Does Perfume Expire? This is one question that has been hounded by myths and speculations. What we must understand is that there is no one hard rule when it comes to perfume expiration. Each bottle of perfume may have a different shelf life than all the other bottles even if they’re of the same brand and manufactured on the same date. Its life primarily depends on how it is stored, with the type of fragrance also factoring in.
Storage makes the biggest contribution to a perfume’s shelf life. Most people put their fragrances on display on the dresser table, but there are better places to store perfume. A cool, dark place, away from heat and light, is the ideal place to stash perfume – an example of which is a cabinet drawer. Fragrance experts even go so far as recommending the refrigerator as the cool temperature helps preserve the essential oils and other ingredients. An important thing to remember when storing perfume in the fridge is to keep it away from food and beverages that easily absorb smells. The worst place to store perfume is anywhere it is exposed to heat and light such as the windowpane, in the car and worst of all, the bathroom.
Opened Vs Unopened Perfume
On average, an opened bottle of perfume can last a year or two while it takes about five years for an unopened perfume to go rancid. This is due to the oxidising activity that happens when the liquid gets in contact with air. It is highly important to always replace the cap tightly after each use to avoid excess air from getting into the bottle.
Studying Perfume Notes
Fragrances have three notes: top, middle, and base. These notes shape the character of the fragrance and contribute to its longevity. Top note is the first aroma released upon the application of fragrance. It is highly volatile and is composed usually of one or a mix of citrus, flower, and green scents. Eau de cologne and eau de toilette focus on top notes, which give them a shorter shelf life than eau de parfum and perfume. (You might wanna check out our previous post on the difference between eau de toilette and eau de parfum too!) Middle note is the scent that lingers once the top note has evaporated. Just as with top note, middle note is usually a composition of citrus, flower, and green scents. Base note is the heaviest of the three notes; it is the scent that settles hours after the application of perfume. It is composed usually of wood and musk scents; scents that are not highly volatile, and in some cases, actually get better with time. Perfumes with wood and musk scents have a long shelf and just as the case with wine, there are people who attest that these smell even better with age.
How to Tell When Perfume Has Expired
When perfume has gone past its prime, it goes through several notable changes. It takes on a significantly darker colour, usually transitioning into light hues of gold and brown. In much, much older bottles, the particles settle at the bottom and have an oily, milky appearance. The smell is also an indication – expired perfume tends to have a spicy kick, giving off a sensation that irritates the nose. There is also a change in how the skin reacts to the fragrance once it has gone stale; it develops an itchy, burning sensation that can, in worst cases, break out in a rash.
What to Do When Perfume Expires
The only wise thing to do with expired perfume is to throw it in the trash, especially in really bad cases where it already makes the skin itch. In mild cases where the change in smell is tolerable, it can be used to freshen parts of the house such as the bathroom and the garage. The even wiser thing to do is to not let fragrances reach their expiration through proper storage, taking note of when a bottle was opened, and proper rotation in cases when a person has more than one bottle at hand.
Also published on Medium.