When I was growing up, I wasn’t exposed to many fragranced products because my mother is allergic to perfume. In an effort to ward off her allergy symptoms, we prioritised unscented body care and house cleaning products. Although I didn’t realise it at the time, avoiding fragrance was good for all of us, allergies aside. After all, the vast majority of synthetic fragrances are derived from less-than-savory petrochemicals.
In a funny twist of fate, however, I became obsessed with perfume after leaving home. I spent many a trip to the mall during my college years sniffing various eaux in department stores in a (futile) quest to find my “soul scent.” Since then, I’ve cleaned up my beauty routine and made a concerted—if imperfect—effort to avoid your run-of-the-mill synthetic fragrance.
My love for fragrance continues, however, and I’m always eager to try perfume made by conscious companies. Most of the time, these consist only of essential oils, which can be truly lovely, but often leave something to be desired (at least for my never-satiated nose). I was, therefore, delighted to learn about PHLUR, a cruelty-free perfume company based in Austin, TX that crafts complex, unisex fragrances without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, skin irritants, unnecessary stabilizers, or animal products.
The bottles themselves are white, opaque, and completely unadorned. The opaque bottles protect the fragrances from light, which means that the perfumer doesn’t have to add a synthetic stabiliser (that’s one less iffy ingredient). Second, the plain bottles avoid excessive marketing, allowing the fragrances to speak for themselves. This is especially cool since the fragrances aren’t assigned a specific gender. For now, PHLUR is focused on six fragrances, each evoking their own mood and setting (each fragrance even has its own playlist!).
Intriguing, yes? I thought so.
I recently had the opportunity to talk to PHLUR’s founder, Eric Korman, about why the brand is so special.
Vilda Magazine: It seems like mainstream designers are releasing one fragrance after another – so I think it’s wonderful that PHLUR is focused on its six high-quality blends. How was the team able to narrow it down to only six?
Eric Korman: Unlike most fragrances found at a department store, our creative process does not begin with an olfactive direction (ex. “we want to make an oriental”), but rather based on a mood and moment that we find as inspiration – both from our own actual life, as well as the life of our dreams. So when we began, we developed 12 creative briefs based on the moments we most wanted to express. We then narrowed down from those 12 to 6, based on illustrating a diversity of perspectives we thought would translate well as a range of products. We then spent anywhere from 8 to 10 months with our perfumers creating the actual scents, so the practicality of focusing on quality over quantity kept us at those six for launch!
Vilda: I grew up wearing conventional perfumes then transitioned to oil-based fragrances in an attempt to “detox” my beauty arsenal. I’ll admit that I miss conventional fragrances sometimes, however. What can someone like me look forward to in the PHLUR experience?
EK: Yes, that’s something we hear a lot and we certainly wear essential oils too from time to time. We started our brand and created our product line though because we found using only essential oils can lack olfactive diversity (as like colour, nature only created so many hues). We thought that there must be a way to have more inspiring scents, that are still free from the bad stuff, kind to the planet (as over-harvesting botanicals for fragrance is not great), and available at an honest price. And so that’s what we did and want to try to keep on doing more of every day.
Vilda: What are your ultimate goals for wearer experience? That is, what do you hope wearers will take away from wearing PHLUR (about the company and fragrances themselves or the world of perfume in general)?
EK: We love fragrance. We love how it can elevate every moment of your day, from the most melancholy to the most joyful. So we hope our products ultimately help our customers lead a more mindful and connected existence, adding an additional layer of meaning and contentment.
Want to sample PHLUR? It’s quite easy to do. Fragrances can be sampled three at a time for $15. Samples come in 2mL spray bottles (about a month’s supply). PHLUR believes that that perfume is best sampled at your leisure, in your own home—not when you’re feeling rushed at a department store—and especially not while flipping through a magazine, catching a whiff of a piece of paper. Once you’ve sampled, you can use $15 as a credit towards a purchase of a full bottle ($85) within 30 days of sampling.
More good news — PHLUR is committed to sustainable products. The company works with its partners to source sustainable ingredients in the most environmentally-friendly way possible. PHLUR uses FSC-certified boxes that are made with 100% post-consumer cardboard. As an added bonus, the full-size bottles are made with 20% recycled glass.