It's enough to think about the beach and a dip in the ocean to have a hankering for that particular ambience which involves not only the tactile feelings of cool spray and sugar-spun sands, we're so familiar with, but also a scentscape of the mind. The remembrance of those scents that enhance our exprerience, be it in swimming lazily off the costa del Sol in the Spanish Riviera or plunging one's self oh-so-carefully in the vastly wild waters of eastern Australia, keeps us going even in the dead of winter. The aromas that comprise this scentscape however are varied, depending as much on the particular circustances of the place and time, as of our own preference for the elements that compliment it, such as peripheral activities (sipping those Pina Coladas in Miami Beach and oiling up with monoi in Hawaii).
|the Sarakino beach on Milos, Greece|
Other times in this category we could lump sweet, ambery scents that reprise the "skin baked in the sun scent" of a good holiday on a sunshide basking country, or the salty, ocean-dipped smell of a body that has dried up with the salt still on it. Sometimes, they can even be inspired by the driftwood found in beaches across the world, more abstract, poised between "wet" and woody, producing interesting combinations. Local cosmetic products in tropical parts also provide inspiration for "notes" in fine fragrance, the most famous being monoi.
Monoi, in its authentic state, is simply tiare (Tahitian gardenia) macerated in coconut oil; a viscous, gorgeous oil that is supremely nutritious to skin. Both Nars and The Body Shop make their own version, although the authentic product can be easily got at tropical islands at drugstores and souvenir shops.
For the purposes of this guide of scent to take with you on a beach holiday, I divided them into categories of evocation.
|the Vai beach at Preveli, Crete, Greece|
THE SUNTAN LOTION BRIGADE
Dissecting the "suntan lotion accord" we come up with two categories: the Coppertone inspired ones (more coconutty) and the Ambre Solaire ones (more floral), the latter rich in salicylates which naturally occur in the flowers of the tropics and which are referenced often as "solar notes". Both of these are skin scents, but they can vary in intensity. Here are some of the best examples.
Bobbi Brown Beach
An authentic experience of sunny mood, straight suntan oil smell, melting in the sun, relaxed and a small subfacet of sea mist mingling in the air and a hint of jasmine. Guilty pleasure in the winter, and a no brainer for summer holidays.
Bond No. 9 Fire Island
Immediately recognised as the scent of Ambre Solaire , beloved of Euro-sunscreen using people at the Riviera, Capri and Mykonos, Fire Island fragrance encapsulates the pleasing aroma of warm sand and warm skin.
Estee Lauder Azuree Soleil & Bronze Goddess
Inspired a frenzy when it launched as a body oil spray as the anchor of the Tom Ford Azuree collection, it also featured subsequently an Eau Fraiche Skinscent version. Azuree Soleil was discontinued when the contract with Tom Ford was over and substituted with Bronze Goddess. Beware, the new 2011 edition of Bronze Godess Soleil is a different fragrance (read our comparison).
Guerlain Terracota Eau Sous Le Vent
A specialized body mist which moisturizes the skin while enhancing its color (via Tan Booster complex), but it also lightly perfumes the skin with Tiare flower. Another one of the suntan lotion type scents with decent sillage.
CB I Hate Perfume At the Beach 1966
Old school Coppertone never had it so good in an alcohol formula, and the addition of a "North Atlantic" accord by Christopher Brosius makes this a cult favourite among perfume enthusiasts.
TROPICAL EMISSIONS CAVALIERS
Comptoir Sud Pacifique Vanille Abricot
The addition of vanilla and sugar sweetens the already sweet, fruity aromata of papaya and apricot. It's cuddly and soft and a perennial best-seller in the line.
Guerlain Terracota Voile d'été
This solar fragrance by Guerlain is composed out of the combustible notes of spicy carnation fanned on salicylate-rich ylang ylang. It smells succulent, while non fruity or particularly sweet and is an underrated marvel.
Escada Pacific Paradise
Part of the limited edition summer fragrances by German brand Escada, Pacific Paradise wasn't surypy, nor was it sanitized. The fruity floral core kept a bit of balance between sweetness and dryness, resulting in a pleasant offering.
