Should You Shake Perfume & Cologne Before Use? (Quick Facts)  

Properly storing your perfume and cologne bottles is one way to ensure that they last for years to come. But what about shaking them before use? Does shaking improve or degrade your fragrances?

You may have a natural inclination to shake any liquid before using it, but shaking perfume or cologne is unnecessary prior to spraying them on. The claim that perfumes and colognes are degraded by shaking is a myth. Human strength would be insufficient to destroy fragrance molecules in this way. You shouldn’t vigorously shake your fragrances before using them, but if you did, it wouldn’t ruin them altogether.

Nevertheless, this is an important topic to consider if you’re a fragrance collector. Keep reading to understand how to best handle your perfume and cologne. 

Should You Shake Perfume & Cologne Before Use

Any Facts On Shaking Perfume & Cologne Bottles Before Use?

You could get lost in the sea of online debates over whether or not to shake cologne or perfume before use. Many opinions are exchanged but there’s no hardcore proof to support either side. Both the claims and intensity with which they’re shared are borderline comical.

Some collectors state that shaking damages fragrance molecules. Others suggest that shaking interferes with the fragrance formula and may even alter the scent once it’s been sprayed. Yet others state that shaking cologne bottles do nothing but cause you to look foolish.

Opinions abound, but I have yet to come across any physicist or perfumer who supports the idea that shaking is either harmful or helpful to a bottled fragrance. 

Some manufacturers share best practices, but they don’t specifically caution against shaking fragrance bottles. Nor do they suggest that doing so prolongs use of the fragrances.


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♬ original sound – Grace Young – Grace Young

Does Shaking Perfume & Cologne Bottles Alter Their Chemical Structure?

Based on my research, humans have insufficient strength to alter the structural makeup of perfume or cologne. Shaking bottles of perfume or cologne cannot disturb their chemical bonds. 

Shaking in human strength is harmless because perfume and cologne ingredients are fully integrated. Separating these ingredients would require laboratory equipment, not a simple shake.

Some have suggested that shaking perfume bottles creates kinetic momentum that releases energy.

But based on an explanation I’ve read that was written by a physics professor, energy is only released when chemical bonds are formed, not when they’re broken. This is because a chemical reaction is a two-step process where chemical bonds would not only break, but also form new bonds.  

What others have described would suggest that perfumes and colognes are unstable formulas that are so volatile that they’re constantly breaking and rejoining. My estimation is that such extreme shifts would either be visible to the naked eye or noticeable by smell.

Rigorous and consistent shaking is required in order to alter the chemical structure of perfumes or colognes. Humans simply cannot agitate a bottle to that extent without commercial machinery.

Does Shaking Hasten the Oxidation Process?

There are claims out there that shaking a bottle of perfume or cologne oxidizes it, or at the very least, acts as a catalyst in the oxidation process. 

The suggestion is that small bubbles form, which introduces more oxygen to the fragrance. And they claim that this, in turn, breaks down the scent molecules.

While oxidation can shorten the lifespan of your perfume or cologne, shaking your bottle won’t expedite oxidation.

As you use your fragrance, some oxygen may enter through the atomizer, but it’s not a significant enough amount to cause damage to the formula. Shaking the bottle won’t cause any more oxygen to enter into it than what was previously there.

By keeping your containers tightly closed, you can avoid premature oxidation. 

What Ruins Perfume & Cologne?

Unlike the extreme claims posted online, shaking does not appear to ruin perfumes and colognes.

Keep in mind, though, that we’re making reference to moderate and high quality fragrances. Perfumes or colognes found in the corner drug store might actually be more volatile, but I still doubt that shaking them would cause significant degradation.

Direct sunlight, extreme heat, and air are the three conditions that could potentially ruin your perfume or cologne.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

Unlike human strength used to shake a bottle, direct sunlight can actually alter fragrance molecules, ruining your favorite perfume or cologne.

This is why it’s best not to store your fragrances on top of a dresser or shelf that gets a lot of sunlight during the day. Instead, place the bottle inside a dresser drawer or on a shaded shelf.

Avoid Extreme Heat

Similar to sunlight, excessive heat can cause damage to your perfume or cologne.

If you are in a situation where your fragrance is exposed to heat for a few hours, as long as you immediately remove it and then place it in a cool, dry place, it should still be functional. And you can expect the scent to be the same.

But high heat conditions over an extended period of time will render your perfume or cologne useless. It will probably smell like a completely different product.

Avoid Air Exposure

We briefly touched on this earlier, but exposing your perfume or cologne to air will speed up the oxidation process. If your bottle remains open for prolonged periods of time, you might eventually notice a color change. 

Leaving it open will definitely alter the fragrance. Efficiently decanting your fragrances shouldn’t pose too much harm as long as each bottle is immediately closed once filled.

Overall, it’s best to keep your bottles tightly closed, in a cool place, away from direct sunlight at all times. 

What’s the Correct Way to Handle Perfume & Cologne Bottles?

Varying amounts of alcohol, water, and fragrance oils are usually the top three ingredients of any perfume or cologne. Since oil and water don’t mix, we shake liquids, like salad dressing, in order to integrate the ingredients.

As mentioned, both oil (fragrance oils) and water are two of the most important ingredients of any perfume or cologne, but the difference between them and salad dressing is that perfumes and colognes are properly formulated to prevent separation. 

Additional ingredients, including fixatives and solvents, and well as various chemical processes carried out by professionals in a lab environment, all prevent “salad dressing” separation.

Once the formulas are made, manufacturers engage in lengthy and thorough testing to ensure that they are releasing a stable product onto the market.

They test whether the products can withstand various conditions, like extreme heat and cold. And I’m certain that if shaking were a detrimental factor, they would indicate this to their customers in order to maintain a loyal customer base. 

If shaking enhanced fragrance performance, manufacturers would likely communicate that to their customers. Brands want to create pleasant experiences for their customer base.

If mere shaking would ruin a fragrance, these companies wouldn’t have customers because the product would be too volatile to last long enough for anyone to use it.

Therefore, based on my research, I believe that shaking is unnecessary, but it also seems harmless if you are inclined to give your bottle a shake from time to time.


Hello and welcome to Fragrance Advice! My name is Grace Young, and I’ve been drawn to fragrances since I was a little girl. There's just something about scent that brings me so much joy! 

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