Geraniums smell green floral with lemon and rose undertones. It is often described as a masculine rose scent. Spicy undertones such as peppermint and bergamot are also distinguishable in the smell of geranium.
One of the most popular types of geranium is Pelargonium Graveolens. Its distinguishable sweet scent makes it widely appealing in cosmetics and perfumery. This type of geranium together with other species is used to create a clean scent drydown. Whenever a geranium essential oil settles, its sharp green floral scent that resembles roses turns a bit mellow and it starts to smell clean, almost like soap.
The complexity of the geranium scent
There are more than 70 known types of geranium. All of them smell similar but also distinct. Scented Leaf Geranium or Pelargonium Graveolens is a popular type that is used in gardens and perfumery. Depending on its growing region, this geranium smells generic with mint, lemon, and rose influences. But it can even come with chocolate undertones to add complexity to the smell.
Perfumes can use different types of geranium depending on the notes they plan to use this scent with. For example, if a perfumer wants this classic geranium scent but with no traces of sweet or bitter chocolate, Pelargonium Geranium or Lemon Fancy is the way to go. This type of geranium smells purely floral and citrusy.
In perfumery, this can switch the composition of ascent. A lemony or bergamot-smelling geranium is ideal for spring and summer perfumes. A geranium that also smells like chocolate would work well with fall colognes.
How to learn the smell of geranium yourself
You can smell geranium petals to get a first impression of how it smells like. Geranium blossoms in the spring, summer, and fall seasons so it wouldn’t be too difficult to find the flower in a garden or flower shops.
Another way to tell how geranium smells is by rubbing its petals in your palms. This technique tends to bring out the hidden pepper undertones of the geranium smell. Many people who say geranium smells peppery are typically rubbing its leaves in their hands. This can also bring out the earthy undertones of the leaves a bit more and it might help you differentiate the smell of geranium from the smell of rose.
This is how the geranium smell and essential oils are used in perfumes
Since it has a herbal scent profile rather than a full floral profile, the linear scent of geranium is widely used in masculine fragrances. It can be used to reinforce or to help enrich rose notes but it can also be used.
The mint-smelling types of geranium flowers are widely used in classic men’s colognes. That specific hard-to-forget barbershop scent is typically infused with geranium notes, either from natural or synthetic oils.
A few generally recognized characteristics of geranium (not based on science)
The versatility of geranium has placed it among the most debated scents in perfumery. Its scent has been widely popular in Fougere perfumes (mainly for men) where its geranium blends well with aromatic scents such as lavender and mint.
· Geranium smells a bit nostalgic
Most think geranium smells a bit nostalgic. Perfumes with intense geranium notes are generally regarded as a bit old-school. The scent of your grandmother’s garden comes to mind as does the scent of your grandfather’s cologne. At the same time, geranium can smell modern and seductive, especially when mixed with rose.
· Geranium smells like rose
Certain varieties of geranium smell a lot like a rose. This is why they are even often marketed as rose scents in perfumes when they’re geranium scents. Most importantly, geranium scents blend well with rose where they have a supporting role. Equal parts geranium and equal parts rose smell more like the latter.
Geranium’s molecule breakdown explains why this flower smells like a rose and why so many people associate it with citrus scents.
Citronellol is found in high amounts both in geranium and in roses. This is why these two flowers are so similar in scent and why they even get confused at times, especially in perfumery.
Nerol is also found in geranium. This compound is known to smell citrusy and as a result, the first undertone used when describing the scent of geranium is typically citrus. It also combines well with geraniol, a molecule found in geranium and rose.
Where geranium sits in perfumery
Geranium is a floral note that is often found in heart notes in perfume compositions. It ties top notes with base notes, mainly in combinations with other florals. Geranium combines with heart notes such as rose, lavender, lily of the valley, or jasmine, and it ties base notes such as amber or musk with top notes such as bergamot, black pepper, or pineapple.
While geranium isn’t necessarily aromatic, it certainly has a more accentuated herbal smell than the rose. This is why pure distinctions are made in terms of male and female smells in popular beliefs. Geranium tends to smell a bit more masculine while rose tends to smell a bit more feminine.
Geraniums perfumes such as Hermes Equipage Geranium are popularity accepted as alluring scents, mainly through their pepper undertones. Diptyque Geranium Odorata is another geranium fragrance close to an art-level interpretation. This geranium cologne smells a bit more like peppermint and it has a richer green scent in comparison to the peppery Equipage Geranium.
Both these perfumes show geranium can smell different from one fragrance to another. However, the pure perfumes that smell like geranium where this floral is the main note are harder to find today. To get your hands on such a perfume, you’d be fighting extremes. Cheap barbershop scents on one end of the spectrum vs expensive perfumes that smell like geranium at the other end are your only real options when you want to make the most of this scent that is the true rose rival.