Monday Question – Has A Perfume Ever Turned Bad In Your Possession?

We all fret about perfumes turning, we protect them from sunlight and heat, we are diligent about hygiene when decanting, we try to treat our babies as good as possible. And still we worry…

I want to hear from you today how often it really happens that a perfume turns bad, falls apart, evaporates.

Have you ever lost a fragrance this way?

Did you do anything “wrong” or do you think it was through no fault of yours?


My Answer:

I have had one perfume fall apart, unfortunately it was one of my favorites (Frapin 1697), I have later heard from the perfumer, Bertrand Duchaufour, that this is not uncommon with this particular perfume, and he blames the davana essential oil in it, which has a tendency for instability.

One other scent is unwearable in my collection, a vintage Shalimar EdT, that I already received in this state (from ebay). Well, that is the risk we all take with vintage perfumes.

But so far no recently made scent has turned while in my possession, I do keep my perfumes in a cool and dark closet and only rotate them out to be worn now and again.

Let’s see how often it really happens that perfumes go bad. I am very curious about your responses!


About Olfactoria

I'm on a journey through the world of fragrance - come with me!
This entry was posted in Frapin, Monday Question and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

97 Responses to Monday Question – Has A Perfume Ever Turned Bad In Your Possession?

  1. Yes, it has happened. Helmut Lang Cuiron, which I think I’ve mentioned in the comment section of your blog earlier. The last 1/8 of that one were definitely not good. Sad to see one of your favourites go partially sour, but as with old loves, at one point you realize you have to move on. 🙂

  2. Sandra says:

    I look forward to hearing what others will say today. I have thankfully never had a perfume turn bad. Not even my Frapin 1697. But who knows, my nose might not be able to tell when a perfume turns bad.

  3. MaggieS says:

    Yes, indeed. A bottle of Tolu extrait, stored in its box in a cool cupboard. Bought new from Ormonde Jayne and owned by me for about two years. I liked it but didn’t love it and didn’t wear it all that often. One day after forgetting about it for 6 months I pulled it out and it was gone – no fragrance just a horrible sour smell of pure alcohol with a faint undertone of mouldy citrus. I wasn’t devastated by its loss but it has made me very nervous about my more beloved treasures.

    • Olfactoria says:

      Oh that is awful, strange that an extrait goes bad so quickly…

    • Zazie says:

      I have the impression that Ormonde Jayne fragrances in general do not keep well.
      I used to see this issue brought up in the “earlier” perfume blogs, and it might have been the result of OJ’s particular “maceration” techniques…I should check up the old flyer that came with my sample set, in which LP spent few words on her technique, if I remeber well…
      I, for one, have noticed a change in my oringinal sample of OJ’s Frangipani.
      I’ve had no issues with her body products though. At least not yet…

  4. Undina says:

    Luckily it hasn’t happened to me since I fell into the rabbit hole (2.5 years ago) but in my “previous life” I had several bottles turned. I blame a hot apartment I used to live in: while there was no direct light and I always kept perfumes in their boxes when available there wasn’t much I could do about those hot days. But even taking into the account extreme temperatures I hadn’t lost that many bottles. I attribute that to having mostly synthetic mainstream perfumes in my collection at that time.

  5. Lady Jane Grey says:

    Well, I have the same 1697, but it’s only a decant, so it doesn’t hurt that much (but still…).
    I still remember, when one of my friends at the Uni (that means “ages ago”…) had a classic chypre on her shelf (can’t remember what it was exactly). It was old already and due to the constant light exposure for decades it turned to “bouillon” – you see, it must have been something significant for me : I still have that meaty smell in my nose…

    • Olfactoria says:

      So yours has turned too? Sigh. 😦

      The bouillon story is indeed memorable.

      (So good to see you taking the time to read, I miss you! Hugs!)

      • Lady Jane Grey says:

        I’m trying hard for some normality… Like reading your blog as often as possible. I’m waiting for my schedule for the week commensing Febr.18, will let you know asap ! BIG HUG 😮

  6. Ines says:

    Not really. I have some older bottles that have their top notes a bit off, but that is to be expected. None of the rest (including decants) has so far gone down that road. 🙂

  7. brie says:

    Never kept a FB long enough for it to turn bad 🙂 !! In my 40 plus years of wearing I have either drained every last drop or gifted away FBs I can’t use. However, in the past I have ordered some older perfumes from online deep discounters and upon receiving them they smelled “off”. Perhaps they were not stored under the most ideal circumstances.