Moneyette Monyette Paris
Decidedly tropical, rather heavy smelling floral and warm fragrance with a coconut-amber base, it comes in oil form and was especially popular with young Hollywood a few years back.
|Chios island, Greece|
Not to be confused with "Sunwater" (to which the name amounts anyway!), this is a warm amber evoking caramel-hued sands, as if seeing them from an helicopter flying above the Sahara desert, dunes forming and rippling at the gusts of wind. Wonderful for winter-wear as well.
Dior Dune & Dune pour Homme
A clever construction (more smoky oriental than "marine": bitterish interplay between the tarriness of lichen ~alongside the distinct bracken feel of broom~ with the sweeter oriental elements of the base. Dune is a marvellous, diaphanous oriental and unique! Also credible in the men's version, which is less orientalised.
Prada L'Eau Ambrée
The refreshing top, cypress-like and with a micro-facet of white flower progressed to sweet, slightly salty sweat musk in Prada's L'Eau Ambrée; not a tetrapod's raunchy howl, but the smell of seashore in spring and the bodies that lie down on its fluffy texture.
Ava Luxe Johri
A unisex fragrance that smiles through slightly sweet, slightly coconutty elements, producing a delightful skin scent.
|Greek seascape in the Aegean sea|
CB I Hate Perfume Monsieur Hulot's Holiday
Commentably not sharp, it incorporates a hint of algae into the sea breeze proceedings and a trace of leather, like carrying an old suitcase on some Mediterranean adventure.
Ava Luxe The Beach
Like its programmatic name suggests, salt-air-and-ocean-and-driftwood.
Hermès Eau de Merveilles
One of the few feminine fragrances devoid of floral notes, this is a harmony built on woody notes, an abstract orange top, salty skin and a saline effect; very easy to wear on whatever occasion. It wears beautifully and lasts very long, like the most delicious imperceptible aura. Its Eau de Parfum counterpart, Elixir des Merveilles, is more orangey and chyprish, great for winter as well.
Heeley Sel Marin
A salty fragrance with backbone and a true niche offering.
Christiane Celle Calypso Marine
More in line with what "marine" came to mean: sharpish, aqueous, with a good dosage of ozonic notes for good effect, but not eye-watering in this case.
|beach at Elafonissos at Southerneast Peloponnese, Greece|
Comptoir Sud Pacifique Aqua Motu
Aqua Motu is the steady best-selling eau de toilette in Europe since its release in 1995. What's the secret? It recreates perfectly that shore-ambience blend of marine views, warm sands, kelp and a hint of lily of the valley. A very credible "beachy scent".
The Different Company Sel de Vetiver
Inspired by exactly what its name suggests, a glass of vetiver water, letting the salty nuance of the Eastern grass permeate the liquid, it's refreshing and sophisticated.
Andree Putman Preparation Parfumee
The quintessence of a large body of water, a little bit left to its own devices, driftwood coming down the stream, a hint of decay.
DSquared2 Ocean Wet Woods
Take the woody goodness of the original Dsquared2 Wood He and splash it with ocean spay. You're there!
|the Myrtos beach, Cephalonia, Greece|
COLOURFUL UMBRELLA-DECORATED COCKTAILS
Creed Virgin Island Water
Lime and coconut and tequila with sticky tanginess that last well throughout the day. Even fit for work, when you're feeling that boredom setting in at the beginning of yet another week at office months away from your paid leave.
Guerlain Homme L'Eau
Referencing the refreshing recipe of Mojito cocktail, this minty cologne is fresh enough for casual summer wear and not totally predictable, although it lacks the backbone of a proper Guerlain.
JLo Miami Glow
A sweet, heady mix of fruits (passion fruit with its erotic undertone, blackcurrant with its slightly sour whiff) blended with musk, warm amber and sweet vanilla. Latina-inspired and quite good for a celebrity fragrance.
Do you have other favourite beachy fragrances? Let us know in the comments.