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  1. #1

    Default When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    Hey, Fumeheads . . .

    Would someone out there who really understands how properly stored fragrances age over time address the topic of longevity? I've read in a few places online that fragrances (properly stored and unopened) have a window of time before they begin to deteriorate. Five years for some reason comes to mind, although I'm sure it would vary if it were true. Yet there are a ton of fragrance collectors who rave about how the vintage versions of a fragrance are typically superior if you can still get your hands on one that has been properly stored. Periodically I see someone screeching because they found a "holy grail" bottle of something that was long thought to have disappeared for good. What good IS it if it has deteriorated, aside from being a relic?

    So, which is it? Do properly stored fragrances (and I'm not talking Wind Song here) have an indefinite shelf life, allowing them to be enjoyed many decades after they were made? Or do they indeed begin to break down after a few years. Again, I'm only talking fragrances that are unopened and properly stored. Is the whole notion of an expiration date something that stores and perfume houses push so people will throw out their older bottles unnecessarily and buy a new one just so more bottles are sold, much like the drug companies do?

    Also, to what degree do natural vs synthetic ingredients in a fragrance affect its longevity if properly stored?

    Thanks in advance for the feedback.


    Pinnacos

    P.S. Yes, I'm aware drugs do have a shelf life, but it's likely much longer than the Rx companies would have you believe.

  2. #2
    kumquat's Avatar
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    Default Re: When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    Every scent and every bottle is different. I've opened sealed bottles that were almost 100 years old and had a magical experience. Once they are exposed to air though, they do begin to break down and evaporate. Someday I may have a sniff and be disappointed. That's why it's important to use them once they're open.

  3. #3

    Default Re: When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    In fact it's kinda strange that some scents would go bad after 3, 4, 5 years and on the other hand people pay lot's of money for vintage stuff that are 10, 20, 30 or more years old... and even when the bottles are only half full? So I follow you on that point, Pinnacos.

    I keep my most precious ones in a temperature controlled environment. Not that I think it's really necessary but in a way to be sure I guess.

    On the other hand if one collects wine, clothes, exotic plants, books etc... they won't last forever neither so I'm not that worried about it.

  4. #4

    Default Re: When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    As others have said, properly stored perfumes (dark, cool, possibly with minimal contact with oxygen) do last decades. The 5-10 year is indeed something stores or houses claim to increase sales.

    That said, perfumes eventually do start to break down a bit, it's really hard to find something in perfect state earlier than, say, the 60s. Plus, very few of the things that are sold on ebay have been stored perfectly, so many do have some off parts. Typically, top notes like citruses start to deteriorate earlier, while basenotes tend to last longer. So often the first 15 min of a frag can be off, but then the drydown is ok.

    The reason why people are willing to put up with that is that many current fragrances are a shadow of their former selves, having been reformulated badly, especially as a result of IFRA regulations. And an imperfect original is usually better than an uninsping derivative.

    cacio

  5. #5

    Default Re: When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    Quote Originally Posted by cacio View Post
    As others have said, properly stored perfumes (dark, cool, possibly with minimal contact with oxygen) do last decades. The 5-10 year is indeed something stores or houses claim to increase sales.

    That said, perfumes eventually do start to break down a bit, it's really hard to find something in perfect state earlier than, say, the 60s. Plus, very few of the things that are sold on ebay have been stored perfectly, so many do have some off parts. Typically, top notes like citruses start to deteriorate earlier, while basenotes tend to last longer. So often the first 15 min of a frag can be off, but then the drydown is ok.

    The reason why people are willing to put up with that is that many current fragrances are a shadow of their former selves, having been reformulated badly, especially as a result of IFRA regulations. And an imperfect original is usually better than an uninsping derivative.

    cacio
    Great post again Cacio. Thank's!

  6. #6
    kumquat's Avatar
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    Default Re: When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    Cacio is right. Personally I'm hooked on oakmoss and probably a lot of other chemicals about which I know little. One thing I've noticed is that cans and spray bottles under pressure (chloro- Fluorocarbons) hold up very well.

