Updated: May 27, 2020
Why does the Chanel No. 5 that I bought twenty years ago smell different than the bottle I got for my birthday last week?
THERE ARE 2 GOOD REASONS
Sometimes the producer has to change the formula. Before a perfume is released, IFRA (International Fragrance Association) must test it in order to confirm that the ratio of the ingredients is safe (even the proportions of natural oils such as rose and jasmine must be deemed safe!). Some natural ingredients are even banned in certain perfumes. In order to receive the IFRA certificate, the perfume house must comply by several different regulations. Testing and regulations are ongoing.
Back in 2014, Chanel was forced to change their No. 5 formula because IFRA found that one of its ingredients was a skin irritant. Therefore, they had to change their formula, making the bottles that you inherited from your grandmother smell different than the newest bottle you just received. In other perfume cases, IFRA requires a house to limit certain ingredients, or even eliminate others entirely.
But there is a second possible reason for the difference in scent. Let’s say that the formula hasn’t been altered at all. Perfumes go through a process called maceration. You know how soup always tastes better the next day? Well, the same is true for perfume scents. The maceration process can take six months. Perfumers test these fragrances over time in order to establish the ideal moment for your perfume. Over time, your perfume’s scent qualities will continue to evolve. Maceration is key to developing fragrance. No need to rush to get your own fragrance line out on the market. Patience is a virtue.
Lesson du jour: Like a fine wine Perfume is always better when left to 'stew'