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The House of Creed’s Guide to Perfume Expiration

9.23.23
a selection of small fragrance sample bottles on a shelf

 

Longevity is essential to the craft of perfumery – from the enticing notes left behind as you glide through the room to the shelf life of your signature scent. Like other beauty products, all perfumes have an expiry date and a window in which the scent is at its most evocative.

Every perfume has a slightly different lifespan – scents with heavier base ingredients, for example, typically tend to last longer than those home to lighter, more citrus top notes – so understanding your scent’s composition is the secret to protecting its potency

Take a deep dive into our perfumers’ guide to fragrance expiration and discover advice on prolonging the life of your signature scent.

Does Perfume Expire?

All perfumes expire, regardless of their blend of ingredients – whether that’s a scent crafted with the maple accents of vanilla or an exquisite symphony of florals.

Why does perfume expire? Each ingredient used in fragrance formulation, whether natural or synthetic, is a compound – and each compound is sensitive to change. When exposed to different temperatures or conditions – such as UV light, or extreme heat – these compounds alter and break down.

One of the main catalysts for perfume expiry, alongside temperature change, is oxidation: when we spray a perfume, we allow air into the bottle, which oxidises the fragrance. Over time, the oxidation of the molecules causes the scent to change. This can affect the overall fragrance profile, causing notes to appear distorted or diluted.

For this reason, many formulations are crafted with ingredients – like alcohol, which acts as a preservative – designed to protect the scent. Although it cannot prevent perfume expiry completely, alcohol can slow down the process of oxidation – so selecting formulations with alcohol within the ingredients can ensure a longer-lasting scent.

The way the perfume is housed can also help to protect it: bottles with atomiser sprays, for example, limit the fragrance’s oxygen exposure and prolong its lifespan.

How long does Perfume last once opened? 

Once opened, perfumes can last between three-to-five-years on average – though it is advised that a fragrance should ideally be used within two to three years. This is, however, dependent on a few different factors, such as the perfume’s storage conditions as well as its ingredient formulation.

Broadly speaking, fragrances with a higher concentration of heavier base notes – such as ambergris, oud or musk – are less sensitive to oxidation, so scents with a leather or amber profile typically have a longer lifespan. Perfumes home to lighter top notes – like zesty citrus or sweet florals – are less resistant to oxidation, so may have a shorter shelf life than their more balsamic counterparts.

From the revitalising layers of crisp green apple and pink pepper in Aventus For Her to the sensual dry down of Royal Princess Oud, our master perfumers at The House of Creed craft our fragrances to last. Once the scent has been introduced to air, our artisanal perfumes have a three-to-five-year shelf life, so you can indulge in your signature scent for longer.

How long does perfume last unopened?

Most perfumes’ expiry dates refer to the moment the bottle is opened, but there is no overarching rule for the expiry date of an unopened perfume. If unopened, a perfume will have no exposure to oxygen, meaning it is likely to last far longer than an opened bottle. An unopened bottle can also continue the maturation process that allows the scent to intensify prior to use - it is this reason that our House experts actually advise trying to leave your new bottle of Creed untouched for a few months before relishing in it - so long as you leave it undisturbed in a cool, dark place.

So, does perfume expire if unopened? According to many fragrance connoisseurs, it shouldn't. As long as the perfume is stored in optimal conditions, an unopened bottle will retain its exquisite scent until it is ready to be worn.

How can I tell if my perfume has expired?

The notes of your signature scent are intimately familiar – whether that’s smoky sandalwood or fresh patchouli – and so, more often than not, it will be easy to notice when its scent is not exactly as you remember. If your perfume has oxidised, you will often notice a change in the scent itself.

Expired perfume is often described as having a sour, metallic or acidic – almost vinegary – quality. The perfume’s colour may also change, too. Many perfumes are usually a pale yellow hue, but if your perfume is nearing expiry it may have a darker tint and the liquid may appear more opaque.

This may be harder to identify with your Creed fragrance due to the high concentration of natural oils present, which can often provide a much darker juice than most fragrances anyway so it's important to take note of the colour of the juice when you first purchased it to avoid throwing away fragrance that is still perfectly wearable.

How can I ensure my perfume lasts longer?

All perfumes are an intricately layered composition: imagine the fresh opening notes of bergamot leading to an intoxicating dry down of musk, or heart notes of rosemary and sage wrapped in a cocoon of frankincense and mandarin. When a perfume is nearing expiry, the balance of this delicate composition can change, altering the scent’s profile. Below, discover an array of methods from The House of Creed’s master perfumers to care for your signature scent correctly.

1. Organise Your Fragrance Collection

If your luxury fragrance collection is abundant, organising your bottles by their opening date can ensure you experience each scent at the height of its potency. For unopened perfumes, some bottles might display an expiry date or shelf life on the base or on the packaging, however noting when you purchased the fragrance will certainly help you keep track of when to use your fragrance by.

If you are ever unsure about how old your Creed fragrance is, you can reach out to our customer service team quoting the lot number on the bottom of the fragrance box or bottle and they will be happy to assist you in when it was created.

You may also consider using fragrances a little more quickly once you are nearing the end of the bottle. This is due to accelerated oxidation: the more fragrance you have used, the more oxygen present in the bottle. When you are approaching the end of your scent, it may be best to use the fragrance faster to ensure you enjoy your perfume at its best.

2. Keep Perfumes In Their Original Bottles

Storing your perfume in its original bottle is essential to its longevity. Re-housing a scent exposes it to the air, which speeds up oxidation as well as the evaporation of any alcohol – stripping the scent of its preservative. Once you have applied your fragrance, make sure to replace the bottle cap.

3. Store Your Perfume In Optimal Conditions

At The House of Creed, our master perfumers recommend minimising your fragrance’s exposure to oxygen, direct sunlight and extreme temperature fluctuation to prolong its lifespan. This also ensures that the maceration process continues in the bottle over time.

To select the perfect home for your scent, consider its environment. Keeping fragrances in places subject to high temperatures – such as a bathroom, or in the glove compartment of a car – can damage their formulas. The same care should be taken with housing a scent in the opposite temperature extreme: if a perfume is stored in the fridge, removing it on application can also distort the scent.

Our artisan perfumers advise that your Creed fragrance is best stored in a cool, dark space – such as a bedroom drawer, or on a wardrobe shelf in a room with a stable temperature – for an exquisite olfactory experience. Keeping your bottle in its original box will also help reduce exposure to sunlight.

Like any luxury beauty product, caring for your scent correctly is the best way to protect its shelf life. To ensure you experience your perfume at its most enticing, take care to limit its oxygen exposure and store your bottle away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. In optimal storage conditions, your signature scent can last season after season.