vetiver, sandalwood and musk concluding a composition that works its classic charms from start to finish.
Rochas Eau De Rochas Homme EDT (Nicolas Mamounas)
We don’t normally wear a fragrance for its opening, but the one for Eau de Rochas Homme is so good at helping lift the mood and focus the thoughts, we do so. Repeatedly.
The intro to this 1993 classic is all citrus-green-soapy freshness, with lemon, lime, lemon verbena, bergamot and aldehydes in the mix.
A floral bouquet follows and freesia, in particular, keeps the freshness coming.
Soft touches of vetiver, oakmoss and cedar feature in the woody drydown.
This creation is as light as an Amalfi breeze, but no problem pressing repeat. The female version, Eau de Rochas EDT (originally released in 1970), is also worth checking out.
Creed Neroli Sauvage EDP (Olivier Creed)
Taking its inspiration from the joyful summer garden parties held by the Duchess of Nerola in the 17th century, this EDP from the Paris-based niche brand certainly lifts the spirits, once you’ve got over the price tag.
That uplifting vibe is evident right from the outset in this 1994 release.
The bittersweet freshness of the title note is amplified by notes of lemon, grapefruit and, in particular, verbena. It’s beautifully clean and perky.
It warms up as heady orange blossom makes its appearance, while ambergris (or a very good synthetic version thereof) gives much-needed depth after the initial citrus extravaganza.
Acqua di Parma Arancia di Capri EDT
It always impresses us how many distinctive variations Acqua di Parma can come up with on its signature citrus theme.
From the Italian luxury brand’s Blu Mediterraneo Collection, this 1999 release evokes the island through a mix of orange, mandarin and lemon notes.
The freshness continues through to the heart of petitgrain, with cardamom providing a spicy contrast.
The drydown is all musky, with a teeny-weeny hint of caramel in the background.
It’s everything you want a citrus-centric scent to be: fresh + juicy + uplifting + contrast between sweet and sour.
Le Labo Neroli 36 EDP (Daphne Bugey)
Le Labo Neroli 36 was one of the launch fragrances from the NYC-based niche brand, but doesn’t get as much attention as, say, Santal 33 or Bergamote 22. Which is a pity, because this 2006 release is enchanting stuff from the first spray.
The title note brings on the sun with its honey-ish qualities. It’s amplified by notes of mandarin orange with a slight aldehydic vibe.
The floral mood continues with notes of jasmine and rose, fresh and gently sweet.
Musk and vanilla mingle in the warm drydown of this thoroughly cheerful composition.
Memo Jannat EDP (Alienor Massenet)
With its name that means “paradise” in the Urdu language (spoken in Pakistan and India), Memo Jannat sounds beautifully lyrical. Its aroma is transportive too.
The opening of this 2008 release from the Paris-based niche brand’s Graines Vagabondes Collection bursts with citrus notes, in particular grapefruit, lemon and neroli. It’s sharp and quite bitter. The way we love it.
Notes of orange blossom and frangipani bring a floral dimension to the crisp composition, while ginger adds evocative spiciness.
After all that zing, the drydown of sandalwood and musk is a mellower affair.
Hermès Eau D’Orange Verte Eau de Cologne (Jean-Claude Ellena)
Françoise Caron created the original and first Hermès cologne in 1979 and the legendary Jean-Claude Ellena recreated it in 2009. So, of course, this is top-notch stuff.
The opening is a masterful take on citrus, in particular orange. Fresh, green and slightly bitter, it’s complemented by a coolly chic mint note (definitely not the toothpaste variety).
It develops in a woody and earthy direction as patchouli and oakmoss complete the harmonious creation.
For more refined citrus-themed colognes of the Hermès kind, we also recommend Eau de Pamplemousse Rose (2009), Eau de Mandarine Ambrée (2013), Eau de Néroli Doré (2016) and Eau de Citron Noir (2018).
Even when we don’t feel like basking in the sun, we still find ourselves attracted to fragrances that evoke the glamour of the Mediterranean lifestyle. And as the bottle will tell you, this 2011 release from the Italian fashion brand has that in abundance.
Launched in 2011, it opens with a crisp and clean flourish of citrus notes in the form of citron, bergamot and neroli. Pear complements the light mood.
The sunny freshness continues with the heart of florals that includes notes of powdery mimosa and freesia and softly sweet jasmine.
The EDT settles on a base of warm and relaxing musk.
La vita è bella.
As shown by this 2014 release, the Paris-based niche brand does some of the best freshies in the biz.
The opening is all about the contrast between a burst of sparkling citruses and the warm spice of black pepper.
They lead the way to a duo of sweet-ish florals: powdery iris and soapy orange blossom.
A blast of white musk in the drydown keeps its clean and powdery, with support from an amber accord and sandalwood.
For a freshie, it last forever and a day. We wouldn’t expect anything less from the house.
Atelier Cologne Pomélo Paradis Cologne Absolue (Ralf Schwieger)
Taking inspiration from the citrus profile of the classic eau de cologne, but with more strength than most, the Parisian niche brand has produced some of our favourites – Orange Sanguine (2011), Clémentine California (2016) and Pacific Lime (2018) – since launching in 2009.