  8. muza says:

    This happened every time I owned Versace’s Blond edt, maybe it just had short-life-formula… And ones I purchased My Sin by Lanvin. It was absolutely bad and smelled awful!

  9. andreawilko says:

    I also have a bottle of 1697 that last time I wore it was still perfect. I bought mine after they brought it out as a permanent rather than the initial limited edition bottles. So far I have been lucky that none of mine have turned.

  10. Tara says:

    I haven’t had a perfume turn on me yet but it has worried me ever since reading that Robin at NST found a number of bottles she bought in the early days of perfumania had turned. It makes me want to limit the size of my collection because I would hate that to happen. “Spray More, Buy Less” has to be my motto for 2013.

  11. lucasai says:

    Thank God such a thing never happened to me and neither of my perfume turned bad while being in my possession though I noticed my Prada Amber Pour Homme turned its juice color twice since the day I bought it, but the juice smells perfectly perfect.

  12. Emma says:

    I bought a vintage Baghari on ebay that smelt NOTHING like the reviews I’d read about it being a sparkling, delicate scent – it smelt of dusty cumin and curry powder! I assume that perfumes that rely on a pretty top note will suffer more over time than those that are by desigh all about the basenotes, and this was one of those examples… (I had a similar experience with Le Dix, actually, whose aldehydic aspect I love, but which had turned bad in a vintage bottle).

    Interesting to note Bertrand Duchafour’s comment about the essential oil in Frapin 1967 being a reason for the scent turning. Synthetics are not only cheaper but more stable than natural ingredients, aren’t they? So are the really expensive, and more concentrated, parfums that rely on natural ingredients the ones that you should actually use with abandon, before they go off?! Emma

  13. Farouche says:

    Is it obvious when a perfume goes off? My vintage Narcisse Noir doesn’t smell bad, just not quite right. Perhaps the top notes have disappeared?

    • Olfactoria says:

      It depends. Sometimes there is no question about it, and other times it is only a subtle difference.

    • ginzaintherain says:

      My Farouche ( two bottles ) were hideous, which is why I gave Farouche a bad review, Farouche! But then I got another vintage parfum recently and NOW I UNDERSTAND. vintage is very precarious by nature!

  14. masha7 says:

    You won’t believe it, but my small bottle of 1697 finally turned, it was an ugly thing to behol.! So sad! The main perfumes (vintage) that have turned are those with certain citrus notes. Calyx and Calvin Klein Truth are notable for turning yucky after a few years. I have about 10 bottles of perfume that are 30 years old or more. The top notes go “hairspray” in most cases, but the heart and basenotes tend to be just fine. So they are nice to have on a scarf or something, in order to avoid the “blast” of the first few minutes!

  15. shellyw says:

    Interestring to read. I have not owned anything very long. Also makes me wonder at my craving for OJ Woman.

  16. arline says:

    I don’t know if this counts, but I thought I wanted Tom Fords Santal Blush, and I still may.

    I tried it at my friends NYE party, and it smelled great. I gould detect a very faint (taint) of cumin, which is not my favorite scent in a perfume, but it was not bothersome.

    I got an ounce decant off of ebay, and my nose feels assaulted by cumin. I don’t know if it is that batch, but I won’t be investing in a FB if it is. Oddly I am getting loads of compliments in the testing phase. I just don’t love that much skank!!!!!

    I don’t remember my first try being that skankey!!!!!!!!

  17. Philipp says:

    Yes, Le Male and Infusion de Fleur d’Oranger turned bad after a couple of years. The citrusy top notes vanished.

  18. Birgit says:

    I have had two fragrances that has turned bad on me, one was Calyx and the other one Jo Malone White Jasmine & Mint. Very sad about the Jo Malone one because I love to wear it in the summer, I am very careful how I store my fragrances but maybe they have been old and not stored right when I got them. I got a new Calyx this summer so I’m happy now 🙂

  19. AnneD says:

    I have so many bottles, but the worst experience was with Calvin Klein Obsession. I had one go bad “back in the day” and I just bought a vintage that was obviously bad. No more CK for me! Most of my other fragrances just loose their top notes, then I wear them since I usually love the dry down anyway. I have also remembered to spray several times if a bottle has been sitting for awhile as the juice in the tube can be bad but not the rest of the bottle. I read this somewhere!

