How Long Does Perfume Last? 3 Ways To Tell

Written by Arshiya Syeda

Perfumes and cologne don’t lose their fragrance easily as they are concentrated in essential oils. In addition, they contain a variety of long-lasting chemical ingredients. However, ’how long does perfume last?’ doesn’t have a straightforward answer as perfumes are made of water, alcohol, essential oils, mineral oils, and other chemical compounds. The longevity of any of these ingredients may vary drastically.

However, a useful rule of thumb is that inexpensive scents from mini-marts are more prone to early decay. This article explores various reasons behind perfumes and colognes getting spoilt. We have also put together a guide to know when your scent is not fit for use. Scroll down!

Why Perfumes Or Colognes May Get Spoiled

1. Perfumes Start Losing Their Smell With Time

While some perfumes do not lose the aroma for several years, some are flighty, and others are degenerative. Earlier, the scents had fixatives and ingredients that helped retain their freshness for a long time. But today, there is a ban on the use of most of these compounds as they pose many health risks. Hence, perfumes tend to go bland in fragrance as they grow old.

2. The Temperature And Environmental Conditions Where The Perfumes/Colognes Are Stored, Matter

Storing perfumes and colognes in dark places at room temperature increases the shelf life of the scent. As perfumes have photochemical compounds, any change in heat or light around the fragrance can alter the structure of these chemicals or break them.

Some individuals buy refrigerators specifically to store perfumes and colognes. Moreover, the cap of the perfume/cologne bottle also decides its shelf life. It must be airtight to protect the scent from the external environment.

3. The Material Of The Cologne Bottle Also Has A Significant Impact On Its Shelf Life

Famous perfume and cologne brands use non-reactive materials for scent bottles. They use high-quality glass, which protects the chemical combinations from UV light and temperature change.

Some manufacturers pack the regular inexpensive scents in containers made with materials that don’t prevent them from reacting with the surrounding environment.

These are the reasons your perfume/cologne may get spoiled. In the following section, we will look at the signs that indicate your scent is unsuitable for use.

How To Tell If Your Perfume/Cologne Is Unfit For Use

1. Check The Expiry Date

Perfumes or colognes have expiry dates. They also have ‘best before’ as well as manufacturing dates. Always refer to these dates before buying the bottles. Check the manufacturing and expiry dates if you are doubtful about the quality of the scent. If the scent crosses its expiry date, it is not advisable to use it.

2. Test The Smell Of The Perfume Or Cologne

If there is a significant difference in the fragrance of your perfume or cologne from the original scent, your scent is not pleasant to use.

Sometimes, the perfumes start smelling of vinegar or citric acid, which again is an indicator of their decomposition. The fragrances with vegetable oil added to their composition tend to decompose faster than those with zero fat content.

3. Observe The Changes In The Appearance Of The Perfume/Cologne

The difference in the color and texture of the perfume/cologne is an indicator of its spoilage. If your perfume is turning darker than the original color, it is not suitable for further use.

For example, you may have a perfume with the golden glow of the liquid, which, over time, turns to a darker liquid with amber color. This indicates spoilage, making it unfit for use. Sometimes, the density of perfume/cologne increases, and its consistency becomes similar to that of oil. This thick consistency also indicates spoilage.

Observe changes in appearance to know how long a perfume lasts

How To Ensure Your Perfume/Cologne Lasts Longer

Some good brands of perfume provide scents that last for years together. But they are highly expensive. Ordinary perfumes that we use in our day-to-day life have a shelf life of 1-2 years.

After this, the alcohol and volatile fragrance providing agents leave the scent and diffuse in the nearby environment, making the perfume non-usable.

However, the life of your cologne entirely depends on how you store and use it. Follow these simple steps to make your scent last longer:

  1. Store your perfume in an environment free from excessive heat and temperature fluctuations. Do not store it at a place where it is exposed to sunlight. Never forget that temperature fluctuations may affect the life of the scent. When you place the perfumes in your bathroom, they face temperature fluctuations due to hot and cold water. Hence, keep them in a cool and dark place that has a temperature closer to the room temperature.
  2. Never shake the perfume bottle vigorously. The mechanical force generated due to the vigorous movement can break the chemical constituents of the perfume down or even alter them. This may degrade the scent faster.
  3. Never transfer a cologne or perfume from its original container to another container. It loses alcohol and other volatile fragrances in the process. This may lead to a loss of the perfume’s unique scent.
  4. Replace the cap on the perfume bottle immediately after use. The cap maintains an airtight environment. The open end of the perfume bottle, i.e., the mouth, can easily transport sunlight or moisture to the scent and lead to a temperature change. The cap helps cover the mouth of the perfume bottle, and this increases its shelf life.
  5. Buy smaller bottles of any scent, if you use many scents at a time interchangeably.

Perfumes and colognes tend to undergo spoilage despite containing non-degradable chemicals. The cheaper perfumes available in the markets contain animal fats and vegetable oils, which are more prone to deterioration. The substances in such scents are converted to acids by fermentation. A sour smell is an indicator of perfume spoilage.

There is no clear, straightforward answer to ’how long does perfume last?’. The longevity of a fragrance can depend on various factors, such as the ingredients in the formulation, storage conditions, and the nature of its container. You can tell that your perfume is no longer fit to use if you can identify a distinct change in its appearance (look and color), detect a vinegary or sour fragrance instead of how it originally used to smell or check that it is past its expiry date. You can make fragrances last longer by storing them in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and always replacing the cap immediately after use.

Key Takeaways

  • Perfumes start losing their fragrance with time. However, proper storage and other factors can increase their longevity.
  • If perfumes start smelling like vinegar or citric acid, consider it an indicator of their decomposition.
  • Perfumes from good and expensive brands usually last longer. Regular perfumes may last only for a year or two.

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