Do Perfumes Expire?

Do Perfumes Expire

Do perfumes expire? Many people who really love their perfumes and want to keep them for as long as they can are often forced to ask this question. 

Over time, you may notice both your cheap and expensive perfumes may smell different or wear off quicker than usual. While not all perfumes have an expiration date on the bottle, your bottle may last anywhere between 1-10 years, depending on the type of perfume you purchase. 

What we recognize as perfume was first invented in the early 20th century. The word perfume was derived from the Latin words “per fumus,” which means “through smoke.” Nowadays, perfumes come in many forms, sometimes as short-lasting body sprays and oftentimes as expensive, luxury bottles. 

Types of Perfumes

There are various types of perfumes on the market, which is clear from the price point difference between a chain store body spray and a designer brand perfume bottle. In general, more expensive designer perfumes last longer after opening and do not go bad as quickly. 

Perfume types are determined by the concentration of the fragrance in the bottle. In this article, we will examine the different types of perfume and what each type means in relation to its expiration date.

1. Parfum

Burberry Women's Classic Eau de Parfum, 3.3 Fl Oz
Source: Amazon

Parfum has the highest concentration of fragrance oils out of the different perfume types. Typically, it is also the most expensive type of perfume

Parfum contains 15% – 40% of concentration and is usually oilier than other types. Because of the high concentration of scent and oily nature, you only need a few small dabs of the perfume to last you throughout the day.

2. Eau de Parfum

Sauvage by Dior Eau de Parfum Spray, 2 Fl Oz
Source: Amazon

Eau de Parfum has the next highest concentration of fragrance. Like parfum, it is very strong and you do not need a lot to last throughout the day. This type of perfume is between 10% – 15% concentrated fragrance.

3. Eau de Toilette

Nautica Voyage By Nautica For Men Eau De Toilette Spray, 100 ml
Source: Amazon

This type of perfume contains 4% – 15% of concentrated fragrance oil.  It usually is packaged in a spray bottle rather than a traditional perfume bottle. Due to the low concentration of fragrance, this perfume only lasts between 2-4 hours and has to be reapplied often. 

4. Eau de Cologne

Mont Blanc Legend Eau de Toilette Spray for Men, 3.3 Ounce
Source: Amazon

 Eau de Cologne is very similar to Eau de Toilette as it is a light scent that needs to be reapplied often. It contains between 1%-5% concentrated scent and typically comes in a spray bottle. This is similar to scents you may buy at Bath and Body Works or drugstores. 

Do Perfumes Have an Expiration Date?

Like many cosmetic products, perfumes do not always have an expiration date. They may have a logo on the bottom that looks like a jar with the number inside. This number indicates how long the bottle is good for. For example, if the logo has a 12 in it, it means it is good for 12 months after opening.

Not all perfume bottles contain this logo though, as many are good for well over a year. Many experts say that perfume can last anywhere from 1-5 years, sometimes more depending on the scent. 

When do Perfumes Expire?

Perfumes do not always have an expiration date. If your bottle does not indicate when the scent expires, you can tell by the smell. Usually, perfume lasts anywhere between 1-5 years, but can often be used for longer as long as it has not oxidized. 

The scent is a big indicator of oxidized or expired perfume. If it smells different or sour once sprayed, it may have oxidized. This happens quicker with perfumes with lighter concentrations such as Eau de toilettes or Eau de colognes. 

Do Perfumes Expire if Unopened?

It is unknown exactly how long perfume lasts unopened. They can last many, many years, but it is not forever. If you are not using a bottle of perfume right away, do not open it yet and store it in a dry environment. The less exposure to air, the longer it may last. 

If you are unsure if your unopened bottle has expired, you can indicate its life by the smell. If it smells sour or unlike its original scent, it may have oxidized and gone bad. 

How Long Does Perfume Last Once Open?

Once opened, perfume can last anywhere from 1-10 years, depending on the bottle. Some scents may go awry after a year while others have a shelf life of almost a decade.

The shelf life of your perfume can depend on many factors such as the type of perfume, how you store it, its exposure to air, and the environment of the room it is stored in. Therefore, once opened, it is difficult to indicate exactly how long the perfume will last. 

How to Tell if Cologne is Expired?

Cologne is a perfume traditionally geared toward men. It is similar to perfume types in the way it is constructed but typically has a more musky smell to it. 

The expiration of both cologne and perfume can be indicated by the smell it gives off. If the substance smells sour or unpleasant, it may have oxidized. Oxidization is a big indicator of an expired perfume or cologne. 

Is it Safe to Use Expired Perfume?

Expired perfume may cause skin sensitivity or allergic reactions in extreme cases. However, more than likely it will just result in a bad smell. If you suspect your perfume is expired, you may want to test it on a small patch of skin beforehand. Overall, expired perfume should be avoided, but is not life-threatening. 

What to do with Expired Perfume

To dispose of expired perfume, there are no set guidelines. You can throw the bottle in the trashcan or pour the leftover liquid down the drain and recycle the bottle if it is made with recyclable materials. If you are disposing of a glass bottle, be sure that you are careful not to break it before throwing it away as the glass shards could cause injury.


Perfume, in all its types, does in fact expire eventually. The expiration of perfume depends on many factors, and it is hard to predict a set expiration date. However, you can be content with knowing that your new perfume likely has a long shelf life for you to enjoy it!

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