I didn't think "clean perfume" existed until I tried Phlur

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  • I didn't think "clean perfume" existed until I tried Phlur, a clean fragrance startup that focuses on sustainability and transparency.
  • The brand uses lab-created ingredients alongside sustainably sourced botanicals, but it ensures synthetics are safe and even publishes the full ingredients list for each of its scents online.
  • In addition to perfume, Phlur also makes candles, body washes, and lotions in the same scents.

These last few years, I've made deliberate attempts to understand what's in my beauty products and swap out anything with questionable ingredients. It's not quite a "clean" routine since that term doesn't have a real definition, but I'd say I've become more conscious about ingredients and formulas.

Except when it came to perfume.

In my mind, I thought that perfume was always going to be made with synthetic chemicals. No shade to master perfumers and noses, but perfume is a mix of essential oils and alcohol - two fundamental things that can't be "cleaned up" somehow to be safer for our bodies.

Phlur has proved me wrong.

Phlur's fragrances are made with sustainably sourced and safe lab-created ingredients

The company's whole vibe is perfume made with sustainably sourced and lab-created ingredients, but done so in a safe and transparent way. According to the brand, botanicals like lavender can irritate skin, natural ingredients like sandalwood oil from trees can be sourced too aggressively and lead to its endangerment, and certain scents like musk (which are secretions from the musk deer) can be extracted in cruel ways, so why continue to use any of them even if they're "natural?"

Phlur set out to reinvent the process by using only safe and sustainably sourced natural and botanical ingredients, and then supplementing them with lab-created synthetics - musk is "e-oxacyclohexadec-12-en-2-one" and sandalwood is "campholenyl butanol," and both are safe for animals, humans, and the environment.

Every ingredient found in the perfumes is listed online with descriptions and sourcing information

Instead of hiding behind woo-woo terms and fluff, the brand publishes the full list of ingredients for each of its fragrances, body washes, lotions, and candles with descriptions of what the ingredients do and how they were sourced, like "botanical," "lab created," or more bluntly, "the earth."

What you won't find in any of these lists are synthetic dyes, stabilizers, parabens, sulfates, and a ton of other questionable ingredients. The lack of stabilizers is notable because that means Phlur's perfume has to be in an opaque container, unlike other perfume bottles that are clear but also full of weird stabilizers.

As far as transparency goes, Phlur is open about its ingredients and sourcing because the rest of the fragrance industry isn't. Brands legally have to say their formulas are made with "water, denatured ethyl alcohol, and 'fragrance'" but that's about it.

The combo of sustainable ingredients and packaging and transparency has helped make Phlur a certified B Corporation.

You can get a sample trio of its bestselling perfumes or buy each individually for $96

All of Phlur's ingredients smell great and look way more chic than the novelty-shaped bottles of traditional perfume, but I personally love S.C. 59 and Hanami. The former smells like the bluest ocean you can imagine and the latter reminds me of a garden after a summer rainstorm. I'll use them interchangeably, often forgetting which one I'm using because the bottles look the same.

If you aren't sure how the fragrances would smell, Phlur has a sample trio of its bestsellers so you can narrow down your favorite to a certain family of scents before investing in a full-size bottle for $96 or a travel-size bottle for $28. Once you're finished, it can be completely recycled - the bottle is made with 20% recycled glass and the cardboard packaging is 100% post-consumer recycled materials.

Technically, I was only half-wrong since Phlur's fragrances still use synthetic chemicals, but they're made safely and sustainably, and that's all that matters to my conscious beauty routine.

Buy Phlur fragrance at Sephora, starting at $28

Buy Phlur Sample Set at Sephora, $13

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