The easiest and fastest way to find the perfect fragrance for you is by knowing which scent family of perfumes best matches your taste. As we already explained in our article How to Choose the Right Perfume for You! knowing all the families, you will likely find that only one or at most two of them will fit your body and personality. We cannot also forget the importance of knowing the difference between Parfum , Eau de Parfum, Eau de Toilette and Eau de Cologne, categories that are directly linked to the density of the composition (which determines whether the fragrance is stronger or weaker).

Anyway, if you’ve already found your perfect perfume, it’s interesting to know which olfactory family it belongs to, so you can try others from the same family and maybe discover other fragrances that you like.

The classification of perfumes in olfactory families as presented below was made by the American perfume specialist Michael Edwards, known as Expert of Perfume Experts , created in 1992 and illustrated in the Perfume Wheel. It is assumed that all perfumes, or their overwhelming majority, have olfactory notes that can be separated into 4 large groups, and these in turn are separated into 14 smaller groups, all called olfactory families.

Below we list all 14 olfactory families and their descriptions, based on the free translation of the Wheel of Perfumes, with all rights and merits reserved to its creator Michael Edwards:


Floral Subfamily

The ‘headspace’ technology has given perfumers an avalanche of exciting new floral notes. Ela Floral has always been, and still is, the most popular fragrance family. His repertoire is vast, ranging from concertos with a single floral note to powerful symphonies of powerful blends of bouquets of flowers.

Each year new and unusual notes are found, revitalizing the traditional floral theme allows them to identify and clone the essence of flower oil that cannot be extracted by any traditional method.

Example: Gabriela Sabatini Female, by Gabriela Sabatini

Soft Floral Subfamily

The marriage of sparkling aldehydes and delicate flowers creates the family of gentle florals. Aldehydes are found naturally in roses and citrus oils, but in large amounts they need to be recreated in the laboratory. Their natural essence is not pleasant: some have a strong and metallic smell, others burnt, with the aroma of a recently extinguished candle. The soprano notes of the aldehydes are muted by spraying iris and vanilla accents to create a fragrance that is soft and flowery. However, add flowers and they will sing magically and subtly.

Example: 212 Women, by Carolina Herrera


Oriental Floral Subfamily

Softly, spicy orange flower notes are fused with spicy aldehydes and sweet spices to create the heart of the Floral Oriental scent. Born in the 1900s, the Floral Oriental family came back to life in the 1970s. In the past decade, vivid and fruity interpretations have dominated the Oriental Floral category, but recently perfumes have been developed a little more subtly, with the personality muted.

Example: La Vie Est Belle Feminino, by Lancôme

Mild Oriental Subfamily

Incense adds sensual undertones to fragrant flowers, spices and amber create a softer Oriental style. The base notes of the modern Oriental Suave are not as sweet or as heavy as a true Oriental aroma and the result (a mix of flowers and spices) is clearly softer.

Example: Female Opium, Yves Saint Laurent

Oriental subfamily

Oriental notes are the exotic queens of perfumery. Sensual, often heavy, blends of oriental resins, upolent flowers, sweet vanilla and musk are introduced (top/head notes) by notes from the large family of Fresh notes, especially the Citrus, Green and Fruity sub-families. A new ‘turn’ of Oriental notes gained some space in the 1990s, but the appeal of the full-bodied, ‘take-no-prisioners’ (relentless) Oriental lingers.

Example: The One Sport Men, by Dolce & Gabbana

Subfamily Oriental Woody

The combination of rich oriental notes and the potent essences of patchouli and sandalwood produced some of the most original perfumes of the 1990s. This family emphasizes the woody characters of the Oriental Floral family of notes. The key difference is that the flowers and spices of this Oriental Floral family are secondary to the dominant notes of sandalwood and/or patchouli. The oriental influence is also more noticeable, and is balanced by the deep woody notes.

Example: 1 Million Men, by Paco Rabbane


Woody Subfamily

Lately, perfumers have been rediscovering a lot of woody notes, so it makes sense to distinguish classic notes from those found in perfumes from the Woody Moss/Chypre family. Classic woody essences are dominated by harmonies of cedar, patchouli, pine, sandalwood and vetiver, but the new palette of exotic woody notes (often copied by headspace technology) has wonderfully stimulated creativity in this neglected fragrance category.

Example: Ferrari Black Men, from Ferrari

Subfamily Woody Moss

Perfumers call these forest notes Chypre oak moss, Chypre amber and Chypre citrus. The family takes its name from the first and significant Woody Moss fragrance, called Chypre de Coty, created by François Coty in 1917. Chypre is the French name for the island of Cyprus, birthplace of Venus, the legendary goddess of love. From Cyprus, too, comes the oakmoss that is at the heart of all Cyprus perfumes.

Example: Animale For Men Male, by Animale

Dry Woody Subfamily

The Dry Woody olfactory family is usually called Leather, based on the dry, smoky essence of Russian leather. They are perfumes similar to Woody Musgo but with the characteristic of dry, with the addition of notes of cedar, tobacco and burnt wood. Notes from the fresh family play an important role in most Dry Woody perfumes, highlighting the deep, almost animalic heart notes.

Example: The Golden Secret Male, by Antonio Banderas


Subfamily Aromatic Fougère

This is the universal perfume family, with warm and sexy notes of citrus and lavender, sweet spices and oriental woods. It takes its name from a fragrance that has long ceased to be produced: Fougère Royale, introduced by Houbigant in 1882. Men grew up with Fougères. Most prominent men’s fragrances developed from the mid-1960s onwards came from this olfactory family. Its spicy elements make men feel comfortable. Most women also find the mix of fresh, floral, oriental and woody notes appealing. It’s a winning combination.

Example: Men’s Bleu, by Chanel

Citrus subfamily

From the flavor of lemons, tangerines, bergamots, oranges and grapefruits come the citrus oils that lend these perfumes their distinctive, spicy aromas.

Over time, floral, peppery and woody notes have transformed the light, refreshing eau de cologne into real fragrances. A new generation of musk and tea essences add an interesting dimension to the old perfume family.

Example: Ck One Unisex, by Calvin Klein

Aquatic subfamily

Infused with the scent of the gentle sea breeze, marine notes were created in 1990. The first aquatic notes captured the scent of moisture in the air after a storm. Today, aquatic notes are most often used as an essence to enliven floral, oriental and woodsy scents.

Example: Ralph Lauren Men’s Blue Polo

Green subfamily

Greenhouse Demeter Fragrance LibraryPerfumes from the olfactory family of Green notes capture the sharp essence of freshly cut grass and violet leaves. Green ByredoDespite the outdoor imagery, the impact of the classic resinous galbanum accord is so potent that many green perfumes have a formal rather than sporty personality. In recent years, a palette of softer and lighter green notes has given this fragrance family a refreshing appeal.

Example: Women’s Green, by Byredo Parfuns

Fruity Subfamily

Peaches and pears, apples and plums. A tropical fruit twist. Aromas of strawberry, raspberry and fruits of all kinds. Add a splash of flowers to create a family of fruity drinks that smell delicious.

Example: Diesel® Fuel For Life Women, by Diesel

Now that you know each of the olfactory families and their main characteristics, it will be easier to decide where to start your choices.