How to Tell if your Perfume has Gone off

Does something seem to be amiss about the smell of your favorite perfume?  Have you noticed that your favorite fragrance containing citrus notes that no longer smell as citrusy?  Well, if you’ve noticed either of these things then the answer to this mystery is quite simple – perfumes expire.  They go bad.  As much as we would like to think that our favorite fragrance is eternal, the bottle of perfume you buy is not.  This is because perfumes are a complex balance of many ingredients that work together to produce just the right scent we desire but that also, over time, change chemically.  For example, the natural oil in many perfumes comes from a long chain of substituted allyl aromatics which are susceptible to decomposition and bacterial growth.  This is a fact that many people are blissfully unaware of as they choose their favorite fragrance.  Moreover, the reality that fragrances do expire is obscured by the fact perfumes do not come with expiration dates stamped on them.

Tests for whether your perfume has gone off

The Nose Test:  Ultimately, then the best way to tell if your perfume has gone bad is the same way you chose it in the first place – smell it.  If it smells “off” it probably is.  If the smell is not one you are used to then toss it out.

The Color Test:  Color changes – getting darker for example – are not a normal process in colognes.  Color changes signify chemical changes and these changes mean that the fragrance has reached the end of its life.

Look at the label:  As stated earlier, perfumes do not come with a “use by” date stamped on them.  Still there are ways to tell if your perfume may have a particularly short lifespan by reading the label on the bottle before buying it.  Some ingredients are notorious for shortening the life of perfume.  (One example is listed in the first part of this article.)  For example, perfumes containing natural ingredients tend to last less time than those containing artificial ingredients.

If all this seems discouraging there are some ways to extend the life of your favorite fragrance.  First, know that many perfumes containing essential oils last 6 years on average.  Next, minimize the contact your perfume has with oxygen and direct sunlight.  Store your perfume in dark, cool place in order to extend its life.  Finally, minimize your perfume’s contact with heat which is another natural accelerant to the aging process of fragrances.  Try these tips and you may spare yourself the disappointment of watching your favorite fragrance go to waste.

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