Finding a scent you’re obsessed with can feel like hitting the lottery. So, once you’ve made the investment in a fragrance, you want to do everything you can to preserve its longevity. Because no matter how fabulous, all good things can come to an end—especially if you’re not giving your fragrance the tender loving care. Certain behaviors can actually alter the chemical makeup of a scent, making it expire sooner. Ahead, Vose Vianne—helps us determine how to tell when your perfume has expired (plus how to make your favorite fragrance last longer).
What Happens When Your Fragrance Expires?
Most fragrance manufacturers will recommend tossing your bottle after anywhere from one to two years (check your label), but since fragrance doesn't expire in the same sense that food does, it's sometimes okay to keep using a bottle for two, even three years.
Vose confirms that indeed, fragrance does have a shelf life. However, he says, “There is no hard and fast rule.” He does offer tips on how to make your scent last, but first you have to understand a little something about the chemical composition of cologne.
“In my experience,” says Vose, “perfumes do not fade in intensity, but the scent tends to become oxidized, sour, sometimes acidic or metallic or with notes of plastic.” In other words, too much oxygen inside your perfume bottle can alter the molecules of the fragrance which can affect overall scent.
“The oxidation can come from the top notes like citrus, aromatics that are at risk, but also by the dry-down of the fragrance,” explains Vose. Different formulas are more prone to oxidizing, which is why some perfumes last longer than others. “I have personally noticed that Chypre fragrances with a high concentration of Patchouli tend to risk a scent’s longevity,” she says. “Some resins and incense can be also surprising.”
Which Perfumes Last the Longest?
The longest lasting aromatics have a lot of chemical stability. “Woodsy notes, amber, and leather are quite stable,” says Vose, “even after three years.”
Perfumes with high alcohol content tend to last the longest as the alcohol prevents the aromatic molecules from oxidizing. You might think of alcohol as an ingredient to avoid in beauty products, but when it comes to fragrance, au contraire. Alcohol is the key preservative for the integrity of a perfume. “These are typically colognes or the eau de toilettes with 90 percent alcohol,” says Vose. “The less concentrated it is, the best longevity you can expect. A fragrance is usually 70 to 90 percent alcohol, which provides preservative support.”
Tips to Make Your Perfume Last Longer
01 Keep Perfume Away from Light
Although it might look cute to place your perfume bottles on your window sill, this is the worst place to store fragrance if you want to preserve its integrity. Vose says that light will break down the molecules of a fragrance making its composition unstable and prone to oxidation.
02 Keep Perfume Away from Heat
Heat will also break down fragrance molecules and alter its chemical makeup. Vose suggests you keep the fragrance below 15 degrees celsius or 59 degrees fahrenheit.
03 Keep On Using It Until the Bottle Is Empty
“When half empty, the oxygen inside increases the risk of alteration,” says Vose. “This is not easy for most of consumers today, who have an average of four different fragrances at home, alternating from one to the other.” She advises to alternate fragrance only once the bottle is empty, especially for highly concentrated fragrances.
04 Store Fragrance in a Closed Cupboard
With water pipes, heat, and humidity, your bathroom is not ideal for storing your perfume collection. Instead, try a lined lingerie box or vanity out of direct sunlight. Another idea is to keep perfume in their original boxes in your bedroom or study.
05 Store Perfume in a Chill Place
To keep your fragrance at the ideal temperature, the fridge is a good option. However, Vose has a caveat. “The fridge is not perfect place if the whole family keeps on opening its door, constantly lighting up the inside.” You could wrap your fragrance in aluminum foil, or better yet, try the freezer. Perfume contains alcohol so it won’t freeze, plus it feels refreshing at a cooler temperature.
Taking care of your fragrance is essential to preserving its longevity. Plus, you can get the most out of your scent by applying it correctly. Avoid rubbing fragrance on pulse points, as your body heat will evaporate some of the notes. Instead, apply on moist, damp skin to lock in scent as you savor every last drop.
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