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How Long Does Perfume Last If It’s Unopened? Here’s When It Expires

Men's Grooming
Wednesday, 3rd March, 2021

How Long Does Aftershave Last Before Going Off?

As you’ll already know, I love aftershave, perfume, fragrance, whatever you’d care to call it. Smelling good is important for any guy, and I have hundreds of scents.

But that means that I have a lot of bottles to get through, and I’ve had some of them for years. A question I am often asked is:

Does the fragrance not go off? How long does perfume last if it’s unopened?

Well in my experience, my perfume lasts well over 10 years. The shelf life depends on a few factors, including the quality, strength and type of perfume, but mostly how well it’s been stored.

I have always kept my fragrances and perfumes in their original bottles in drawers. These are cool dry places, away from light and heat. These are the best conditions to keep your aftershave and perfume bottles.

There is also the question of does the perfume go bad or smell off?

I’ve already spoke about how long aftershaves lasts when open, which is similar to leaving it unopen. I have some bottles which are over 15 years old and they smell as good as they did when I got them.

Gucci Pour Homme Fragrance Review

I bought a bottle of Gucci By Gucci several years ago, which I left in the bottle, sealed. This was because I already had half a bottle, and wanted to stock up in the event that it got discontinued.

Recently I finished off my original bottle, meaning I had to open my new bottle, which was as mentioned several years old.

What happened? It smelled as good as ever.

This leads me to think that keeping the bottle sealed and in a good environment means that the smell will not “go off”, and is perfectly fine to use.

Side-note: I also got another bottle of the Gucci by Gucci, which is now renamed Gucci Pour Homme.

What May Cause Perfume To Go Off?

Perfume going off or the length of an expiry date largely depends on two things: The ingredients and it’s environment of how it’s stored.

Most fragrances these days come in a spray bottle, with the atomiser fairly sealed to the bottle, with little chance of air or oxygen spoiling the scent. Trying to keep evaporation down to a minimum is going to help.

Leaving it in it’s original bottle, storing it in a cool dry dark place and keeping the top on will all add to it’s longevity.

If you have a splash bottle, such as an older style aftershave bottle, this may not last as long as it can be more easily exposed to the elements.

Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio Profondo Review

What About The Expiry Date Or PAO (Period After Opening)?

If you look at a perfume bottle you will see an open bottle with a number of months written on it. This is known as the PAO or period after opening. It can be likened to a ‘best before’ on food.

This will say something such as 30m or 36m, which is 2.5 – 3 years. Of course as we’ve read above, this doesn’t mean that the perfume will definitely be bad after 3 years.

So why is the date there?

We can speculate about this. It could be that the perfumer says that the best the scent will smell is under 3 years old. Perhaps it will smell ‘less good’ or be less powerful after this date.

It certainly doesn’t mean that in month 37 it’s ruined.

It could also be because there needs to be a cut-off date for health & safety reasons. Should something bad happen such as an allergic reaction using an old scent, the manufacturer has this to fall back on.

It could also be because retailers and perfume houses want to you spend money!

Yes, they want you to keep buying, and one way of doing this is to let you know that you’ve only got 3 years to use your beloved perfume!

But if you ask me, and a lot of people who love fragrances (such as this discussion on Basenotes) fragrances can last well beyond this date.

Does Cologne Really Go Off After 36 Months?

Unopened Fragrances: How Do You Know The Production Date?

For those who speculate the short shelf life of an unopened fragrance, how exactly do you know the production date? i.e. how do you know when it was first bottled.

Sure, it’s possible you can check the batch code on the bottle and ask the manufacturer. The majority of people aren’t going to do this.

If you take a popular fragrance which has been on the market for a while, you may never know when it was produced. There’s a lot of designer fragrances which are popular and have been for 10 or 20 years.

Discounters may sell genuine but older bottles, which could have been on shelves (or in storage) for years.

Is It Safe To Use An Old Or Out Of Date Perfume?

There’s no reason not to use an old or out of date perfume. Looking at the bottle and knowing the conditions it was kept in are good indicators of how safe it is.

If you’ve used it before, there should be no problems now. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so you might want to spray a small amount on your wrist for a day before spraying it everywhere else.

If it’s been poorly kept such as in sunlight it might look discoloured and may have gone off. Therefore it’s probably better to throw it away.

Final Thoughts

For the vast majority of people, you should use perfume up before it goes off. The typical man or woman will only have a few bottles, and should be able to use them up well before they’re said to expire.

For the perfume lovers and fragrance collectors among us, we’ve got large collections, and it’s more of a passion than just smelling good.

From my personal experience I have a lot of fragrances well over 10 years old which are fine.

I have an unopened bottle which according to the batch code is almost 9 years old. I will be opening this up soon and so will see how that one holds up.

Check out my fragrance reviews to catch up on the latest fragrances. You’ll see I’ve got a collection of old aftershaves which I often use too, which all smell as good as they did when I first got them.


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Michael Adams

About Michael

Michael Adams is the founder and editor of Michael 84, blogger and T-shirt designer from Newcastle, UK. Sharing men's fashion tips, style advice and lifestyle information for all guys.

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