I’ve always been fascinated with perfume, partly because the creation of perfume remains largely a mystery to me. Thanks to trade secret laws, perfumers aren’t required to disclose all of the ingredients they use to make their scents. This can be problematic when it comes to conventional brands that rely mostly on synthetics that may or may not be healthy, but when it comes to small, conscious brands with a focus on natural ingredients—I’m okay with a little mystery.
Since I began relying largely on more natural beauty products, my quest to find the perfect, non-creepy perfume has been unending—but I’ll admit, it’s kind of a fun journey! So when I heard about PHLUR Perfume, a small perfumery in Austin, TX, I was really curious about their fragrances. And I was really excited to learn that PHLUR fragrances do not include any known skin irritants, parabens, phthalates, unnecessary stabilizers, or animal products.
Fortunately for me, PHLUR perfume is super easy to sample! The cruelty-free line of six fragrances can be sampled three at a time for $15. PHLUR will send you your samples in those cute little spray bottles (which can last for a few weeks). The idea is 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.
The bottles themselves are white, opaque, and completely unadorned. The reasoning behind the minimalist bottle is twofold. First, an opaque bottle protects the fragrance from light, which means that the perfumer doesn’t have to add a synthetic stabilizer (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—more on that later. Once you’ve sampled, you can put use $15 as a credit towards a purchase of a full bottle ($85).
What I really like about PHLUR is the way the company provides info about each perfume’s longevity, intensity, and star ingredients. For example, Hanami, an “aquatic floral tableau,” wears 4-6 hours on skin and 1-2 hours on clothing and is considered “light” in weight. PHLUR explains that the sandalwood featured in the fragrance is a skin-safe, lab-created synthetic, a choice the company made after learning natural Indian sandalwood is not being harvested sustainably. Of course, it has to be mentioned that PHLUR has created a special playlist for each fragrance!
I haven’t tried the entirety of the PHLUR line, but I’ve had a chance to smell a few! Back when I ordered my sample, PHLUR was selling two bottles for $10 (rather than 3/$15), and I tried Moab and Siano. Meanwhile, my friend sampled Hanami and Olmsted & Vaux. And then we had an impromptu smelling party.
The verdict? The perfumes have staying power and are certainly quite unique. Speaking for the ones I’ve sampled, I can say they’re definitely not department store dupes. The unisex quality of the fragrances is up to interpretation, of course. Moab seemed the most gender-versatile of the lot with its dry heat while Siano immediately made me think of one of my female coworkers who wears a lot of sultry, heady perfumes. (Read: eau de femme fatale.) But that just goes to show that our perception of scent is closely linked with memory (and in the case of perfume, skin chemistry, too). Not to mention the concept of gender itself is fluid and non-binary. That said, upon smelling Olmsted & Vaux, my friend and I unanimously agreed: “cuddly dude!”
While I may not have found my soul scent while sampling PHLUR, the process was truly fun—and such a nice break from being blown away by the fragrance section at the mall—and sniffing patchouli-laced fragrance oils in the back of the health food store. Also, I actually like the fact that the line only carries six fragrances. It seems like conventional perfume brands are cranking out new perfumes every month, tacking “Rose” or “Fleur” on the end of an existing fragrance. There’s something about PHLUR that seems thoughtful and pleasantly restrained. Hopefully, their conscious perfume making and selling will catch on to other brands.
What’s your favorite vegan perfume brand?
Related: Finding Your Perfume Personality
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