Does Unopened Perfume Expire (Shelf Life Of Perfume)

Whether you have a large collection of perfumes or you’re interested in some of the older bottles or formulations, there will be a time where you wonder; does unopenend perfume expire?

Unopened perfume will expire, but much slower than an opened bottle. On average, an unopened bottle of perfume will last 5 to 10 years. Proper care and storage will prolong the shelf life of an unopened bottle with some cases of 20+ year old bottles still being good.

The 5 to 10 years average is just that, an average. Some bottles will last much longer than others, and generally, perfume doesn’t seem to expire quickly. In this article, we’ll discuss how long an unopened bottle of perfume will last, as well as how to prolong its shelf life!

How Long Will An Unopened Bottle Of Perfume Last?

An unopened bottle of perfume typically lasts 5-10 years. With proper care and when storing it correctly, this can be greatly prolonged. After a few years, the scent itself will start to change as the top notes will start to evaporate, but the scent itself won’t expire for a good few years extra.

Unopened bottles of perfume are all around us. Massive stores have thousands of unopened bottles stored, and they would never do that if these perfumes would go bad quickly. Luckily, fragrances tend to last quite a long time. On average, you can expect an opened bottle to last you 3 to 5 years, but when the bottle is unopened, it can last even longer.

Whether you receive an old bottle as a gift or you’re hunting for that old formulation or a discontinued fragrance, it’s important to know if the actual perfume is still good. It would be a shame if you purchase one of these sought-after scents only to find out the scent itself is no longer good. When perfumes start to go bad, the scent and color start to alter, often turning into something much less desirable.

When stored in a cool and dark place, many of the unopened bottles will last much longer than usual. Light can slowly destroy the scented oils, so when the perfume is stored in a dark place, this is not a concern. The same goes for heat, which can also break down the scented oils. Again, a cool place will alleviate this problem.

But the main benefit of having an unopened bottle of perfume is the fact that it isn’t as heavily affected by oxygen. Oxygen is the main cause of a perfume going bad, as it leads to the evaporation and unbending of the different molecules present inside the perfume. These unbound molecules can eventually bind with other unbound molecules, resulting in a drastically different scent.

Ultimately, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact timeframe. All perfumes use different ingredients and have different ratios of alcohol and scented oils. These are all factors to how long a perfume will last. Eau De Parfums, for example, have a higher concentration of scented oils than Eau De Toilettes, so they will generally last longer.

How Long Will Perfume Last When Opened?

An opened bottle of perfume generally lasts 3 to 5 years. When a bottle of perfume is opened and sprayed, the bottle is opened up to the outside air. This is one of the main causes of both the scent evaporating and going bad. But with proper care, an opened bottle of perfume can easily last you 3 to 5 years.

Whenever a bottle of perfume is used, the juice inside is exposed to the air. Most bottles do come with a stopper that creates an air lock, but even still, the juice is exposed to the outside. This leads to a quicker evaporation process. Keep in mind, though, that a quicker evaporation process does not mean that your fragrance goes bad quickly, it just means that it goes bad quicker than an unopened bottle.

Most perfume bottles last around 3 to 5 years, and for most people, that’s plenty of time to use up all of the bottle. If we take the average bottle size into account, 100ml, paired with an average of 4 sprays a day, this bottle will last you approximately 250 days. This is well in time before a scent starts to go bad.

I personally own an opened bottle of Calvin Klein Obsession that’s still going strong after 7 years. The only noticeable difference between my 7-year-old bottle and a new one is that my top notes have started to evaporate. This leads to the scent coming across denser and stronger, while in reality, the whole bottle is basically in its drydown stage.

Compare the opening of my 7-year-old bottle to the dry down of a new bottle and you’ll see that both scents are pretty much the same!

How Does Perfume Expire?

A perfume expires once the scented oil molecules start to unbind and rebind with other molecules. This causes a weird scent to form, as well as the color to change. Pair this with the evaporation of the alcohol and you’re left with a perfume that clearly looks and smells expired.

Perfume is made of scented oils and alcohol. Alcohol doesn’t really expire, but the scented oils do. Over time, the scented oils can deteriorate and start to unbind. Luckily, this process is barely noticeable during the first few years, but as time passes, you can notice your scent is changing.

Initially, the changes will be very minor, and there’s a good chance that your scent never drastically changes for several more years. As mentioned, I still have an open bottle of Calvin Klein Obsession that’s perfectly fine. But sometimes, your scent can start to go off.

The ‘off’ scent is caused by the unbound molecules rebinding with other unbound molecules. This creates weird scents that can smell extremely bad. Safe to say, when this happens, you don’t want to use your perfume anymore. At this point, there’s also the chance of your perfume changing color and starting to become cloudy.

What Is The Best Way To Store Your Perfume?

Perfume is best stored in a dark and cool place. Cabinets and drawers are best, as they keep out light and heat. It also helps to keep the bottle inside of the box, as the box serves as another layer of protection. Avoid storing your perfume in the bathroom. The bathroom has lots of temperature and humidity changes, which have a drastic impact on the scent.

