What Is It?

Benzaldehyde is an oily, colorless liquid sometimes referred to as bitter almond oil. In cosmetics and personal care products, Benzaldehyde is used as a denaturant, a flavoring agent, and as a fragrance and can be found in perfumes, shampoo and bath products.

Why Is It Used?

Benzaldehyde imparts a bitter almond flavor and aroma when used in cosmetic products. As a denaturant, the bitter almond flavor makes the products unsuitable for oral consumption.

Scientific Facts

Benzaldehyde occurs naturally in a number of plants, including cherry and peach fruits, and carnation flowers. It can also be acquired from the oil of bitter almonds. In addition to its use in cosmetics and personal care products, Benzaldehyde is considered an important food flavoring agent and is a key ingredient in natural fruit flavors.

Safety Information

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reviewed the safety of Benzaldehyde and determined that it was Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) for use as a flavoring substance. The safety of Benzaldehyde has been assessed by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel. The CIR Expert Panel evaluated the scientific data and concluded that Benzaldehyde was safe as used in cosmetic products.

CIR Safety Review: The CIR Expert Panel noted that FDA considers Benzaldehyde as a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) food additive in the United States and it is legally accepted as a flavoring substance by the European Commission.

The CIREP noted that there was limited irritation and sensitization data available for Benzaldehyde. However, because Benzaldehyde rapidly metabolizes to Benzoic Acid in the skin, the available dermal irritation and sensitization data demonstrating no adverse reactions to Benzoic Acid were considered sufficient to support the safety of Benzaldehyde.

Similarly, UV absorption and phototoxicity data, demonstrating little UV absorption and no phototoxicity, for Benzoic Acid was acceptable in assessing the safety of Benzaldehyde. Based on the literature and on the professional experience of the CIR Expert Panel, Benzaldehyde does not appear to be an irritant or sensitizer.

The CIR Expert Panel noted that Benzaldehyde was studied by the National Toxicology Program, which found equivocal evidence regarding carcinogenicity. They noted that several studies have suggested that Benzaldehyde can have carcinostatic or anti-tumor properties.

Overall, at the low concentrations used in cosmetics, the CIR Expert Panel concluded that Benzaldehyde did not pose a carcinogenic risk to humans.

FDA: Link to the Code of Federal Regulations for Benzaldehyde…

Benzaldehyde may be used in cosmetics and personal care products marketed in Europe according to the general provisions of the Cosmetics Regulation of the European Union.

Link to the EU Cosmetic Regulation:…

The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives has established an Acceptable Daily Intake of 0-5 mg Benzaldehyde/kg body weight. No safety concern was indicated at current levels of intake when used as a flavoring agent.

More Scientific Information

Benzaldehyde is an aromatic aldehyde and is the simplest representative of the aromatic aldehydes. At room temperature it is a colorless liquid with a characteristic and pleasant almond-like odor. Benzaldehyde is an important component of the scent of almonds and is the primary component of bitter almond oil extract.

It can be extracted from a number of other natural sources in which it occurs, such as apricot, cherry, and laurel leaves, peach seeds and, in certain nuts and kernels. Most Benzaldehyde is synthetically made by a number of different processes.


Find out more about the regulation of Food Additives by the Food and Drug Administration

Food Ingredients and Packaging:

Food Contact Substances:…

Substances Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS):

Search the Code of Federal Regulations

EU Cosmetics Inventory