I'll be the first to admit I am really picky about perfumes. I find the majority of department-store women's fragrances to be cloyingly sweet, fruity, floral, or impersonal. The packaging of scents is either too tired or too frilly, not to mention incompatible with preserving the formula of the perfume. After all, if we would never buy an eye cream in a clear jar, as it puts the ingredients at risk for light degradation, why would we do it for a fragrance?
Speaking of ingredients, ever notice how perfumes don't have the ingredients listed on their packaging? That's because the formulas tend to be chockablock with potentially irritating and environmentally unfriendly additives. Oh, and don't get me started on cost. The markup on fragrance is one of the highest out of every retail product, beauty included, in the world.
I don't mean to complain, but with all of these qualms, a fragrance lover is not left with many options. Purely based on scent alone, the fragrances I love the most are by D.S. & Durga, Frédéric Malle, and Byredo. Still, the price point on these indie perfumes is not always within reach, even for me. I've also tried a few all-natural perfumes and essential oil blends, but those don't feel anywhere as luxurious.
I'm always hopeful when a new perfume crosses my desk that promises to check off all my boxes, but it didn't happen until a package from the non-toxic fragrance brand Phlur showed up and proceeded to quickly replace every other fragrance I've collected. But what makes me so obsessed with this perfume brand?
Keep scrolling to read why this perfume skeptic is so smitten with the new fragrance brand Phlur.
My first impression of Phlur's fragrances, aside from the minimalist, ultra-modern matte white cube packaging, is that I'd already seen them before. Impossible, I know, seeing as the products were just now on my radar, however, they did launch in 2016. A few months after I received them, I got the chance to meet the brand's co-founder and CEO, Eric Korman (who created the brand with his wife, Cynthia). He told me that was sort of the point when designing Phlur's packaging. "We wanted it to look so classic that you felt like you'd seen it on a shelf sitting next to Byredo," he explained. "We wanted it to feel timeless and familiar." That intention comes across well throughout the entire collection.
I was sent four fragrances and a candle (Phlur makes 10 gender-neutral perfumes, three candles, as well as body care using four of the scents). First was Hanami, a light and minimalist scent of fig, white florals, hazelnut, and sandalwood. Then there was Olmsted & Vaux, a crisp, citrusy scent I loved for myself but could also see on someone more masculine. Next, Sandara: a delicious nature-inspired scent with notes of forest air, violet leaves, and oakmoss. And finally, my favorite of the four, Moab: a dry, spicy, pepper-and-clove fragrance inspired by the desert. The candle was a unique white sphere filled with the scent Annica, a translation of the brand's Hanami fragrance.
These perfumes smell expensive—eccentric and complex, yet subtle enough that I could see them working for several different personalities and genders. I figured each one had to be at least $200. A visit to the Phlur website made me do a double-take: Each scent is only $96 when you buy direct, and shipping is always free. (The products are also available on Amazon and at Sephora, both online and in several brick-and-mortar stores.)
Speaking of the Phlur website, it's unwittingly cool. The product pages come with a mood board for each fragrance; quotes from the perfumer; information on the notes and vibe of the fragrance; and how long it wears. There is even a Spotify playlist to pair with the personality of the scent. Here's another cool thing: The fragrances in Phlur's line were each crafted by a different perfumer. They were handpicked to bring the founders' vision for that specific fragrance to life. For example, Hanami and Olmsted & Vaux were created by an eclectic New York-based perfumer named Nathalie Benareau, who grew up in France near the Alps and summered in Spain. But Moab was made by Ralf Schwieger, who spent his childhood in Germany surrounded by forests. Not to mention, as a young up-and-coming perfumer, he won a blindfolded fragrance contest judged by Frédéric Malle.
Perhaps even more impressive than the rich complexity of the scents, brand experience, and affordable price point is Phlur's commitment to sustainability. Phlur is a Certified B Corporation, which means the company meets the B Lab’s standards for social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. All of the products are vegan and have a cruelty-free certification through Leaping Bunny. The brand donates $5 from every bottle sold to either the International Union for Conservation of Nature or the Central Park Conservancy. I don't think it gets more philanthropic than that.
You can also read the entire ingredient list for Phlur's perfumes right on their website, which is almost unheard of in the fragrance industry. And those chic matte white bottles? They're not just for show. While protecting the fragrance from light damage, they're also made from recycled glass. The stylish sphere the candle comes in is food safe, so after the candle runs out, you can repurpose it as a serving bowl.
The Kormans have created a brand that addresses every concern I've historically had about fragrance products. I feel like it was invented for me, and I wonder why there aren't more perfume brands like it. I am so taken with Phlur, that it is the only fragrance brand I have spent my own money on (as opposed to getting press samples sent from brands) during my years as a beauty editor. My boyfriend, too, is a big fan and owns an Annica candle himself.
If you are unsure of which scent to purchase, consider trying the brand's sampling service. For $18, they'll send you three mini bottles of perfume (about a month's worth) with free shipping. If you decide within 30 days you want to buy a full bottle, that $18 will go towards your purchase.
Ready to have Phlur take over your vanity, too? Shop my top picks from the brand below.
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