If you have some old bottles of perfume lying in the back of your cupboard, you may be wondering whether they have gone off. Most people are unaware of how long perfume lasts, but there are a few signs to look out for that indicate your fragrance has expired. Here, we take a look at those key indicators.

Can Perfume Go Off?

Yes, perfume can go off, but the expiry date will vary between fragrances. Most perfumes have no specific expiry date, and their lifespan will depend on how they’re stored and their unique chemical compositions. Typically, though, a perfume can last anywhere between one and ten years.

When perfumes expire, they cause an unpleasant scent when they are applied to the skin. They may also cause irritation or even allergic reactions. Therefore, if your perfume is over two years old, you should probably test it out before using it.

The Three Indicators Of An Expired Perfume

There are three key indicators that suggest that a perfume has gone off:

  • Date
  • Appearance
  • Scent

Let’s look more closely at these here.


An obvious way of telling whether a perfume has expired is to check its smell. Some perfumes contain fats like vegetable oils which may expire with time. If a scent has no fat content, it will usually last longer. When a fragrance smells very different from the way it did when it was first bought, it’s likely to be going off, particularly if it has chemical notes or a vinegary odour.


Another way of testing whether a perfume has gone off is to check its color. If it has become opaque or darker in colour, that’s a sign that your perfume is aging. Perfumes that have a high alcohol concentration can evaporate, and the essential oil concentration will increase. If you spot that the bottle contains less perfume than it originally did, it’s probably expiring.

Expiry Date

Some perfumes come with a stamped expiry date somewhere on the packaging. It could appear as a Period After Opening (PAO) number or batch code. This will be a good indication that the scent might not smell as good as it should when it was created. 

Storing Perfume Correctly

Perfumes will last longer if they are stored correctly, so it makes sense to take care with storage in order to keep your fragrances in top condition for longer.

Perfumes should be kept in dark, dry, and cool places like closets or bedroom drawers. Perfumes should also be kept in their original containers since air exposure can upset the delicate balance of chemicals in the fragrance while also accelerating the alcohol evaporation, causing the fragrance to expire more rapidly. Deciding whether a perfume has gone off isn’t always easy, but if you find a perfume that is over two years old, it’s a good idea to test whether it is showing any signs of having expired. If the perfume still smells good, with a consistency and colour that is similar to when it was originally purchased, it is almost certainly safe to use. High-quality perfume can last for many years when correctly stored.