The most common causes of perfume going bad are the exposure to oxygen, heat, and light. Now, the exposure to oxygen is difficult to take away, but you can prevent the impact of light and heat.

This is easily done by storing your perfumes in the correct place. One of the most popular places that people store their perfume is in the bathroom, but this is actually one of the worst places. Every time you take a shower, the temperature of the room rises, and this severely impacts your fragrance.

Instead, store your perfume in a cabinet or drawer. These places are dark and cool, the perfect environment for a fragrance. Temperature is one of the most important influences on perfume, so knowing the right temperatures to store your perfume is paramount!

A few more tips on storing your perfume:

  • To prevent immediate oxidation, only open the bottle when you’re ready for your first spray.
  • Aside from storing in a dark and cool place, consider leaving your perfume inside the box. The box acts as another layer of protection.
  • Don’t shake your bottle. Shaking your bottle will disperse the oxygen all throughout the juice, leading to a faster oxidation process.
  • Store your perfumes on a lower-level shelf. Warm air rises, so the higher you store your perfumes, the more exposed they are to warmer temperatures.

Does Perfume Have An Expiration Date?

Perfume does not have an expiration date like food items. Generally, a perfume will last between 3 and 5 years, but proper care can prolong its lifetime. You will not, however, find a ‘best by’ date on a bottle of perfume. How long the perfume will be good is really a case by case basis; some perfumes will last longer than others.

Perfumes don’t have an exact expiry date. This is simply due to the fact that every perfume will behave differently, and every person will store their perfumes differently. Some people might store their perfumes in the bathroom, which will lead to the perfume going bad much quicker.

On the other hand, some people take good and proper care of their bottles, and these will last much longer. But even if you take great care of your bottles, your bottle of Chanel No.5 might go off quicker than the same bottle of perfume that your friend has. It’s really just a case-by-case basis, hence why there is no exact expiry date.

What you can do, however, is check the PAO (Period After Opening). This is the number of months that the manufacturer says your bottle will be good for after opening. This number can be found either at the back or bottom of your bottle and in most cases, it will say 30. This means that your perfume will be good for 30 months, or approximately 2,5 years, after first opening.

What Happens If You Use Expired Perfume?

Using expired perfume isn’t necessarily bad. Oftentimes, expired perfume still smells similar to the original one or is only altered slightly. This is fine to still use. If your perfume is discolored and smells off, it’s best to not use it. However, if you do accidentally spray, nothing impactful will happen. Just wash it off and apply one that’s still good!

You might think that using expired perfume is bad for you, but honestly, it’s nothing to be worried about. You’re just spraying it on your body and you can easily wash it off. Just don’t let it sit for the day, as this concoction is not what the perfumers intent to be on your body.

If you accidentally spray yourself with expired perfume, just go to the bathroom and wash it off. Afterward, apply a new perfume that isn’t expired and you’re all good to go!

How Can You Tell That Your Perfume Is Expired?

Expired perfume looks and smells off. When perfume is expired, the color can change and the liquid can become grainy and cloudy. There could even be some residue on the bottom. Furthermore, the scent will be different from what it used to be, either smelling like alcohol (low concentration of scented oils) or have a thick and rancid scent (high concentration of scented oils).

Spraying yourself with an expired perfume is not harmful, but with the altered scent, it’s definitely not something you’d want. Luckily, there are some clear signs of your perfume expiring.

The first one is the most obvious, but sadly, you can only notice that after spraying it. And that’s the scent starting to smell different. At first, you might notice that the scent appears stronger. This is an indication that the top notes are starting to evaporate, immediately introducing you to the middle and base notes.

This is only the first step, but it can take a long time before your perfume actually starts to smell bad or different. When this happens, though, it’s a clear sign that your perfume is going bad.

Another sign of your perfume going bad is when the juicy starts to become cloudy. You’ll notice that the perfume no longer has its clear qualities. The color of the juicy can also change over time, and there could even be some residue on the bottom of the bottle. This, of course, can only be detected if you have a see-through bottle.

What Can You Do With Old Perfume?

Old perfume bottles can make for beautiful decorative displays. Many perfume bottles are designed to look luxurious and appealing, making them perfect as decoration. You can also clean them and fill them with a new scent, turning them into a diffuser.

There are many things you can do with old perfume! When your perfume is expired, it’s best to throw out the actual juicy, but you should definitely keep the bottle! Place one of these empty bottles in your bathroom to spruce up the look and appeal.

You can also clean out the bottle and put a new scent in it. Place some wooden sticks in there and you’ve got a wonderful-looking fragrance diffuser!

Jasper Pieterse

Hi, my name is Jasper and I've been a long time fragrance fan. Ever since 2014, I started to get a huge interest in fragrances and I've had my nose on countless of different fragrances. I'm excited to share my experiences!

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