Does Perfume Expire?

By Sahil Rajan

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Does perfume expire? Often we come across people who love to collect fragrances. After all, it’s difficult to swear by one with many choices in place. However, all good things come to an end, so it makes sense to wonder the same about perfumes.

We have often come across divided views on whether a perfume expires and what happens to it when it does. Some say it’s unhealthy to use expired perfume. Others say that a perfume’s potency goes off after expiring. So, which of the two rationales holds? Let’s find out.

Does Perfume Expire?

Does Perfume Expire?
Does Perfume Expire?

The short answer is yes. Depending on the chemical composition, base notes, storage, and other factors, some perfumes will have a shelf life of less than a year, and others can last well above 10 years.

The expiration of a fragrance is actually the process of oxidation. Each time you spritz a fragrance, you allow air in the perfume bottle. This oxidizes the fragrance over time. In other words, oxygen from the air alters the molecules of the fragrance, thereby affecting the overall scent.

Thus, proper storage of your perfumes can help extend their shelf life. It is advisable to store your fragrance in a cool, dark place. Essentially, there is no standardized rule about how long a perfume will last. However, a scent or cologne’s average shelf life can be between three to five years.

Experts suggest that perfumes with heavier base notes, for example, woody, amber, etc., can last longer than those with lighter base notes, for example, citrus, floral, etc., because the latter is more volatile than the former. Additionally, essential oil-based perfumes tend to last than ones containing vegetable oils.

How to Find Out if My Perfume Is Expired?

How to Find Out if My Perfume Is Expired?
How to Find Out if My Perfume Is Expired?

It is not rocket science to determine if your perfume has expired. The appearance and scent of the perfume give it away. And if nothing seems to be indicative enough, you can always refer to the expiration date on the bottle of perfume. Most brands mention the expiration date at the bottom of your fragrance bottle or its packaging for informative purposes.

Another way to tell if your perfume is expired is by how it smells. It might be expired if you smell a hint of vinegar, sourness, or concentration change in your scent. A metallic scent also indicates the same. This is probably the easiest way to detect a fragrance gone bad.

If your perfume is in a different color than when you started out, it would also mean it has reached its expiry date. For example, if the perfume looks darker, it suggests having gone bad.

Finally, know that your perfume has expired when you inexplicably notice less juice in the bottle than the last use. This is because scents with large alcohol concentrations may evaporate.

What Happens if You Use Expired Perfume?

What Happens If You Use Expired Perfume?
What Happens If You Use Expired Perfume?

It is unlikely that you would be at risk of a health hazard if you happen to use expired perfume. The worst-case scenario besides smelling funny is skin irritation or allergy for sensitive skin types. However, it has not been seen as a common occurrence.

Using expired perfume does not pose a health risk. However, to be on the safer side, you may want to do a patch test before using one. Spray a little perfume on your inner wrist to check for allergic reactions. If no reaction occurs within and after 24 hours, you may choose to wear the fragrance cautiously.

You may also check if the perfume is staining your clothes. Avoid spraying it on your clothes in such a situation.

Can I Extend the Shelf Life of My Perfume?

Surprisingly, you can increase the longevity of your fragrance. There are several ways by which you can do so. Let us discover them:

Avoid heat, humidity, and direct light
Avoid heat, humidity, and direct light
  • Avoid heat, humidity, and direct light: Storing perfume in such conditions can be a big mistake. Heat and light will break down the chemical formula of a perfume. Thus, by making its composition unstable, it becomes more prone to oxidation and expires quicker than intended. Experts suggest storing the perfume ideally below 15 degrees Celsius or 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, avoid storing them in the bathroom.
Use up until finished
Use up until finished
  • Use up until finished: Oxygen does its work quicker in half-empty bottles. Avoid the temptation of jumping to another fragrance before you finish up the last one unless you do not plan to use it anymore. The process of oxidation increases in half-empty bottles.
Store in a cool place
Store in a cool place
  • Store in a cool place: According to the experts, a fridge is a great place to store your perfumes and prevent oxidation. The refrigerator provides the right environment for your perfumes to last incredibly long, as they need cool and dark storage devoid of humidity. If refrigeration is not possible, place your perfume in a bedroom drawer or closet.

Final Words

Perfumes often come costing big bucks. You don’t want to splurge money on something that perishes prematurely. Perfumes are a prized possession for many. Thus, keeping them preserved makes sense. Try going after essential oil-based perfumes rather than the ones containing vegetable oil, and make the most of the fragrance by applying it correctly.

We hope this article could help answer some of your queries about perfume expiration. Feel free to post your further concerns. We would be delighted to reach out to you as soon as we can!

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