How Long Does Perfume Last?

A precious fragrance is an emblem of both luxury and nostalgia, especially depending on how long you’ve owned it. Therefore, it’s hard not to want to save your favorite bottle of perfume for ages, to stock up before it gets discontinued, or to pass down an intimate scent to future generations, much less consider the dreadful task of throwing it out. We know that nothing lasts forever (except for diamonds, presumably), but just how long do we have to hold on?

Perfume doesn’t expire as quickly as say, the mixed greens you meant to eat last weekend, but it may sour a bit. For example, a bottle that’s been opened for too long could start to smell “off”; the first sign that a perfume has lived beyond its years is a deterioration of the original scent. This may manifest as intrusive, like a vinegary wine, or simply weaker than its initial composition. Either way, any change in a perfume’s accords is the first sign that you should let go. Ultimately, juice that’s far past its prime will begin to change color, at which point it can irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction.

Typically, a bottle will stay in good condition for three-to-five years after its production date. This may seem like a wide window, and that’s because it is. Because environmental factors are the largest aggressor, the way that we store perfumes is essential to its shelf life: Avoid displaying perfumes under direct sunlight, or near any other significant source of heat. (Heat may dismantle the chemical structure of the fragrance and even alter the liquid’s color and consistency). Our best advice: Store your fragrance in a cool, dark place, like a vanity drawer or in your closet.

Typically, a bottle will stay in good condition for three-to-five years after its production date. 

Lastly, and because we’ve read some questionable advice about this out on the internet, let’s stop you right here: Don’t store your perfume in the refrigerator! Drastic temperature changes can be just as bad for your fragrance as direct sunlight. Take care. —Helena Youhana