What Do Citrus Fragrances Actually Smell Like?

What is a citrus fragrance?

“Thomas, AKA The Candy Perfume Boy, is explaining everything you need to know about fragrance families. From chypre to fougere, after reading this blog series you’ll be an expert in the different types of olfactive groups.”

Unlike chypre or fougere, which are unusual words, the citrus genre (sometimes referred to as the hesperides) is much more self-explanatory. As you’d expect, this fragrance family consists of those based on citrus fruits, with oils extracted from their peels. There are, of course, natural and synthetic citrus materials, both of which are used in harmony to create vivid, naturalistic representations of fruit. Because of their more volatile nature, citrus materials evaporate quicker – they bring freshness and are typically used as top notes, creating vibrancy and impact on the first spray. 

To help you navigate this essential genre, I have picked out four fragrances that show just how diverse and intriguing citrus notes can be. From the beauty of bergamot to the luscious nature of lime, this edit outlines the juiciest, the freshest and the most dazzling fragrance genre of them all: the citruses!


#1 Bergamot

Citrus Fragrances: Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Bergamotto di Calabria

Bergamot is one of the most prevalent citrus notes in perfumery, and when you smell it, it’s easy to see why. Bergamot has a wonderfully versatile and joyfully pleasant character. Much like a lemon, but with a greener peel, bergamot has a sweet, glistening odour that is fresh and hazy. It’s juicy, tart and acidic, of course, but bergamot also has a delicate floral quality that makes it a perfumery staple. Just smell some Earl Grey tea, and you’ll get but a whiff of the deliciousness of this beautiful Italian fruit. Bergamot is best shown in Acqua di Parma’s Blu Mediterraneo Bergamotto di Calabria, which pays tribute to Calabrian Bergamot in its full, dazzling glory.

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Discover more of my favourite bergamot perfumes in this edit.


#2 Lime

Citrus Fragrances: Juliette Has a Gun Moscow Mule

Lime, oh lime, oh, lime! What a wonderful citrus fruit you are. Is there anything more delicious and mouthwatering than a lime? I think not. When you smell lime, you think of refreshment – of crisp mojitos and slices of fruit fizzing in glasses of Coca Cola.

Juliette Has a Gun’s Moscow Mule amps up the deliciousness of lime, pairing it with ginger, bergamot and transparent musks to create a wearable version of the famous cocktail. Moscow Mule is proof that all perfumes should be served with a generous twist of lime.

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#3 Grapefruit

Citrus Fragrances: Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune

Where lime and bergamot are easy, palatable fruits, grapefruit is a bit more tricky. Grapefruit is divisive and for the connoisseur. It is bitter and acidic, verging on the acerbic with its funky, sulphuric aspects. But while this may sound a bit scary, there is something addictive about the contrast of juicy sweetness and bitter acidity in grapefruit. In Guerlain’s Pamplelune, the reference grapefruit fragrance, the note is presented icy cold with dark, earthy patchouli to intensify the fizziness. Pamplelune is so unusual, so strange, yet so familiar. It’s grapefruit, yes, but perhaps not as you know it!

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#4 The Ultimate Citrus Cocktail

Citrus Fragrances: Miller Harris Lost in the City

The best thing about citrus notes, however, is how well they work together. More often than not you will find a veritable cocktail of citruses in your fragrance, with each one playing off each other (and other notes, such as spices, florals and woods etc.) to create something exciting and new. Lost in the City by Miller Harris is an excellent example of a citrus cocktail that is more than the sum of its parts. Rich with bergamot, blackcurrant, rhubarb and rose petals, Lost is a juicy, fizzy and vibrant fragrance with a perky demeanour. The perfect companion to get lost with, I think.

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Lost in the City is a part of the Forage Collection; read my review of the range here.


Discover More:

There’s more! Read the previous instalments of the series below…

• What is a Chypre Perfume?

What is a Fougere Fragrance?

What is a Floral Perfume?

• What is a Fruity Perfume?

• What is a Solar Perfume?

• What is a Citrus Perfume?

What is a Gourmand Perfume?

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