History of perfumery spans for more than one thousand years, for many centuries, only natural ingredients have been used to create aromas. When synthetic compounds – aldehydes sprang out it was a real revolution in the perfumery world.


In chemistry, aldehydes are classified as a class of organic compounds containing an aldehyde group (-CHO). But don’t assume that all aldehydes are artificial and created by the hands of scientists. They also can be found in many plants and fruits, for example, vanillin with its chemical composition is a real natural aldehyde. Anyway, any aldehyde can be obtained in a lab. Aldehydes


In its purest form, aldehydes have the smell of rank butter – an unpleasant odor. But if you dilute it, you will smell a light floral aroma. These compounds have an amazing feature to adapt to the smell of the skin and enhance the smell of a leading note. Aldehyde perfumes often smell of powder, chypre, some people say that it reminds them of a freshly puffed candle.

Why did aldehydes revolutionize perfumery? Why was it impossible to mix essential oils, as it was before? The thing is that when combining a large number of essential oils, their aromas were mixed. Perfumers could not create a great number of aromas since they all were the same. The valuable feature of aldehydes is that they allow to mix different aromas and they are not overlayed by each other.  As a result, one can create hundreds and thousands of different perfumes.

Another good thing about aldehydes is their low price, using this component allowed to make the production of perfumes much cheaper and affordable to a wide audience.


Aldehydes were discovered by chemists in the 19th century. They discovered compounds that have different odors. Moreover, the aroma really depends on concentration. As it was previously said, some aldehydes may smell like a candle, it’s because they are undiluted. Perfumers use only aldehydes with high chemical valence (7 and more) since the smell of low-valence aldehydes is not very pleasant. Moreover, aldehydes should be very diluted (less than 1% concentration). The mostly used aldehydes smell of the following:

  • C-7 – “green”, grassy aroma;
  • C-8 – orange;
  • C-9 – rose scent;
  • C-10 – orange peel;
  • C-11 – “natural” aldehyde extracted from coriander leaf oil;
  • C-12 – lavender or violet scent;
  • C-13 – waxy smell with grapefruit notes;
  • C-14 – a substance with a distinct peach aroma.

Certainly, perfumers couldn’t pass by this amazing feature. Gradually, they began to replace natural components with aldehydes.

One of the first artificial odors that appeared was coumarin, which replaced the aroma of green fern. And in 1884, scientists found a formula that allowed them to create the musk aroma.

This led famous perfumers Houbigant and Guerlain to the creation of Jicky perfume, based on coumarin, as well as sandalwood. In 1905, the perfume house Armingeat released perfumes Reve D’Or.
A fully synthetic perfume, based on aldehydes, was Chanel No.5. In one of my previous articles, I revealed some relatively unknown facts about Chanel No.5, you can click here to read this article.

Other examples of aldehyde perfumes:

  • Lancome Climat for women was released in 1967, nose of the composition is Gerard Goupy, initial notes include jasmine, violet, peach, bergamot, lily of the valley, daffodil and rose; heart notes include tuberose, aldehydes and rosemary; base notes include amber, sandalwood, Tonka bean, civet, musk, vetiver and bamboo. Today, Lancome Climat justly placed in line among the cult aromas of the 60s, which are still considered the standard of elegance, femininity and pure taste.
  • Nina Ricci Fleur de Fleurs for women was released in 1982, nose of the composition is Betty Busse, initial notes are aldehydes, green notes, bergamot and lemon, heart notes include magnolia, cyclamen, rosemary, lilac, iris, hyacinth, jasmine, lily of the valley and ylang-ylang, base notes are civet, sandalwood and musk.
  • Givenchy Play for men was released in 2008, the composition was produced by Emilie (Bevierre) Coppermann и Lucas Sieuzac, initial notes include grapefruit, bergamot, mandarin and bitter orange, notes of the heart include pepper, amiris, tobacco flower and coffee; base notes include patchouli and vetiver.
  • Imaginary Authors L’Orchidee Terrible for men and women was released in 2012, includes the notes of honey, orchid, aldehydes, lily of the valley, satinwood and white musk.

Certainly, it’s not the full list of aldehyde perfumes, the more you go into this topic the more you can find,

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and found this information handy,

With love,