  20. Veni from Prague says:

    We once owned a bottle of Diorissimo (the good old one) with my mum back in 1984, and we so much valued it and used it very seldom… until it simply evaporated :-(( And a bottle of DeciDelá deteriorated just lately in my cabinet :-(( No sunlight, no artificial light, no heat, no nothing…

  21. ringthing says:

    How sad! I haven’t had a bottle go bad, but several decants have turned or evaporated over the years. I try to use all decants that are in plastic atomizers first, as I have heard that plastic goes off faster than glass.

  22. susan says:

    The only perfume in my collection that I’m absolutely sure has gone a bit off is my beloved YSL Cinema, bought in my pre-perfumista days, circa 2005 I guess. I used a lot of it, kept it in the sun, and some of the top has decayed, which is a shame because it has a lovely mimosa top note. But the ambery gourmand drydown is still there.

  23. Civava says:

    Thierry Mugler’s Angel turned out to be green. I admit i kept it in warm and cold and light and it is bought in year 2000 or in 2001. It’s really unwearable. All the others are being used by now – mostly.

  24. Bee says:

    Fortunately not, but I keep my scents in a permanently darkened and coolish room. I just had an issue once with a newly bought Diptyque scent (forgot which), but they were extremely kind and substituted it at once!

  25. Eva S says:

    I haven’t had any bottles turn yet, but at the rate I’m accumulating FB maybe I should start getting worried! My scents are stored in their boxes in a dark closet, and maybe it helps that I live in a cool climate. I’m a bit suspicious of my bottle of Petite Cherie since it’s known to turn, although if it did turn I could get rid of it with a clear conscience-I never use it!

  26. Vanessa says:

    My Ines de la Fressange has top notes that have turned, but the rest is okay. It was from a swap so I don’t know its age or provenance. Then I think my Le De may be going too, but am not quite sure there – there was a decant from it that I kept in a hot car boot, which definitely turned, and why wouldn’t it?! But the whole bottle feels somehow compromised, and I am very wary of it, waiting for it to “blow”. : – ) I have had a fair few samples and other decants turn – just little ones, fortunately, from swaps again, mostly. I have been thinking about this a lot lately, as it happens, and worrying about the longevity – or shortevity(!) – of the rest of my collection.

  27. Lynley says:

    I’m so glad to see this post, I do hope for a positive general consensus for some reassurance about my own treasured collection..
    The only fragrances I’ve had properly turn were, a few years ago, the last little bit of Rochas Alchimie. I also have a set of Rochas minis from about 1995 that have turned. The bottle of Byzance I got at the time hadn’t last time I checked… My bottle of Timbuktu also no longer smells fresh, so I’m thinking that may be on it’s way out too..
    Reading other blogs, Victoria of bdj mentioned her decant of l’eau d’hiver turning, and I recently learned that Goutal scents are prone to turn. Sure enough I was in town yesterday and wanted to try Musc Nomade again but the tester had turned.. I have Encens Flamboyant and Ninfeo Mio and love them so hoping they’re survivors!!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Testers have a particularly hard time of course, sitting out in the bright light and heat most of the time can’t be good.
      I hope your Goutals make it.
      As for a general concensus, I think what we all agree on is: Use what you have before it is too late. 🙂

  28. laniersmith says:

    After 20 years I had a bottle finally go south on me. It was Van Cleef and Arpels Pour Homme… I loved that bottle and used it sparingly. So I had it for 20 years and it just gave up the ghost before I used it all up. I need to get another.

  29. Joan says:

    I had a pump atomizer bottle of Casma by Caswell Massey and I’m pretty sure it evaporated.

  30. Cristine says:

    I have only had two scents change– Angel, which also changed from blue to “brownish,” and my Chanel Coco. Both are from the early 90’s (the Chanel is older by a few years) and I would say the Chanel Coco is the most wearable, since only the top notes have changed. The Coco is an edp in a stopper bottle that’s half full (lovely to look at) which makes it impossible to protect from air. The good news is that I have another full bottle of edp from the same year in a spray bottle and it is perfect.

    The Angel, on the other hand, has changed more (I don’t wear it anymore). The middle notes are harsh and the top notes are disintegrated — I recently tried spraying it into some body lotion and it was fine that way, since the base notes are still good– I only keep it as a reminder of times past.

