Can perfume go off? Keys signs that your fragrance has gone off.

Can perfume go off? Keys signs that your fragrance has gone off.

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Does perfume expire? Can cologne go off? Does Perfume go bad? Are all questions you might be thinking about as you slowly build a mountain of fragrance on your dresser. However, if you have owned fragrance for many months or years you may have noticed that its strength has lessened, or it may have developed a strange smell.

So, can perfume go off? Well yes it definitely can, and all is not lost as there are many things you can do to increase its life. Not only this but there are a number of key factors that can determine the life of a perfume; the quality, the fragrance family and how you store it. 

In this article we will try and help you understand everything you need to know about how long perfume lasts and how to tell if your perfume has expired, along with how to store it properly.


person holding fragrance bottle

Photo by Olga Serjantu on Unsplash

Yes, perfume and also after shave do go off. However, how long they last depend on the scent’s chemical composition. Many perfumes don’t have a set expiry date and can last anywhere between 1-10 years. However, three to five years is often the average shelf life of a fragrance and most of Shay & Blue's fragrances will still perform for the length of time.

According to experts, perfumes with heavier base notes will last the longest. Some people compare these perfumes to a fine wine—they get better with age. Examples of scents with heavier base notes include oriental scents, such as those with oud and amber.

When the lighter base notes are prominent in a fragrance, the solution is often more volatile. Citrusfloral and green perfumes, for instance, often don’t last as long.

Shelf life also depends on how you store the fragrances. Perfumes that are stored correctly will last much longer than those that are not (more on that later).

If your perfume does expire, applying it could result in an unpleasant smell, skin irritations or - in extreme cases - an allergic reaction. If your perfume is more than a couple of years old, it’s probably best to test it before you use it.

Three Simple Ways to Tell If Your Perfume Is Expired

You can tell if your perfume has expired by simply checking for a number of key signs; scent - does it smell different, appearance - has the colour changed and date - some perfumes may have an expiry date.

  1. Test How it smells - one of the most obvious ways to tell if your perfume has gone off is to smell it. Some perfumes may contain fats such as vegetable oils and can expire over time. If your scent contains no fat, it can last longer. If you notice that the scent smells vastly different from when you bought it, you can be sure its going off, or if its develops hints of vinegar or other more chemical notes.
  2. See how it looks - a great way to test your perfume is to look at the colour. Perfumes whose colour becomes darker or develops opacity over time is a sign that it is aging. Often perfumes with a high concentration of alcohol can evaporate becoming much more concentrated in the essential oils. If you notice less perfume int eh bottle and you're sure you haven’t been using it, this is a good sign that it is expiring. 
  3. Check the expiry date - often a perfume manufacturer will print some sort of expiration date on its packaging. This can come in the form of either a batch code or a PAO (Period After Opening) number. These are typically found on the bottom of the perfume or printed on the box it comes in.

How to Store Perfume

woman in black long sleeve shirt standing in front of table with bottles

Photo by Jasmin Sessler on Unsplash

Storing your perfume correctly can help to keep it in good condition for as long as possible. Like most things’ sharp changes in temperature and humidity can really mess with the delicate chemistry within the bottle. Therefore, you should opt for rooms with stable conditions such as bedrooms and dressers and resits the temptation of storing your perfume in the bathroom.

If possible, think about the positioning of your dresser, this is the same for makeup. You should also avoid keeping your perfume in direct sunlight as the heat breaks down the chemical structure of the perfume, making it lose its potency. Also resist the option of chilling your perfume for a refreshing day in the fridge as removing it into room temperature can also be damaging. 

For best results, perfume is the most suited to a cool, dry, and dark place such as a bedroom drawer or closet. It’s best to keep the perfume in its original container as exposure to air can also upset the chemical balance. It can also accelerate the evaporation of the alcohol inside, making the fragrance expire faster.

Determining whether or not your perfume has expired can be tricky. If your perfume is more than two and a half years old, you may want to test it for signs of expiration. However, if your perfume smells good and has a similar colour and consistency to when you bought it, it should be safe to apply. Some high-quality perfumes can even last years to come if stored correctly.

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