Create your own perfume with the Fragrance Wheel and Olfactory Families

Create your own perfume with the Fragrance Wheel and Olfactory Families

fragrance wheel olfactory pyramid

Besides the olfactory pyramid, another immediate and handy tool for classifying and/or composing your own perfumes is the Fragrance Wheel.

The latest version of the Fragrance Wheel dates back to 1992 and is attributed to the fragrance historian and taxonomist Michael Edwards, an authority in the perfume industry.

His guidebooks and manuals like "Fragrances of the world" soon became a reference point not only for insiders but also for anyone who wants to approach the world of fragrances for the first time.

Perfumes and olfactory families

Although each perfume is different from the others, different fragrances share common traits that connect them to a particular olfactory family.

According to the classification of Société Française des Parfumeurs, later revised by Eugene Rimmel in 1984, the official olfactory families are:

  • Citrus or Hesperidic, consisting of Mediterranean notes, such as lemon, bergamot, tangerin, cedar, orange, lime and grapefruit.

  • Floral. These scents can be extracted from a single flower or from a bouquet of different flowers. The most used ingredients are rose, jasmine, lily, but also iris, frangipani and ylang ylang.

  • Woody: warm and intense fragrances mostly for men (feminine scents mix woody notes with citrus or floral ones) that smell of dry or soft woods like cedarwood, vetiver and sandalwood.

  • Fougère: masculine fragrances named after Fougère Royale, the famous perfume created in 1882 by the French perfumer Paul Parquet for Houbigant. It includes warm woody and slightly floral notes, with a base of lavender, geranium, vetiver, oakmoss and coumarin and a fresh citrus touch to get more vibrant compositions.

  • Chypre: intense and enveloping powdery fragrances. Like Fougère, this family is named after the perfume created in 1917 by François Coty. The purpose of the French master perfumer was to recreate the atmosphere of the island of Cyprus, a luxury holiday destination and a place of import of oak moss. In fact, this is one of the basic ingredients of Chypre fragrances, along with labdanum, patchouli, bergamot and floral notes like rose or lavender.

  • Oriental or Amber with patchouli, vanilla, musk, amber and spices: a family of sensual male and female fragrances that reminds exotic and oriental atmospheres.

  • Leather or Mossy. These are intense and dry notes of leather and tobacco, often used in combination with floral head notes.

  • Aromatic: fresh fragrances mostly for men, that recall natural atmospheres in the open air. The main ingredients, in fact, include Mediterranean aromatic herbs like lavender, rosemary and basil, but also slightly spicy notes such as peppermint, anise and red tea, that perfectly blend with marine notes for a more energetic effect.

Therefore Fragrance Wheel aims to simplify and link different olfactory families, highlighting their common points in a simple and immediate way.

According to Edwards, fragrances can be divided into four main classes: floral, oriental, fresh and woody.

Since each class is divided into other subcategories, we can distinguish 14 overall olfactory families, differing from one another for a specific olfactive tone.

How to make a personalized perfume with the Fragrance Wheel

The Fragrance Wheel classification is very useful for the preparatory phase which comes before the creation of a new fragrance. The contiguous fragrance classes on the wheel shares certain olfactory notes. Knowing the relationships between classes and trying different combinations, it’s possible to achieve a harmonic and balanced olfactory composition. The arrangement of classes on the wheel clearly shows how each fragrance best blends together the preceding or the following one.

But let's discover the 14 fragrance families or olfactory notes which are arranged along the Fragrance Wheel.

Floral notes

Most of feminine fragrances include floral notes blended in bouquets with different flowers or concentrated around a single flower.

A further classification distinguishes:

  • Pure Floral notes

  • Soft-floral notes: mellow and powdery scents like rose, iris and aldehydes

  • Floral-orientals notes, which combine flower scents with sweet and spicy oriental notes.

Woody notes

In this olfactory family we can find:

  • Woody notes: sandalwood, cedarwood, patchouli and other aromatic woods

  • Mossy-woods notes like amber and oakmoss, which smell like earth and musks with an exotic touch

  • Dry-woods notes: sharp and unmistakable scents such as leather or tobacco.

Fresh notes

Fresh notes reminds green and flourishing nature but also the smell of the sea and fresh air. These extremely energetic and fresh notes connect Woody notes and Floral ones on the Fragrance Wheel and can be divided into:

  • Aromatic notes: lemon, lavender, herbs and oriental woods

  • Citrus notes: lemon, bergamot, tangerine and orange

  • Water notes: obtained by the synthesis of odorous molecules like Calone, they have a fresh aroma of pure air or salt water

  • Green notes of freshly cut grass, violet or Galbano, that combine perfectly with other floral notes

  • Fruity notes of apple, pear and peach, but also berries and tropical fruits.

Oriental notes

Oriental notes complete the Fragrance Wheel with sensual, sweet and spicy scents. They are intense, warm and enveloping notes, widely used both in feminine and masculine fragrances. Proceeding from the side of the Floral notes, we can find:

  • Floral-oriental notes, such as orange blossom and sweet spices

  • Soft-oriental notes, soft and enveloping, like amber, incense and most of spices

  • Pure Oriental notes: flowers, resins, incense and vanilla

  • Woody-Oriental notes, which include sandalwood and patchouli.

It will now be clear how, moving along the wheel, you can play with the most original combinations to discover new fragrances. For example, you might add a spicy note to a floral scent to get a sweet but exotic fragrance. Otherwise we could mix citrus or floral notes like lemon or lavender to give freshness to a woody composition.

Knowing ingredients and olfactory families can help you not only to best classify fragrances but mainly to choose your favorite one. For all its perfumes, Tailor Made Fragrance provides ingredients, olfactory pyramid and family to help you get a unique fragrance tailored to your needs.

Tailor Made Fragrance offers a wide choice of feminine and masculine fragrances which are perfect for all tastes, even for the most demanding, and the opportunity to complete your perfume with a personalized and tailor-made packaging.

Discover the fresh and bold notes of The Man, a perfect mix of Mediterranean citrus notes and typical male aromatic and woody notes. A balanced composition that begins with bergamot, lemon and rosemary, then meets heart notes of lavender, patchouli and sandalwood, and finally comes to a base harmony of leather, amber and vetiver. A refined and timeless male fragrance, which reminds Dior's Eau Savage.

Among the many feminine perfumes provided by Tailor Made Fragrance you can find The Rise, which belongs to oriental-floral and woody family. Its citrus and floral notes like tangerine, ginger and saffron meet an oriental and slightly spiced heart with nutmeg, cinnamon and almond, along with woody and white chocolate base notes.
These ingredients, which can be found in famous perfumes like
Bulgari Omnia, make The Rise a precious, vibrant and enveloping fragrance that awakens senses and dresses a curious and cosmopolitan woman.

The Water, belonging to the aquatic-floral family, is perfect as ambient or home fragrance. Like Hermès Jardin En Mediterranée, it combines citrus head notes, a heart of oleander and orange blossom, and cypresses, moss and juniper base notes. This aquatic and floral harmony, fresh and energetic, evokes feelings of tranquillity and the scents of a timeless Mediterranean island.

Find the perfect fragrance for your brand with the Discovery Fragrance Kit


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