Aldehydes are a group of synthetic perfume ingredients. Aldehydes give the complete fragrance a radiant sparkling character and lift the whole creation. Perfumes with aldehydes often have a clean, soapy or powdery character.
Discover aldehydes in perfumes
What are aldehydes?
Aldehydes are a group of synthetic compounds that revolutionized the perfume industry in the early 20th century.
It is the collective term for a specific type of chemical compounds. Certain aldehydes also occur in nature but in perfumery aldehydes are only synthetically added.
For those who love the technical details: aldehydes are organic compounds with a carbonyl group to which a hydrogen atom is bonded: R-CH=O).
The smell of aldehydes
Describing a single aldehyde can be rather difficult. There are different types of aldehydes that have their own olfactive characteristics. For example, some aldehydes have a soapy, floral, metallic, clean smell with a pine note. Other aldehydes may emit a citrus, tangerine-like scent or a pinkish accord.
Essentially aldehydes give other perfume ingredients a certain boost. It imparts a certain radiant sparkling character and lifts the whole perfume.
Discovery of aldehydes
The chemical fragrance industry discovered the potential of synthetically made aldehydes around 1900. Aldehydes do not stand on their own in a perfume; their unique power only comes to surface when they are combined with other fragrance components, such as roses or oranges. Small amounts of aldehydes can already give the most beautiful effect to a perfume.
In which fragrances are aldehydes used?
The first successful and well-known perfume in which aldehydes were used was the legendary Chanel 5, created in 1921. There are several stories circulating about how the perfumer Ernest Beaux applied an unprecedentedly high amount of aldehydes in his perfume proposals for Coco Chanel.
Was it a miscalculation by the perfumer’s assistant, who accidentally put an extra zero after the formula, or had Beaux himself been deliberately so innovative?
Other perfumes in which the aldehydic character is strong are: Estée Lauder’s White Linen, Iperborea Lorenzo Villoresi, MariaL Yours Truly and YSL’s Rive Gauche. In addition to perfumes, aldehydes are also widely used in detergents, and contribute in large part to the now typical clean laundry scent.