classi olfattive legnoso acquatico floreale olfatto naso alta profumeria scuola bonel botanicals

Discovering the Olfactory Families

This new week of the Bonel Botanicals blog will be very fragrant! In fact, we will talk about two very important topics in the world of perfumery such as the olfactory families and the olfactory pyramid.  

If before the purchase of a perfume was not this "big deal" after these readings you will be more aware of what lies behind a simple bottle, its complexity and beauty …you could discover a new passion or as in my case, simply become serial buyers of fragrances.  

Let's start today with the olfactory families.

famiglie olfattive bonel botanicals profumeria olfatto profumo scuola floreali legnose acquatiche

By olfactory family we mean the predominant note within a fragrance, there are many categories and they are constantly evolving thanks to a constant innovation in the study and use of raw materials. Let's see the main olfactory classes: 


  • Here the notes sparkling citrus predominate; citrus colognes have been in use since the end of the 1300s. The noblest component of this family is the bergamot, but there are also lemons, mandarins, bitter oranges, limes and many other citrus fruits. Citrus fragrances can be worn all year round to enjoy permanent freshness and cheerfulness, even if they reach their peak in spring and summer.  

note agrumate agrumi olfatto profumeria arancia limone bergamotto

Famous citrus fragrances are Pamplelune by Guerlain (1999), Roma by Laura Biagiotti (1988) and Eau d'Orange Verte by Hermès . Pamplelune Guerlain Roma Laura Biagiotti Eau d’Orange Verte Hermès profumi agrumati


  • Scents deriving from the world of flowers predominate: iris, lily of the valley, orange blossom, frangipani, jasmine, carnation and so many others that are beautifully enhanced within a fragrance. Over the years, chemists have devised ever more refined methods to collect the essence of flowers, achieving very high olfactory qualities.   

note floreali fiori mughetto rosa iris fiori bouquet

Among the floleari it is impossible not to mention Neroli Portofino by Tom Ford (2016), Diorissimo by Christian Dior (1956) and Trésor by Lancome. Neroli Portofino Tom Ford Diorissimo Christian Dior Trésor Lancôme note floreali fiori


  • Don't be fooled, this olfactory family is not typical of chypres (I bet many people have thought of the cloying smell of grandmother's face powder). The name of this family derives from the island of Cyprus, where Aphrodite was born and where in ancient times the use of perfume reached its peak. The essential formula of these perfumes is based on the use of labdanum, a viscous exudate of shrubs, combined with the use of bergamot and musk and other scents.

Chypres are not easy perfumes, they are enigmatic and typically androgynous fragrances.   

chypre cipro afrodite note olfattive muschio gelsomino

Two examples of chypre perfumes are Eau de Soir by Sisley (1990) and Y by Yves Saint Laurent (1964).

Eau de Soir Sisley Y Yves Saint Laurent profumi chypre muschio


  • Also known as boisé, this type of fragrance is based on the smell of wood such as sandalwood with its elegant and decisive notes or the oud with its arrogance and intensity. They are traditionally masculine and mystical fragrances, even if nowadays, thanks to the genderless phenomenon, many women love and use these perfumes.

boisè legno legnoso profumo boiserie fragranza note olfattive

Examples of woody fragrances are Black Afgano by Nasomatto (2009), Midnight Oud by Juliette Has a Gun (2009) and Rose d'Arabie by Armani Privé (2010). Black Afgano Nasomatto Midnight Oud Juliette Has a Gun Rose d’Arabie Armani Privè legno legnosi

  • Also called oriental: spices in perfumery give a sensual character and an oriental scent to the fragrance. Their use in perfumery, as well as their valuable trade is centuries old. We can find in this class perfumes containing notes of cinnamon, cloves, pepper, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, anise, saffron, cumin and curry. Usually they are opulent, full-bodied, pungent, tantalizing, deep perfumes and certainly do not go unnoticed.   

speziati orientali spezie cannella pepe curcuma peperoncino chiodi di garofano profumi note olfattive

Some examples of spicy perfumes are Coco by Chanel (1984), L'Eau by Diptyque (1968) and Opium by Yves Saint Laurent (1977).

Coco Chanel L’Eau Diptyque Opium Yves Saint Laurent speziati orientali profumi note spezie


  • Smell and taste are closely connected, so we shouldn't be surprised if at a certain point some noses thought of using hints of food in perfumes. Over the years we have witnessed a growing number of perfumes with gourmand and dessert-typical olfactory notes: chocolate, caramel, powdered sugar, coconut, vanilla and coffee.  

Currently we also find light gourmand fragrances that contain fruit or tea notes and are more refreshing and playful.   

gourmant gusto olfatto note profumo cioccolato zucchero a velo vaniglia

Angel by Thierry Mugler (1992), Vanisia by Creed (1987) and G by Gwen Stefani (2008) are all Gourmand fragrances.  

Angel Thierry Mugler Vanesia Creed G Gwen Stefani profumo gourmet cioccolato vaniglia gusto

Today the trend is to have more than one perfume in one's wardrobe and no longer just one for the whole year or for the whole life, but rather we own several perfumes, one for each occasion based on the season, the weather, our mood, our day...after all, who would wear the same clothes all year round? 

These are just some of the olfactory families that have survived to this day, but there are still many missing…stay with us, we will reveal the rest to you soon!

Federica Cosmast

Dr. Federica D'Incà - COSMAST Master in Cosmetic Science and Technology

“Every woman has the right to be beautiful” - Elizabeth Arden

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note that comments must be approved before being published.