How Long Does Perfume Keep?

Can Perfume Spoil? Plus, How to Extend the Life of Your Perfumes

USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, Woman smelling perfume on wrist
Tetra Images/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Most perfumes have a maximum shelf life of 3 to 5 years from their production date, but I've had perfumes that have lasted much longer. The key to long-lasting perfumes is to keep them in a cool, dry place out of the sun.

Fragrances made with quality ingredients like the six most expensive ingredients in the world, and those that come in dark or opaque — as opposed to clear — bottles, will last longer.

You can help your perfumes go the distance by following a few simple rules for their storage.

Storage Tips to Extend the Life of Fragrance

Much like fine wine, a perfume must be stored properly in order to preserve its scent. Some general rules:

  • Always store perfume in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight or heat. A dresser drawer or a dark closet is a good choice.
  • You may keep perfume in the refrigerator, which may help to extend its lifespan. Be careful, though, not to store it too closely with food products that may absorb its scent, such as butter.
  • Do not keep fragrances in the bathroom, where fluctuating temperatures and high humidity can lead to their deterioration.
  • Keep perfume bottles tightly closed, to prevent evaporation, which can change the balance of a scent's composition..

If you follow these rules, your perfume will last longer than expected.

How to Know When a Perfume Has Spoiled

Some perfumes fade away gradually, becoming less intense with age, while others noticeably go "off".

If a bottled fragrance has thickened, changed its color (for instance, yellowing or becoming darker), or develops an unappealing smell, it should be discarded.

That said, if your perfume has lasted past the 5-year expiration date, don't throw it out. Simply keep doing what you've been doing and enjoy it as long as it passes the smell test.

Altitude and Fragrance

Some people have asked me if altitude affects fragrance and the answer is yes. The higher the altitude, the shorter the fragrance will last. I recommend using a perfume instead of a lighter fragrance and reapplying often. I never travel with full-size versions of my perfumes, instead, carry little tester of your favorites. You should be able to get some when you buy from a department store. Keep in your handbag and spritz often.

More on fragrance: