How to understand that the perfume has deteriorated and is it possible to use expired perfumes? Comprehensive answers to simple everyday questions, together with experts, were prepared by MedAboutMe.

Perfume expiration date: what you need to know

Depending on the composition of the perfume, its shelf life can be from 2 to 5 years. At the same time, alcohol-based fragrances have the longest shelf life. But even these terms are considered formal by perfumers. And there are many reasons for that.

With a competent approach, perfumes can be stored for decades without losing their original quality. And at the same time, improper storage of perfumes can lead to the fact that they will have unwanted notes in six months. What does it depend on?

Perfumer Alexia Hammonds says that the shelf life of perfume depends on the quality of the packaging and the material from which the perfume bottle is made; the origin and «purity» of the ingredients; the level of humidity, the presence or absence of direct sunlight in the place of storage of the product.

By the way!

The worst places for perfumery are the dressing table in the room by the window, the shelf in the bathroom and … the woman’s handbag. In these places, perfumery faces several “killers” of aroma at once, and therefore perfumes deteriorate faster.

What is Perfume Oxidation

What is Perfume Oxidation

The formula of a perfume means consists of tens, hundreds or even thousands of different items. The perfumer fine-tunes the concentration of each ingredient to create a truly compelling scent, and also considers how the various ingredients will perform in the long run.

To «fix» the fruit of their labors, a professional introduces stabilizers into the fragrance. They are necessarily present in every product, but, nevertheless, are unable to completely eliminate the oxidation of perfumes.

When a perfume is exposed to oxidizing agents, its formula changes. The ingredients begin to interact differently with each other, and as a result of new chemical reactions, the smell, color and consistency of the product changes. Usually not for the better.

“There are three main reasons why perfume spoils: light, heat and air,” says the perfumer. Sara McCartney. — If you open a perfume and the bottle is sealed perfectly, the fragrance can be used for decades. I once opened a centennial bottle of L’Heure Bleue by Guerlain and it was gorgeous, the scent sounded perfect. Perfume was stored in a warehouse in the dark, and the bottle itself was sealed.

On a note!

“The more oxygen in the bottle, the faster it can go bad,” warns the perfumer. Sara McCartney. «So if you’ve used up half a bottle, don’t try to save it for special occasions, just use it.»

Please note that perfumes that are stored in plastic packaging spoil faster than those packaged in glass. The tightness of the bottle is also important: as soon as air gets inside, the perfume begins to deteriorate. And this is one of the reasons why you should not buy perfumes “for drinking” — their shelf life is minimal.

How quickly perfume spoils

How quickly perfume spoils

The duration of the perfume depends on whether natural or synthetic ingredients form the basis of the fragrance formula.

“Most fragrances these days contain synthetic ingredients. This means that they are specially developed in the laboratory to mimic the smell of natural substances, explains the perfumer. Sue Phillips. “Perfumes based on synthetic ingredients have a longer shelf life and are less likely to spoil.”

But it also matters what substances the perfumer uses.

“I notice that citrus aromas open up and spoil faster. They often give unwanted side notes,” adds the perfumer. Sebastian Hara.

Did you know?

After using the perfume, it should be kept tightly closed, ideally in the box in which the perfume was sold. It additionally protects the fragrance from exposure to light, humidity and heat.

The main signs of spoiled perfumery

Spoiled spirits are easy to recognize. Due to exposure to heat and direct sunlight, they often change color.

“If the perfume was originally a pleasant golden hue, and after a while you notice that it has become darker, the color of rum, this is a reliable sign that you can’t wear it,” says the perfumer Sue Phillips.

Such perfumes are best tested by spraying them on a piece of white paper. It should be borne in mind that spoiled perfume can stain clothes and ruin your favorite things. At the same time, the aroma of such perfumes often eats into wardrobe items and gives off mustiness.

“If a fragrance is sold in an aluminum perfume bottle, the risk of it spoiling prematurely is low. Sunlight does not penetrate through such packaging. But perfumes enclosed in a glass bottle deteriorate faster. If you notice a change in the structure of perfume — floating flakes, sediment, separation of perfume by density, they need to be thrown away, ”the perfumer warns Sue Phillips.

The plaque that appeared on the lid inside and on the spray gun itself should also alert — this is another reliable sign of a spoiled aroma.

But the most important thing that can indicate the loss of quality of perfumery is, of course, the smell. If third-party notes appeared in it, the fragrance began to give off “old times” or simply became unpleasant, this is a reason to think about a new purchase.


Perfume that has expired does not turn into poison, but it can cause a skin reaction on contact, trigger allergies, or cause headaches or breathing problems while wearing it. Therefore, it is better not to use it, even if the new sound of perfume suits you.

Can you wear vintage perfume?

Can you wear vintage perfume?

If expired fragrances should be said goodbye immediately, what about vintage perfumes? Some people collect such fragrances all their lives and wear them with pleasure, assuring that they sound perfect.

“I buy a lot of vintage perfumes, and when I pick up a fragrance with citrus notes in it, I know the top notes are going to sound bad. But that doesn’t mean I have to throw away the fragrance. In most cases, the strange acetic aroma of the top notes will disappear within a few minutes after application, leaving the base and heart notes that will sound great, the perfumer shares his experience. Rajiv Sheth. “Actually, only a few perfumes go bad completely. And this happens when they are stored for a very long time in hot or sunny places.

At the perfumer Sarah McCartney another take on vintage perfumes: “I wouldn’t risk using vintage perfume on my skin, even if it smells perfect. Some natural and synthetic substances have been found to cause skin irritation over time and their use is limited. In addition, some ingredients were banned altogether and are not used in perfumes today. And essential oils in perfumery can oxidize and form substances that cause skin rashes. Therefore, I do not advise wearing them on the skin, but you can spray perfume on your clothes.

Perfumes are a great opportunity to express your individuality. But when using fragrances, do not forget about their expiration date. Wear only those perfumes that are well perceived by your skin and do not give unwanted reactions in the form of headaches and breathing problems for either you or your environment.


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