Explaining The Fragrance Wheel

Scents are everywhere. In nature, in our homes, on the street. It's all around us. And we've all experienced how smells can be overwhelming sometimes. This counts especially true when choosing a perfume. But don't worry, the fragrance wheel is here to help!

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What is the Fragrance Wheel?

The fragrance wheel is a wheel that represents the scent families and subfamilies. Scents are put together according to their differences and similarities to show how they are related. Olfactory groups that are close to each other share similar characteristics, while those further apart are less related. This is why it is often likely that you will like fragrances that belong to one or two families. Although there have been versions of the fragrance wheel since 1949, the modern fragrance wheel was created in 1992 by perfume expert Michael Edwards.

Families and Subfamilies

Floral, Oriental, Woody, and Fresh make up the four primary families of fragrances. Each of those subcategories has its description; for example, ‘Floral Oriental,’ ‘Fresh Citrus’. Their position on the wheel decides which family a fragrance belongs to. Each family consists of a prominent scent, while the subfamilies are a blend of these fragrances.

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Most commonly used in women’s perfumes, floral scents smell like fresh flowers or might have a powdery note. Think herbs and spices or dry, resin notes. This fragrance family consists of rich and exotic scents.


Sandalwood and patchouli are incense-like scents that combine with drier notes like cedar to create a sweet, rich perfume. This is what woody scents are all about.


This scent family embraces clean bright scents. Citrusy, herbal, and oceanic scents are what the fresh fragrance family is all about.