Do Perfumes and Fragrances Go Bad?


You probably remember seeing your mother or grandmother having rows and rows of perfume bottles stacked in an orderly manner in their dresser. While that looks like an amazing collection, you can’t help but wonder if any of those perfumes go bad after a period of time. One would assume that perfumes last forever, but most people don’t really know for sure. Let’s find out if perfumes do go bad and if there's a point where you actually need to throw them out.

What Does "Eau de Parfum" Mean?

Before we get into answering whether perfumes have an expiration, let's examine first the composition of these fragrances.

Perfume is an absolute alcohol solution that's usually made up of flower, fruit and plant extracts, water, and essential oils. Flower, fruit, and plant extracts are what the perfumer uses to give the scent to the perfume. The extracts are then mixed with the absolute alcohol to dissolve the other ingredients.

The term "Eau de Parfum" (EDP) is a French term that means perfume water. It is a perfume that contains a higher concentration of perfume oil than Eau de Toilette (EDT). The higher the concentration of perfume oil, the heavier the perfume is. The larger the amount of perfume oil used, the longer the perfume will last.

Does Fragrance Have a Shelf-Life?

Fragrances contain very volatile ingredients and oils that are of plant or animal origin. These oils and ingredients can degrade over time. So perfumes do have an expiration. Ageing, light, heat, and oxidation can affect your perfumes. The amount of perfume oil and the alcohol that is used in the scent are strong preservatives. However, the longer a perfume sits, the more likely it is for the chemicals to break down.

When the scent of your perfume starts to change, it means that it's time to throw it out. If you can still smell it after a few minutes, it's good to go. If the scents haven't changed, then you can go ahead and use them.

Taking good care of your perfumes can make them last longer. Use them only for special occasions and not on a daily basis. Store them in a cool and dark place away from direct sunlight.

Can You Discard Old Perfume?

The concern with old perfumes is that they might have gone bad. "Might have gone bad" doesn't mean that it smells bad. It just means that not all the ingredients in your perfume are in the right proportion, which makes it smell good. You can't get rid of your perfume just because it doesn't smell like it used to. Perfumes that have gone bad still smell good. Fragrances with a lower alcohol content also have lower concentrations of other components such as essential oils.

Do Different Types of Perfumes Last for Different Periods of Time?

There isn’t really a rule to this since every perfume is different and depends on how concentrated the fragrance is. Perfumes with a lower alcohol content decompose at a quicker rate than those with higher alcohol content.

Perfumes made with a high percentage of perfume oil will last longer than those made with a low percentage of perfume oil. Eau de Parfum will last longer than Eau de Toilette and Eau de Cologne will last longer than body sprays.

What Are Some of the Signs of an Expired or Bad Perfume?

If your perfume has an unpleasant odor or has changed colors, it is probably time to throw it out. You can also tell if a perfume is expired when it doesn't have the scent that it should have when you first bought it.


Fragrances will have an expiration. The scents and ingredients in perfumes that make up the fragrance can change over time. Never assume that the perfume has gone bad just because it doesn't smell like it used to. It can still smell good, but it might not have the original power and fragrance that you fell in love with.

If you're into collecting fragrances or you just want to smell good all the time, Alexandria Fragrances is the brand for you. Our extensive collection of scents and exotic fragrances is designed to bring out the best in you. Check out our Alexandria perfume collection today!
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