Why it’s time to give salty perfume a chance

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Cling on to the last of the summer’s (ahem) sun with this raft of salty perfumes, as recommended by Stylist’s beauty director Shannon Peter. 

When you think about delicious perfume notes, a fairly standard inventory of recognisable scents tends to come to mind: billowing rose heads with velvety petals; dense and grounding woods; zingy, saliva-inducing citrus juices; powdery, comforting musks. But I wholeheartedly believe that there’s another fragrance note that deserves more glory than it currently gets, and that’s salt. 

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I’m not talking about the kind of bleached-to-oblivion table salt that comes in whopping great canisters (does that even have a smell?) but rather the nose-tickling, ridiculously addictive, ever so slightly bitter tang of sea salt. No matter what mix of notes it’s added to, salt lends a fragrance a fresh, savoury minerality that feels right at home spritzed onto naturally-salty skin. In small sprinklings, it adds depth to the other notes; when it’s the headline scent, it conjures up visceral seaside scenes – just the thing we need after this disappointment of a summer.

Liking the sound of salty scents? I don’t blame you. Below, I’ve collated a handful of my favourites. 

  • The salty coconut scent

    Floral Street Arizona Bloom

    I know a lot of perfumes are heavily marketed as the scent of holidays, but if you ask me, Floral Street’s Arizona Bloom beats them all, hands down. Undeniably creamy, it smells like an entire can of coconut milk (the full fat stuff) speckled with grains of rock salt and topped with just-opened jasmine buds. 

    Shop Floral Street Arizona Bloom at FeelUnique, £60 for 50ml

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  • The salty vanilla scent

    The bulk of Lancôme Idôle Aura is made of aged vanilla, which would be slightly too sweet for my taste if it wasn’t for the inclusion of fleur de sal. This fancy sea salt takes the edge of the more saccharine notes and is helped along by clean-smelling white florals. I can see this becoming a signature scent for many. 

    Shop Lancôme Idôle Aura at Boots, £78 for 50ml

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  • The salty woody scent

    Jo Malone London’s Wood Sage and Sea Salt was my first foray into the salty fragrance realm. A cult classic, it conjures up the bracing sensation of being slapped in the face by an angry ocean wave, just without the associated peril. I also enjoy the sage note; it’s herbaceous and earthy.

    Shop Jo Malone London Wood Sage and Sea Salt Cologne at Look Fantastic, £102 for 100ml

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  • The salty summer scent

    I don’t know quite how else to put it than to say that Maison Margiela’s Beach Walk smells oddly warm, like the nutty aroma of scorched sand. It contains bergamot for freshness, coconut milk for creaminess and pink pepper for a hint of spice.

    Shop Maison Margiela Beach Walk at SpaceNK, £98 for 100ml 

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  • The salty skin-like scent

    Clean Reserve’s Skin smells exactly how your washing would smell if you didn’t have to hang it in a musty flat for three days straight hoping it’d dry (just me?). It’s a blend of powdery musks and creamy tonka bean that together feel cosseting and comforting. 

    Shop Clean Reserve Skin at SpaceNK, £82 for 100ml

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