Perfume 101 Fragrance Families

Published on July 9th, 2013 | by The Perfume Expert

Fragrance Families

When starting your journey into perfume, you will start to hear/read fragrances referred to as being “Chypre”,  “Oriental”, “Fruity-Floral”, ect. These terms are called Fragrance Families. A Fragrance Family is a term used to denote particular groupings of scent notes. Notes that are either similar or complementary are grouped into a Fragrance Family which can then be used to easily label a particular perfume.

The most common Fragrance Families are:


Can be either single floral notes (called Soliflores) or floral bouquets. Floral scents range from delicate Spring-like floral combinations like Orange Blossom and Lilac, to strong heady florals like Gardenia and Rose. These fragrances can be quite girly and feminine but also can be quite mature, regal, and beautiful.  Floral fragrances usually smell very romantic and pretty.

Florals can also be combined with citrus notes to make lighter fresher florals called Citrus Florals. Or they can be combined with spicy oriental notes to make Oriental Florals.

Sometimes florals are considered Powdery-Florals (which can smell similar to baby powder). A scent you could wear everyday but also on special occasions like on a date or on your wedding day.  An example of a classic Floral bouquet scent is Chloe by Chloe and example of a Soliflore would be Christian Dior’s Diorissimo. A soft Powdery-Floral is Esprit D’Oscar by Oscar De La Renta.


Evokes rich and spicy scents. Usually including warm spices, resins, and rich opulent florals. Notes of Cinnamon, Cloves, Amber, Resin, and Incense evoke candlelit moments of deep inspiration or carnal seduction.

Included in this family are Oriental-Florals that involve combinations of more heady flower notes and spices making for a more easy wearing oriental fragrance without being overpowering as Orientals are alone.

In addition, Woody-Orientals are common, combining woods/moss notes with spices and resins for a deep earthy scent. Oriental fragrances are sultry, mysterious, and seductive. A fragrance you’d wear at night, perhaps draped in velvet at a masquerade ball. One of the best known Oriental fragrances is one by Guerlain called Shalimar. Another example is Opium by Yves Saint Laurent.


Used to describe Green, Herbal, Citrus, Aqua, and Fruity families. Fresh fragrances are said to smell uplifting, clean, crisp, zingy and effervescent.  Notes of Grass and stem are common Green notes evoking the smell of your Dad mowing the lawn on a dewy summer morning. Hermes’ Un Jardin Sur Le Toit is an excellent example of a Green fragrance.

Herbs like Rosemary, Mint, and Tarragon are often used in fresh Herbal fragrances which lead to an natural and fresh green scent. A fragrance you’d wear on a day out on the lake or while wandering around the farmer’s market. A well-known Herbal scent that also includes Citrus notes is O de Lancôme

Lemon and Grapefruit are some of the effervescent notes used in Citrus scents evoking nose-tingling energy boosters. A fragrance for early mornings and anytime you want to impart some sunshine into your life. The most popular citrus fragrance is CK One.

Aqua scents are dewy, wet, and may include salt water notes and even Cucumber.  Aqua scents evoke fresh rain, ocean waves, and clear forest streams. A fragrance perfect for after a run in the park, or for spritzing in the mid-day sun of a hot Summer’s day. Calvin Klein Eternity Aqua is a unique example of an Aqua scent using Cucumber.

Fruity scents can either involve tart berries or lush tropical fruit. These smell like beach holidays, fruity cocktails, and juicy fruit. A fragrance you’d put on for a girl’s night out, on vacation, or simply when you feel in a fun mood. One thing that is becoming increasingly popular in the perfume industry are Fruity-Florals, where juicy fruit notes are combined with pretty florals creating a very flirty and young scent. A perfect example of a Fruit-Floral is Dot by Marc Jacobs.


Woody fragrances are considered to be earthy scents including notes of wood, Moss, dirt and damp leaves. The smell of a dense forest or the smell of a roaring fire at the cabin. These notes evoke a very confident, serious, and grounded scent experience. The kind of scent  you’d wear to an important board meeting. Estee Lauder makes a mainstream Woody fragrance called Sensuous. Or Prada makes a rich Woody scent in Prada Ambre.


Chypre is another name for mossy woody scents and some use the term to replace the “woody” category above. But others keep it as its own category because it focuses usually more specifically on mossy notes mixed usually with citrus notes. Combinations of notes like       Bergamot, Oak moss, and especially Patchouli are considered chypre.  In fact, most of the time when you see Patchouli listed as a note, it means it’s a Chypre scent. Chypre fragrances are for the serious and classic woman. A woman who means business. Mitsouko by Guerlain is the most famous Chypre. But a modern version of a Chypre is Miss Dior.


This is an interesting olfactory group specifically for scents that smell citrusy and floral.  Aldehydes refers to synthetic/man-made chemical components that when combined with florals give a more metallic, sharp, citrus zing to the fragrance. Sometimes you will see the fragrance described as a Floral-Aldehyde; which simply means floral notes combined with Aldehydes. The most famous Aldehyde fragrance in the world is Chanel No.5. But a more  modern Aldehyde is Estee Lauder’s Pure White Linen.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

The Perfume Expert is an online Perfume Blog, Beauty Blog and Skincare Blog all rolled into one so you can stay looking good, smelling nice and feeling great all in one place! Written by an expert you can trust, I provide you with Perfume reviews, Best Perfumes, Beauty reviews and Makeup trends that are all written with passion and an eye for excellence.

Back to Top ↑