In life as in perfumery, certain beliefs are sometimes hard to dispel! That’s why we’ve decided to put a stop to preconceived ideas about perfume. Some noses even talk about “fragwashing” as these myths have become so common. Like shared truths that have never really been verified, they impact the way we test, choose and wear our favorite fragrances. Let’s start today with a first idea that we hear very regularly: after 3 years, a perfume is expired and is good to throw away. Really?
What we hear
On our social networks or via the online shop chat, you regularly ask us about the shelf life of your precious bottle. And for good reason, when you go through the search engines looking for this information (which may seem obvious at first glance, and yet), you quickly realize that there are as many results as there are different answers… Not easy to find your way. So what to do with the rest of your beloved perfume, bought several years ago?
Very often, you will come across the famous 3 years sentence while searching on the web. And indeed, you have often heard that after these three fateful years, it is better to throw your perfumed bottle, not into the sea, but into the trash. Because after all, “you never know”. So, without really knowing why or how, you reluctantly decide to part with this essence that you loved so much. To avoid any risk of olfactory frustration and to understand how a perfume ages, we explain to you what really happens inside your bottle.
How long does it take for a perfume to expire?
They say that love lasts 3 years
Some people spray faster than their shadow and empty a bottle in no time. Others like to alternate between essences, and leave some essences aside for a while, to better come back to them later. For them, the question of expired perfume often arises. Like makeup and skin care products, perfume also has a limited life expectancy. However, it is rare to see a clear use-by date on the packaging of a fragrance. Manufacturers generally recommend a shelf life of 36 months. This is where the idea comes from that your fragrance love affair cannot last beyond 3 years. In reality, this is more of a legal cover that allows brands to protect themselves in case of a potential problem. So don’t worry, you won’t risk much by continuing to use your perfume, even after 3 years.
Expired perfume: a story of composition
Perfume is a living product, composed of a multitude of ingredients assembled with each other. From the first drops sprayed, its juice will not stop evolving over time. Therefore, we can say that each essence has its own lifespan. This one will then depend on its formulation, its content of alcohol and natural ingredients but also of the various notes which it contains.
For example, eaux de parfum and pure perfumes will tend to keep longer than eau de toilette or cologne. These are fresher and lighter, and their volatile notes will evaporate more quickly. Generally speaking, the top notes, those which give the perfume this fresh and tonic departure, are the most volatile. They are often citrus or aromatic notes, which will be more sensitive to the phenomenon of oxidation. After some time spent with your bottle, you will maybe have to go beyond a top note where the smell of alcohol is revealed first.
On the other hand, oriental fragrances and those that deliver leathery, woody or musky notes will remain more stable over time. Their “heavier” materials will better resist evaporation. As you can see, talking about expired perfume doesn’t mean much because there is no definitive and universal rule about shelf life.
What about oxidation?
When you’re trying to figure out if your perfume is expired, there’s another indicator that can tip you off: the color of the juice. Essences are not big fans of light and air. When they come into contact with them, fragrances may change color slightly. Rest assured, your perfume will not turn from translucent to petrol blue! The juice will sometimes gain some tones, becoming a little darker.
This is the phenomenon of oxidation, and it is completely natural. This is notably the case of our eau de parfum vanille. At first totally transparent, its juice will take on brown-orange colors, without losing its gourmand wake! In the compositions, the essences of some flowers will also tend to darken naturally over time, without their smell changing. This phenomenon can be observed with orange blossom or with jasmine. A change in color is not necessarily synonymous with expired perfume. So before throwing away your favorite scent, smell and test it!
What we remember
As we said before, there is no absolute truth and it is difficult to know how long a perfume will remain the one you fell in love with from the first time. In fact, some fragrances are even more beautiful after decades! By following a few simple steps, you can significantly increase the shelf life of your perfume. But in any case, your nose must always remain the only judge. If you are in doubt and think that your perfume has expired, spray your juice several times in the air to re-start the pump. Then test on your wrist and smell. If you recognize the beautiful scent that you know by heart, the story can continue! If, on the other hand, you smell a vinegar note or a plastic impression, your paths should probably separate…
How long do you usually keep your perfume bottles?
Discover the fragrances mentioned in the article