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  1. #1
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    Default light and fragrances

    My fragrance collection is exposed to NO sunlight, however it is exposed to a lightbulb (on a ceiling fixture) for a couple hours a day? Is this bad, better, worse than sunlight?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: light and fragrances

    It's not as bad as sunlight. Far, far better. If the fragrance is close to the bulb, it *can* affect the fragrance - there is *no* doubt about that. The dyes in fragrance bottles in stores will discolor rapidly due to the fluroescent lighting in the shelving and in the ambient store lighting (which is usually rather bright). You can rest assured that some minor photochemistry is going on. But a couple of hours of interior light and darkness the rest of the time is not a bit deal, IMO. And if it's in boxes, even better.

    One SA many years ago told me about light and fragrance. He suggested cutting out the bottoms of the boxes and using these to cover the fragrances on my counter. It worked great for years. I have a 25+ year-old bottle of Polo that smells excellent, and spent about 20 of those years out on the counter in a room with sunlight, being merely covered with the outer shell of the box.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: light and fragrances

    Ultraviolet light is capable of destroying almost anything over time. UV can easily breakdown fragrance molecules over a long period of time. Keeping your perfumes out of direct sunlight is critical. Even with artificial lighting it is easy to underestimate how the time adds up. Just 3 hours a day is 1095 hours of exposure per year. I don't know about your usage, but a bottle lasts me several years.

    An incandescent light bulb puts out very little UV light and will be more likely to heat your perfumes than to UV them. Fluorescent and compact fluorescent light bulbs can put out much more UV light. The exact amount depends heavily on the specific bulb. You must be aware of what kind of light bulb is in use, but no "normal" light bulb will be as bad as direct sunlight.

    Most likely your wardrobe is safe, but colder and darker is always safer.


    *Edit*- Red's cardboard bottle holsters are a great idea for blocking UV. Why perfume is still sold in clear bottles is a mystery to me though.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: light and fragrances

    Quote Originally Posted by Guibo View Post
    Why perfume is still sold in clear bottles is a mystery to me though.
    Definitely. It's like beer in green bottles that's *known* to turn skunky because of transmitted light and hops. You would think they would just stop doing it, but they just keep doing it.

    I think with fragrance, they figure you should be throwing it out after two or three years anyway, so why build it to last longer? And if they can put some dyes in the juice that make it look more appealing, then they do the clear bottles, and go with those increased sales, rather than having it last twice as long (delaying the next sale, to boot).

    *SIGH* - stuff just ain't built to last any more!
    * * * *

  5. #5
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    Default Re: light and fragrances

    Keep your fragrances inside of their boxes when not in use. Keep those boxes in the darkest, coolest place possible. Light more than anything else will affect your fragrances over time. Many years ago when I was not privy to this information, I would display my fragrances in a shelf and they were exposed to sunlight during the day, and light bulbs during the evening. I noticed how they changed in color, texture and scent because of those. So protect those fine fragrances that you have worked so hard for.

  6. #6

    Default Re: light and fragrances

    If I collected vintage fragrances, or was buying fragrances as an investment (imagine an oakmoss heavy scent 10 years from now), I would want to store them like fine wines. Dig a deep cellar into the earth and store them in complete darkness at around 55F (13C). The paper in the box might rot away to dust, but the fragrance itself would be like new for generations provided it was sealed up tight.

    Like Red said "stuff just ain't built to last any more"

  7. #7
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    Default Re: light and fragrances

    So to be clear, my collection (around 20 bottles) is on the second shelf of a bookshelf. The light (compact flourescent) is on the ceiling (covered by fixture) about 6 square feet in distance to my collection.

    I'm looking for all my bottles to last 10 years. Could they last 10 years without any serious defects?

  8. #8
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    Default Re: light and fragrances

    If it's an incandescent light and the room is dark (I mean really dark) when you leave, and the bottles are not in their boxes, then they will be OK in 10 years. But if we're talking fluorescent lights, and *some* bounced sunlight, and not in their boxes, then you may see minor degradation in one or two of them in 10 years. That's probably it. That's my prediction.
    * * * *

  9. #9
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    Default Re: light and fragrances

    ^ yeah and i'm assuming bottle design has to do with it. opague or translucent bottles will be more resistant to light whereas clear bottles take in more light. is this an important factor?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: light and fragrances

    Quote Originally Posted by noirdrakkar View Post
    ^ yeah and i'm assuming bottle design has to do with it. opague or translucent bottles will be more resistant to light whereas clear bottles take in more light. is this an important factor?
    Yes, though you can't count on even bottle color to prevent all light from getting in (e.g., beer getting skunked by visible that gets past green glass).

    There's no law that says ALL your fragrances have to be showing. I tend to keep my nicer *boxed ones* out (especially tall ones that don't fit in drawers. Also my fast-moving fragrances - the ones that will be gone soon. And you can always keep out the ones that are really strong, and are not necessarily your prize possessions, because any slight decay won't even be noticeable. But I would keep your citrus cool and dark for sure. JMO.

    Another thing to do is *rotate* stuff to show. Keep most of it boxed and in drawers in the dark, and just show a few at a time. That's what my wife does. It really looks nice, too. You can really make a nice presentation. She changes it every week or so.
    * * * *

  11. #11

    Default Re: light and fragrances

    To be clear: Compact Fluorescent light bulbs do emit UV light. Without knowing the specs of your specific bulb all I can promise is that; YES it does emit some UV rays. Given the distance and the shelf... you are probably quite safe as long as there is no sunlight. Light bulbs do not compare to the sun's destructive force.

    Ten years is not an unrealistic goal, especially if the bottles are tinted. Bright "office" fluorescent lights (4ft fixtures) would be much worse than one CFL.

    If you are displaying the bottles as part of a room decor, then rock on and use them up in a decade. If not, try Red's cardboard bottle holsters and sleep easy knowing your sniffies are safe.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: light and fragrances

    Quote Originally Posted by Guibo View Post
    Ten years is not an unrealistic goal, especially if the bottles are tinted.
    Agree.

  13. #13

    Default Re: light and fragrances

    What about this bottle of Tom Ford Extreme



    The bottle's very dark, but it's not solid. Can I leave this out on the counter in not-quite-direct sunlight in a warm room for 5 years and not suffer ill effects?

  14. #14

    Default Re: light and fragrances

    Ohhh dear - does this mean the light bulb in my fridge is destroying my precious juice, every time I open the door? Rofl

  15. #15
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    Default Re: light and fragrances

    Quote Originally Posted by Made in California View Post
    What about this bottle of Tom Ford Extreme



    The bottle's very dark, but it's not solid. Can I leave this out on the counter in not-quite-direct sunlight in a warm room for 5 years and not suffer ill effects?
    My guess is that it would be fine. First - it's a strong fragrance. Small change would be hard to notice. Brown bottle will definitely help, too. And it generally takes more than 5 years for a bottle of fragrance to go bad even under nasty conditions.

    However, just remember that you may change your mind about using it up. I've found that when bottles get old, and have an older, richer, better formulation in them, I find myself wanting to hang onto them. I wanted to kill my old bottle of Polo a long time ago, but now I want to keep what's left. It's SO rich - amazing stuff. Also, you never know if Extreme will be on the market in 5 years, so those last few mL are going to be precious if it's not.
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