Does Perfume Have an Expiry Date?

When we think of things expiring, our minds tend to conjure up the smell of curdled milk and wilting vegetables—we don’t usually think of perfume. We have a strange habit of not considering that the same products designed to make us look and smell amazing also expire. So if you’re someone who has a small boatload of fragrances on your dresser and is wondering if you’re using something that might not be right, we’re here to explain.

In this article, we will talk about perfume and expirations dates. How do you tell if your perfume is on the way out? How do you tell if your perfume is already expired? How do I store my perfume to extend its shelf life? We’ve got you covered!

Does Perfume Actually Expire?

Yes. That’s the short answer. How long does it take for a perfume to expire? Well, that’s a far more complicated question. The lifespan of a fragrance depends on the chemical composition of the said perfume. Most perfume manufacturers won’t explicitly state the expiration date on their packaging. They instead use a more complicated measure which we’re going to explain. Still, the general case is they can last between one and ten years. So the average lifespan is actually three to five years.

It’s said that perfumes with a heavier base note seem to last longer than fragrances with lighter base notes. Depending on which expert you ask, they might even tell you that the scents with heavier base notes age like fine wine.

Signs Your Perfume Has Expired

Some things are too difficult to ignore, so here are some of the ways you can tell if your perfume has, in fact, expired.

How Does Your Perfume Smell?

This might be the most obvious test to determine if your perfume has expired. A good ingredient to be aware of when it comes to perfume is vegetable oil. This does actually appear in some perfumes, and it’s an ingredient that does expire over time. If you want a perfume that has a shot of lasting longer than the average fragrance, avoid vegetable oil.

The longest-lasting perfumes contain no fat (similar to essential oils). If you smell your perfume and get a distinctly different scent than the one you were expecting, or a scent that smells sour, then it’s likely expired. Some people are able to notice the strength of the smell and figure it out this way. They realise the potency has faded, which alerts them it’s no longer ‘as good as new.’

How Does Your Perfume Look?

Another great way to tell if your perfume has expired is just by looking at it. This is far easier with fragrances that have a certain pigmentation. For example, a dark perfume that turns lighter over time, well, that’s not a good sign. Clear fragrances can also show signs of expiration when they turn a more opaque or amber-like colour.

When the colour of your perfume changes, it’s usually the result of large alcohol concentrations having evaporated over time. You’d notice not only a change in colour or scent but also the perfume decreasing even when not being used.

What is the Expiration Date?

As mentioned before, perfume usually doesn’t feature an expiration date. However, some things can help you determine the general idea of the expiration date. In addition, there are two particular aspects of perfume’s packaging that will provide some insight into the potential expiration date of your product.

Batch number

Batch codes are product identification numbers. These numbers specify when the perfume was produced. These numbers exist to help manufacturers keep up with quality control and identify bad batches if they exist and need to be removed and recalled from the market. A batch number can come in many different forms. However, the most common format is a 12-digit number or a combination of numbers and letters.

You can use these codes to find out exactly when your perfume was produced. In addition, there are sites available that make it incredibly simple to locate the date your perfume was originally made before you purchased it.

2. Period after opening (PAO) number

PAO numbers are different. This number determines how long you should be using a product once opening it. It essentially provides a window of useability. Commonly that number is 30 months after opening. So after two and a half years, you’ll need to start testing the fragrance for potential expiration.

How To Properly Store Perfume

You want your perfume to last. The best thing you can do for your perfume is to keep it out of the sunlight and almost any heat source. Most people store their perfumes in their bathrooms. Unfortunately, they don’t realise that the temperature changes constantly between hot and cold, and the humidity and moisture mean that you’re making it expire faster.

Heat is perfume’s enemy. It messes with the chemicals, which leads to an inconsistent product and scent. While it may sound like the best solution is to keep your perfumes in a fridge, we advise against this option. The temperature difference between a cold fridge and room temperature is just as damaging.

What Not To Do

Perfumes, especially good ones, aren’t cheap. So you don’t want an expensive perfume expiring before you even get the chance to use it. Here are six things you can do to better protect your perfume:

1. Keep your perfumes out of direct sunlight and heat sources.

2. Keep your perfume away from humidity and moisture.

3. Don’t shake your perfume bottle.

4. Keep the perfume in its original bottle or container.

5. Don’t leave the bottle open too long as you’re giving it too much air exposure.

6. Store in a temperature-controlled environment that doesn’t feature fluctuating temperatures.


Everyone should be wearing perfumes that are fresh and invigorating to the senses. So never leave home with a perfume you haven’t checked. That’s not worthy of your skin. Unless you’ve just purchased it, you should always look for signs of potential expiration. Now that you know what you’re looking for, that shouldn’t be a tall order.

Popular Questions Asked

How do I know if my perfume is expired?

You can tell if a perfume has expired, it usually smells slightly sour, or metallic as it oxidises. They best way to check to see if a perfume has expired is to spray it on a piece of paper to see if you can smell the metallic-like odour.

Does perfume expire if unopened?

This is a commonly asked question! Sometimes when we see a good deal on our favourite perfume, we like to buy multiple, however then you question yourself if the perfume will last, even unopened? An opened bottle of perfume lasts roughly 2 years before it starts smelling differently. However, if an unopened bottle of perfume is stored correctly, such as stored in a cool place and out of direct sunlight it can last up to several years!

What happens if you use expired perfume?

Fearless, its not as bad as you think! It’s quite rare for someone to have an allergic reaction to using an expired perfume, however it can cause some sort of skin irritation. Most of the time it just smells slightly off.