How to Preserve Perfume Potency and Shelf Life
Preserving perfume potency and shelf life is a common concern for fragrance collectors. How do you make sure your favorites stay optimal when you’ve got dozens of opened bottles on rotation? If well kept and usually depending on their base notes (oriental scents with heavier base notes usually last longer), perfumes can stay good for 3 to 5 years. Unopened and sealed, some may even last up to 10 years, according to perfume retailer Fragrance X. On the average, perfumes last 24 to 30 months from the first spritz when properly stored. Of course, there are ways to ensure they last and keep their bloom optimal for longer.
First, storage. Keep them in a cool, dark place, preferably in their original boxes. An unstable environment and UV light greatly affect fragrance composition, so you’d want to keep your bottles away from sunlight and the bathroom where it’s usually humid.
In a Vogue interview, Francis Kurdjian, one of my favorite noses of all time, shares that “oxygen is the ‘natural enemy of perfume,’ breaking down its fragrance molecules and altering the perfume’s composition.” Simply put, the fragrance composition of your half-empty bottles could be steadily degenerating because of oxidation. One way to preserve their scent is to store them in the fridge, below 15 degrees Celsius and below.
I feel, however, that that’s impractical to do for an entire collection, so in my case, I just have a perfume closet where I keep all my unopened bottles in boxes.
As for making fragrances last longer when you wear them, apply your favorites on moist skin to lock in the scent. Francis Kurkdjian also gave an application tip disproving the most popular way of applying perfume—applying on the wrists and rubbing them against each other—which is “very bad,” he says in the same Vogue interview. Such application “heats up the skin, which produces natural enzymes that change the course of the scent.” The best way to apply is to just spritz and let the fragrance sink in and dry.
As much as you’d want to preserve them, perfumes are meant to be experienced and used. Spritz, enjoy, and preserve memories. After all, there is really nothing like fragrance to make you remember days, occasions, moments.