Marilyn Monroe’s favorite sleeping attire is one of the most popular perfumes of all times, but this Chanel classic owes lots of its popularity to the novelty employed by Ernest Beaux in 1921, known as aldehydes.

But what makes a perfume aldehydic?

Aldehydes are organic compounds found in various natural elements, although in the contemporary perfumery synthetic aldehydes are more commonly used nowadays.

What do aldehydes smell like?

Aldehydes vary in smell, and their scent goes on the opposite sides of the smelling spectrum, with the ones with lower molecular weight smelling rancid and unpleasant, to the ones with the higher molecular weight smelling sweet and attractive.

The aldehydes that are most popular notes in perfumes have fresh almost soapy smell, the one that can be clearly detected in Beaux’s Chanel No.5. There is a legend in the perfumery circles suggesting that Ernest Beaux didn’t have an intention to use a large dose of aldehydes in the composition and that it was actually his assistant who overdosed the fragrance.

Another example of aldehydic perfume is White Linen by Estée Lauder, where you can clearly detect that fresh laundry scent.

Why are aldehydes used in perfumery?

Perfume noses say that the reason they reach for aldehydes when creating a new fragrance is their ability to enliven the perfume. In other words, when aldehydes are included in the fragrant composition, the rose becomes bubbly and airy, the green notes become fresher and the gourmand notes lose that heaviness and become soft and lighter.

Perfumephiles love to explain that aldehydes have the superpower of lifting the fragrances, providing them with that effervescent and fizzy quality.

Aldehydes can also heighten the projection, the scented aura of the fragrances, amplifying its scented power.

For the perfect examples of aldehydes used in perfume, try Dia Woman by Amouage for women or This Is Not A Blue Bottle by Histoires de Parfums for men.  Try them with Scentbird first.

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