Bearded Man in a Suit Holding a Cologne Bottle

Eau de toilette vs. cologne is a never-ending debate among perfume enthusiasts. It all comes down to the raw materials used. The fewer raw materials used, the less expensive the final product. Therefore, colognes tend to be generally cheaper than eau de toilette.

All in all, investing in a fragrance is a big deal. You want to do everything you can to ensure your bottle lasts longer. If you don’t like buying cheap cologne, it makes things even more complicated. However, like your classic go-to beard oil for your full beard, all good things must end.

When it comes to cologne bottles, certain practices tend to alter the chemical makeup of the scent, making it expire sooner than it’s supposed to. Let’s find out how long a bottle of cologne should last.

How Long Do They Last

First, perfumes are made with different compounds that constitute the notes – base notes, middle notes, and top notes. They also contain oils that can either be from synthetic or natural sources. Unlike unscented beard oils, perfume oils are scented, but the scent differs depending on the source.

Most manufacturers recommend using a bottle for one to three years. However, the fragrance doesn’t expire like food, so using a bottle for four to five years is okay. Of course, all this depends on the state of the bottle – opened or unopened.


An unopened perfume bottle can last three to five years if properly stored. The oxidation process is what happens to fragrances and results in the content becoming darker over time. The shade of black depends on the base notes; some perfumes can turn completely dark.

The oxidation process is faster when the cologne is taken out of the box. The shelf life of an unopened cologne bottle or even body sprays for men depends also on the ingredients used. When vegetable oils are used, the cologne will have a shorter shelf-life.

When buying a bottle of cologne, check for ingredients like alcohol and water, as these also evaporate faster, thus affecting the longevity of the perfume.


While most manufacturers don’t put an expiry date on the packaging, once you open the bottle, use it as often as possible since it will expire quickly. This is especially if it is closed with a cap where you have to dab the liquid onto your skin.

Generally, bottles that have a cap cause the fragrance to diminish over time, unlike those with an atomizer.

Pouring Cologne Into Palms

How to Know If It Is Expired

Your perfume is unlike the beard oil or pomade you use on a thicker beard, with an apparent expiration date on the package. When it comes to perfumes, it’s not easy to tell if the liquid inside has expired.

However, if your perfume has expired, it will have a slightly sour or metallic scent. Oxygen in the air tends to alter the molecules in the bottle over time. Generally, top notes like fruits, citrus, green notes, aromatics, and patchouli are the first to oxidize.

Another way to tell if your perfume has expired is by the color. A darker or yellow tint means the fragrance has oxidized, and you must consider buying another bottle. The best way to check for that is to spray the perfume on paper.

Usage After Expired Date

So, is it safe to use your perfume if it’s expired? That depends. After oxidation, some fragrances can irritate the skin once applied or stain clothes. Do a patch test first inside of your wrist and see if any reaction occurs within 24 hours.

If there is no reaction, you can safely apply the cologne. Of course, using any of the men’s cologne that women love is to smell good. So, if your perfume’s scent has changed over the years to slightly metallic, do yourself a favor and buy another bottle.

Additionally, if the perfume doesn’t stain your clothes but you still don’t want to spray it directly on your clothes or skin, spray it on a piece of clothing.

A scarf or a handkerchief will do the trick. If you like shoulder-length hairstyles, you don’t want to wear a scarf, so a handkerchief inside the hem of your trousers is a great way to wear your expired but still great-smelling perfume.

How to Make It Last Longer

Is there a way to make your perfume last even longer? Store your cologne in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and heat. You also need to ensure that you don’t store it in a place where it will be exposed to humidity, like your bathroom.

Don’t store your perfume in a fridge since the low temperatures can influence the fragrance. Don’t use decanters if you travel a lot and want an excellent fragrance to complement your taper comb-over hairstyle or impeccable full beard.

This is because the liquid will be exposed to air during the transferring process, affecting its shelf-life. Instead, buy your favorite fragrance in a small bottle that is easy to pack.

African American Man Showing a Cologne Bottle


Do cologne bottles really expire?

Yes, unfortunately, cologne bottles expire after some time. Many perfumes don’t have an expiration date, but the bottle can last between three to five years when stored properly.

Is cologne still good after 10 years?

The average shelf-life of a bottle of cologne is three to five years; the heavier the base notes, the longer the shelf-life.

How many sprays of cologne should you use?

The best way to tell is to check the concentration of the fragrance on the packaging. For light Eau de cologne or Eau de toilet, 3 to 4 sprays should do it. One to two sprays are enough if you have heavier Eau de perfume or perfume.


Since you will spend a lot on a bottle of cologne, you want it to last longer.

Generally, cologne bottles don’t have an expiry date on the packaging, but when stored well, they should last between three to five years. To ensure your cologne bottle last longer, keep it in a cool and dry place away from direct heat and sunlight.

Michele Antunes

About the author: Michele Antunes

Michele Meesh Antunes is the lady of the Beardoholic writers team and a genius when it comes to hair and beard styles that suit any face shape. She’s been a barber for years now and, no matter your personal style, she knows exactly what beard, hairstyle and length suit you. She brings the women’s perspective on beards, beard care, haircuts and hairstyles and male grooming.

Pin It on Pinterest