Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ask Tara: How long will my perfume last?

One of my favorite bloggers, Couture Carrie, has claimed first dibs on the new "Ask Tara" section on Haute Lunch. She asked: How long can I keep a bottle of perfume before I have to toss it?

Great question, CC!  The short answer is 3-5 years, but the better answer is a little more complicated. First, you need to identify exactly what strength your fragrance is. This is important because each fragrance strength has a different essential oil (aromatic compounds) to alcohol ratio. Fragrances with more alcohol will have a longer shelf life because alcohol acts as a preservative.

  • Parfum has the highest concentration of essential oils (approx. 20-30%) and the least amount of alcohol, which is why it is the most fragrant. However, this also means it has the shortest shelf life. Luckily, parfums are usually sold in smaller bottles. Expect your parfum to maintain its integrity for around 3 years.
  • Eau de Parfum has the next highest concentration of essential oils (usually around 15%), and slightly more alcohol.  While this makes Eau de Parfum last longer (around 4 years), it also means it doesn't have as strong a scent, so you have to use slightly more.  I prefer Eau de parfums because of the balance between strength, cost, and shelf life.
  • The weakest concentration of essential oils (approx. 10%) can be found in Eau de Toilettes.  Since these fragrances have the highest alcohol content, they last the longest (5+ years).  However, most people go through Eau de Toilettes quickly because they spray more on to make up for the weaker concentration of fragrance.
Of course, this still isn't the whole story. The profile of your fragrance can also play a role in it's shelf life. Typically, oriental and woodsy fragrances hold up longer than lighter, citrus based fragrances. How you store your perfume makes a difference as well. To ensure the longest shelf life, always keep the lid on your perfume bottles when not in use and store your perfume in a cool, dry place away from sunlight (a closet is often ideal). Keep in mind, your perfume will never "go bad," but after a certain amount of time, it will lose the characteristics and strength present when you first purchased it.

This concludes the first installation of "Ask Tara." Thanks again to CC for the excellent question!  If you have a question you would like answered, please feel free to leave a comment or email me at hautelunchinfo@gmail.com. I love to hear from my readers and help out my online friends!

Want to know more ways to get the most out of your perfume?  Check out my previous post: How to Properly Apply Perfume!


  1. Wow, awesome and super-fast response!
    Thank you so much!


    P.S. Would love to know also about the shelf life of pressed powders, eye shadows, blushes and the like...

  2. great post! didn't know a few things before :)xx

  3. Thanks, ladies! CC- I will definitely write a post on the shelf life of makeup in the next several days! Thanks for the suggestion!

  4. This is very informative, thank you!!