How Long Should Your Perfume Last?


Unlike a good wine, some perfumes don’t mature into a delightful version of themselves when laid down for some years. After using your perfume for some time, you might notice changes in its smell and color. Well, those are some signs that your fragrance is nearing its expiration date.

No one likes the idea of throwing away a good perfume. That’s why it’s crucial to understand how long a scent can last, whether unopened or opened. Here, we will look at how long perfume should last and how to extend its lifespan.

The Shelf Life of Perfume

To understand how long a perfume should last, you need to understand its shelf life. Perfumes often have a shelf life of between three to five years from the time of production. However, a few scents can retain their potency for up to ten years, like March Jacob’s, Channel, and Giorgio Armani.

How long a perfume lasts depends on its chemical composition. Experts say perfumes featuring heavier base notes like vanilla, patchouli, and moss tend to last longer. This is because these notes boost lighter notes while adding resonance and depth. Perfumes with lighter notes like citrus don’t last long because the notes are more volatile.

How you store your perfume also affects its shelf life. If you preserve your fragrances correctly, they will last longer.

How Long Should Perfume Last if Unopened?

There’s a high chance you might have asked yourself this question after purchasing your current perfume. Truthfully, it’s hard to answer this question, especially if the fragrance has no expiration date.

According to perfume creators, the life span of perfumes varies from one perfume to another. On that note, it’s wise to complete one bottle of perfume before starting another one.

Does Perfume Expire?

Sadly, once you open a bottle of your favorite perfume or cologne, it will eventually expire. Sorry if you were expecting to hear a different answer. 

It’s hard to say for sure how long a fragrance would last if left unopened. But when expired, the perfume might become unrecognizable and sometimes disgusting. Some might even stain your clothes. Nevertheless, there’s no hard and fast rule for perfume expiration.

Perfume experts often recommend that you dispose your bottle after one or three years. Luckily, perfumes don’t expire like food, so you can continue to use them for up to five years as long as you still love their smell.

What Happens When a Perfume Expires?

Your perfume might retain its intensity after expiring. However, its scent tends to become sour, acidic, or metallic because of oxidation.

If you open your perfume and leave it like that, oxygen within the air will enter, altering the composition of notes in the bottle over time and, as a result, affecting the overall scent of the perfume.

Top notes like citrus, florals, and aromatics are more susceptible to oxidation. Because of the difference in molecules, some perfumes are less prone to oxidation than others. Furthermore, perfume companies today use UV filters and stabilizers to make scent molecules less sensitive to oxidation. As a result, extending the shelf life of perfumes.

To check if your perfume has expired, spray it on white paper and try to identify any off-note. This way, you can prevent yourself from wearing a disgusting scent all day long. Continue reading below to find other ways you can identify an expired perfume.

Ways to Tell If Your Perfume Has Expired

Just because your perfume has expired, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will smell bad. So how do you confirm if a scent has expired if you haven’t used it for some time?

Nose Test

The smell of an expired perfume will seem off. If the scent has a metallic or acidic hint, chances are it has expired. Others might smell like vinegar, or their concentration might lessen.

Some perfume companies use vegetable oils when manufacturing their products, which affects how long the scent lasts. After some time, the vegetable oil in the products will become foul. Scents with essential oils lack fat, meaning they can last longer.

Change In Color

If the scent is still confusing, look at the color of the perfume. For example, a perfume can change from a translucent clear liquid to amber or opaque liquid. That’s a sign of expiration. If your fragrance changes from a lighter shade to a darker shade, consider disposing of the bottle.

Perfumes with higher alcohol concentrations tend to last longer. The alcohol shields the aromatic molecules from oxidizing. However, alcohol tends to evaporate, leaving only concentrated essential oils. If you haven’t used perfume in a long time but you’re noticing a change in its level, it’s a sign the product is expiring.

Expiration Date

Perfume manufacturers often attach some sort of expiration date on the perfume packaging. It can be in the form of a Period After Opening (PAO) or batch code printed at the bottom of the fragrance bottle or packaging.

Tips To Extend the Shelf Life of Your Perfume

Keep it Away from Light

If you love displaying your perfume on your window, stop it. It’s a bad idea! Light breaks down the aromatic molecules of the fragrance. Therefore, making them unstable and more susceptible to oxidation.

Shield Perfume from Heat

Like light, heat also alters the molecules and the chemical composition of the formula. If possible, keep your perfumes in a chill place like the freezer.

Use It Until Its Over

Whether you’re a perfume collector or you love trying out unique scents every time, it’s wise to finish one bottle at a time. Leaving the bottle open means, you’ll expose it to oxygen, which might oxidize the perfume’s top notes and alter its concentration.

Place Your Perfumes in A Closed Cupboard

Your bathroom might seem like the best place for your perfume, but it’s not! The change in temperature in the bathroom is not conducive to your fragrance. You’re better off storing them in their original box inside a closed cupboard.


How long your perfume should last depend on a lot of factors. But the two main ones are the chemical composition of the formula and storage. If you want your fragrances to have a longer shelf life, don’t expose them to light and heat. Also, apply your perfume on moist skin to lock in the scent.

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