Should I refrigerate my perfume?

Should you keep your eau de parfum next to your eau de Evian?
Should you keep your eau de parfum next to your eau de Evian?

Ketchup, mustard, pickles, beer...perfume? You read that right -- many die-hard fragrance wearers insist that the refrigerator is the best place for scent storage. Some think it will extend the life of the perfume; others like a cold spray of cologne on a hot summer's days. In reality, it can be tricky to pinpoint a solid answer, with so many resources on the Web recommending refrigerator storage and just as many others claiming the exact opposite. So which is it, already?

It turns out that there's good reason for the confusion. According to the Fragrance Foundation, toilet waters and colognes can be kept in the refrigerator (but not perfume) because they have higher levels of alcohol and lower levels of essential oils. However Elizabeth Barrial, perfumer with Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab in North Hollywood, Calif., is on the fence about this.

"Light and extreme temperature may degrade essential oils and synthetic fragrance chemicals even in such small concentrations," she explains. "Some essential oils can be refrigerated, but unless you know exactly which oils are in your , you won't have a good idea of what the possible outcome may be. My two cents: Unless you live somewhere that experiences extreme heat, keep your fragrances out of the fridge!"

As a rule, extreme temperatures on either end of the spectrum will alter a fragrance. "Top notes are notoriously fragile," adds Barrial.

So where should you store your fragrance? It may be impossible to find a spot in your home that never experiences the odd temperature change but you can identify an area that's less prone to excessive heat or cold. If not, you risk the fragrance you love so much turning into a sourer or less potent version of its original self.

First, never store perfumes in direct sunlight, even if that's where your vanity table is located. Cross windowsills off of your list, too. Bathroom counters are also a terrible locale for fragrances. They tend to change temperature too often with all of those hot, steamy showers taking place. If you're upset about the dearth of pretty bottles on your vanity tray, simply decorate with old, empty perfume vials instead. Or, fill them with colored water for an added kick.

Instead, opt for a spot in a dark closet, cupboard or dresser drawer in a room with a nice, even temperature. Barrial suggests keeping fragrances housed between 55 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit (12 and 22 degrees Celsius), if possible.

Whatever spot you select, make sure it's out of reach of children and pets. You don't want them to accidentally spill or ingest potentially harmful perfumes.

If stored properly, perfume often has a surprisingly long shelf life, although it really depends on the fragrance. Some manufacturers tout a lifespan of about one year, even though they can actually last years longer.

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  • Barrial, Elizabeth. Interview via e-mail. Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Aug. 15, 2012.
  • "Are fragrances a friend of the fridge?" June 29, 2010. (Aug. 15, 2012).
  • The Fragrance Foundation. "Fragrance Info." 2012. (Aug. 15, 2012).