Does Perfume Expire? Here's How To Know It's Time To Say Bye - En Route Beauty
does perfume expire?

Does Perfume Expire? Here’s How To Know It’s Time To Say Bye

We know you still have that one bottle circa 2005

If you’ve had a fragrance saved for a long time, you may wonder if your most prized bottle expires. Unlike a carton of milk or your driver’s license, perfumes don’t have an expiry date. This got us thinking… do our perfumes expire? How do we know? Can we tell by doing the old spray-and-sniff trick?

No matter how fabulous, all good things come to an end.

Eau de ToileTtE VS Eau de Parfum


Your fragrance type can determine the shelf life of your perfume, whether it’s an Eau de Toilette, an Eau de Parfum, Parfum or Eau de Cologne.

The differences?

Ruth Stonier, National Training Manager for PUIG Fragrances, explains that “They are different interpretations which are perfectly balanced for different occasions or tastes.”

While the main difference lays in the concentration of perfume oil to alcohol.

Parfum = 15% to 20% perfume oil in alcohol

  • Parfum is the most concentrated of all fragrance types, with a scent that can last up to 2 days

Eau de Parfum = 10% to 15% perfume oil in alcohol

  • Concentrated slightly less than a Parfum, it holds a scent that can last from 8 to 10 hours

Eau de Toilette = 6% to 8% perfume oil in alcohol

  • An Eau de Toilette is designed to be worn daily and sprayed liberally, with a scent that can last from 4 to 6 hours

Eau de Cologne = 2% perfume oil in alcohol

  • The lightest of all fragrance types, created with simplified perfume notes that can last from 3 to 4 hours
An Eau de Toilette tends to age a little slower, thanks to the higher concentration of alcohol in the formulation



How you store your perfume can make a world of difference. While there are no hard and fast expiration dates on fragrances, you may still be able to use that bottle you’ve been saving for special occasions.

Nick Smart, Director of Agence de Parfum & Libertine Parfumerie says “An eau de toilette tends to age a little slower, thanks to the higher concentration of alcohol in the formulation, which acts as a protective preservative.”

Typical shelf life?

  • Open bottle = 3 to 5 years

How to extend its life?

  • Store them in a cool dark environment
  • Store out of direct sunlight
  • Avoid bathroom shelves as humidity can be detrimental to the scent of your perfume

If you’ve followed the above rules, then you may be able to still use that old bottle you demoted to the guest bathroom a long time ago! Take it from Nick himself, “I have fragrances that I purchased in the late ’80s and they are still in pristine condition.”

Check your perfumes every 6 to 12 months



If you haven’t properly stored your perfumes, there are some telltale signs to find out if it’s gone bad. Nick suggests “If the perfume’s colour shifts to a darker hue, or the scent becomes a little sour or musty, it is best to dispose and discover a new scent.”

While Ruth from PUIG fragrances tells us to “Check your perfumes every 6 to 12 months,” due to our long-lasting summers. Ruth confirms that while colour change and oxidization can be a determining factor of a perfume gone bad, however, “Some fragrances with more oriental base notes, change colour faster due to the spicier base notes, and this doesn’t change the actual smell.”

So be sure to check your perfume’s integrity every 6 to 12 months, if you notice a change in the scent, then it’s probably time to throw it away.

“Ultimately, if you love your fragrances, you will use them before the first 2 years!” Fact.


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