• October 3, 2023
  • written by Madewell

How to Properly Store Your Fragrance: Tips for Perfume & Cologne Longevity

It can be disappointing to discover that months after you purchased your favorite perfume or cologne, the scent has changed. On average, perfume and colognes have a shelf life of three to five years. Some can last up to 10 years, and some may expire within a year. It all depends on the chemical composition. […]

It can be disappointing to discover that months after you purchased your favorite perfume or cologne, the scent has changed. On average, perfume and colognes have a shelf life of three to five years. Some can last up to 10 years, and some may expire within a year. It all depends on the chemical composition. If you’d like yours to last longer, there are some tips you can follow.

What Are Perfumes and Colognes Made Of?

Perfumes and colognes have a mixture of ingredients that combine to produce scents that we love. Some key ingredients include:

  • Fragrance Oils: The primary ingredient in perfumes and colognes are fragrance oils. These are essential oils that come from spices, flowers, herbs, fruits, and other plants. Some fragrances are synthetic and are created in a laboratory. These essential oils are extracted using various methods, such as solvent extraction, maceration, or steam distillation.
  • Alcohol: Another key ingredient is alcohol. Alcohol is added to perfumes and colognes to disperse the fragrance evenly throughout. It also helps the scent evaporate into the air. After alcohol is added, the fragrance must mature. This can take up to a month.
  • Water: Sometimes, a little bit of water may be added to dilute the fragrance, especially if the fragrance is too powerful. Most perfumes contain just 2% of water. Adding any more water typically causes solubility problems with the fragrance oil.
  • Fixatives: Finally, fixatives are added. They bind to the fragrance molecules, slowing down the rate of evaporation. This helps the scent last longer.
  • Additives: Some companies may add coloring or preservatives to change the look of the perfume. These additives can also be enhancers, enhancing or bringing out the smell. Some perfumes have coloring agents, while others have natural food colors, such as lavender.

Can Perfumes and Colognes Expire or “Go Bad?”

One of the major concerns when people buy perfume or cologne is whether or not they will expire. While it’s not dangerous to use a perfume that has expired, colognes and perfumes do – technically – have an expiration date. What this means is that their scent changes.

  • Oxidation: Oxidation happens when your perfume is exposed to oxygen for too long a period. Oxygen starts to break down the molecules that make up the fragrance. This can result in a milder scent or one that’s slightly different from the original scent you purchased.
  • Exposure to Light: Perfumes and colognes are sensitive to the UV rays in sunlight. When you expose your perfume to sunlight, a chemical reaction can take place. This may eventually change not only the color of your perfume but the scent as well.
  • Temperature Changes: Exposing your fragrances to extremely hot temperatures may alter the composition of your perfume. As a result, the scent may change.
  • Evaporation: If you don’t keep your bottle tightly closed, some of the alcohol and water will evaporate. This evaporation will alter the chemical composition of your perfume, resulting in a change in the way the perfume smells.
  • Degradation of Ingredients: Some ingredients in perfumes may simply degrade over time, especially if they are low-quality ingredients.

Some Signs That Your Perfume or Cologne Has Expired

So, how can you tell if your perfume or cologne has expired? Here are some of the most obvious signs.

  • Change of Scent: The most obvious sign is if you notice a change in the scent. It could smell like a milder version of your perfume or it could smell completely different. You’ll also notice that when you put it on, it doesn’t last as long as it used to.
  • Change of Color: If your perfume gets cloudy or darker, then it’s a pretty sure sign that your fragrance has expired.
  • Particles: Once you notice small particles or sediment in your cologne, you should throw it away immediately. It probably won’t be harmful to your skin, but it’s not a good idea to use it anymore.
  • Off-Putting Odor: Don’t like the odor of your cologne now? There may be foreign bacteria that got into your fragrance. It’s a good idea to throw it out if you suspect that’s the case.
  • Experience an Allergic Reaction: If you get a rash, experience an allergic reaction, or your skin turns red, you should throw away your fragrance immediately. This is a sign that it’s no longer safe to use.
  • Ingredients Start to Separate: Sometimes, the alcohol, fragrance, and additives will start to separate. This is an obvious sign that your perfume should be tossed out.

How to Store Cologne

If you want your cologne to last for 10 years or more, you should store it properly. Doing so will ensure you maintain its quality and fragrance. Here are some tips for proper cologne storage:

  • Store It at Room Temperature: Store your cologne at around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius), which is room temperature. If you are experiencing a heat wave and your room goes over 80 degrees, move it to a cooler storage area. You can also keep a thermometer next to your cologne to ensure the temperature stays the same.
  • Avoid Direct Sunlight: Because colognes are sensitive to UV rays, you should avoid storing them in a place where they will receive direct sunlight. Some people store them on a shelf near a window. However, at certain times of the day, there may be direct sunlight hitting the items on your shelf. Storing your cologne in a drawer or a closet is a better option.
  • Seal the Bottle Tightly: In order to avoid oxidation, seal the bottle tightly. Sealing the bottle tightly will also prevent foreign particles from entering.
  • Avoid Humidity: Humidity can alter the composition of your cologne. Keeping your cologne in the bathroom, for example, is a bad idea.
  • Look for Discoloration or Changes: Try to inspect your cologne every so often to ensure there is no change in scent, color, or composition.

How to Store Perfume

Since cologne and perfume have the same chemical composition, the proper perfume storage is the same way you would store cologne. Another way to help extend the lifespan of your perfume is to keep it in its original packaging. The original boxes typically do a good job of keeping out light.

The Bottom Line

If you love collecting perfumes or colognes, follow these tips so you can keep your favorite fragrances for years. You can also rotate them, which gives you a chance to dabble in your entire collection.


  • How to store perfume?