Does Perfume Get Better With Age? The Hard Truth Revealed!

I had a perfume bottle handed over from by my mother as an heirloom. An expensive perfume bottle that was bought as a birthday present during her younger days. I know that the exquisite crystal bottle was sitting in her closet for several years before it came to me. It got me wondering though: Does perfume get better with age?.

Perfume does not get better with age! With time, the original scent fades as the concentration changes due to oxidation. The top and middle notes evaporate first, leaving behind the heavier base notes. The fragrance, therefore, might feel stronger as base notes are more intense.

But, different perfumes behave differently over time as they are made of different constituents. 

So, let us understand a bit more about how time effects perfume.

Do Perfumes Get Stronger Over Time?

So, this is a common question that a lot of us often have. There are a lot of misconceptions around perfume aging and whether or not perfumes get stronger over time. 

It is interesting to note that perfume and cologne do smell stronger over time as the base notes such as wood, amber, patchouli, vetiver or vanilla that are left behind in the bottle are quite intense smelling fragrances. 

Colognes can even go rancid and smell like vinegar, if not stored well.

However, smell or fragrance of perfumes is one of the factors that get influence with time. Another noticeable change that perfumes undergo is that of color. Over time, the perfumes often tend to also change colour – lighten or darken – depending on its ingredients. 

So I recommend that you buy reasonable size bottles that you can use them within their shelf life. If you seal and store them safely you can extend the shelf life of these perfumes.

However, understanding the science of perfume color changing with time is a whole different topic altogether which I’ve covered later in this article. 

Perfume Aging in Perfume Manufacturing – 

People often confuse perfume aging with perfume getting better with age. While, the reality is, ageing perfume is one of the critical steps to creating a fragrance. 

Various scents are mixed together and allowed to age. As the scents mingle over the next 2 days to a couple of months, the fragrance becomes stronger. Once the fragrance settles, further ingredients are added into it to finally become the concentrate that goes into the perfume bottle. This process is called perfume aging. 

The process of gradual aging of a fragrance in a perfume bottle is also known as the maturing of perfume. In fact, some perfumeries will also let the perfume age further for the second time once the concentrate is mixed with the carrier in the bottle (usually alcohol) for several weeks. This allows the final solution to combine with natural ingredients that need time to settle and mix well. This process is called perfume maceration. 

It is important to note that ageing perfume is one of the steps during the making of perfume before it is sold in the market. 

Thus, this perfume making step has led to confusion among people that perfumes get better with age. I hope this explanation will help you understand that these are different concepts!

Even though alcohol is a key ingredient of perfume and fragrances do gradually become more intense in time, this does not make the perfume get better with age. A perfume’s fragrance evolves in time as the original scent breaks down and evaporates due to oxidation.  

Why Does Perfume Change Color?

One thing that people often worry about is the changing color of the perfume in the bottle. It is quite normal for perfumes to change color over the years.

Perfumes change color due to the break down of its delicate chemistry. Sunlight, UV rays, humidity and other factors can influence the perfumes over time that leads to changing color of the perfume. It is a sign that your fragrance has evolved to a point of near expiration. 

Perfumes with more natural oils darken in time. Synthetic perfumes may discolor as well. Such perfumes can also feel heavy or oily when applied on the skin.

So, if the perfume changes color and become darker does it really mean that it is damaged? Well, it is common for perfumes to change color over time. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your perfume is damaged and useless; especially if it is made of natural oils. 

However, if your perfume has a larger concentrate of alcohol (about 60% and above) with synthetic ingredients, a darker or discolored perfume should not be used directly on the skin as it may cause skin irritations or allergies. Such perfumes can perhaps have alternative uses such as an air freshener. 

Final Thoughts

I hope this article has helped you understand whether perfumes really get better with age. It is important to remember that the aging process of the perfume, which is a critical step for the manufacturing of perfumes, should not be confused with the concept of perfume getting better with age.

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