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What is a 'fragrance family'?

When it comes to finding your ultimate scent, understanding the concept of "fragrance family" can be a very helpful tool. Think of fragrance families as a way to organize and categorize different perfumes, similar to how music is classified into genres. It's like grouping all the floral scents together in the floral family or gathering all those sweet perfumes with edible ingredients under the gourmand family. In wine tasting, we find similar ways to group wines for tasting purposes.

The concept of fragrance families has been around for quite a while. The first publication on this topic was the Odor Effects Diagram in 1949 by Paul Jellinek. Then, in 1983, a British fragrance specialist named Michael Edwards created the first Fragrance Wheel.

At Perfume Lounge, we use an extended version of Michael Edwards' Fragrance Wheel, adding extra fragrance families to accommodate the ever-growing range of scents in the market. With the explosion of new perfumes and the creative flair of perfumers, we've expanded the wheel to include groups like minimalistic, amber, and gourmand.

Grapefruit blood orange perfume lounge

How can fragrance families help you choose perfumes?

If you are looking for a perfume, it may help to know which olfactive families appeal to you. If you really like the smell of citrus, you can explore the citrus family. Do you like sweet and comfortable, you will certainly be very happy when you smell and wear gourmand perfumes.

Here is a number of fragrance families. Click on the fragrance family to see corresponding perfumes:

Sensual amber scents, elegant, full, slightly animalic and intimate. Read more about the ingredient amber.

Transparent scents, reminiscent of clear water and refreshment. Generally these are clean fragrances with sparkling zesty notes, while others can go more into the depths of the ocean with dark mineral and algae notes. 

Powdery as in body powder, lipstick, and talcum powder. Powdery scents can range from cuddly and friendly, slightly sober to sensual, exciting boudoir-like. Many powdery scents also belong to the soft floral family.

Perfumes where the sunny sparkling scents of citrus fruits play the leading role. Bergamot, lemon, orange, grapefruit, yuzu, lime: zesty pleasure!

Fruity family, perfume lounge

Perfumes where one or more flowers play the leading role.

Floral Amber
Formerly known as floriental or floral oriental, at the heart of a floral amber perfume are flowers, often mixed with sweet resins and spices on the base notes of sensual amber.

Soft Floral
Sophisticated floral scents with a clean, powdery and sometimes almost soapy feeling. The specific addition of aldehydes gives these perfumes, as it were, a lift and sparkles even more.

Fruity, cheerful, colorful: from apple, cherry and fig to exotic fruit such as peach, mango or lychee. In this fragrance family you will find perfumes with all kinds of delicious fruits.

Gourmand is the name for the group of perfumes that smell like sweet treats. Think of chocolate, caramel, hazelnuts, vanilla or coffee. They are sweet scents, sometimes almost sweet with a lot of vanilla, tonka beans or caramelized sugar.

Fragrance family - chypre | Perfume Lounge

The so-called green scents in which the scent of grass, leaves, stems of plants or (oak)moss dominate. These perfumes energetic and crispy green to darker, mossier.

Fougere scents are spicy and aromatic. A classic Fougere often carries lavender, the coumarin smell of hay (synthetic or from tonka beans) and oakmoss.

A classic chypre is characterized by top notes of citrus, often bergamot; a full-floral heart, like jasmine and rose; and mossy, woody notes in the base, such as patchouli, oak moss, and labdanum.

The splendor and depth of all woods. Full earthy notes of, for example, sandalwood, cedar, palo santo, and guaiac wood. Then again more earthy by many patchouli, sometimes creamy by sandalwood, drier by cedar or saltier by vetiver.

Fragrance family - woody | Perfume Lounge

Leathery perfumes are reminiscent of dry woods, such as the smokiness of lightly burned wood, or for example of tobacco. Darker leather perfumes can be smokey, almost burnt (birch tar), animal (castoreum), salty, woody (oud) and balsamic (styrax).

Boozy fragrances bring you the sensorial pleasures of spirits, such as the sensual smell and warmth of whiskey, cognac, amaretto, or oppositely, the zesty kick of a minty Mojito.

Woody amber
Woody amber, formerly known as woody oriental, combines the best of woody scents, with soft, warm notes. Here flowers do not play a leading role, but wood notes dominate, such as sandalwood often accompanied by patchouli for an earthly character.

These perfumes are so different that we have given them their own fragrance family. Often, these scents do not smell immediately recognizable, not even like a perfume and are built with just a few ingredients. You would describe it more quickly as a hint, a more abstract scent.

If you like to learn more, have a look at our unique Perfume Profilings in which we map your comfort zone for all scent families and give you tailored advice.