Your Guide to the Fragrance Wheel

So, you have noticed your partner or colleague is wearing a specific perfume and you are thinking about buying the exact product, even though you are not sure scent combinations. While it is easy to get the precise fragrance your friend has, it may not be what you are looking for. Even when you go to a perfume store, salespeople will only recommend what they prefer. Fortunately for you, a fragrance wheel has been created to help you blend scents you are drawn to.

A description of a fragrance wheel

If you studied artwork in school, you might have noticed that colors were grouped into a specific sequence. Colors such as red and orange were most likely to be next to each other. The same concept has been used to define the order in which the fragrances are laid out. Scents fall into specific families who are blended to form a unique fragrance.

Many versions of fragrance wheels have been in existence since the late 1940s. However, they were not as efficient as the modern version that was created by Michael Edwards in 1992. As more fragrance designers keep introducing new products, the wheel is slowly changing the way people perceive scents. Thanks to Edward’s initiative, sellers can now suggest scents to customers.

How will a fragrance wheel help you?

When you take a look at the wheel, you will notice it has four main families; floral, woody, fresh, and oriental. Each family has been divided into sub-groups to bring out the fragrance in detail. For example, floral scents are sub-divided into fresh cut flowers that can be combined with powdered notes to make you smell like a rose flower. It is advisable to combine one or two scent families for the best results instead of blending all of them at once.

Olfactory groups have different characteristics that help people to prefer one scent family over the other. Designers who have been coming up with new fragrances can help you determine which family or sub-division belongs to by smelling it. You will hardly find a product that is labeled with the scent family. Finding out which ingredients make up the scent is the only bet you have at getting what you desire.

The families


As the name suggests, the floral scent family smells like freshly-cut flowers that are used to create women’s fragrances. You will find them in variants of fruity, floral, soft-floral, and floral oriental scents. Good examples include Bloom by Gucci and Rockin’ Rio by Escada.


The herbal and spicy effect you have always felt when eating your meals or when taking specific medications can now be found in oriental family fragrances. When combined with amber or sweet notes, they can be used to create sub-families such as soft-oriental, woody oriental, and regular oriental scents. Typical oriental family notes include vanilla, myrrh, and anise. These scents are familiar with designer perfumes such as obsession by Calvin Klein and Joop by Joop!


If you are a fan of warm and opulent scents from fragrances such as sandalwood and patchouli, get a wood family fragrance. Most of them are combined with fresh notes such as citrus or floral, to create a woody and bitter aroma. Most men’s fragrances fall under this family, although you will also find it in women’s perfumes. Common examples include Polo by Ralph Lauren and Veiver by Carven.


Some people prefer the herbal or oceanic scent coming from a fresh scent family. This family is further sub-divided into aromatic, citrus, water, and green aromas. The “fresh” characteristic is what makes them more prevalent in men’s fragrances compared to women’s. They are combined with spicy notes and aromatic torn notes, to achieve a strong fragrance. Common designer perfume examples include Versace Man by Versace and Cool Water by Davidoff.

Now that you have learned the art of combining scents, walking up with a beauty counter will not be a problem. Combining relevant scents from specific families has become easy thanks to the aroma wheel. Whenever you want to try out a new combination of scents, refer to the wheel. That way, you will not have to spill out your secret ingredient to others. After all, having a unique smell is what everyone wants, right?