Perfume Families of Essential Oils
The different families of essential oil perfumes
The perfume industry has a great deal of specialized expertise in
creating commercial fragrances, and we can learn some tips on blending
essential oils from some of the classic perfume families. Although the
perfume industry also uses animal aromatics, such as civet, musk and
ambergris (which aromatherapists obviously never use), essential oils do
play a major role in perfumes.
The heart of the perfume industry is in Grasse in southern France, an
area that grows huge fields of lavender, other flowers and herbs.
Essential oils are distilled locally for use in making perfumes. Below
are some descriptions of perfume families, which include useful
information for blending essential oils.
Each perfume family has its own specific character and scent.
- Floral is the largest family and the scent is best described as
feminine, delicate and romantic. Floral essential oils, such as
lavender, ylang ylang, geranium and rose, form the base of these
perfumes, but other oils are also used (for example, citrus oils are
included in floral/fruity blends).
- Green fragrances evoke summer meadows and freshly mown grass. A
typical green perfume includes essential oils from herbs such as basil
and rosemary, and mosses, and might also include floral, woods, and
- Chypre fragrances are elegant, formal and sophisticated, and
typically include clary sage, oak moss and patchouli blended with
rich, deep floral and fresh citruses.
- The citrus family is based on citrus oils and the perfumes are
fresh, clean, light and youthful. Other essential oils in citrus
perfumes include lemongrass, verbena and palmarosa.
- Spicy fragrances are sharp, clean and deep, somewhat
unconventional and outgoing. The spice essential oils, such as clove,
black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon and nut meg, form the base of spicy
perfumes. Individual spice oils are used surprisingly often in other
- Amber-oriental perfumes are deep, heavy, mysterious, seductive and
exotic; they tend to be warm and long-lasting. Typically these
perfumes include sandalwood, cedarwood, frankincense, myrrh,
patchouli, vanilla and ambrette seed. Amber-oriental perfumes tend to
suit both men and women.