The Beauty of Fragrance feat. The use of Fragrance Wheel

I feel that my English is rather limited when it comes to beauty products. After doing a few product reviews I noticed that I kept on using the same few words such as sweet, floral, minty and fresh, when the products are clearly different. So I decided to educate myself on some fragrance charts in order to make my reviews better. There are a lot of these charts out there, so it can easily get complicated. I will post a few here just to get a feel of how the world of fragrance works. When it comes to beauty products, I believe the sense of smell is the hardest to describe through texts. The senses of sight and touch (texture) can be expressed through images, but the senses of taste (only apply to edible lip products) and hearing can often be ignored. We are then left with the sense of smell which plays a big roll in beauty products. Have you ever bought something simply because it smells amazing? I know I have and it happens all the time! I am describing the smells of my beauty products as fragrances as I believe the smell of perfumes can be directly applied to creams and lotions.

The Fragrance Wheels

The Original 1983 Fragrance Wheel by Michael Edwards

The Original 1983 Fragrance Wheel by Michael Edwards

The 2010 Fragrance Wheel with Examples

The 2010 Fragrance Wheel with Examples

The 2010 Fragrance Wheel with Descriptions

The 2010 Fragrance Wheel with Descriptions

The first diagram is simply called the (original) Fragrance Wheel and was developed by Michael Edwards in 1983, but has since then been updated to include fruity and woods, as shown in the second and third diagrams. I find this wheel very straight forward and easy to related to; simple use of words and good colour coded family distinctions. This Wheel is the most common way of describing and categorising fragrances.

Drom Fragrance Circle

Drom Fragrance Circle
However, if you like the complicated version, there’s always something called Drom’s Fragrance Circle which came out in 1911 way before the simplified and most used Fragrance Wheel.

The Fragrance Notes

The Fragrance Notes
Other than describing the fragrances in families, they can also be describes as notes. This is very well explained by The Fragrance Shop

Fragrances in Musical Notes

Fragrances in Musical Notes: George William Septimus Piesse Notes of Scents
George William Septimus聽Piesse Notes of Scents

Alternatively, fragrances can also be captured as musical notes as suggested by Piesse. The smells on the treble and base clefs are very specific, so this chart might be useful when describing distinct and unique smells.

I have not made any of these diagrams, they are found through Google search engine. I simply gathered the diagrams which had the best quality and looked most interesting. My future posts beauty product review will refer to these charts as inspirations. Hopefully, this will add more value to the upcoming posts. Feel free to use these charts as well when describing the “smell” of something. 馃檪


  1. July 9, 2013 / 10:31 pm

    Hi Olivia, this is fantastic! Thank you for sharing this. You know beauty can be analogous to so many things. I love the way that the first few diagrams make me think of the color wheel (color theory is something I'm trying to become more familiar with especially as it pertains to makeup art), and then that diagram where the fragrance notes have been compared to musical notes. These are certainly ideas that beauty bloggers should learn more about and reflect upon in order to give more in-depth descriptions of products. And yes, I have definitely become addicted to the scent of my creams before!! My favorite cleanser became my favorite because of its sweet intoxicating scent. I would describe it as… green and fruity.

    • July 9, 2013 / 11:29 pm

      Haha, I do agree with you there. There's so much more to beauty product reviews than what's on the surface! It's like a complete study where you have to take a closer look into the packaging design, the scent, the colours and the complex theories behind it! 馃檪 x

  2. February 5, 2014 / 6:22 pm

    Hi, How did you get the Fragrance Circle from DROM/ Are you certain about the 1911 date of publication?

    Paul Kiler
    PK Perfumes

  3. February 5, 2014 / 6:23 pm

    Ooops, forgot to check the box to notify me…