Do Colognes & Perfumes Expire

Does Cologne & Perfume Expire

The question on every serious Perfume collectors mind, how long will my perfume last before it expires, unlike a fine wine perfumes certainly dont get better with age. With large collections and so many perfumes, staying on top of whats gone off and whats not can prove difficult.

In this article we’re going to be covering how long perfume lasts, what to look out for to see if it has expired, how to correctly store perfume, how you can give it a longer shelf life and what happens if you use expired perfume.

Have you ever experienced that sinking feeling when you grab your favourite fragrance bottle, spray it on your skin and something isn’t quite right. It’s no longer got those top notes that you used to love or the scent smells vastly different to what it did when you purchased it then well you’ve guessed it… your perfume has expired.

So does perfume expire?

The short answer to this question is yes, both perfumes and colognes can expire over time, even high quality perfumes, how long they last though is generally down to the notes that its been composed of whether its mainly natural fragrances that its been made with or synthetic ingredients.

How Long Do Perfumes & Colognes Last

Now as we mentioned earlier, this all depends on the scent’s chemical composition of the fragrance in question and what essential oils have been used to formulate it. Even perfumes from well respected perfume brands like Creed and MFK will expire eventually, it’s all down to the notes at the end of the day.

Perfumes with lighter top notes like a citrus based fragrance expire faster than say one with heavier notes like sandalwood and cedar which tend to be found in oriental scents.

Perfumes with lighter base notes are a much more reactive chemical structure meaning they’re more likely to deteriorate. At the end of the day it mainly comes down to how well you look after it and how you store your fragrances once opened.

The average shelf life when you store your perfume correctly should be between 1 -2 years.

How to tell if your perfume has expired

There are 3 pretty easy ways to tell if your perfume has expired:

Check the Expiration date

Firstly, the easiest way to find out whether or not your favourite perfume has gone off is to check and see if your perfume bottle has an expiration date on it, normally a perfume manufacturer will have either a batch code or an expiry date on it. This will give you a clear indication of how long it will last.

However not every bottle of perfume will have expiration dates on it making it a little harder to tell. If there is no expiry date then entering the batch code on a checking website should be able to tell you.

Is there an unpleasant smell?

Whether or not the perfume smells good is a very good indicator of if the remaining fragrance has expired. While we’re not talking horrendous smells, more if the scents developer hints of another smell, or you can notice certain notes will be a little off then when you tried the scent originally the perfume is expired.

Has there been any colour changes?

If your perfumes colour changed or has darkened or lightened over the years then this can be a clear indication that it’s not been stored correctly and has started to expire.

Does Perfume expire if unopened?

Fragrance experts have said an unopened perfume bottle still has the potential to go off, but it all depends on the chemical balance of the perfume itself. An unopened bottle of perfume will last much longer than an opened one, with one perfumer has even said they recently found a bottle over 20 years old, but due to the way it had been stored (sealed) and in a dark place the chemical composition of it had hardly changed at all.

Which types of perfume will have a longer shelf life?

Fragrances with lighter notes such as Neroli Portifino which has mainly citrus notes, or

Also depending on what liquid has been used to carry the oil based fragrances can result in how long it will last, ideally you’ll want perfume alcohol inside but often perfumes can be made using vegetable oils which will result in a much shorter lifespan.

How to store perfume bottles correctly

Here are some tips on storing fragrances correctly:

  • Keep the lid on your perfume bottle when not in use. This will help keep the scent from evaporating and prevent accidental spills.
  • Store your cologne bottle upright, with the lid sealed tightly. This will prevent leaking or spilling.
  • Avoid storing your perfume near direct sunlight or high temperatures, heat breaks down the fragrance inside. This can cause changes to the scent and reduce its shelf life. Choose a dark place such as a cupboard, however avoid the bathroom as humidity can cause issues. We’d advise a bedroom drawer or cupboard where there is little variation in temperature and humidity.
  • Avoid storing your perfume next to strong-smelling objects. A strong unpleasant smell can cause the scent to lose its potency.
  • Keep it in the original container, decanting your scents can result in a much shorter life expectancy. But if you do have to decant make sure you always store your favourite perfume in glass bottles.
  • Not doing any of these tips will lead to a shorter shelf life than what should be expected.

How to extend your perfumes shelf life

Similar to the correct way to storing fragrance bottles is exactly how you can extend the life of your favorite perfume, always keep your fragrances in a dark place, choose perfumes with more synthetic chemical notes in its original scent. To extend how long you actually keep the perfume for you can always use less perfume when spraying it on your skin, with certain scents less is more especially ones if they have other more chemical notes than natural.

What happens if you use expired perfume?

9 times out of 10 using expired perfume wont do you any harm, while the fragrance may of deteriorated generally its not going to be the end of the world.

In very extreme cases an allergic reaction or skin irritation could happen. in cases of allergic reactions or skin irritations once you’ve applied your fragrance then you should wash it off immediately.


Does perfume expire? Well the answer is yes it does, how quickly it takes for your favourite fragrance to go off is all down to you. Look after your favourite fragrance properly and you could have it for more than a couple of years. Dont follow the advice we give and you could find your fragrance going off before the set expiry date.

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