  7. #7

    Default Re: When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    Speaking from a strictly personal and limited experience, had so far the luck to (at least once) "dodge the shelf life/expiry date". Sure, it was so far possible for one fragrance from a multiple bottle collection alone, yet the juice in my (1993 the latest, if not even earlier manufactured, also discontinued around the same time) bottle of Horizon by Guy Laroche suffered, when least expected, NO significant decrease or damage in terms of longevity, but also good distinctiveness of single notes, skin tolerance etc., even though as a splash bottle the chances were even higher due to more oxygen exposure. This served as a lesson to me not to take limitations, warnings, indications about expiry dates too seriously, since fragrances truly seem to develop (in lack of a better word) an endurance of their own.

  8. #8

    Default Re: When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken_Russell View Post
    Speaking from a strictly personal and limited experience, had so far the luck to (at least once) "dodge the shelf life/expiry date". Sure, it was so far possible for one fragrance from a multiple bottle collection alone, yet the juice in my (1993 the latest, if not even earlier manufactured, also discontinued around the same time) bottle of Horizon by Guy Laroche suffered, when least expected, NO significant decrease or damage in terms of longevity, but also good distinctiveness of single notes, skin tolerance etc., even though as a splash bottle the chances were even higher due to more oxygen exposure. This served as a lesson to me not to take limitations, warnings, indications about expiry dates too seriously, since fragrances truly seem to develop (in lack of a better word) an endurance of their own.
    Thank's for sharing. These are good anecdotes to share!

  9. #9

    Default Re: When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    Mainly depends of care and storage of a frangrance, as well as the fragrance itself. Some chemicals and notes evaporate faster than others.

  10. #10
    hednic's Avatar
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    Default Re: When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    When properly stored they'll last decades. I'm not sure about indefinite shelf life but what I currently possess have lasted decades and will definitely outlast me.
    Last edited by hednic; 16th June 2014 at 10:14 PM.
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    Mean spirited, nasty, snide, sarcastic, hateful, and rude individuals don't warrant or deserve other individuals' acknowledgement or respect.

  11. #11

    Default Re: When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    We can't avoid the laws entropy in scents ...etc and neither in of our own selves can't we avoid it (our bodies).every situation is different in scents safe guarding method(humidity-proof footlockers )but safe keeping does help obviously to an extent ...oxygen is so necessary but it does ignite the oxidation process, so as my other fellow Basenoter said use it to get optimal wear on a scent that's ancient within Opening ....peace
    Last edited by magnus611; 15th June 2014 at 09:55 PM.
    "Thank GOD for the nose, for without it we would not be enjoying these beautiful created Scents" also Remember "Balance is everything and the key to appreciating "

  12. #12

    Default Re: When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    Thanks for the feedback, folks.

    Someone could probably make a bit of money if they came up with a vacuum device much like they have in the wine industry where you remove the oxygen from a partially used bottle of wine to its increase its longevity exponentially, except in this case do it with a bottle of fragrance. I guess to do it properly though, given the guzillion sizes and shapes of bottles, you'd have to decant your precious liquid into a spray bottle that fits the vacuum device. And it really would only make sense if the bottle you're decanting is particularly prone to deterioration once opened (splash bottles or stopper bottles in particular.)

    Just a thought . . .
    Last edited by Pinnacos; 16th June 2014 at 02:09 AM.

  13. #13

    Default Re: When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    I guess the market for this would be tiny, since most people use up their perfumes rather quickly.

    If really into it, I guess one could try using the same devices for wine. I've never used them myself, but I think I read somewhere that they now sell devices with heavy inert gases to pour into an open bottle. A heavy inert gas will sit on top of the liquid and prevent contact with the lighter oxygen. The Osmotheque uses argon for the purpose.

    cacio

  14. #14
    kumquat's Avatar
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    Default Re: When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    The crazy bottle designs they have are usually not very good in terms of preserving scent. It should be a primary concern.

