When it comes to perfumery, you’re usually going to see watermelon treated a couple of ways. The first one being that the melon will translate as “aquatic”. For lack of a better word, the watermelon adds wetness, an illusion of water. In this treatment, it can sometimes come across like a sliced cucumber, “ambiguous melon: otherwise not specified” or the sort of “ocean air” only found in perfumery and not in reality. The second way is a synthetic watermelon flavoring that for those of us in the U.S. will be reminded of flavored hard candies like Jolly Ranchers. When it comes to watermelon in perfumery, it’s like so many fruits and flowers, I haven’t found anything that truly reminds me of slicing a ripe watermelon in the summer heat. The watermelon that I smell in perfumery is synthetic, pretty but synthetic. Realism doesn’t appear to be the goal.
For the most part, what we’re smelling in perfumery when we smell “watermelon” is an aromachemical called Calone 1951® AKA “watermelon ketone”. It’s aquatic, sheer, fresh and a little bit fruity. If you don’t think you’ve sniffed it before, you probably have. My perfumery “dad joke” is this, “A lot of 90’s colognes had Calone”. This watery melon meets sea-breeze aromachemical was all the rage back then and was literally the basis of many popular perfumes of the era.
As with all my Perfume Guides, I try my best to highlight perfumes that are predominately of the note I’m discussing. In this case, I’m focusing on straight-forward watermelon perfumes and those that feature the note as a headliner in the Watermelon World Tour. I also focus on those that require little effort to purchase in the United States. What does that mean? That means that I try to leave out discontinued and limited edition perfumes, as well as those that do not have distribution in the U.S.
By no means is this an all encompassing guide; it’s as thorough as I can be. If you have any additional suggestions, please include those in the comments.
More Straightforward Style
These are the ones that give watermelon the ‘mic and turn up the speakers.
Aramis New West for Her – Do you want to know what Calone smells like? Look no further. Without it, Aramis New West could not exist. This is the perfume that I think of when I think of Calone/watermelon. It’s a fruity, aquatic, aromatic thing launched in 1990 that really set the tone of the rest of the designer perfumes of the decade. These days you aren’t going to find it at the department stores, and no longer in drugstores and big box stores. Apparently, the feminine version has been discontinued and that’s a real shame! This was like a time capsule for me and THE watermelon perfume for me. I hate to include it in this guide, but it doesn’t feel right leaving it out either. Pro tip – I have seen it lurking around those perfume mall kiosks though. If you are curious, snag it while you can.
Shay & Blue Watermelons – This is basically a watery watermelon that turns into watermelon candies. It’s simple and the name says it all. The 3.4 oz retails for $90 at Indigo Perfumery. Pro tip – this one is good for layering. Be creative.
YOSH U4EAHH! – This is cucumbers, watermelons and pears. It wasn’t something anyone I knew in middle school wore but it really reminds me of middle school. Review. The 1.7 oz retails for $110 at Luckyscent.
Tocca Simone – I didn’t know if I should include this perfume now or later in this post. It’s a fruity-floral but when I first brainstormed this guide, it was one of the first ones I came up with. Why? Because all I remember is watermelon and apples from it…and a clean musk. Review. The 1.7 oz retails for $72 at Sephora.
Dolce & Gabbana Anthology L’Imperatrice 3 – Basically it’s tiki drinks in a bottle. It’s like watermelon and all the fruits and fruity-flavored rum served with a little umbrella in a ridiculous glass. Like those cocktails, it’s not something I want all of the time but when I do, it’s a perfectly good-time. The 3.3 oz retails for $80 at Sephora.
CREED Millésime Impérial – Salty, effervescent watermelon. The 1.7 oz retails for $295 at Nordstrom.
These are floral perfumes that don’t explicitly list watermelon in their note list but they really remind me of watermelon fruity-florals. Mileage will vary.
Jo Malone London Wild Bluebell – Watermelon isn’t a note listed but I get so much watermelon in this dewy, cool fruity-floral. It’s a tart, watery and fruity fragrance. Review. The 3.4 oz retails for $136 at Nordstrom.
The Aquatic Ones
What kind of post would this be if I talked about watermelons without talking about aquatics?
i Profumi di Firenze Brezza di Mare – This is sheer (breeze is in its name) and smells like watermelons and salt. So, it’s really just an ozonic perfume with watermelons. Review. The 1.7 oz retails for $110 at B-Glowing.
