#1. To keep your fragrance fresher and to preserve the scent as much as possible, always store your perfume in a cool and dark place. Exposure to heat and humidity can alter the aroma and affect the physical properties of perfume ingredients such as essential oils causing them to prematurely oxidize and change the color of your perfume. Keep the bottle in its original box if possible to prevent light from affecting the fragrance. The bathroom is not be the best place for storing perfumes. The best temperature for storing fragrances is around 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ideal storage spots:
- a refrigerator or wine fridge
- a cabinet that’s not too dark and not too hot
- totes or boxes under your bed
- shelf in your closet
- dresser drawers
Terrible storage spots:
- any room that receives a lot of sunlight, bright lights or extreme heat or temperature fluctuations
- Cabinets with built in lighting, if you keep your bottles in such a cabinet, keep the light turned off
- Unboxed perfumes on a vanity table or in a window
#2. Don’t leave the fragrance cap off or open the bottle too frequently. Repeatedly opening your splash bottle will expose the fragrance to air, which can oxidize the ingredients and create a disturbing off-odor. If you want to use your perfume, my advice is to decant some into a travel atomizer or other bottle with a tight fitting cap and keep the large bottle stored away when not in use. This way you don't have to keep opening the originally bottle to apply perfume.
#3. Keep the perfume in the bottle in which it was originally packaged. You may be tempted to pour all of your perfume or cologne out of its original bottle and into an antique perfume bottle or other fancy splash decanter. Transferring the liquid into another bottle exposes it to air that can yet again harm the fragrance. Also these splash decanters will eventually cause your perfume to evaporate as the stoppers are usually not airtight.
#4. Your fragrance will age and oxidize over the years and the perfume will change to a darker color, this is especially true for any perfume with vanilla as an ingredient. This is a natural occurrence but can also happen prematurely to fragrances not stored properly. Other changes such as the formation of sediment or floating particulate can also happen.
If sediment bothers you in your opened splash bottle, you can strain the perfume through a coffee filter to remove the particulate into a clean receptacle. Clean out the original bottle with alcohol and let it sit uncovered (without stopper in place) so that it will dry out the interior. Be careful of getting any labels or surface decoration wet! Once this is clean, you can decant your perfume back into the bottle using a plastic pipette or medicine dropper.
Sediment and floaters can come from several different causes:
- Sediment in an opened splash bottle is the result of a sealing membrane (waxed onionskin, viscose, baudruchage) or some sort of stopper breakdown such is the case with any cork stoppers. This sealing membrane flakes apart and can enter the bottle.
- Sediment can occur in splash bottles when when the owner uses a tissue, silk scarf or cotton ball to apply a dab perfume, these fibers can break off easily and fall into the perfume.
- Floaters in opened splash bottles can happen also from the owner using their finger or the stopper plug to apply the perfume directly to the skin, tiny flakes of the skin are transferred from the stopper or finger and can fall into the bottle.
- In the case of spray bottles, especially older ones from the 1950s-1980s, the sediment is also caused from the breakdown of the plastic used in the spray mechanism and siphon tube. In coming into constant contact with the volatile perfume, the plastic will start to "melt" and degrade, eventually falling into the perfume.
- Sediment is actually the natural oils and essences coagulating as they start to break down. Natural ingredients such as vanilla or jasmine absolute can cause sediment due to the oxidation and degradation process over time. In vintage perfumes, and in the case of Chanel parfum especially, the formula contained natural absolutes such as jasmine absolute, which upon ageing DOES produce sediment. The book Modern Technology of Perfumes, Flavours & Essential Oils (2nd Edition) mentions that jasmine's "absolute darkens on ageing becoming deep red and deposits a greyish sediment." The alcohol and water inside your bottle will start to evaporate slowly over time and you will be left with a thick, syrupy concentrated perfume residue inside, which can be reconstituted with perfumer's alcohol. So to find sediment in sealed vintage perfumes is going to be a natural occurrence due to the natural ingredients used.
- Now in the case of factices (dummy) bottles, the sediment and floaters are actually particles of bacteria from the water used in the liquid.
#5. About vintage and discontinued perfumes: If you are searching for that long lost or discontinued perfume of your memory...old perfumes do deteriorate with age. If you are looking to buy fresh smelling perfume, please don't buy vintage or antique as in most cases the scent will have changed.
It is a fact that many perfumes over 3-10 years start to lose their freshness and may start to smell like alcohol. Certain ingredients and compounds will break down and "turn" faster than others. The older the perfume, the less it may smell like what you may remember. As I mentioned before, vanilla and jasmine absolute will degrade and can cause sediment and color changes. With that in mind, let's examine the DNA of a vintage perfume and how it ages.
The top notes of the perfume, the notes you first smell usually deteriorate the fastest. Some of these are:
- Citrus scents such as bergamot, tangerine, yuzu, neroli, grapefruit, lemongrass, verbena, citron, petitgrain, orange, lemon and lime.
- Synthetic chemicals such as aldehydes, ozone and aquatic (marine) notes
- Fresh, delicate florals like lily of the valley, iris, orchid, violet, osmanthus, and , cyclamen, freesia, lilac, wisteria, peony, narcissus.
- Fruits: raspberry, litchi, strawberry, apple, passion fruit, mango, pineapple, pear, peach, guava, apricot, watermelon, coconut
However, after the top notes wear off, the middle and base notes are often still fragrant and good smelling. Examples of heart/middle notes:
- Dark fruits such as raisins, plums, cherry, prunes, blackcurrant, fig, mulberry.
- Heavier and more pungent floral scent such as rose, jasmine, orange blossom, carnation, geranium, ylang ylang, frangipani, heliotrope, tuberose and gardenia often fare better than their lighter counterparts found in the top notes. Also vegetables and herbs such as celery, carrot, lavender, sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, mint, basil, angelica
Base notes often remain in the best condition. These were used as fixatives to make a perfume last longer and have the best shelf life.
- Precious woods: sandalwood, macassar, oud, cedarwood, palisander, rosewood, cypress
- Plants, roots and grasses: tobacco, orris, vetiver, oakmoss, patchouli, violet leaves, juniper, heather, wormwood, anise, caraway, ginger, pepper,
- Spices: cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cardamom, cumin
- Resins and balsams: frankincense, myrrh, opoponax, olibanum, and copal, styrax, galbanum, tolu, Peru, cistus labdanum, vanilla, tonka, benzoin.
- Animalics such as leather, civet, ambergris, musk and castoreum.
#6. If your perfume has sediment, changed scent or color and you do not wish to use it anymore, do not throw it out! You can always sell it, just be sure to disclose any information regarding sediment color change or scent change for your buyer. If the fragrance was stored in a cool, dark place, it should have fared well. But, since many people who sell perfumes today, such as myself, we often get perfumes second-hand - through auctions, estate sales, yard sales, thrift shops, friends and family or other venues. I cannot vouch for how a perfume was stored before it came into my hands, so buyer beware. I try to tell my buyers if a perfume has soured top notes, etc right in the listing.