Everything needs to be properly cared for if it is to last for as long as possible and in good condition, and perfumes are no exception. Like delicate flowers, precious fragrances need the right environment if they are to retain their sweet smelling allure.
There is a long list of things perfumes hate, but among them are moisture, heat, and air. If they are exposed to any of these, perfumes will quickly lose their scent, become discoloured, expire faster, or take on a horrible smell.
Though perfumes generally are not labelled with expiration dates, they are not designed for long term use. No matter how cheap or expensive it may be, the incorrect storage of a bottle of perfume can ruin it in a matter of months.
Once a perfume begins to look discoloured or cloudy, feel oilier than usual, or not smell as strong as before, you know it is past its prime. Yet, the proper storage of perfumes can ensure that their lives are prolonged and that they go on to give pleasure for longer.
Here are some tips to help you store your fragrances.
Be mindful of the first spritz: Perfumes can last a long time until they are opened. Most fragrances can also last up to two years after you first spray them, but the minute the fragrance molecules come into contact with the air, they start to oxidise and slowly to decay.
Store in a cool, dark place: Light, whether natural or man-made, and heat can alter your fragrance’s chemical makeup and ruin its scent composition. So, store your perfume inside your cupboard, dresser drawer, or cabinet, or in a dark box to make it last longer.
Avoid moisture: In a similar way to both light and air, humidity can also destroy your valuable fragrances. Humidity drastically affects a perfume’s make-up and can start unwanted chemical reactions. This makes bathrooms a big no-no when storing your perfumes.
Keep in original boxes: While you might be tempted to display a beautiful crystal bottle of perfume on your vanity unit, bright lights tend to alter the fragrance profile of perfumes by breaking down light-sensitive chemical bonds. Perfume boxes are crafted to safeguard their contents and keep them away from light, so keep the packaging on in order to increase the lifespan of your signature scent.
Store on low-level shelves: When storing your perfume, aim for the lower shelves to avoid the risk of breakage.
Keep the caps on: Oxygen is one of your perfume’s worst enemies. A perfume bottle cap does wonders for retaining a fragrance’s essence over time, and just a couple of hours with the cap off can ruin a scent’s chemical composition and catalyse its evaporation. So, don’t forget to cap your bottle and box it up again once you’re done.
Avoid shaking the bottle: Perfumes have delicate chemical bonds that can be broken easily by agitation. Shaking does nothing to improve your perfume’s scent, and instead it can destroy the molecules inside the fragrance and reduce its longevity and quality.
Take minis on vacation: To ensure that you keep your fragrances fresh when travelling, purchase smaller versions of them. Or you can save up the perfume minis and samples you get as freebies from stores and take them on holiday. That way, you’ll have a variety to choose from, without weighing down your luggage or potentially damaging all-time favourites.
Opt for lasting fragrances: Regardless of storage methods, certain scents naturally last longer than others. Water-based formulas are likely to lose their scent sooner as their molecules evaporate over time. Citrusy and light floral perfumes tend to expire more quickly than other fragrances, whereas scents like amber, musk, and heavier florals can last for a more extended time. So, if you start noticing your light floral fragrances losing their scent, maybe it’s time for a change.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 26 January, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.