HOW TO BUY SCENTED
Buying fragranced products is a personal experience. Tied closely to memory, it’s easy to know what you like – and what you really don’t – with one simple sniff. But how do you buy a product online that you need to smell to experience? We’ve put together a guide to selecting scented products from their descriptions that are on the nose.
THE FRAGRANCE WHEEL
Developed in 1983 by Michael Edwards, the Fragrance Wheel has been proven to be highly consistent with odour profiles and is a reliable tool in classifying and selecting scents.
The four fragrance families that form the Fragrance Wheel are Floral, Oriental, Woody and Fresh, and they whittle down into more specific scent families and sub groups. However, the entire business of scent is fairly complicated and specific, so we’ll be focusing on the basics for the purpose of choosing fragrance online.
IMAGE CREDIT: Fragrances of the World
The Floral scent category is the largest of the four families, and primarily caters to the female market. Floral fragrances tend to err on the side of romantic and feminine, and they include the following sub-categories:
Floral: Think fresh-cut flowers, like walking into a florist or stopping to smell a mixed bouquet. A floral fragrance can be either the scent of a single flower, or a harmonious blend.
Soft Floral: This group of floral is best described as musky or powdery and incorporates a lot of aldehydes. Chanel No. 5 is a classic Soft Floral fragrance.
Floral Oriental: The main notes of this group are orange blossom and sweet spices. It’s not as strong as the Oriental group, but still has a bit of spice that the rest of the floral family does not.
Oriental fragrances are known for their sensual warmth and richness due to the inclusion of spices, resins and heady floral notes. Vanilla, musk and resins (such as amber) dominate this fragrance family, and they make wonderful scents for an evening perfume or a home fragrance.
Soft Oriental: These fragrances are similar to Floral Oriental’s, but lean more to the oriental side of the spectrum by adding amber and spices such as cinnamon.
Oriental: Think warm, spicy, intense and rich, the classic Oriental fragrance is sexy and perfect for a night out as the heavier scents tend to have a longer hold than others. With more emphasis on spices, exotic flowers and vanilla, they also make great home scents for romantic nights in. There’s a reason Calvin Klein’s classic oriental fragrance Obsession is named as such.
Woody Oriental: This group is built over patchouli and sandalwood, with spices and flowers added to help soften the scent. Woody Oriental’s can be great unisex scents for the home as they have a lovely earthiness that balances the spiciness of the Oriental component. Chanel’s men’s cologne Allure Homme is a beautiful example of a Woody Oriental.
Woody scents are actually quite sensual and lean towards earthy notes such as oak moss, sandalwood and patchouli. They have a depth to them that warms nicely with the body, and they work wonderfully as autumn or winter scents, particularly as a home fragrance or a fresh hand wash.
Woods: Think warm yet fresh: patchouli, cedar and sandalwood combined with vetiver (quite a fresh ‘green’ scent) and pine.
Mossy Woods: Earthy and filled with oakmoss and amber, it’s like walking through a beautiful forest after rainfall.
Dry Woods: Dry woods tend to have a smokier aspect to them, like sitting in front of a fireplace on a wintry night. Leather, tobacco and citrus are key features in a Dry Woods scent.
Aromatic: Popular for men’s cologne’s, Aromatic fragrances have a spicy-grassiness to them and are quite clean and fresh.
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Fresh scents are just that: bright, clean and – fresh! They tend to be green, herbal, citrus, fruity or water-fragrances that are crisp and uplifting. They make wonderful everyday personal fragrances or great, clean-smelling hand washes.
Citrus: Fresh and bright, citrus based fragrances are light and tend not to last too long, making them great for summer. They are a great compliment to woodsy scents, and make excellent home fragrances after a spot of spring-cleaning.
Water: Produced using synthetic materials, water fragrances smell like fresh linen or cotton, waterfalls and sea breezes. Glasshouse’s Amalfi Coast is a great example of a water scented candle.
Green: Green scents are fresh and again, perfect for summer as they’re light and evoke nature. They tend to be paired nicely with woody scents, such as oakmoss and fig, and will probably remind you of freshly mown grass.
Fruity: Fruity scents are sweet and bright, and tend to cross over well into the Fruity-Floral spectrum of feminine scents.
Until the Internet finds a way to indulge each of our 5 senses, purchasing scents online will always be a subjective endeavour based on our own scent experiences.
In the mean time, test out your new skills with an online fragrance purchase. Candles are a great Christmas gift, and there are some beautiful, unique hand-poured candles coming out of Etsy.
Or do your nose and your clothes a favour with the Limited Edition Tangent Gin & Tonic Wash – a subtle juniper berry scent that will love your shirts as much as you do.