A Beginner's Guide to the Top Fragrance Families

Here is our guide to the most common fragrance families and their distinguishing characteristics. Knowing the fragrance families helps guide you towards scents you'll love and suits your taste.

What are Fragrance Families?

Fragrance families help communicate what a scent smells like and sets expectations for the fragrance's overall aroma.  Each family is dominated by signature notes. For example, the floral family smells predominantly floral while the oriental family smells resinous and slightly spicy.

Knowing fragrance families helps guide you towards scents you may enjoy based on the notes you like.

Explore the most common fragrance families


One of the most classic and enduring women's fragrance families, the floral fragrance family is characterized by sweet, delicate, and feminine floral notes.

Use: Floral fragrances are ideal for all occasions, but are especially suited to daytime, office or summer time wear.

Popular top notes: 

  • Rose - One of the most popular floral notes. Roses often smell fresh, sweet, sometimes powdery, with hints of fruit.
  • Jasmine - Known for its rich, warm, and intoxicating scent. Jasmine has an exotic aroma with sweet and floral nuances.
  • Cherry blossom - Features a soft, delicate, sweetly floral scent reminiscent of the flowering cherry tree.
  • Orchid - Orchid fragrances are sophisticated, yielding notes that range from citrusy to vanilla.
  • Lily of the valley - Fresh, delicate, and classically feminine floral scent that is clean yet sweet.


The oriental fragrance family features rich, warm, sweet scents often seasoned with spice. Oriental fragrances smell like:

  • Vanilla - Creamy, sweet vanilla is a signature oriental note. It smells dessert-like, cozy, and comforting.
  • Amber - Adds a smooth, slightly powdery warmth, like the scent of amber resin.
  • Spices - Gentle spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove provide a hint of heat and exotic allure.
  • Resins - Notes like labdanum, benzoin, and incense give a sweet, smoky, and resinous aroma.
  • Woods - Sandalwood, cedar, and patchouli provide an earthy, sensual depth.
Oriental top picks:


The wood fragrance family captures the robust, earthy aroma of both freshly cut wood as well as aged, polished wood. Here are some details on their characteristic scent profiles:

  • Cedarwood - This gives a dry, warm, and slightly balsamic aroma often described as pencil-shaving-like but more refined and subtle.
  • Sandalwood - One of the most prized woody notes, sandalwood is creamy and smooth with subtle hints of nuttiness and spice.
  • Driftwood - Smells like a day at the beach with notes of dried out salty wood against crisp ocean air.
  • Cypress - This coniferous wood has a fresh, cleansing aroma. It's slightly resinous and pine-like but greener.
  • Pine - The unmistakable sharp, crisp scent of fresh pine needles and pinecones from evergreen forests.
Woody top picks:


The fresh fragrance family captures clean, crisp, invigorating scents, often with aquatic or green notes. 

  • Citrus - Bright, energetic citrus notes like lemon, grapefruit, lime, and orange are common. Provide a burst of freshness.
  • Green - Green scents like cut grass, leaves, cucumber, or stems add a lush natural freshness.
  • Oceanic - Aquatic notes evoke the sea with cool, watery, salty, and sometimes briny accords.
  • Cucumber - The iconic fresh spa scent, crisp cucumber is cooling and watery.
  • Green Apple - A burst of tart, juicy apple with leafy green overtones screams fresh.
  • Herbal - Herbaceous notes like rosemary, basil, sage contribute an aromatic freshness.
Fresh top picks:

Prices checked as of 24 October 2023