Searching for the perfect fragrance that will make heads turn and strangers compliment you is not easy. In fact, it can be quite overwhelming, especially if you have no idea what kinds of fragrance notes you prefer. After all, there are hundreds of scents, each with their own unique quality.


To make the process of choosing a favorite fragrance for yourself and your loved one less daunting, it is helpful to learn about the fragrance wheel and scent families.

In this article, we will help you understand the fragrance wheel and scent families, as well as main fragrance families and subfamilies. By the end of this article, you will be able to walk up to a perfume counter and know exactly what you want. 

Understanding the Fragrance Wheel

A common term used in the perfume industry is "fragrance families." These are scents that have been placed into alfactory groups, depending on their core characteristics. This classification is part of the language of scent. However, it can feel complicated and rather baffling, especially if you don't know which family the fragrance you smelt on your friend falls into. When you go fragrance-shopping next time, you will be able to tell the sales consultant which fragrance family you like and they will be able to guide you better.


A fragrance wheel refers to the different scent families and subfamilies. These scents are put together in groups based on their similarities and differences so that people can differentiate between them. 

The common fragrance families are:

  • Fruity: Sweet, ripe, fresh. Includes notes of apple, pineapple, peach, and strawberry.
  • Citrus: Sweet, fresh, and tangy. Includes notes of grapefruit, lemon, orange, and mandarin.
  • Floral: Real-life bouquets and flowers. Includes notes of lilac, freesia, rose, and hibiscus.
  • Fresh: Reminds one of spas, beaches, and meadows. Includes notes of lavender, freshly-cut grass, mint, linen, and fresh air.
  • Gourmand: Mouth-watering scents with addictive notes that smell edible. Includes notes of cotton candy, caramel, vanilla, honey, coffee, almonds, and toffee.
  • Spicy: Gives comfortable and warm vibes. Includes notes of black pepper, cardamom, and cinnamon.
  • Woods: Masculine and rich. Includes notes of cedar wood, sandalwood, patchouli, and vetiver. 

Understanding Fragrance Families in Detail



1. Fresh

Fresh scents are cooling, uplifting, and zesty. They features notes like mandarin, lemon, orange, and bergamot. You will find that fresh scents smell clean and are usually found in cologne and eau de toilette versions.

Most people prefer to wear these scents in the summers. If you like your scents to be airy, bright, sunny, and uplifting, you should try exploring scents that fall into this family. 

2. Floral

Floral is the most popular fragrance family all over the world. Not only is at ultra-feminine, but you are most likely to recognize this scent at first sniff. The scent may even remind you of garden parties, a bouquet of freshly cut flowers, summer weddings, and spring blossoms. Floral fragrances usually include notes of gardenia, peony, jasmine, mimosa, and tuberose. 

The most-adored floral notes are rose and jasmine, both of which have been found at the heart of every floral fragrance. In fact, these two notes are the foundation notes of the perfume world. You will find that many fragrances play with these notes, allowing them to shimmer beneath the surface as they blend with other families or holding the entire blend together so that you can barely spot them. 

Florals can be spiced up with spicy and warm notes. In fact, there are many sub-categories present in the floral family that provide a wonderful, rejuvenating blend of notes that are easy to fall in love with.

3. Oriental

Oriental is a classic family fragrance that goes back centuries and includes notes like gum resins, arris, sandalwood, amber, and vanilla. Most of these ingredients are present in high end perfume houses due to how popular they are.

These fragrances are usually described as voluptuous, seductive, and elegant, as they make individuals feel sophisticated and grown-up. Many fragrances that use these notes are heavy, warm, and rich, and are perfect to wear at night. Moreover, they are heavy on the base notes, allowing the scent to last lounger. 

4. Fougere 

Many fragrances for males fall into the fougere family, with notes like coumarin, vetiver, geranium, lavender, bergamot, and oakmoss. Even though this family was originally made for women, today it is a rather unisex scent that both genders enjoy. 

Fougere scents can also include scents that are green and ferny, freshening up the strong scents that fall into this family. 

5. Woody

Mostly self-explanatory, woody fragrances feel like they are linked to the chypre family. However, it is common for them to be merged with blends of floral as well.

Perfumers today have come up with loads of woody notes to match their creations, such vetiver, patchouli, cedar, agarwood (oud), and guiaiacwood. 

Usually, blends of woody fragrances include fruity and spicy notes that lighten the scent and add a burst of freshness to the scent. You will find loads of masculine, unisex, and women's scents that fall into this fragrance category. 

6. Gourmand

Gourmand is the newest scent in the fragrance world that uses edible notes. These have become increasingly popular, especially notes of candy floss, bubblegum, almonds, caramel, milk, chocolate, toffee, and cognac. Of course, we can't forget to mention the most loved scent, vanilla. 

Many spices like amber are included in this fragrance group, merging together to make the perfect warm scent for colder months that will make you want to snuggle. 

The Truth about Fragrance Families

When you are fragrance shopping, it can be helpful to know which families attract you the  most. If you don't understand which family a scent falls into, don't worry, it will take some time and practice to figure this out. If you ever feel too unsure, you can always get a discovery box and enjoy the samples you get. These will help you understand what scents you are drawn to before you purchase a full-size bottle. 

However, it is important to remember that high quality and luxury fragrances are complex scents. They usually do not fall into a single family but instead, are made with blends of multiple families. This is what makes each brand's fragrance unique and different from another.

Rameen Shakil
Rameen Shakil

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