Pomelo can be harsh and off-putting, but not in this 2015 release. It’s sunny and full of blissful life. The addictive kind you want to experience again and again.
The Calabrian manadarin is smooth and super-realistic, maintaining an invigorating vibe, with notes of orange blossom from Morocco, rose essence from Bulgaria and mint from China enhancing the freshness.
The vetiver from Haiti in the drydown has subtle grassiness.
If you believe a perfume can have uplifting, mood-enhancing qualities, this one is for you.
Hermès Jour D’Hermès EDP (Jean-Claude Ellena)
Some like it hot and sweet, we like it cool and sour. And this 2013 release from the French luxury brand is uncompromisingly bitter at first, thanks to notes of grapefruit and lemon.
The florals that follow sees magnolia taking the lead with its green and creamy hues. Heady stuff!
Sweetpea adds a soupçon of sweetness to the chic composition, which settles with wafts of clean musk.
It’s not a crowd-pleasing citrus scent. We love its sharpness and the fact that not many designer brands would be brave enough to release something this distinctive.
Berdoues Selva do Brazil (Jennifer Riley)
Berdoues Selva do Brazil (Portuguese for “forest of Brazil”) is another of those simple pleasures the family-owned French brand does so well in their travel-inspired Collection Grands Crus.
The opening of this 2015 release is in gorgeously green mode with petitgrain from Paraguay.
A note of Tonka bean from Brazil adds an element of soft sweetness, while guaiac wood concludes the evocative Amazon Forest experience.
A cool, calm and collected choice when the heat is getting us all hot and bothered.
The brand’s other citrus scent – Scorza di Sicilia – is also an expressive treat.
Dunhill Icon EDP (Carlos Benaïm)
When Dunhill Icon was launched in 2015, it was very much part of the brand’s sophisticated gentlemanly approach, and admirably so.
The opening features the freshness of neroli, bergamot, and petitgrain, all citrus greenery.
It develops in complexity with an interplay between the spice of black pepper and cardamom and the clean aromatics of lavender.
The drydown features crisp vetiver and a hint of earthy oakmoss.
There’s something elegantly soapy and sparkling about this EDP. It feels modern yet timeless at the same time.
And then there’s the award-winning bottle produced by South African industrial designer Mark Eisen. The metal and glass combo is a nod to the house’s motoring heritage.
From the fragrance to the packaging, it gets everything right.
Frédéric Malle Sale Gosse EDP (Fanny Bal)
For a Frédéric Malle release, Sale Gosse has been surprisingly under the radar. Perhaps that’s because Sale Gosse (French for “brat” – these things always sound better en Francais, don’t they?) doesn’t fit the traditional Frédéric Malle mould.
It can be quite a serious brand, whereas this 2017 creation is such fun, we’ll forgive any naughty behaviour.
It’s bright and effervescent from the start, thanks to a hefty dose of neroli oil, with citrus-green assistance from notes of bergamot and petitgrain. Rosemary adds to the freshness.
There’s more greenery of the floral kind from narcissus absolute, while notes of violet and rose sprinkle subtly sweet powder about. Musk prolongs the merriment.
The result: an irresistible bubble-gum effect. It’s a quadruple “c” for us: charming, chic, clever, cheerful.
Roja Parfums Elysium Pour Homme Parfum Cologne (Roja Dove)
The original parfum was launched in 2017, but it’s the parfum cologne version from 2019 that we’re highlighting here.
Some people say it’s the British perfumer Roja Dove’s Aventus. High praise indeed. But what do we say?
Let’s talk about the incredible opening first. A magnificently fresh and invigorating citrus burst of grapefruit, lemon, lime and bergamot, with aromatic tinges of lavender and thyme, boosted by a shot of musk.
We don’t pick up much of the listed florals – lily-of-the-valley, jasmine – but all is well again in the drydown, featuring Dove’s customary complexity.
The freshness resumes with notes of juniper berry, vetiver and cedar. Plus, there’s pink pepper contributing its distinctive woody-rosiness to the bold blend.
Expensive, yes, but exquisite too.
John Varvatos Artisan Pure EDT (Rodrigo Flores-Roux)
The John Varvatos Pure range can always be relied upon to deliver a quality citrus hit, but this 2017 release from the American designer brand must be our favourite.
Inspired by the lush hills of Xalapa, Mexico, with its coffee and citrus groves, it gets the balance between sweet and sour just right.
The opening belongs to a medley of citrus notes: mandarin orange, lemon and bergamot. Clementine stands out with its sweet juiciness. Notes of thyme and marjoram give it a subtle herbal aspect.
The absolutely green petitgrain is partnered with zingy ginger for fabulously fresh spiciness.
The drydown maintains the clean vibe with a combo of musk and wood notes.
We love the bottle too.
Eaux de cologne seem to be fashionable again. Which suits us just fine, as we love their refreshing qualities when the sun is doing its thing.
