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  1. #1

    Smile Fragrance Shelf Life

    Hello basenotes community! I hope all is well!
    Something has been bugging me for a while so I'm hoping someone out there can put a rest to all this. I'm an avid fragrance collector and as I continue my journey in fragrance, I'm finding more and more fragrances and notes that I'm growing fond of and what not. That being said, I've been buying fragrances since In was 18 and have never looked back since! My collection is up to about 82 and what started out as Curve and Hugo Boss has now evolved into Pradas, Chanels, Geurlains, Hermes, and so on. As my collection grows, so does my wonder of how long they will last. I've heard that fragrances have a shelf life of 2 years but can be extended up to 5 years if kept out of the light and in a cool place. I've also heard that fragrances have no shelf life and can last up to a lifetime!
    When it comes to fragrance care, I've always kept my frags away from heat, light, and all the other things that might turn a fragrance but I still hear and read that even at that level of care, a fragrance can still lose its top notes over the years. Is this true? They say that storing a fragrance in the fridge is the best alternative to fragrance care but with my experiences with that, my bottle of Chrome by Azzaro that I stored in a fridge actually went bad within months because of the unstable environments I put it in everytime I'd take it out to use it or travel with it. I'd love to know anyones advice/experiences with fragrance care and proper storage of a fragrance and if it is true that a fragrance loses its top notes after some years. Thanks and have a blessed day!
    Last edited by jcastano; 12th June 2010 at 12:07 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Fragrance Shelf Life

    I'm curious too. Logic would have told me the alcohol would preserve the scent. If anything I'd assume further that a minute amount of the solvent would flash off making the scent slightly more pure. Sales Girls tell me one year. A nice bottle of Cologne is not worth 200 to me if it has a shelf life as it takes several years for me to deplete half of the bottle. I buy more than I wear too. My old colognes still smell great, but I don't know for certain that they don't smell different either.

    My little brother swears that several of his bottles did go bad. They have no smell to them other than alcohol, but he would wear stuff from Hollister or other teenager smelling fragrances.

  3. #3
    Basenotes Institution 30 Roses's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fragrance Shelf Life

    The biggest thing is keeping the fragrances in a dark place; keeping them cool is also important, but light causes the greatest damage.

    Most folks here don't keep their fragrances in a fridge-- I do, but I am in the minority. One member had his fragrances become ruined when his power went out and the fragrances went from being very cool to very warm over a relatively short time.

    I think how long a particular fragrance will last with all its top notes intact will vary from fragrance to fragrance; some notes may be more fragile. But I'd be surprised if a fragrance stored in a cool dark place went "off" within less than 5 years. Some here say they have had perfumes for much longer and they are still good.

    None of my fragrances have deteriorated since I began storing them in the cool and dark, and that had to be a good 4 years ago.
    Last edited by 30 Roses; 12th June 2010 at 12:50 AM. Reason: spacing; multiple typos

  4. #4

    Default Re: Fragrance Shelf Life

    I agree with your comment completely! Logic would make anyone believe that alcohol preserves just about anything but in regards to fragrance, I hear so many stating otherwise. Granted that there are a few frags out there such as The Hollisters or more cheaper brands that have less quality in the frags, so going rancid sooner might be a possibility. Still, I'm more bummed about the possibilty of losing the top notes in a frag even with proper care. To me, it just takes the fun away from fragrances and smelling them, you know? I have a bottle of Curve that I've owned for about 3 years and though it smells fine, I recently sprayed my brother-in-laws bottle and it smelled entirely different in the opening and it's strength! His smells a lot better for the opening but the drydown is more lighter while on mine, the opening is somewhat the same but the alcohol is much more pronounced and the drydown smells the same but stronger and more concentrated. It still smells good, just different. Oh, and did I mention that mine also lasts a lot longer?

