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Behind the Brand: An Interview With PHLUR Fragrances' Eric Korman

PHLUR is an ethically conscious brand that's changing the industry. And our beauty editor endorses their claim that the scents feels as good as they smell.

By Heather Dunhill July 11, 2018

PHLUR fragrances are clean and cruelty-free.

This is a good find, if I do say so myself.  It's called PHLUR, and it's my latest fragrance fascination. In fact, I'm so enchanted that I've winnowed my collection of swanky brands down to just the faves and three from PHLUR.  Yes, I love this brand that much. I can't wait to put it on every day. 

The PHLUR team has crafted a product that smells amazing and is beautifully packaged without damaging the environment or the scent within. Light will damage a fragrance, so most brands add stabilizers to avoid that in their clear bottles. But PHLUR is dedicated to avoiding harmful ingredients—hence its thoughtful (and cool) opaque white bottle.  

That refusal to use harmful ingredients also minimizes skin irritants and unnecessary additives—better for your skin, better for you. And because the team cares deeply about our planet, PHLUR does not use any materials on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of threatened plants, nor do they use animal products (they are certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny). There's more, but let's hear from co-founder Eric Korman, who shares details on everything from the inspiration behind the brand name to how PHLUR is disrupting the industry.

Eric Korman 

First, what’s behind the PHLUR name?

Our name is a play on words, with reference to the French word for flower, “fleur,” mixed with the idea that the PH balance of everyone’s skin is different, and is in part what makes the same scent smell differently on one person to the next. 

In many ways it sounds like the brand will be an industry disrupter. Tell us how you’re re-imagining the fragrance business.

We question everything from inspiration and ingredient formulation to discovery and trial. Rather than giving our perfumers olfactive direction, which is commonplace, we provide them with inspiration in the form of images, words and music, and imbue them with the freedom to express themselves. So they spend the time and money they need to create distinctively different products than what you’ll find in a department store.

We also ensure that all the ingredients on their palette are clean and sustainably sourced. So we skip things like parabens, phthalates and BHT, for example, and we coordinate with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to ensure any botanicals we source don’t come at the expense of the earth. Because we’ve got nothing to hide, we are the only perfume brand disclosing our ingredients and choices. We encourage customers to check them out and make sure the decisions we've made are appropriate for them, too. 

What's your advice for choosing the right scent?

We don’t love trying to experience fragrance in a mall, so advise customers to select three 2mL samples of fragrance for $18. On the site, customers literally can see the same visual inspiration and music that we shared with our perfumers for each of the scents, creating a thoughtful and consistent through-line.

How did you come up with that gorgeous packaging?

We think it's an honor to be in someone's home, so we designed all of our packaging to be clean and minimalist in style, so we don’t crowd the customer’s own aesthetic (and of course, we use recycled components and materials as much as possible). 

Hanami by PHLUR

How should we care for our fragrances? 

Generally you should always avoid heat and light—so actually, bathrooms are not a great place for them. At home I keep mine in the refrigerator (somewhat to the chagrin of my wife!). This informed our decision to put all of our fragrances in opaque bottles to protect them from light.  As you know, the majority of perfumes are sold in clear bottle, which means they use BHT or other stabilizers to negate the impact of light (not to mention the practice of artificially coloring them). We thought that was nuts. Why spray coloring on your skin for no reason?

Please share more insight into the PHLUR philosophy: to make fragrance that feels as great as it smells.

We spend a lot of time picking our words! That sentence actually has two meanings. The first stems from our belief that the true magic of an amazing scent comes from how it makes you feel when you wear it. At our most aspirational, we design our products to elevate the various moments in someone's day, from the most melancholy to the most joyful. The second meaning is a bit more literal and refers to using clean ingredients—that an amazing smelling scent should not come with a potentially negative physical impact.

Sandara by PHLUR

Image: Courtesy Photo 

You’re clearly aware of how the product impacts people and the planet. How can we be more conscious in beauty consumerism?

I think it all starts with being comfortable with asking questions, and the first one I always ask is how transparent is the brand I’m considering about the choices they're making. If you cannot easily understand how they made critical decisions on things like formulation, then you should probably move on.

Second, I’d suggest supporting smaller brands that are trying to do the right thing, even if their products costs a little more. A lot of the corners that have been cut usually start from the need to compete on price. Finally, look to smart retailers and the choices they make. On one hand, that could be the products found at Sephora highlighting their “Clean At” seal (which we’re proud to be a part of!), or from progressive independent retailers like Credo and Follain. They’ve done a lot of heavy lifting to make thoughtful editorial choices to ease the purchasing process. 

Want to give PHLUR a try? You can sample three of their seven award-wining scents a try for $18 by clicking here.  The company will send three 2mL bottles your way—a month’s worth of fragrance. Bonus: You have 30 days to apply that $18 toward the price of a full 50mL bottle. 

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