Davidoff Cool Water for Women – Launched in 1996, this is totally a predecessor to Aramis New West. It’s the sort of perfume we think of when we think of “aquatic”, a bouillabaise of aromachemicals. Review. The 1.7 oz can easily be found at discounters like Perfume.com for under $25.
Calvin Klein Eternity Aqua for Men – The cucumber in this come across as watermelon. It’s a salty, ozonic, fruity aquatic thing that is also similar to Ralph Lauren Polo Blue. Both could also fit into the category below… Anyway, this one goes for $82 for the 3.4 oz at Macy’s.
I sound so mean but it’s the truth! Watermelon sort of became synonymous with designer masculines of an entire decade and then some. The note showed up in all sorts of juices sold to young men as “fresh and clean”. It’s almost like if you’ve smelled one of these, you’ve smelled them all. However, I tried to focus on a couple of stand-outs.
Liz Claiborne Claiborne for Men – Arguably the fragrance that started the Calone/watermelon craze of the 90’s. This one isn’t overly watermelon-y but then again it is. It’s like a watermelon chypre. Lots of melon freshness paired with pine needles and moss. Basically, it’s the epitome of 90’s “clean cologne”. You can find it at drugstores or discount sites like Perfume.com for under $20 for a large bottle.
Kenneth Cole Reaction – Watermelon candy…but for bros. The 3.4 oz retails for $80 at Macy’s.
John Varvatos Artisan Black – I actually love this stuff. It’s like watermelon sorbet, indoles and leather but somehow fresh. Not bad at all if you are looking for “masculine” fruity-aromatic for any occassion. The 2.5 oz retails for $66 at Sephora.
David Beckham Signature for Him – Everything interesting about this fragrance is in the salty watermelon and juicy fruit opening. Then it’s just any other super generic aromatic. It’s not bad for the price though! You can find it at drugstores or stores like Perfume.com for under $15 for a 2.5 oz bottle.
Didn’t Know What to Call It but Wanted to Talk About Them
The header of this section really says it all.
Sage Machado Garnet Perfume Oil – OK, so this one is like a boozy amber and amber rose paired with watermelon. The rest of these lean more summery/light, while this one is wintery/heavy. This is one of the few watermelon fragrances that makes me think of winters and/or buying incense in a headshop. The 1/8 oz oil retails for $45 at Beautyhabit.
KENZO Kenzo World EDP – Nobody really agrees with me but there is something super kawaii about this perfume. It reminds me of watermelon boba tea. It’s also like bubblegum. Watermelon isn’t a note listed, but I am reminded of it. Review. The 1.7 oz retails for $87 at Sephora.
If this still isn’t enough watermelon for you, I suggest you check out limited edition summer flankers. I know there are a few Calvin Klein ones as well as Issey Miyake and Escada that do fruity watermelon things but apparently only for a limited time. I was also disappointed while compiling this to see that L’Artisan no longer makes Fleur de Liane. That was such a weird/wonderful milky, green, fruity fragrance.
To simplify this guide for beginners or anyone that wants to do olfactory training, I recommend these as the “Must Try Watermelon Perfumes”
Liz Claiborne Claiborne for Men – Experience Calone and the 90’s.
Davidoff Cool Water for Women – Continue your tour of the 90’s and experience the “aquatic watermelon” that defined an era.
Dolce & Gabbana Anthology L’Imperatrice 3 or Shay & Blue Watermelons – Watermelon candies. Hey, it’s fun!
CREED Millésime Impérial – Watermelon with salt but make it bougie.
When it comes to watermelon perfumes, do you have a type? What are some of your favorites?
Honestly, I’m not big on watermelon fragrances but I have hope that one day I’ll find one to love. My hope is that a niche or indie brand will do something interesting and novel with it and not just resort to aquatics or candy. I feel like there is really an opportunity to do something enjoyable with it. I spend most of my summer living off of watermelon and Tajín, I love the flavor and fragrance. Now I just want someone to give me a watermelon, chili, salt and lime perfume! Is there a watermelon-centric perfume you wish to smell one day? What would its note list look like?
*When I report price, I go with the smallest full-size bottle and the price it is in USD at the time of the publication of this post. Other sizes are usually available.
*Watermelon images from freeimages.com. Nordstrom, Sephora, Perfume.com, B-Glowing and Macy’s contain affiliate links. Thanks!