Olfactive Families

Olfactive Families

Oct 05, 2022jennifer rotondo

Olfactive Families & The Fragrance Wheel: A Lesson on Scents

A classified system is used in the perfume industry to place different scents into olfactive families. These families have evolved since their creation in 1983. However, it has led to the discovery of something we now call the fragrance wheel. 

Above, the wheel shows various segments. The most significant are seven core olfactive families: aromatic, woody, leather, oriental, fougére, chypre, citrus, and floral. 

Each of these is arranged by their relationship with one another. For instance, woody and oriental have dry characteristics, generally used to create a leathery fragrance. 

The fragrance wheel is a simplified way of remembering and explaining the olfactive families with scent. However, it doesn't go into detail about each segment. To discover this, become knowledgeable on the following. 

The fragrance families 

When designing fragrances, perfume experts will utilize the above wheel to develop a scent. Doing this requires in-depth knowledge about the olfactive (fragrance) families. With this information, they can appropriately mix scents and reach the desired outcome. 

To understand each of these fragrance families better, here's a brief explanation of them: 



Fragrance Family Name


Characterized By


Citrus and spicy notes are frequently blended with aromatic fresh green accords like thyme, rosemary, tarragon, or mint to create richer charters.

·         Herb & plant notes

·         Combined with spice and citrus accords


Woody perfumes are infused with fruity notes, flowers, herbs, and spices and are based on warm, luxurious, or dry woods such as sandalwood and cedar.

·         Crisp, dry woody heart notes

·         Aromatic or citrus head notes

·         Dominant resin or wood bases


Developed initially to disguise the odor of tanned leather, the current leather family contains leathery scents of smoke, wood, tobacco, and honey.

·         Powdery, woody notes

·         Smokey notes


Oriental perfumes' rich exotic essences include exotic herbs and spices like vanilla and citrus, as well as aldehydes. Aromas of resins, woods, and amber are warm and seductive, with powdery or dry undertones.

·         Rich and exotic spices

·         Dry, powdery resin notes


Fougère, named after the French word for fern, is a green and fragrant herbal aroma with lavender, oakmoss, citrus, and woods frequently used in men's fragrances.

·         Sweet or sharp lavender head notes

·         Lichen and coumarin heart

·         Woody and moss base


Chypre is a general term for a group of scents with a mossy, foresty foundation that was first influenced by the scents of the island of Cyprus and features harsh patchouli, oak-moss base notes, and citrus.

·         Bergamot head

·         Ladanum hear and oakmoss


When citrus oils like zests of lemon, bergamot orange, mandarin, or grapefruit are added to the top notes of a scent, they provide clean, fresh and bright tones.

·         Citrus note from fruit zest and flower blossom


Florals, the smell family with the most members, are at the center of the composition and can be augmented by aldehydic, fruity, green, powdery, or spicy characteristics.


·         Many different floral notes



After reading the above, you should have a deeper understanding of the olfactive families and the fragrance wheel. Undoubtedly, these are what shape the perfume industry. Without these dedicated categories, mixing and altering scents to the desired result would be remarkably difficult.

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