Does Cologne Expire?

Key Takeaways

  • Cologne expiration: Yes, cologne does expire. Most colognes last 3-4 years, but some can last up to 10 years.
  • Cologne storage: To make cologne last longer, store it in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight and moisture. Keep the cap on and don’t shake the bottle.
  • Cologne freshness: To check if cologne is still fresh, smell it, look at its color, and find its expiration date. Expired cologne will smell bad, darken in color, or lose its scent.
  • Cologne selection: To choose the best cologne for you, consider your personality, preferences, and goals. Test it on your skin before buying it and see how it changes over time.

There’s nothing better than finding your signature scent and purchasing the perfect cologne. If you’re like me, you’ll stash a bottle or two away of that ideal fragrance for the next time you need it.

But what if the next time you need it doesn’t happen right away? Does cologne expire? The unfortunate answer is yes; your cologne will eventually go bad. Read on to learn how to prolong cologne’s life and how to know when it’s time to toss it.

How Long Does Cologne Last?

Most colognes will last approximately 3-4 years from when you pick them up in the store. At least that’s what my experience has taught me. 

Some colognes last longer than others. Colognes with natural ingredients, such as vegetable oil, have gone bad on me quicker than others. The fats within these colognes will eventually sour and go bad, leading to a breakdown of the fragrance.

Check your cologne’s label or ask someone in the store if the scent you’re considering contains natural ingredients. It’s also good to check the expiration date before purchasing to ensure you are okay with the fragrance’s life. If I were to give advice, I’d consider purchasing smaller bottles when the expiration date is closer.

Colognes without natural ingredients will last longer. Some can even endure up to ten years! Opt for one of these options if you will not use the cologne often but want to get the most out of the bottle.

How Can You Make Cologne Last Longer?

Luckily, there are many ways to keep your cologne smelling fresh longer.


Always store your cologne out of the sun. I usually left my cologne near the bed, something the sun took advantage of and made the bottle wear out quickly. Stash your bottle in a cabinet or on a closet shelf out of the sun’s reach. A medicine cabinet in the bathroom is usually a safe space for your favorite scent.


Try to store your cologne at a cool temperature that is not exposed to significant humidity levels.

Avoid moving your cologne between places with different temperatures. These changes can impact the chemicals in your cologne, resulting in an unpleasant odor instead of the fragrance you purchased.

Keep Sealed

Don’t replace the cap on your cologne, and do not open the bottle until you are ready to use it. Removing the cap can result in the oxidation of the cologne, which will shorten your fragrance’s life. The more air that reaches the liquid, the faster oxidation will occur.

I’ve noticed spray bottle colognes often last longer than those with a removable cap. They are better sealed and do not allow air inside when you use them.

Keep In The Original Bottle

I don’t know why someone would do this, but my little brother did this while playing, and it didn’t end up well. 

The bottle you purchased the fragrance in was designed to preserve the life of the scent and prevent oxidation. The shapes and materials of the containers are designed to stop any excess air from reaching the cologne, thus, changing them could be fatal for the life of your cologne.

Don’t Shake It Up

Shaking your cologne will bring more air into the bottle, speeding along the oxidation process that ruins your cologne. Keep the bottle steady on the shelf and transport your fragrance with care.

Keep Dry

Moisture is never good. In this case, it accelerates the aging process of your cologne. Keep your cologne in a cool, dry place and avoid exposing it to high humidity levels. Even worse, be sure not to allow any water or other moisture into the bottle. One of my colognes once fell into the sink, and the scent was clearly affected by it.

How Do You Know When Cologne Has Expired?

You can determine if your cologne is still fresh by smelling the liquid, checking its color, and finding the expiration date. These methods will tell you if you should use your cologne or toss it for another bottle.

Smell It

The most obvious way to know if your cologne has expired is to give it a sniff. Even if you’re no expert, I know from experience a good smell will let you know anything you need. If it no longer smells like the wonderful scent you purchased, it probably went bad.

As the cologne’s ingredients break down, they will smell foul. This will usually distort the original scent and can be downright unpleasant.

Expensive colognes or fragrances with a high alcohol content can sometimes lose their scent entirely over time. Parts of the liquid will evaporate, eventually leaving just a colorless, scentless liquid in the bottle.

Check the Color

Another way to know if your cologne has expired is to check the color. Cologne will darken as it ages, so expired colognes will be a darker shade than they were when you purchased the bottle.

I’d recommend dispensing a drop onto a clean surface if your cologne is stored in a tinted bottle. It will likely be too difficult to tell if the color has changed without removing some from the bottle, so bear with me here.

Sometimes you will notice that the consistency of the liquid itself has changed. This can also indicate that your cologne is expired.

Check the Expiration Date

This one might be obvious, but sometimes we overlook the easiest choice. Many colognes will list an expiration date somewhere on the bottle. If it is past the expiration date, your cologne has expired.

Some colognes do not display an expiration date. If your cologne does not have a listed expiration date, check the following information on the bottle:

  • Period After Opening” (POA) Number: This number indicates how long the bottle will last after you open it. You can find it on the back label inside a shape that looks like an open bottle.
  • Batch Code: You can research your bottle’s batch code to learn more about when it was sold. You can find this 3-12 digit code on the label.

Suppose you cannot locate any of this information on your cologne. In that case, you will need to examine the scent or color to determine if it is still fresh.

Frequently Asked Questions – Does Cologne Expire?

Check out the answers to these frequently asked questions about cologne expiration.

So, Cologne Does Expire. All Good Things Must End, I Guess.

Check your cologne’s expiration date, scent, and color to determine if it is fresh or expired. Your cologne will go bad sometime between one and ten years after purchasing it. Prolong the life of your cologne by storing it in a cool, dry place, keeping the cap on, and not removing it from the original bottle.

For more guides to help you get the most from your cologne, check out the links below:

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