The Fragrance Blog

The Ollfactory Families Explained

The Ollfactory Families Explained


The Ollfactory Families

Olfactory families are used to classify scents according to their main olfactory characteristic.

By knowing the olfactory families we can create a permanent bond that we are looking for when we choose “our” fragrance.

Eugène Rimmel was a French-born British perfumer and businessman, responsible for manufacturing and marketing some of the earliest commercially made cosmetics. This classification has now known as Olfactory Families.  At the beginning it consisted of seven olfactory families with French names in order to describe the most important trends of that time.

Every perfumes have a specific theme, that is their dominant note. Theme depends on the match between scents and the percentage of all elements. Therefore, it's exactly the theme that determines which olfactory family a perfume belongs to. All olfactory families are subdivided into olfactory subfamilies, depending on derivations and compositions of different essences.


The Fragrance Wheel

The Main Olfactory Families –

The Citrus Family

Citrus fruits are nature’s little bundles of zen, providing ideal aromatherapy for anxiety. The smell of citrus has a positive effect on the limbic system– a complex system of brain structure involved in coordination emotion, motivation, learning, memory and anxiety.

The definition of a citrus fragrance is that the main accord is made mainly of citrus fruits. The very fresh and dynamic citrus notes give the fragrance a "smile", meaning that they will be felt as soon as the first notes take flight, they are highly volatile.

Here are the main citrus fruits used in perfumery belonging to the citrus family: 

Bergamot which is favourite note, bergamot has a unique scent: it is also described as the "fine flower" of citrus, Communelle can be composed of green citrus fruits, or other more or less ripe citrus fruits. Communelle is also made for jasmine, Sweet Orange is exactly the same as that of orange juice, Orange Bigarade , Yuzu which is a Japanese lemon that has a delicious and very complex scent, Mandarin, this citrus fruit offers a big smile to the citrus fragrances, its scent is very sunny, green, Clementine, Lime, Lemon, Verbena & Grapefruit.

If you’re looking for a mood booster, surround yourself with the fragrance of Citrus!

The Floral Family

Floral scents evoke positive memories, recall feelings of happiness, romance and are proven morning mood enhancers.

In a study conducted by the Japanese construction company, Kajima Corporation on its employees , floral scents were released in the workplace in the late morning and early afternoon resulting in increased levels of concentration. (Smell Report, K.Fox).

The floral family is usually found in the Heart Notes of a fragrance. Floral scents are the most popular and most often used in women’s fragrance, and occasionally men’s as well. Floral scents usually smell like fresh-cut flowers or have a powdery note to them. Floral scents are perfect for the spring and summer. Essential oils may be extracted by flowers, such as jasmine, rose, lily of the valley, violet, turberose, ylang-yang, narcissus, and so on.

The Fougere Family

Some special elements, as lavender, different kinds of woods, oak moss, bergamot, coumarin and vetiver, produce this fragrance. This family consists mostly of perfumes for men. Fougere means ‘fern-like’ in French. Generally, fougere scents are very clean and natural smelling and are characterised by a dry, grassy, hay-like dry down. With a scent that’s both woody and fresh, fougere perfumes are very versatile.

The Wooded Family

Woody notes are the best notes for perfumes for men. Woody Fragrances include dry woody notes, such as cedar and vetiver, or soft woody notes, such as sandalwood or ambery woods.

Woody fragrances are characterized by aromatic or citrus head notes. In the heart you would typically find crisp, dry woody notes and dominant resin or wood are found in the base notes. Wood ingredients add richness, warmth, elegance and a depth to a fragrance and are key in fragrance making.

 Woody fragrances can be given a twist by adding fruity notes, florals, herbs and spices

The Oriental Family

Oriental fragrances tend to be warm, deep, and exotic. The Oriental Family is the group of sweety, chypre, very noticeable and persistent floral notes. This olfactory family includes patchouli, vanilla, cinnamon, amber, moss, exotic woods but also exotic flowers and spices.

The Leather Family

Distinctive scents, it evokes memories and positive feelings, and connects us to nature. As the name suggests, the olfactory leather family in perfume reminiscent of the smell of leather. It is composed of notes of tobacco, wood, leather. Common leather fragrances include Smoke, Tobacco,  Burnt Wood, Silver Birch &  Vetiver.