Saturday, April 6, 2013

Can Perfume Go Bad?


  1. Can perfume go bad?
Yes, but only when it doesn't get what it wants. Then it’s a real stinker. Like everything else, a perfume wants to be loved! :O)
Perfume can go bad, but it’s an uncommon occurrence when it does in a higher grade niche perfume. It does depend on the fragrance itself. Certain fragrances seem to be more fragile than others, hence will sour more easily.
     Expensive perfumes which are made from rare essential oils tend to last for a longer time than simple drug store scents. Also, most perfumes that you purchase in department stores contain only 33% pure perfume oil (vs. 60% in niche perfumes), and the rest is alcohol, water, butane and fillers. These “extras” can lend a hand in “turning” your perfume to the “Dark – Side” quicker.

  1. How do you know?
If you notice a smell change, than it is starting to go bad. If the original potent smell has diminished than it has gone bad as well.
b. By looking at it? Watch out for color change. The color can turn darker and look much thicker. When you open a bottle of perfume that you haven’t used for a while, wipe the opening of the bottle   with alcohol. If it smells bad, then discard the contents.
C. By smelling it? If you notice a vinegar /acidic smell than the contents have changed. If it doesn’t smell like it once did, it’s bad too. Rancid perfumes seem to all have the same acrid odor over the original notes.

  1. Are certain types of fragrances more likely to turn bad more so than others?
 It is unwritten fragrance lore that perfumes can be stored for around three to five years.  But we suggest just Forget the dates!  Store your perfume properly and let your nose decide!
A perfume made from natural flower or fruit extracts usually stand all tests of time. The more exotic / natural scents can still smell vibrant and fresh, even if they spend years properly stored. An herb based perfume like lavender can last indefinitely.
Kept in a cool, dark place, away from humidity (not stored in a bathroom) and at a consistent temperature (70 degrees) could enable your natural oil Cologne, Eau de Toilette, Eau de Parfum or Perfume oil extrait last up to 30 years or more! Woot!
  1. Are essential oils a better bet?
Just try a natural oil perfume and you will be “changed” for life. An essential oil perfume mixed with carrier oils are in question though. Carrier oils, including coconut, jojoba and almond oils are from the fatty part of the plant and are produced by cold pressing. They don’t lose their scent like essential oils do but they can become rancid. However carrier oils last indefinitely, so that is why they are used. Others, like evening primrose, grape seed and rose hip oils go rancid within six months to a year. The other carrier oils last between a year and two.

3. Why does perfume turn bad?
You can blame it on its upbringing.
The science: The natural oil in perfume comes from a long chain of substituted allyl aromatics. They are susceptible to decomposition through bacterial growth at a very low rate. These natural oils are mixed with fillers and alcohol. The alcohol is a biocide. No known bioform grows in alcohol. Also, since the vast majority of fragrances have saturated hydrocarbon chains, they are not susceptible to oxidation, which CAUSES RANCIDITY IN NATURAL OILS!
3a. Aside from the breakdown of the juice itself, does anything else further the process along?
I had a bottle of Claude Montana perfume from the late 1980’s. I had it a long time but didn’t take good care of it. I stored in it my medicine chest in my bathroom (without the original box), moved it to my dresser top in direct sunlight, and then left it in a box in my garage throughout the last 20 years. When I rediscovered it, to my dismay the perfume was “bad”.
The unwritten Perfume Lore says it you take good care of your bottles, your perfumes will last forever. I’m a believer and won’t flush that advice down the drain with my rancid perfume.
3b. Heat / Sunlight:
Remember the three enemies of “Good Perfume”: Sunlight, Heat and Air
Become a Heat Miser…
When perfume comes in contact with heat, the fragrance gets oxidized, which may result in loss of fragrance. You also need to take care of your perfumes while transporting them from one place to another. The heat inside a vehicle builds up quite fast. This leads to expansion and contraction of liquids due to the changes in temperature.

  1. What is the average shelf life of a fragrance?
Good quality perfumes made with essential oils will keep 6 years when kept in their boxes and a cool, dark place. Perfume bottles with stoppers won’t keep as long as a spray top because they easily become contaminated by coming into contact with skin and its bacteria. Pure Perfume extraits will last the longest due to the absence of fillers, alcohol and additives.
4a. How you extend the life of your fragrances to keep them from turning?
Don’t give them mouth to mouth when you think they are dying.  :O)
  1. Minimize Oxygen exposure: just as oxygen turns the flesh of a sliced apple brown, so does it destroy the scent and longevity of your perfume. Make sure the bottle cap it tight. Purchase spray bottles over roll ons or splash bottles because they lessen the perfume’s exposure to air.
  2. Banish sunlight:  Tans don’t look good on perfumes!
Don’t display your new, gorgeous bottle on your dresser top. Doing so can expose your perfume to sunlight. Sunlight will change the fragrance and darken the color. Store in a dark place, a drawer or your closet and save the original box. This will provide an extra layer of protection against harmful UV rays, as well as oxygen and heat.
3. Avoid Heat: Heat corrupts perfume so the steamy bathroom in not ideal. Some like the refrigerator, but due to evaporation, your perfume can scent the food inside. A dresser drawer is best.
5. Is there anything that can be done once a perfume turns bad?
If you worry about how long a perfume keeps, then it may mean that you don’t wear it that often. Get use of it before it goes bad. Put a few drops in a drugstore body lotion or your shampoo or conditioner. Water it down a little in a spray bottle and mist your sheets and even add a dab to your puppy’s dog Shampoo. That’s worth a pat on the head or two. Don’t give your fragrances time to sit. Don’t collect them. Like my fashions, hairstyle and makeup, my fragrances are special to me. Here at the Perfume Shoppe we specialize in Building Your Fragrance Wardrobe. Fragrances are made to enjoy so enjoy and have a Sensational Day!


  1. wow... never knew there are so many ways to save guard our lovely perfume scent.
    Thanks for sharing.

  2. I purchased a very expensive perfume a few days ago. It smelled lovely in the store. When I got it home and opened it the next day, it had no fragrance whatsoever. I'm trying to get a replacement or refund. I have no idea what caused my bottle to turn from a $400 perfect scent to a completely non-existent one. Perhaps it's one of these reasons.

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