  5. #5

    Default Re: Fragrance Shelf Life

    Could there be a variation in the formula over 5 years? Could the fresh stuff smell stronger because fragrances move toward synthetics? Wine doesn't like rapid variations in temperature, especially extremes. I wouldn't be able to taste the difference in spoiled wine vs good wine unless I could taste them side by side.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Fragrance Shelf Life

    I had a mainstream fragrance go bad on me after about two years ("Pure" by Jil Sander). I have heard the theory that well made scents "ripen" over the years. But what would qualify as a well made scent then? More natural ingredients? (By logic they would have to go bad quicker)

  7. #7

    Default Re: Fragrance Shelf Life

    There may be a variation but I'm not too sure. Mine is a 6.8 oz bottle I purchased from and his is a 2.5 oz purchasd from Wal-Mart. I'm not quite sure if mine is a fake but I've used Curve since I was 13 and I'm pretty sure that if it were a fake, 3 years ago when I purchased it, I would been able to tell. However, I'm looking at reviews for 6.8 oz bottles and most say that they smell like watered down versions or different from the others so maybe all along I've been smelling a fake....? I'm not too sure since it is stronger and lasts 8+ hours on me but who knows.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Fragrance Shelf Life

    Definitely agree! I hear Creeds go bad or flat within 1 year or 2 because of all the natural components they use so it really does not make sense to me that well made scents ripen when all the scents that are natural seem to deteriorate much faster and mainstream frags either go bad or lose quality over the years.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Fragrance Shelf Life

    My 2 year old bottle of GIT is still smelling great, as is my 14 year old bottle of Gucci Nobile. However I just revisited my 5-8 year old bottle of Lanvin Pour homme and it lost all the notes lol. It now smells of alcohol and hint of something to faint to resemble the old fragrance. I sprayed 10 sprays to see if it was just bad cologne in the plastic pick up tube which didn't help.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Fragrance Shelf Life

    I have tons of vintage formulas of fragrances, most of them older than five years, that still smell great. I have yet to smell a fragrance that has gone bad, although I admit I do not wear Creeds. You would think fragrances as delicate as that might be cheaper.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Fragrance Shelf Life

    In my experience, fragrances CAN last a long time, but not if you don't take good care of them. The fragrance killers are:

    (1) Oxygen. Splash bottles tend to be less well-sealed, and tend to go bad easier. Spray bottles and a stable environment seem to keep the oxygen levels low.
    (2) Contaminants. Again, a splash bottle phenomenon, when people rub, not splash. Dead skin cells and bacteria (enzymes), dirt (metal catalysts), soaps (surfactants, phase catalysts), and other things that, over time, will change the odor.
    (3) Light. This is the biggest problem for spray bottles, since O2 and dirt are less problematic. 90% according to Luca Turin.
    (4) Heat. Only a problem if your frag goes over 30-35 C. repeatedly or for a long time, and does not affect all frags equally.

    I have a bottle of Polo green from the late 80's, and Givenchy Gentleman from the early 90's. They are amazingly rich. If they have deteriorated, then it must be at a lower rate than perfumery in general, because they blow away what is in the stores. I always kept them in the dark at room temperature. Only recently have I refrigerated them, in hopes of keeping them for a LONG time.

    Keep your frags in spray bottles, in the dark at room temperature, and they will last for quite a while. Refrigerate carefully if you do. Verify that your fridge is stable with a digital thermometer. If it is cycling up and down, it could aereate your frag by pressure differences if the bottle's seal is loose. That's my guess as to why some folks have had bad fridge experiences. Most don't.
    Last edited by Redneck Perfumisto; 23rd June 2010 at 01:46 AM. Reason: minor correction (wrong word)
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  12. #12
    Kal's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fragrance Shelf Life

    Hi jcastano,

    I am wondering whether aldehydes are a good perserver as well as alcohol ...
    I have a bottle of No. 22 parfum that is 40+ years old and it's fine. I have about 20mls of a 100ml bottle of L'Interdit that's over 10 years old - that's aldehydic too and fantastic still - kept it's colour and all it's notes. *sighs* *already mourns the day when it is gone*

    I also have a mini of Givenchy III which is perfectly good and it's about 20 years old. My mini of Cabochard is around the same age and in great shape. Mini of Beautiful = ditto.
    BUT! I did recently buy a bottle of Lolita Lempicka that had gone bad. It was strange. All the notes had warped, with some coming forward, others disappearing and the overall scent was extremely weak.

    I have this incredibly abused bottle of Spellbound that someone had bought me when it was released ... that's 18/19 years ago. I left it out of it's box, left it in indirect light and basically cared not at all for it (I don't mind the scent - I just didn't like the person who gave it to me LOL).
    That bottle is missing it's top notes, has gone a deep brown the colour of Youth Dew but is otherwise good. Perfectly wearable.

    Testing old bottles next to brand new ones is not an accurate measure of whether your old perfume is bad or not as the reformulations can often destroy a perfume completely (EG. Current formulation of Opium and the 2002 reformulation of L'Interdit). The best indicator is you. If you like it and can wear it, all is awesome. I have personally bought some back up bottles of a few perfumes because I am either dreading a change in formulation or it already has a reformulation that I don't approve of. I have made sure that they are dated over 2 years ago and they are all fine.

