How To Describe A Scent

We've all been there, 

"It smells like..."

"I know this smell, it's on the tip of my tongue..."

"You know that smell from the ..."

But you just can't seem to describe it perfectly. Well, here's a little something to help. 

 

The Fragrance Wheel 

This was created to help retailers suggest perfumes to consumers and was featured in The Fragrance Manuel back in 1992. We have to thank Michael Edwards for that!

This guide has been helping perfumers, retailers, or anyone within the fragrance industry for years. So how does it work? 

Each section shows the differences and similarities of the scents based on their relationship to each other. The 4 main families (Floral, Oriental, Woody, and Fresh) are very distinct. This is how you can first describe a particular scent or choose which scent category is right for you.

Next are the 14 sub-families. These are more precise descriptions of a scent based on one of the main groups. Each sub-family is slightly different from the next which helps perfumers create perfect aromatic blends and descriptions. 

Though the blending process takes a lot of skill, time, and knowledge. It can be as simple as the color wheel. Both colors and fragrances that are in the same family, or are complimentary, are appealing to us.

Here's how to break it down: 

Floral Notes

Floral Oriental - Flowers + Spices 

Soft Floral - Powdery + Sweet

Floral - Flowers 

Fruity - Sweet   

These smell like flowers, sweet fruits, or may have a hint of powder. They are the most common notes used in feminine fragrances and are the most desired. 

 

Oriental Notes

Soft Oriental - Spices + Minimal Flowers

Oriental - Sweet + Warm 

Woody Oriental - Earthy, Spicy + Sweet

These are typically spicy, exotic, seductive notes. They can be slightly powdery, heavy, and dry. 

 

Woody Notes

Woody - Ferns, Forrest + Earthy

Mossy Wood - Sweet, Smooth + Earthy

Dry Wood - Smokey + Leather 

Aromatic - Clean, Fresh + Earthy

These are your warm, rich notes. Obviously woody, but can be slightly bitter. They are found more in masculine scents. 

 

Fresh Notes

Aromatic - Clean + Fresh 

Citrus - Zesty + Tangy

Water - Aquatic, Ocean + Rain 

Green - Fresh, Leaves + Grass 

Fruity - Zesty, Tart, Sweet 

These are citrusy, herby, fruity, oceanic, zesty notes. They are also found more in masculine fragrances. 

 

You can see that Fruity, Woody, and Aromatic cross into two main families, this is due to the fact that certain scents can sway more to one family than the other. For example, Floral-Fruity would be considered raspberry or melon while Fresh-Fruity would be lemon, lime or bergamot. 

 

Here's a simple way to classify our current scents

Bloom: Floral - Fruity, Floral, Soft Floral

Pure: Floral + Oriental - Floral Oriental, Soft Oriental, Oriental, Woody Oriental

Allure: Oriental, Woody + Fresh - Soft Oriental, Woody, Citrus

Tiki: Fresh - Fruity + Citrus

 

 

Resources:

https://www.fragrancex.com/blog/fragrance-wheel/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Edwards_(fragrance_expert)

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