History,  Perfumes

The fragrance wheel

Have you ever used the fragrance wheel when looking to purchase a new scent? Many of us simply use our sense of smell to determine if we like a perfume or aftershave but the fragrance wheel allows us to visually see which fragrance notes sit in which category.

The fragrance wheel was created by Michael Edwards, a leading fragrance expert and consultant.

The fragrance wheel


He developed the wheel in 1983 as a visual representation to categorize and classify different types of fragrances based on their dominant scent characteristics. This would make it easier to find a scent under a specific category.

Michael Edwards is well-known in the perfume industry for his extensive knowledge and expertise in fragrances. His creation of the fragrance wheel has become a widely used tool in the world of perfumery, helping both professionals and consumers understand and appreciate the diverse range of scents available in the market.

Affiliate disclosure

This page contains affiliate links. Should you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive compensation.


How the fragrance wheel works


The wheel is divided into four main fragrance families or categories, which are further subdivided into subcategories.

Each section represents a different type of scent, and the relationships between the sections indicate how similar or dissimilar the fragrances are to each other. The main fragrance families are:

Perfume creation is a meticulous and artistic process that involves blending various aromatic ingredients to craft a harmonious and appealing scent.


Floral: This is the largest category and includes fragrances that primarily feature the scents of flowers. It is further divided into subcategories like Floral White (white flowers such as jasmine, tuberose, and lily of the valley), Floral Green (green and natural-smelling floral notes), and Floral Woody Musk (floral notes combined with woody and musky elements).

Oriental: This category is characterized by warm, exotic, and sensual scents. It is divided into Oriental Soft (light and powdery), Oriental Floral (floral with oriental base), and Oriental Woody (woody with oriental base).

Woody: Fragrances in this family feature predominantly woody scents. It includes subcategories like Woody Earthy (earthy and mossy), Woody Fresh (woody with a fresh and citrus touch), and Woody Oriental (woody with oriental base notes).

Fresh: This category consists of crisp, clean, and invigorating scents. It includes subcategories like Aromatic Fougère (herbal and fern-like scents), Citrus (citrus-based scents), and Water (aquatic and marine scents).

Each of these four main categories can be further divided into more specific subcategories, resulting in a comprehensive representation of different fragrance types. The fragrance wheel helps both consumers and perfume professionals to understand the aromatic composition of a fragrance and find scents that suit their preferences.

Fragrance creators and marketers also use the fragrance wheel to identify market gaps and trends, allowing them to develop new and innovative perfumes that cater to different consumer preferences.

Additionally, the fragrance wheel aids in creating harmonious blends by identifying complementary scents from different categories.

However, it’s essential to note that the fragrance wheel is just a guide, and some fragrances may not fit neatly into a specific category. Perfumes often feature a combination of scents from various families, making them unique and distinctive.

Nonetheless, the fragrance wheel remains a valuable tool in the perfume industry, facilitating communication and understanding among perfume enthusiasts and professionals alike.


As a distributor for a perfume company called FM World UK, I have used the fragrance wheel on many an occasion to help potential customers with choosing the right scent, especially if they are looking to try something new.


Men’s fragrance wheel                                                                          Women’s fragrance wheel



Sometimes we don’t automatically recognise which family a particular scent falls into so with the FM World wheel, we have a male and female side. There is an inner wheel with an arrow that can be moved to a designated fragrance family and then within that selection, we are able to see which perfume numbers fall within that fragrance family.

It is also worth remembering that it is best to try a perfume sample first before a purchase to ensure it suits your skin type and occasion.


A world of fragrances



Fragrances, also commonly known as perfumes or scents, have been an essential part of human culture for thousands of years. These aromatic compositions are created to evoke pleasant sensations and stimulate our olfactory sense.

Fragrances play a significant role in enhancing our personal identity, expressing emotions, and creating lasting impressions on others. Many of us have been wearing fragrances from an early age, and some, like myself, may have experimented with garden flowers when younger.

Related article: psychology of perfume

The history of fragrances dates back to ancient civilizations like Egypt, Mesopotamia and India, where aromatic oils and natural ingredients were used for religious rituals, therapeutic purposes and beautification.

As trade and cultural exchanges flourished, the art of perfumery spread to Greece and Rome, becoming an essential part of their societies.

The process of creating a fragrance, known as perfumery, involves blending various aromatic compounds to achieve a scent that is both appealing and balanced.

Perfumers use a combination of essential oils, aromatic extracts, synthetic molecules, and other ingredients to craft unique fragrances with different notes and accords.

These notes are categorized into three main types: top notes, middle notes (also known as heart notes) and base notes. The relationship of these notes over time creates the fragrance’s overall character and longevity.

Top notes are the initial, brief and temporary scents that you smell immediately after applying a fragrance. They are usually light and refreshing, often derived from citrus fruits or other bright and zesty elements.

Middle notes emerge after the top notes disappear and form the heart of the fragrance. They create the theme and personality of the scent, which can be floral, spicy, woody, or other distinctive accords.

Base notes are the foundation of the fragrance and provide depth and longevity. They typically consist of rich and robust ingredients like woods, musk, or vanilla. These notes will be the scent that will last through the duration of your perfume or aftershave and the ones that will sit on the skin for the longest time.

Fragrances can be classified into several categories, such as floral, oriental, woody, citrus and gourmand, among others. Each category has its own unique characteristics, making it suitable for different occasions, seasons, and personal preferences.

Over time, fragrances have evolved and perfumers continue to explore new ingredients and innovative techniques to create captivating scents.

The fragrance industry has also expanded to include various product forms, such as eau de parfum, eau de toilette, cologne, body sprays and scented lotions, catering for every individual and their needs.

Beyond personal use, fragrances have found their way into other industries, such as aromatherapy, where certain scents are believed to have therapeutic effects on mood and emotions.

Additionally, fragrances are used in household products, like candles and air fresheners, to create pleasant living spaces.

Related article: aromatherapy oils



Crafted by the expert hands of Michael Edwards, this ingenious tool has etched its mark on the perfume industry, simplifying the complexities of aromas and creating a shared language for enthusiasts, professionals, and consumers alike.

Sign up to our monthly newsletter for the latest news in the perfume world, tips on what to do with your used candles jars and more.

Leave a Reply