20 Fragrances For When You Just Want To Smell Clean

If you’re a 21st-century person with a stressful job and a calendar full of SoulCycle classes, then chances are you’re not into super-heady fragrances. Powdery ones smell like your nana, floral orientals smell like your mom, and fruity body mists smell like your high-school bestie. Clean scents (think light, airy, and shower-fresh) and floral fragrances, on the other hand, are likely more your speed.
First, let’s clarify what we mean by “clean.” It’s not the smell of your apartment after you’ve scoured it with Pine-Sol. “That’s a more industrial, deodorant clean and, even if you like the scent, there’s a utilitarian quality that will never be truly beautiful,” says fragrance expert Chandler Burr. The clean we’re talking about is more conceptual. “It’s pure luminescence, or light turned somehow into scent,” he says. “New materials, including some terrific fragrance molecules, have allowed scent artists to create them.”
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But what is it that makes "clean" scents so appealing? (Other than the fact that we can get away with washing our hair less when wearing them.) “Clean scents allow women to communicate themselves in a sharper, more clearly defined way than classical fragrances,” says Burr. “They let us speak much more in our own voices.” Intrigued? Click through to find our favorite so-fresh-and-so-clean-clean scents.
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Described as "a love letter to Los Angeles," this breezy floral smells nothing like car exhaust or broken dreams; rather, it's as fresh and clean as a fragrance can get, predominantly jasmine and fig with a touch of understated sweetness from honeysuckle. The formulation is also literally clean, insofar as it's paraben-, phthalate-, and cruelty-free, and the packaging is 100% recyclable.
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This fragrance toes the line between fresh and spicy, thanks to notes of bitter orange, cardamom, violet leaves, patchouli moss, and musk.
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When we hear "musk," we don't usually think "lightweight." But we'll be damned, because this one — which has notes of fig, grass, and amber — smells like rain on a spring day.
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Finding a woodsy fragrance for fall that feels fresh, not heavy, can be a challenge. This scent mixes fig leaves and cedar to create a day-appropriate take on a spicy scent.
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Forget what you know about heady, seductive musks: This take on the classic note weaves in components better associated with sweetness and light, like white orchid, jasmine petals, and pink lotus, over an earthy base of patchouli, white cedarwood, and liquid musks, which give it an airiness that smells like your skin, but better.
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This orange blossom scent spritzes on light and crisp in the morning, then fades to a subtle floral accord by evening. The fresh aroma lingers, but never overpowers.
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If you like tropical vacations to Tahiti (and who doesn't), you'll love this roll-on oil. The blend of coconut oil, tiare flower, and vanilla has a clean, complex richness to it that smells like sun-warmed skin on a gorgeous island day.
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Imagine lounging in freshly laundered, 800-thread-count sheets, as the sun glints through your floor-length linen curtains. From your balcony, you feel a soft breeze ruffle a lush garden of white flowers below. Sounds dramatically poetic, but it's exactly what this cocktail of lily of the valley, white musk, patchouli oil, and aldehyde smells like.
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No matter how many hours you spend holed up in the corner of a cigarette-infused dive bar, this elixir of 22 notes — among them earthy petitgrain, bitter grapefruit, warm amber, and verdant vetiver — can make you smell spa-day fresh. Hence why it’s recently become a cult favorite among cool girls and models.
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Unless you’re blessed with synesthesia, colors don’t have scents. But here, creator Ben Gorham attempted to evoke the purity of white using white rose, light woods, and aldehyde. The result is sharp, pure, wearable — and one of our favorites, ever.
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The top-note trifecta of lemon, orange, and mandarin could leave you smelling like a slosh of sangria. But sheer woods, musk, and jasmine anchor the juicy citrus peel for a crisp, earthy finish.
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Lily of the valley, frosty musk, and leafy green team up for a simple, soap-and-water scent. If, that is, the soap were handmade in the French countryside and the water were plunged from an icy, babbling brook.
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Bergamot, precious woods, and white musks are what (private island) memories are made of — at least, that's what perfumeur Albert Fouguet says.
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This classic scent has almost 2,000 five-star reviews on Sephora — and rightfully so. We like to think the combination of apple, bamboo, and cedarwood smells like fresh ocean waves.
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Even though this scent is inspired by a ghost story, there's nothing scary about its herbal top notes.
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Fresh florals are our favorite year-round fragrance, and this one is mighty powerful. Extracted from the sweetest flower, freesia, and infused with bergamot, this lightweight scent is the perfect medium between sexy and sweet.
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A light, fresh, subtly citrus scent in a clear blue bottle that's the exact color you'd imagine the waves in Santorini to look like. It's the 1%'s kind of clean.
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Whenever you need a summer pick-me-up in the dead of winter, this fresh blend of rose and pink pomelo should be your first stop. Even if you've never been to Newport, this fragrance would have everyone else believe that you belong there.
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The kind of fresh-air fragrance New Yorkers will crave after a decade of living in the city. The subtle moss, bergamot, vanilla crass, and cypress leave you smelling a lot cleaner than it, too.
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If Monet had a fragrance of choice, it'd most likely be this — or, at least we'd hope so. Considering this perfume is inspired by the waterlilies in the gardens of Giverny, the Sicilian bergamot, dewy greens, waterlily, and jasmine sambac practically capture the essence of the natural sunlight in a small, rural French village.
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