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Understanding Fragrance Families: An Overview of the Different Types of Scents

By :Abhishant Gupta 0 comments
Understanding Fragrance Families: An Overview of the Different Types of Scents

It can be hard to know where to begin when searching for the ideal fragrance. There are, after all, hundreds of different scents. Finding your favorite scents can be difficult if you aren't familiar with the various fragrance notes.

Knowing the fragrance wheel and scent families beforehand is therefore helpful. You have probably encountered each of the scent families at some point in your life, whether in the kitchen, outdoors, or somewhere else!

In this section, we will discuss the fragrance wheel, the various scent families, and the primary and subfamilies. We'll also talk about all kinds of scents and how to combine them so you can confidently approach the perfume counter.

What Is the Fragrance Wheel?

The various scent families and subfamilies are depicted on the fragrance wheel, which is a circular diagram. To demonstrate their connection to one another, the scents are grouped according to their similarities and differences. The scent groups that are closer to one another have fewer olfactory similarities than the scent groups that are further apart.

This fragrance classification system was developed in order to help retailers suggest perfumes to consumers more efficiently. Each family consists of a prominent scent, while the subfamilies are blended versions of these fragrances.

Scent Wheel:

Types of Scent Families

There are four main categories of scent families: Fresh, Floral, Oriental, and Woody, each with its own subfamilies. When selecting personal fragrances, people frequently favor one scent family over another due to its distinct characteristics.

Before you go shopping for a new scent, it can be helpful to know which family you are drawn to. Although the scent family isn't listed on most products' labels, you should be able to identify the perfume ingredients.

With just one sniff, perfumers with years of experience can identify a fragrance's family or subfamily. The fragrance community disagrees on how each family should be organized and described, but most agree on the following families and subfamilies.




Fruity: Sweet, edible and tropical like peach, pear and apple.
Floral: Smells like fresh-cut flowers — imagine rose and lily.
Soft floral: Soft, powdery and sweet with a hint of creamy.
Floral oriental: Floral with subtle spice notes.

Common Floral Family Notes:
Orange blossom



The oriental fragrance family consists of rich exotic scents. When you think of oriental scents, think herbs and spices or dry, powdery, resin notes. Opulent and heady, these notes are oftentimes softened with amber or sweet notes. It’s common to describe this family as exotic and seductive.


Soft oriental: Soft, floral notes mix with incense and warm spices.
Oriental: Sweet, warm notes like cinnamon, vanilla and musk.
Woody oriental: Earthy notes like patchouli and sandalwood mixed with spicy and sweet notes.

Common Floral Family Notes:



Woody perfumes are usually warm and opulent, mixing incense-like fragrances like sandalwood and patchouli with drier notes like cedar. To tone down the warmth of these notes, fragrances will sometimes incorporate some fresh notes like citrus or floral. Notes in this family can be described as coniferous or woody and bitter.


Woods: Aromatic scents like cedarwood, sandalwood and vetiver.
Mossy woods: Sweet, smooth and earthy scents like oak moss and amber.
Dry woods: Smoldering and smoky mixed with leather aromas.

Common Floral Family Notes:




The fresh scent family encompasses clean bright scents. Herby, citrusy and oceanic scents all fall into this category. More often used in men’s fragrances than women’s fragrances, fresh scents are paired with spicy notes to create a more robust fragrance. Aromatic, tart notes can also be found mixed with zesty or fruity scents.


Aromatic: Clean and fresh herbs mixed with lavender or woody scents.
Citrus: Zesty or tangy notes like mandarins or bergamot.
Water: Aquatic scents that smell of sea spray or rain mixed with or oceanic notes.
Green: Smells of freshly mowed lawns and crushed green leaves.

Common Floral Family Notes:



Fragrance Pairing: How to Combine Scents

Much like color, certain fragrance families go together well. The scent wheel makes it easy to see this. Fragrance sub-families that are side by side on the fragrance wheel will almost always blend well. You can also pick a sub-family to start with and see which note appears across from it on the fragrance wheel. This means that those notes are complementary to one another. For example, soft oriental will complement citrus, and oriental will complement water.


Finally, you can select three fragrance sub-families that create a triangle on the fragrance wheel. You’ll find that these will complement each other nicely. For example, if you know you like floral oriental notes, look for a scent that contains mossy and water notes as well.

Perfume Scent Types – In Conclusion

After you’ve decided which perfume categories you like best and what secondary notes you’ll be looking for, it’s time to start researching the perfect perfume for you. You can either head down to the beauty counter at your local department store or order online. Be sure to test them on your skin so that you know you enjoy the scent once it’s mixed with your skin.


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