Your fragrance can really set the mood for your day, and a common go-to for a burst of energy is citrus. Think of that bright smell of sliced lemons or the juicy scent that washes over you when you peel an orange — it’s light, reviving, and delicious.
There are plenty of citrus fragrances that smell incredible without being too overpowering. Their smell is addictive all year-round if you ask us, but they’re especially perfect for spring and summer when bright colors, hot days, and fresh lemonade are in season.
During the colder months, citrus gets along well with richer, deeper scents that we’re often drawn to as the weather changes — like cedarwood, amber, or pine.
Snif doesn't harp on scent notes in our fragrances, because we like to keep things simple — but we do want to reel you into the citrus fragrance world a little more. Today, we’re going over everything you need to know about citrus scents so that you can add a little zest to your fragrance collection.
What Are Citrus Scents?
Citrus fragrances are often thought of as fresh and zesty smells that include fruits like lemon, lime, blood orange, mandarin orange, pomelo, and bergamot.
Citrus scents can also broaden their horizons, though, and take lemongrass and verbena under their umbrella too. Think of both bitter and leathery smells and the fresh and clean aromas we all know and love.
The history of citrus scents goes way (way) back. Bergamot first became popular in Calabria in the 15th century, but citrus smells began to make their way into perfumery in 1370. During that time, one of the first perfumes in Europe was created — it was called Hungary Water, a blend of bergamot, sage, rosemary, and cedar made for Queen Elizabeth of Hungary.
The royals were the only ones that could afford fragrances at that time. They didn't believe in bathing, but didn't want to smell bad either (can you blame them?).
After the Hungary Water fragrance was created, more citrus-scented waters began to appear. The formulas were all different, but one thing stayed consistent: the use of citrus fruits. The citrus fragrances we know today began during the 17th century when a scent popped up containing lemon, bergamot, neroli, and Petit-grain.
The fragrance was a cross between medicine and beauty — a fresh and invigorating scent that drew people in and made them want more.
Let’s get one thing straight — we take way more baths than those 17th-century fragrance lovers, but it’s easy to see why these scents were so important back in the day… and why they’re still popular today.
What Does Citrus Smell Like?
You can find many types of citrus scents in fragrances, and they all smell a little different. Citrus fruits, flowers, and herbs can be used to create a, well, citrusy aroma.
Let's go over some of these common scents so you know what to expect while you’re fragrance shopping:
Lemon: You're probably pretty familiar with lemony scents. Lemon gives off a tangy and energizing vibe that you’ve probably noticed from a fresh pitcher of lemonade, cocktails, and even cleaning products.
Lime: Lime is another classic citrus scent, with a refreshing and crisp smell that’s slightly sweeter than lemon. You might know lime from the rim of your margarita glass, lemon-lime soft drinks, and Chipotle’s cilantro lime rice (it’s just the truth).
Orange: Oranges can offer a bitter or sweet scent depending on the variety, but they often lean more towards the sweet side. You’ve almost definitely smelled an orange on a flight before, thanks to the person behind you who decided to forgo the Stroopwafels and bring their own healthy snacks instead. (Where’s that smell coming from? It smells like oranges!)
Mandarin: This citrus fruit brings a bright and sunny energy to fragrances. It's a sweet smell that can also have a bitter twist thanks to its skin. Mandarin can smell similar to orange, but might have a bit more of a juicy depth to it.
Clementine: Similar to mandarin but is slightly sweeter, clementine has more subtle sweetness than a sweet orange rind or tangerine with an added floral element. If your parents packed you a clementine in your lunch bag as a kid, you know this one already.
Grapefruit: Fresh, sweet, and bitter all at the same time, grapefruit goes well with other fragrance ingredients like vetiver, patchouli, and other citrus scents. Think about your go-to pink grapefruit shower gel, and you’ll know what we mean.
