One harsh lesson that every adult must learn is that where and how you store your belongings matters. The most obvious example is fine wine- it can’t age like, well, fine wine if it’s stored improperly. You can really ruin that lovely bottle of Beaujolais your godparents gave you by keeping it tucked next to a boiler. Cologne, it turns out, is much the same. You’re investing money and time into your men’s cologne collection, and it’s important to protect it. The good news is that it’s also easy. Read on to find the dos and don’ts of storing your cologne and keeping it smelling great for years to come.
It depends on who you ask. Fragrance experts differ on the shelf life of colognes and perfumes, but the general consensus is that the average shelf life is between three to five years. If you find a cologne that smells strongly of vinegar or causes skin irritation, it’s definitely time to toss it. However, this obvious “expiration” is not very common. Many collectors keep colognes and perfumes for decades, embracing any changes that have occurred over time, such as a darkening of the liquid or a deepening of a particular fragrance note. Cologne really only serves one purpose, so if you still enjoy the scent, keep spritzing it.
While movies and TV shows often depict characters selecting colognes from the medicine cabinet after cheerfully wiping steam off the mirror, that steam is an example of a major problem. Namely, high moisture and temperature fluctuation which are likely to make your cologne smell different and expire faster. A bathroom changes its temperature pretty often, more so if there is a window there to open, so it’s best to keep all fragrances out. It’s also safer to minimize the amount of glass kept in the bathroom.
Cologne tends to dislike extreme temps of both kinds, so the trick you may see in old movies of storing colognes in the refrigerator during a heat wave is definitely out. This also goes for shelves and furniture near radiators or heaters. You’re aiming for a stable, dry, room-temperature spot.
The third factor to keep in mind when storing your cologne is the presence of direct light, which will cause your costly cologne to evaporate. Window sills are no good, and any spot near a window needs to be free year-round of the kinds of sunbeams that attract sleepy pets. Once you’ve found this spot, move your collection in and never look back.
Some good locations include the top of your dresser, a wall shelf, or a closet. You may even want to invest in a cologne organizer, which will save surface room and keep everything neat. You don’t need to store your cologne in a special cabinet, but the lack of sunlight in cupboards and closets will boost longevity. A low-light atmosphere may be something to consider if you’ve invested in a discontinued or truly top-tier masterwork.
Now that we’ve established how to make cologne last longer, here’s a word about how to treat them. The aromatic chemicals in your fragrances can be disputed by excessive jostling, so try not to treat yours as roughly as James Bond might, and refrain from shaking. It goes without saying that you should also avoid trying to deconstruct the bottle in order to pour some cologne into another bottle. Travel-sized bottles, branded scented bath products, and mini decants from reputable sites can usually take care of any portability needs. Let your main bottle be a homebody while you hit the town.
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