The Sniff Box – Perfume In Plain English

Boiling perfume

You might not think that central-heating boilers would teach you much about perfume, but I’ve just learned a bit more about the subject from mine. My boiler has been playing up again, so Nick, the nice Cypriot heating engineer, came round to fiddle with my thermistors, and while he was here he noticed all the perfume bottles in the room.

It turns out that Nick is into his perfume too, and he asked why I kept all my perfumes in their boxes, which he thought was a bit weird. ‘That’s the first thing I do when I get home,’ he said, ‘unwrap them and throw away all the packaging. I like the designs of the bottles, and you want to look at those not the cardboard boxes, don’t you?’

It’s a good point, and I suspect that most blokes do exactly the same as Nick and keep their perfume bottles on display. Yet your bathroom is a terrible place to keep perfume, especially once it’s been taken out of its packaging. Bathrooms tend to be warm and humid, for starters, and that doesn’t do much for a fragrance’s shelf life.

Worse still is if (unlike mine) they have a window, for nothing makes perfume degrade faster than bright daylight. Direct sunshine is worst of all. Combine that with heat and, within days, your expensive new purchase will start coming apart at the seams. It’s a process you may not – initially at least – be able to smell, but it’s easy enough to see, for as perfume degrades its colour becomes appreciably darker. Soon enough it won’t smell very nice either.

So the moral of the story is – keep your perfume in its packaging. OK, so it’s a shame not to be able to admire a well-designed bottle every day, but it’s the contents you’ve spent all that money on, and surely that’s worth looking after? Oh yes, and even if Nick didn’t know much about perfume preservation, he did a grand job on my boiler.

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