  31. TaffyJ says:

    I had a decant of Armani Prive La Femme Bleue turn. sigh. It became cloudy and now doesn’t smell like itself. Also, I’ve noticed evaporation issues with a particular type of decant container (The LFB was in that type of container.) : it is 2.5 -3 ml. glass, and has a silver, metal top and cap. The cap never seems to quite fit or falls off easily. Evaporated Boxeuses looks like purply maple syrup!

  32. giabbotomato says:

    None of my perfumes ever turned bad, but I started my small collection not long ago. Still, I’ll follow Tara’s suggestion ”Spray more, buy less”. I bought too many in such a short time and I don’t want them to go bad.
    But, my grandmother has some perfumes that turned bad and others that evaporated. She had a beautiful big bottle of Chanel n°5, bought back in the 80′s, and what is left is just a centimeter of thick brown mix of oils and same happened with a vintage bottle of Air du Temps, which still didn’t have the atomizer.
    A perfume turned bad with a awful smell is an Eau Sauvage Extreme. It was my uncle’s and she decided to give it to me after about 5 years that it was standing on a shelf unused. It was not kept in the dark, but certainly it was in a fresh dry room.

  33. unseencenser says:

    I’ve discovered a couple of decants have evaporated, and I blame myself; I no longer use roll on bottles at all, and watch my sprays suspiciously.

    I’ve got an old bottle of Chanel No 5 that has off top notes, but it’s quite old and I acquired it that way. I’m far less inclined now to buy opened very old bottles. I think they oxidize.

    • Olfactoria says:

      That’s the problem with decants, sigh.
      As soon as too much air gets in, the battle is already lost.

    • malsnano86 says:

      I have four old bottles of Chanel No. 5 parfum, and they all smell slightly different. They were all slightly-used when I bought them, but I must say that the 1oz bottle that seems to be 1950s or possibly late ’40s is GORGEOUS. It had definitely been opened, but very little of it had actually been used, and it was still in all its packaging – the double boxes, even – so I think it must have been stored in someone’s lingerie drawer for decades, away from light. Also, with so little of it gone, it must not have been very exposed to air.

  34. If I had the room and the space, I would love one of those wine storage machines that either sucks the air out of bottles, or puts an inert layer of nitrogen on top. I would use it for my wines and my perfumes.

    This is all a fancy fantasy of course! I live in fear of perfumes turning. Living in NYC, the weather is harsh, the summers are hot and humid, and a/c is not always that reliable in the summer. I have had some top notes go, but at that point, those fragrances are almost down to the last dregs so I haven’t had the tragic bottle toss . . . yet!

  35. malsnano86 says:

    I haven’t had anything go unwearably-bad, not since that bottle of Lagerfeld Chloe I got for my 12th birthday and wore for more than a decade, keeping it out on my dresser, finally started to smell off. (I know better now! It was practically a miracle that the thing stayed nice as long as it did, given its treatment.) I have had cases where the topnotes are not right, but both citrus and aldehydes are notorious for deteriorating relatively quickly. This makes sense, I suppose, because they are small molecules.

    I buy a lot of vintage perfumes off ebay, and that is always a gamble because you don’t know how they’ve been kept. In box is usually good news. Unopened can be good news, but not necessarily, and frequently used perfume stays relatively wearable over time – particularly those whose characters (like L’Heure Bleue, for example) rely largely on base notes. I have noticed a sad deterioration in one of my bottles of vintage Emeraude pdt, since I decanted most of that one into a spray decant bottle – it now smells quite smoky, much more like Shalimar. It’s still wearable, but I think the air getting to it while I decanted might have been harmful.

    Everything I bought new over the past five years, though, is still fine. Thank goodness!

    • Olfactoria says:

      Decanting is definitely a problem.
      I find, like you say, that the the base-heavy perfumes (like most Guerlains) keep extraordinarily well.
      I’m glad you’ve been mostly lucky with your vintage purchases, Mals.

  36. Julia says:

    How about 3/4 of a huge bottle of Joy parfum given to me by my wonderful, but perfume naive, husband. It was half a lifetime’s worth of perfume (since I received it at 50.) Lasted me about 8 years but when it went, baby, it went! My fault, I didn’t store it well because I wore it pretty regularly. Heartbreaking. I’m thinking of buying the $1,500 Baccarat bottle (only an ounce so it should keep) but worry I’d have to decant it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s