Aldehydes are organic compounds that can be found in many natural perfume ingredients like rose, vanilla bean, cinnamon, pine, and citrus peel. In many cases, they’re the main reason why these ingredients have such a pleasant aroma. Despite this, however, most aldehydes found in modern perfumes are mere synthetic imitations of the original fragrance. But it doesn’t matter because, synthetic or otherwise, aldehydes and perfumery are inextricably linked, and form the basis of many iconic luxury fragrances from perfumers we know today.
Aldehydes add a sharp, sparkling, somewhat metallic, somewhat clean scent to perfume. They also impart a powdery floral quality and a lingering soapiness, much like freshly washed laundry. They’re often used as top notes, where they’re known for their ability to convey a long-lasting freshness and sharpness. And because of their atmospheric and glamorous qualities, you’ll find aldehydes to be a very popular note used in classic, luxe compositions. In most cases, it’s used to add soft, light nuances to woody blends or to bring a pop of color to floral fragrances.