Understanding the Fragrance Wheel and Scent Families

perfume bottle

Are you new to fragrances? It can be challenging to find your ideal scent, especially if you are unfamiliar with the different fragrance notes. The fragrance wheel and the scent families can help you narrow down your choices.

The scents included in the scent families are familiar scents you may have smelled at some point, whether that’s from nature, in your kitchen, or from other fragrances.

In this article, we will let you get acquainted with the different scent families and their subfamilies so you can determine which scents are appealing to you. Before you know it, you’ll be walking up to the perfume counter and combining your favorite scents in no time.

Understanding the Fragrance Wheel

The fragrance wheel is a round diagram with scents grouped based on similarities and differences like the color wheel. The groups that are put beside each other share common characteristics, while the ones opposite each other are less related.

In 1983, fragrance expert and author Michael Edwards founded this method of classifying perfumes to help retailers suggest scents more efficiently. 

The Scent Families and Their Subfamilies

The scent families on the fragrance wheel are categorized into four primary families with their subfamilies. Each scent family has specific characteristics that you may be drawn towards, so it is best to know which scent family you prefer before shopping for perfumes.

Fresh Notes

These scents are identified as clean and bright. These are more likely to be used in men’s fragrances than women’s, as they are often paired with spicy notes.

The subfamilies of the fresh scents include:

  • Aromatic: This consists of the smell of clean and fresh herbs often mixed with lavender or woody scents
  • Citrus: This has the zesty and tangy notes of citrus fruits such as oranges and bergamot
  • Water: These scents remind you of a sea spray or rain
  • Green: These scents may feel reminiscent of mowed lawns or freshly crushed green leaves

  • Some perfumes with these scents include Versace Man and Acqua di Gio by Giorgio Armani.

    Woody Notes

    These scents are described as warm and incense-like and are often combined with fresh or floral notes.

    The subfamilies of the woody scents include:

  • Woods: These include aromatic wood scents such as sandalwood and cedarwood
  • Mossy Woods: These are sweet, smooth, and earthy scents such as amber and oakmoss
  • Dry Woods: These are described as smoky and leathery aromas

    Some perfumes with these scents include Mitsouko by Guerlain and Polo by Ralph Lauren.

    Oriental Notes

    These scents are opulent and heady scents associated with herbs, spices, and other oriental notes. These are often related to seductive and sweet fragrances.

    The subfamilies of the oriental scents include:

  • Soft Oriental: These smell like floral notes mixed with incense and warm spices.
  • Oriental: These have the warm spicy scent of cinnamon, vanilla, and musk
  • Woody Oriental: These are earthy scents such as patchouli and sandalwood mixed with sweet and spicy scents

  • Some perfumes with these scents include Obsession by Calvin Klein and Youth Dew by Estee Lauder.

    Floral Notes

    These are some of the most common scents used in women’s fragrances.

    The subfamilies of the floral scents include:

  • Fruity: Tropical and sweet fruit scents such as peach, pear, and apples
  • Floral: The smell of freshly cut flowers such as rose and lily
  • Soft Floral: These have the powdery, sweet, and creamy scents
  • Floral Oriental: The scent of flowers mixed with subtle spicy scents

  • Some perfumes with these scents include Bloom by Gucci and Red Door by Elizabeth Arden.


    A fragrance wheel is an excellent tool for determining which scents appeal to you and which ones you can combine. Consider using the fragrance wheel the next time you go shopping for a new fragrance.

    Are you looking for quality scents that help you smell your best? Alexandria perfumes may be ideal for you. These perfumes are inspired by designer perfumes made with high-quality materials at an affordable price. Check out our vast collection at Alexandria Fragrances today.

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