How to Properly Store Fragrance: 5 Expert Tips

Certain things in “perfume land” come shrouded in a cloak of mystery but fragrance storage shouldn’t be one of them. It has happened to us all, a bottle that has been sitting in the bathroom for ages or a trinket on a relative’s boudoir table; open it and a stench of acetone engulfs you. What was that? There is a proper way to store fragrance so it lasts longer and smells better: fresh and delicious as the day it was bought from the boutique. So here are our best and most accurate tips to properly store your pretty bottles and keep them from spoiling.

Cool, dry and dark are fragrances’ best friends

Bottles of fragrance look terrific on a window sill where light refracts through them and highlights liquid of various shades: from rich straw-like golden, to azure blue, and light green, or even purple… It’s half the pleasure of owning a perfume collection, gazing upon it lovingly. However there is nothing more destructive to perfume than bright lights or -especially- sunlight. The reason is that sunlight interacts with the formula, as does temperature which acts as a catalyst for chemical reactions between molecules.

It’s not the visible light so much, as UV radiation from sunlight, which wrecks havoc with your beloved fragrance, through hydrogen abstraction. Although standard glass blocks all of UVB radiation, there is still a 3/4 ratio of UVA radiation sipping through, posing a threat especially to clear glass bottles displayed without their boxes. Terpenoids (common molecules in several plants and resins extracts, as well as artificially produced) are especially susceptible to oxidation through heat.

Artificial light nevertheless is not so bad, especially LED lights as those do not emit UV radiation, nor do they heat up. So if you keep your fragrance bottles in a shaded wardrobe with LED lights functioning only when you open it, they’re probably good to go for several years.

Avoid the cold however

If cool and dark is good, then wouldn’t it be most effective to keep fragrance in the fridge? The Arrhenius equation in chemistry is a rule according to which every 10 degrees of temperature, up or down, doubles the reaction rate of a formula. So the short answer is no. Low temperatures increase the solubility of oxygen in liquid. Therefore oxidation is easier to happen in the cold. And we all know that the fridge is a very cold place indeed. Furthermore, certain musk components originally in crystal form can crystallise anew and form sediment on the bottom of the bottle, visible in the form of specks floating through. Thus the perfume loses some of its depth and additionally ends up looking weird.

Keep fragrance in its original box

Those boxes do a lot of the heavy work for you when the question is how to properly store fragrance. Perfume boxes, apart from being pretty and part of the presentation, are usually made of cardboard and have vents to let the bottle sit comfortably inside. So they protect both from light and from impact, if there is an accident while handling your precious fragrance.

Take care of air seeping in

When storing fragrance most people think of how they’re going to use it. Splash bottles are often kept in the bathroom for after a shower, while spray bottles can end up anywhere. Both methods to store should adhere however to one simple rule: the less air seeps in, the better. Splash bottles are therefore more susceptible and should be consumed quicker. When three quarters of the perfumed liquid is over it’s time to re-examine whether one is going to finish it up in time. Those pretty spray bottles with the retro poire bulb (a pear squashy bulb that sprays) which recall 19th century boudoirs are also very risky on the other hand. Air seeps through via the poire, so it’s best not to keep them with the sprayer placed onto the bottle, but for the mechanism to be put at the last minute before use; or alternatively to use a bit of duct tape on the spraying hole of the sprayer to block air passage.

Handle with care

This correlates with the previous advice. You may have watched glasses of wine getting swished at a wine tasting bar or have done so yourself. This is purposefully done so as to let atmospheric air to “open up” the bouquet and interact with the wine, so as to release its aromas and multiply the flavour. Perfume however does not need air to interact in the actual bottle, as it is most often sprayed on, allowing alcohol evaporation to do the magic trick of dispersing the volatile molecules around. Especially if the bottle in question is not airtight, as most commercial sprayers aren’t due to their functionality, this swishing allows for a greater amount of air seeping through, as Lancôme experts reveal to their customers. Therefore handle with care and do not open the caps for prolonged periods of time. One good tip, if you have lost a cap from one of your bottles, is to replace with another cap from a finished up bottle (some may fit better than others) or to put a bit of duct tape on the sprayer so as to eliminate evaporation. That way the bottle is protected and fragrance is stored properly.

By adhering to the above-mentioned methods for fragrance preservation, individuals can safeguard their perfume collections against the loss of their distinctive character or freshness, thus preventing them from turning into unrecognizable liquid. If perfume is the surest pathway to memory, it is prudent to ensure that it maintains its inherent essence over the passage of time. 

©2023 Arlette - LKNU Parfumerie.