THE FRAGRANCE WHEEL
Although there are an infinite number of olfactory notes and combinations, most people tend to be drawn to certain types of scents time and time again. To simplify the process for both perfume shoppers and connoisseurs, we classify the world of fragrance into families.
There are four scent families: woody, floral, amber, and fresh. These families each take a respective space on the Fragrance Wheel, a circular diagram which illustrates the four scent families in relation to each of their corresponding subfamilies.
The Fragrance Wheel, invented by scent expert Michael Edwards, aids perfumers and fragrance lovers alike by placing families that share common olfactory characteristics next to one another. Subfamilies that are side-by-side on the wheel are most similar and therefore very likely to blend well together in a perfume, whereas families located further away from each other are less related.
The floral scent family is one of the most common families. Used in many well-known perfumes, it usually takes on a feminine characteristic in fragrance. Used widely in women's perfume. Anything sweet and powdery can be found in this family.
Fruity: Sweet and edible- think pear or apple
Floral: Like smelling the flowers right off the plant- think rose or lavender
Soft floral: A lighter scent, with a hint of creaminess or powder
Oriental floral: Floral with a tinge of spice
The amber (previously known as "oriental") scent family includes herbs, spices, and dry powdery resin notes. Amber scents can be described as “sensual,” warm and “exotic.”
A family full of complex and deep fragrances. If you love spicy and exotic smells, this is the family for you. The resin and amber tones are perfect for a winter scent, very full-bodied and layered with warmth.
Soft Oriental: Softer floral scents with warm, spicy undertones
Oriental: Sweet and warm scents- think cinnamon and vanilla
Woody Oriental: Deep and earthy- sandalwood, bergamot or amber
Another warm family, woody fragrances can have a dry undertone. Often lightened by the addition of citrus in the headnote. With an aromatic, woody base, these scents are truly heart-warming
Woody: Aromatic scents, purely wood- cedar, sandalwood
Mossy Woods: Earthy and sweet, often with amber notes
Dry Woods: Leather and dry tones, smoky undertones
Another family great for spring and summer, these scents are bright and clean. Often used in men's perfume, but also great for home fragrances to bring the fresh outside into your house!
Aromatic: Clean and herbal scents, with a woody undertone
Citrus: Zesty and sweet-mandarin and bergamot
Water: Smells of the sea or river- lotus flowers and sea breeze
Green: Fresh-cut grass and rainforests, like smelling crushed leaves.
Once you’ve decided which family suits you best, search for the sub-family directly across from it on the fragrance wheel to find secondary notes that are complementary to your preferred scent profile. Taking this extra step will help you master your fragrance preferences.