I don’t need to tell you that scent is evocative; a non-linguistic, part-physiological, part-emotional portal to the past. Fragrance has played an important social, personal and aesthetic function for millennia. The philosopher Theophrastus, born around 370BC, goes into fascinating detail on the production process of the popular perfumes of his day in his Inquiry into Plants. He mentions a rose fragrance that incorporates rather a lot of salt, which sounds strange but still quite appealing and not wholly unfamiliar today. All this is to say that long before there were ads featuring willowy models frolicking in flower fields, women and men were dabbing and spritzing fragrances.
Over these past few weeks, while many have dispensed with more formal beauty products like make-up, it seems that fragrance has remained a daily staple. It is a way to feel “put together”, comforted and perhaps even a little glamorous as we go about our days barefoot or in slippers.
We may all in theory be eating Coco Pops dry from the bowl as we write beauty columns (hang on while I dust some crumbs out of the keyboard), but I think I speak for all of us when I say “If it makes the day nicer, I’ll try it.” This mentality has led me to try Birkenstocks (I’m sorry but they’re the perfect house shoe in summer), frozen yogurt (hard pass), and skipping in the back garden. Stop smirking; it’s good cardio.
It has also led me to try Nivea Sun Eau de Toilette (£25 at amazon.com). A perfume that smells like a famous sunscreen might sound a bit odd. However, this is the most glorious summer fragrance – a window to every sunny place you've ever visited, and to childhood summers. You'd be surprised how mood-boosting it is to catch this scent on yourself as you go through the day. For now, it's available only through Amazon.
Maison Margiela Springtime in a Park (€112 at brownthomas.com) is a pastel summer bouquet in a bottle. It manages to capture fruitiness without being cloying. Pear will hit you first, followed by bergamot and blackcurrant. Lily of the Valley, rose, vanilla and musk round it out. If you love a fruity floral, this is the summer scent for you.
Perhaps you'd prefer something fresh and mood enhancing without the commitment. Nuxe Body Relaxing Fragrant Water (€12 at cloud10beauty.com) is wonderfully light. Coconut sorbet, white flowers and vanilla make it ideal for warm days and evoking the beach. More of a body mist than a perfume, you won't be overwhelmed by it, and it's kind to the skin.
Another fruity and white floral option, Valentino Born in Roma Donna (€79.05 at boots.ie) is nonetheless quite different from the Maison Margiela scent. I find jasmine to be a love-it-or-hate-it ingredient, and this fragrance features three kinds of jasmine sitting at its heart, offsetting the fruity top notes of juicy blackcurrant and sparkling bergamot. Warm base notes add a hint of cosiness, but this feels like an unapologetic floral, and will be adored by anyone who loves jasmine.