    Many people bid like crazy on Ebay on old, old bottles - I just missed out on another 30ml bottle of No. 22 parfum that went for $180 US (I only bid 150, hoping to get a bargain - yes that's a bargain. T_T).

    Also note that The Perfumed Court sell very old formulations and long time discontinued fragrances which are all perfectly fine (in my experience).

    My input is that while it's impossible to tell which perfumes will age badly and which wont, the best we can do is take good care of them. Leave them in their boxes (or put them in a dark cupboard) and don't let them be exposed to extreme temperatures. I think I can safely say that most perfumes will last for as long as you would like to keep them ... but not all. xD

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  13. #13

    Default Re: Fragrance Shelf Life

    Do perfume companies bottle their fragrances under a nitrogen gas blanket? If oxygen really was a big killer, packaging it under nitrogen gas would eliminate oxygen in the bottle, at least until it was sprayed and then oxygen would then enter. It would at least help to preserve the fragrance before the first spray was made.

  14. #14
    Neurosis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Fragrance Shelf Life

    i think the shelf life is as long as the preservatives. most rubbing alcohol lasts 3-4 years before it "expires", although it still works i think

  15. #15

    Default Re: Fragrance Shelf Life

    Quote Originally Posted by jcastano View Post
    As my collection grows, so does my wonder of how long they will last.
    I suggest contacting the manufacturer. I got a few different answers about Chanel, so I emailed them direct and found out that their stuff has a shelf life of 3 years. They also will tell you the age of your bottle if you email them the four digit number on the back of the bottle.

    Here's the link to their email -
    Currently wearing: Terre d'Hermès by Hermès

  16. #16

    Default Re: Fragrance Shelf Life

    I think that most manufacturers will tell you 36 months to cover themselves but as we all know , keep your pongs in a cool and dark place they will last for many years to come

  17. #17

    Default Re: Fragrance Shelf Life

    Quote Originally Posted by Pour_Monsieur View Post
    I think that most manufacturers will tell you 36 months to cover themselves but as we all know , keep your pongs in a cool and dark place they will last for many years to come
    Do you keep them in the fridge?
    Currently wearing: Terre d'Hermès by Hermès

  18. #18

    Default Re: Fragrance Shelf Life

    Technically there are no expiry dates on scents. This thing on the bottom of bottles i.e 36 months ect is just EU rubbish unrealistic regulations. The rule I use is if it still smells great wear it, and if it smells foul then bin it. I have opened edt and edp scents around 8 years old and no signs of anything going foul. I store my bottles in their original boxes, and they are stored in a bigger box in the back of my wardrobe. 3 main killers of scents is light, heat and oxygen, light being the bigest killer of a scent. I have been storing my scents like this for years and no detectible problems with them.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Fragrance Shelf Life

    I have had some of my fragrances for many decades with no negative effects so as long they are kept optimally they should be fine.
    Remember that while it is perfectly acceptable to criticize the content of a post - criticizing the poster is not.
    Mean spirited, nasty, snide, sarcastic, hateful, and rude individuals on Basenotes don't warrant or deserve my or other Basenoters' acknowledgement or respect.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Fragrance Shelf Life

    Owning fragrances going as far back as 1992 or even the 1980s, even in splash bottles, never had any spoilage issues on any of these so far (and expect them to still be unspoiled several years ahead from now)

  21. #21

    Default Re: Fragrance Shelf Life

    It's funny, I go to great lengths to care for my fragrances. As repeatedly noted, light, heat and oxygen will all take their toll on a fragrance.

    I've bought a number of vintage scents over the years and all but a few were in good shape and smelled great. As an example, I have no idea what Gucci PH '76 smelled like when it hit the shelves, so I don't truly have a frame of reference, but my bottle is just beautiful. With that said, what kind of conditions were this (or other vintage fragrances that I've bought) exposed to? Was it kept in a cool, dark area for over 40 years? Who knows?!? Point being, this scent being referenced has "survived" this long and was likely not as well cared for as I take care of it now...

    I'm convinced that taking care of fragrances is a wonderful measure to ensure a fragrance's preservation; oxidation is real. I also feel that a fragrance's life also has quite a bit to do with the scent's structure, fixatives and a pinch of luck to boot.
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