Just like any beauty product, your perfume and aftershave will also have a shelf life. However, it isn’t always obvious how long you can hang on to a scent before you need to think about throwing it away. While some perfumes and aftershaves will go off after just a year, others can last in excess of 10 years with no issues.
If you want to extend the life of your aftershave or perfume, there are steps you can take. And the good news is that even if your fragrance has gone off, there may be little to no change in the scent. This means you can still wear it long after the expiration date. If you’re curious about how long fragrance lasts, how to make it last longer, and how to tell when it has expired, read on!
How long do most fragrances last?
There isn’t a specific time frame you can expect your aftershave or perfume to last. It could be anything from 12 months to 10 years. As a general rule, fragrances with the heavier base notes are thought to last longer. So, if you’re looking for an occasional-wear fragrance and you don’t want to be rushed to finish the whole bottle, look for something with heavy base notes as this should stand the test of time.
How do you know the expiration date on a fragrance?
Not all fragrances will include an expiration date, but some do. You can usually find this on the fragrance box. It will typically be a small pot symbol with a number and an M inside. This is used on all cosmetics to let you know the shelf life. For example, if your fragrance will only last for 1 year, it will say 12M on the box. For a 2-year product, it should say 24M.
Others may have a best before date or a use before date on the packaging. You might also need to look up the manufacturing batch code for your scent, and then find out how long it typically lasts. This will allow you to determine when you need to stop wearing this particular fragrance.
What happens to fragrance when it expires?
When a fragrance expires, you might notice a change in the scent. It might become quite unpleasant, or it might simply be less powerful and evocative than it once was.
Those with more prominent base notes will last the longest and be the least reactive and volatile. For example, choose one with woody or balsamic base notes if you want it to last longer. Some spicy scents may even improve with age as they become richer.
In contrast, fragrances with citrus top notes or floral middle notes are most likely to have a shorter shelf life. These types of fragrances might become less potent or take on a slightly sour, vinegary smell.
Using an expired fragrance isn’t dangerous or bad for your health in any way, but it won’t have the original scent. Once the original scent is either diminished or changed, there isn’t much point in continuing to use the fragrance. The only difference is with heavy top note fragrances which can actually become more interesting and complex over time.
How do I know when my fragrance has expired?
The first clue is nearly always a change in the scent. It might become weaker or smell sour or unpleasant. If you notice a change in your favourite scent, there is a good chance it has expired. And if your scent doesn’t last as long, this is a sign that it has oxidised.
The second clue is usually a change in the colour of the liquid. If it was light or clear when you first bought it and it has become darker or more yellow, this is a good sign that it has expired and you might want to stop using it.
How can I make my fragrance last longer?
The way you store your fragrance will have a huge impact on its shelf life. Direct sunlight and high temperatures can cause your perfume to break down faster, so try to avoid storing your perfume or aftershave on a windowsill or anywhere that gets direct sunlight.
If you live somewhere very hot or you’re planning to travel somewhere hot, either keep your fragrance in the fridge, or simply store it in a dark cupboard or cabinet.
Leaving the lid of your aftershave or perfume is also not advised, as this will allow the air to oxidise the scent, which can diminish the impact.
Choosing an eau de parfum will also help your fragrance to last longer. This is because it is highly concentrated and not watered down. You’ll also use less of it, so you’ll need your bottle to last longer. Just make sure you’re storing it correctly to prolong the scent.