Do Perfumes Expire? Yes, and Here’s How to Tell When

Image Source: Getty/Iryna Veklich
Whether you’re new to the world of perfumes or are well on your way to becoming a staple on #fragrancetok, like makeup, it’s easy to look up and find that you’ve collected a more-than-necessary amount of bottles of your favorite scents.

If you’re also someone who rotates through your perfumes every day, then it’s likely that you’ve not made much of a dent in those bottles. Much like your favorite cream and liquid color cosmetics, your perfumes can expire so it’s important to know when to let that bottle that’s been sitting on your vanity for years, go. Still, it may be hard to decipher when a fragrance has gone bad, so we’ve asked an expert to help answer the question: do perfumes expire?

“Although they don’t have a set expiration date like food products, fragrances can expire,” November Nichols, founder of Chémin, tells POPSUGAR. “The shelf life depends on its chemical composition – natural fragrances often expire faster than synthetic ones depending on how they are stored.”

Ahead, Nichols explains what to look out for if you suspect your fragrance is expired, as well as tips to extend your formulas’ lifespans.

How to Tell If Your Perfume Is Expired

There are a few different ways to tell if a perfume is expired. “Look for a change in color, scent, and texture,” Nichols says. If the liquid in the bottle has changed color or looks darker than when you first bought the perfume, Nichols says this could be a sign of oxidation, which indicates the fragrance might have expired. Additionally, if your perfume is thicker in texture, almost to the point of looking syrupy and the scent has changed, those are definite signs that it has gone bad.

Side Effects of Using Expired Perfume

“Generally, using an expired fragrance is unlikely to cause serious harm, but it might not provide the desired scent or lasting power,” Nichols says. Regardless, there are some potential physical side effects you may experience using an expired formula.

“Aside from a general ineffectiveness, you can experience skin irritation when using an expired fragrance,” Nichols says. “This can look like rashes or splotches showing up on the skin, or you having an allergic reaction.”

How to Extend the Life of Your Perfume

While scents do eventually expire if you have them for long enough, there are some ways to extend their shelf life. “Store your perfumes in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and heat sources,” Nichols says. “Keeping them in their original boxes can also help protect them from light and temperature fluctuations.”

Additionally, it’s important to note the types of fragrances that you buy. Synthetic perfumes – essentially, formulas that are developed in laboratories and that mimic natural scents – can last anywhere from three to five years. On the other hand, natural mixes tend to go bad after one to two years.

The most important part of trying to preserve your fragrance is using your best judgment. “It’s best to trust your senses,” Nichols says. “Using expired fragrances is generally more about a decrease in quality and effectiveness rather than severe health risks. However, if you notice any adverse reactions after using a perfume that you suspect might be expired, it’s wise to stop using it immediately.”

Ariel Baker is the assistant editor for POPSUGAR Beauty. Her areas of expertise include celebrity news, beauty trends, and product reviews. She has additional bylines with Essence and Forbes Vetted.

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