Bergamot: The bergamot orange is made into an essential oil commonly found in fragrances. Bergamot fruits are about the size of an orange, but are yellow or green in color, and they’re thought to be a hybrid of lemons and bitter oranges. Bergamot has a unique, floral, and sweet smell, but can also be bitter and green. Bergamot has a one-of-a-kind fragrance compared to other citrus fruits, making it super recognizable.
Neroli: Neroli is an essential oil made from the blossoms of bitter oranges. Neroli has a sweet, green smell with hints of metallicness — it might sound weird, but we promise it’s nicer than you think.
Why Wear Citrus Scents?
The biggest reason to wear citrus scents is the same reason you’d choose any fragrance — you smelled it, and you liked it. Simple and sweet.
Still, if you need a bit of convincing to give citrus a sniff, check out these common perks of citrusy scents.
Citrus scents are lively and bright, and they can even boost your mood. Aromatherapy often uses citrus essential oils to help chase feelings of stress and anxiety away, which might be why some people find citrus smells so energizing.
Certain smells can have a direct impact on your neurophysiological state. Neuro-what?
Basically, some scents might make you feel low-energy, while others can make you feel ready for whatever the day has in store. Citrus fragrances, in particular, are often associated with all the good vibes.
Citrus is closely connected with warmer months since that's when these fruits thrive. Citrus fruits might make you think of tropical beaches, sunny days, and August vacations — and they might bring back good memories of your summer trips and beach days from years ago, too. One study even found that memories associated with scent are more emotionally evocative, which means they really get you right in the feels.
The uplifting boost from citrus is a welcome comfort (who would say no to that?), especially in the middle of winter when we’re feeling a little gloomy.
Finding your signature scent can be tricky because it’s a form of self-expression. The good news is that citrus scents are completely timeless — lemons and oranges were tasty years ago, and guess what? They still are.
Citrus scents have been around for centuries, and they definitely aren't going anywhere. Timeless citrus fragrances are perfect to wear on the daily or at special events.
If it's going to be a scent you wear all the time, consider looking for a lighter, more subtle scent — your fragrance doesn't have to be strong and bold to be memorable. Try out a few different citrus fragrances to find the one that fits you best.
What Are Our Favorite Citrus Scents?
If you're looking for a timeless citrus scent, we’ve been there, done that, and got the t-shirt.
Snif has some of the best citrus perfumes that are long-lasting without overwhelming your senses. They come in a 30 ml bottle that will last you three to four months, alongside a two ml sample size that’s fun-sized and perfect for travel.
Our fragrances are formulated with industry clean standards — oh, and they’re vegan and cruelty-free and made without parabens, preservatives, phthalates, or synthetic dyes. Here are our faves.
Natural Talent gets its citrus kick from tasty clementine. It also contains apricot, iris, and a rich blend of suede and cashmere wood for a decadent finish. It's a velvety scent that comes off juicy with a balanced touch of leather.
Honorable Mention is a woody floral scent that combines a delicious burst of peach with spiced black walnut, making it an instant classic. Honorable Mention also uses orange blossom for a sweet hint of citrus alongside floral scents like jasmine tea and lily of the valley.
Ex on the Beach
Ex on the Beach is warm and smooth, combining floral and woody aromas. It's made with fig, ylang ylang, orange blossom, jasmine, peony, and cedarwood — think of it as intoxicating without being too overwhelming, like the ex you can’t stop thinking about.
Off the Grid
If you're looking for a candle to round out your citrus fragrance collection, Off the Grid is for you. It's a warm, calming scent made with a blend of amber, lily, musk, and sandalwood to take you right to your happy place.
Try Before You Buy
If you're not sure which one of these scents is for you, we get it.
Our Fragrance Bundle Kit has got you covered. With this kit, you get one or three full-size fragrances with one or three samples.
We'll send you the fragrances, and you'll have seven days to use your samples and decide what you like. Keep what you want, pay only for what you keep, and send the rest back — free of charge.
Good Smells Only
Anyone can fall in love with citrus, and we’re living proof of that. Refreshing citrus scents have stood the test of time and might even boost your mood.
Spritz on your new citrus fragrance to brighten up your day — and the days of everyone around you, too.