Inspired by the Turkish tradition of lemon splash colognes, Nishane Colognisé is a standout in the genre. Although all the notes are familiar enough, the result is not.
The opening is all about the freshness of bergamot, green tea and jasmine. There’s a dab of lemon and grapefruit in the background.
There’s more greenery from neroli and vetiver, while musk gives this 2018 release added longevity.
Karl Lagerfeld Bois de Yuzu EDT (Emilie Coppermann)
Karl Lagerfeld may be on the big catwalk in the sky, sunglasses and all, but his fragrance biz continues to operate in his absence. From the Les Parfums Matières Collection, Bois de Yuzu is a particularly good one to look out for.
It opens all fresh and spicy, thanks to notes of ginger and mandarin orange.
But it’s the treatment of yuzu, the Japanese citrus, that makes this EDT stand out in a wonderfully crisp, bittersweet and uplifting way.
The bois (French for “wood”) part comes through in the form of oakmoss and papyrus notes.
Yes, this 2018 release may not have the best longevity, but it’s so well priced, there’s nothing wrong with re-applying this fab freshie at regular intervals.
Bvlgari Man Wood Neroli EDP (Alberto Morillas)
Thanks to accomplished work from master perfumer Alberto Morillas, the Mediterranean sun never sets when you’re wearing this 2019 addition to the successful franchise from the luxe Italian jewellery brand.
Neroli shines in the intro with its orange and honey hues. Notes of bergamot and orange blossom accentuate the sunny citrus mood, and woody notes of cypress and white cedar balance it with woody depth.
There’s also a big dose of musky Ambrox in this creation, which, depending on your view on this synthetic form of ambergris, will be good or bad news.
It gets the thumbs-up from us for its easy-going elegance.
Maison Crivelli Citrus Batikanga EDP (Bertrand Duchaufour)
Maison Crivelli founder Thibaud Crivelli always works with perfumers he admires. Collaborating with Bertrand Duchaufour (creator of classics such as Amouage Jubilation XXV, Comme des Garçons Series 3 Incense: Avignon and L’Artisan Parfumeur Timbuktu) on Citrus Batikanga was an inspired choice.
Taking its cue from the experience of drinking a citrus cocktail in a colourful tropical market, this 2019 EDP begins with the tart citrus tones of bergamot and bigarade orange.
That refreshing feeling quickly transitions to sultry heat in the form of chilli that mingles with notes of myrrh (its spicy characteristics pushed to the max) and earthy vetiver.
Happy Chopard Bigaradia EDP (Dora Baghriche)
The bigarade (or bitter orange) tree has a special place in perfumery. Apart from its fruit, its blossoms, leaves and twigs are steam distilled to produce neroli and petitgrain respectively.
This 2018 release makes the most of the fruit in a warm and welcoming way. It opens with the freshness of bitter orange, neroli and petitgrain oils. The effect is uplifting in a tart and green manner. A carrot note adds an element of powderiness.
The composition gets sweeter with the appearance of notes of orange blossom water, Chinese jasmine sambac and honey from Provence.
After all that lightness, it’s the turn of Indonesian patchouli and cistus labdanum to bring earthy depth to this immensely likeable EDP.
Chanel Paris-Riviera EDP (Olivier Polge)
For this 2019 release, the French luxury brand’s in-house perfumer, Olivier Polge, took inspiration from the happy and exciting time in the style icon’s life on the Côte d’Azur in the 1920s. It’s perfectly reflected in the juice.
The EDT opens with the Les Eaux de Chanel range’s signature freshness. Notes of orange peel and petitgrain notes are given a soft treatment.
Polge blended a special type of neroli sourced by the house, which amplifies the opening, with jasmine for a bright citrus-floral effect. Jasmine can be overpowering, but it’s very elegantly behaved in this composition.
It flows seamlessly to the drydown, where a light creamy sandalwood note is paired with vanilla-ish benzoin.
There’s a gentleness to this scent throughout. Nothing feels heavy-handed or out of place. It’s quintessentially Chanel.
A 2019 release from the NYC-based brand, Ellis Brooklyn West has more staying power than most citrus scents and is a trusty fragrance friend as a result.
This EDP opens with a juicy-fresh spurt of blood orange and clementine. A hint of basil and lemon keeps it on the right side of sweetness.
There’s some light floralcy after that from notes of pear blossom and waterlily, with oakmoss giving more oomph of the earthy variety in the drydown. Nice and easy does it.
The fragrance version of the French pharmacy brand’s multipurpose product for face, body and hair, Huile Prodigieuse Florale, was released in 2021.
It pings with the citrus freshness of grapefruit, bergamot and lemon in the intro.
The lemony lushness of magnolia is supported by orange blossom in the mid-section. And white musk finishes it clean and chic style.
Simplicity personified, it’s resolutely unsweet and super refreshing.
Richard Goller is a fragrance and grooming blogger. His blog is called Fragroom. A senior editor with 20 years' experience, his blog allows him to combine two of his passions: engaging content and the always-intriguing world of fragrances. When he isn't blogging, you'll find Richard indulging in his newly found passion for balcony gardening.