Does Perfume Expire? Signs Your Scent Has Gone Bad

Here’s how to determine the shelf life of your fragrance and what to do with it once it turns.

We know we’re supposed to throw out our makeup and skin care products once they’re past their shelf life, even if we don’t always adhere to that rule (guilty as charged right here). In fact, experts have warned that using a cosmetic product for too long can lead to allergic reactions and increased risk of bacterial infections.

But does the same go for fragrance?

In my latest bout of spring cleaning, I discovered a couple of bottles of perfume that I’m pretty sure I received as gifts in college ― which means I’d had them for at least eight years. When I sprayed them into the air, I was pleasantly surprised to find they still smelled quite nice.

Still, I couldn’t help but feel like I might be committing some sort of fragrance world sin. To address these concerns and get some answers, I turned to perfume professionals.

Below, fragrance experts break down whether perfume actually goes bad, how to detect if it has, what to do with it, and more.

Does perfume go bad?

“Yes, perfume can ‘go bad,’” said perfumer and founder of Eat. Sweat. Undress Alexia P. Hammonds. “Depending on certain variables like the bottle, ingredient quality, light exposure and where it’s stored, perfume can ‘go bad’ anywhere between one to 10 years.”

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