  15. #15

    Default Re: When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    Quote Originally Posted by cacio View Post
    I guess the market for this would be tiny, since most people use up their perfumes rather quickly.

    If really into it, I guess one could try using the same devices for wine. I've never used them myself, but I think I read somewhere that they now sell devices with heavy inert gases to pour into an open bottle. A heavy inert gas will sit on top of the liquid and prevent contact with the lighter oxygen. The Osmotheque uses argon for the purpose.

    cacio
    I guess you can't use the bottle then? Is there a point in having a bottle which you cannot use? Even if you just wear it few times a year, you still use it...

  16. #16

    Default Re: When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    Agree it's a pain, and I'm certainly not doing it. But for those who are really into it. One can take off a small quantity and put it in a vial for regular use while keeping the rest in storage (which I believe more or less is what the Osmotheque does).

    cacio

  17. #17

    Default Re: When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    I have come to realize, after more than 40 years of collecting and enjoying fragrance, that it is as mortal as we are. It has its perfection for an allotted time and then starts slipping from the pinnacle. As others have pointed out, a lot depends on the individual fragrance and its circumstances. But if I may paraphrase myself here from an earlier post, "Molecule by molecule, it's all going away. Give it a home on your skin".

  18. #18

    Default Re: When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jardanel View Post
    I have come to realize, after more than 40 years of collecting and enjoying fragrance, that it is as mortal as we are. It has its perfection for an allotted time and then starts slipping from the pinnacle. As others have pointed out, a lot depends on the individual fragrance and its circumstances. But if I may paraphrase myself here from an earlier post, "Molecule by molecule, it's all going away. Give it a home on your skin".
    As a long time collector after how many years did some of your scents go off to thestage to be un-w/b-earable?

  19. #19

    Default Re: When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    I wouldn't say they became unwearable, just unrecognizable as what they were meant to be. I'd say it took a good 15 years for most to start their decline, but all my frags are stored in a dark, cool place (not refrigerated, just a closet on the cold side of the house). The extraits have survived better than anything else, and of course the bottles that were unopened and unused have been by and large the nicer surprises. Of the bottles that had heavy use, an example would be Gauloise by Molyneux. The remnants in my bottle of extrait still have that defining hit of tobacco/rose/nutmeg. The edp bottle still contains a very attractive fragrance, but it's missing that thing. Ditto my bottle of So Pretty by Cartier - at the time it came out (1990's) it had a totally unique top note of "diamond orchid", whatever that was. That note is gone, but what remains is a lovely floral aldehydic blend.

  20. #20

    Default Re: When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jardanel View Post
    I wouldn't say they became unwearable, just unrecognizable as what they were meant to be. I'd say it took a good 15 years for most to start their decline, but all my frags are stored in a dark, cool place (not refrigerated, just a closet on the cold side of the house). The extraits have survived better than anything else, and of course the bottles that were unopened and unused have been by and large the nicer surprises. Of the bottles that had heavy use, an example would be Gauloise by Molyneux. The remnants in my bottle of extrait still have that defining hit of tobacco/rose/nutmeg. The edp bottle still contains a very attractive fragrance, but it's missing that thing. Ditto my bottle of So Pretty by Cartier - at the time it came out (1990's) it had a totally unique top note of "diamond orchid", whatever that was. That note is gone, but what remains is a lovely floral aldehydic blend.
    Thank's for sorting this out. 15 years is a long time.

  21. #21

    Default Re: When Things Go Bad, or Do They?

    I've concluded that the absurd size of my collection is simply a mid-life crisis without the red Corvette. It's a way of deluding myself into believing I'm going to live long enough to wear it all.

    At 1ml/day, I've got enough to last me 109 years, 4 months and 16 more days. I'd be 159. That's over 10 1/2 gallons of juice. 39,950 ml, give or take.

    One of my nephews is in for a major haul.
    Last edited by Pinnacos; 17th June 2014 at 03:18 PM.

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