Yes! It’s Possible to Buy Fragrance Without Ever Even Smelling It

Photo: Getty/Seb Oliver
Typically, buying a fragrance is such a sensorial experience: You spritz, breathing in the notes of the perfume to see how it mingles with your skin. You gather scent strips from counter to counter until you finally settle on the right juice for you. But imagine picking out your scent solely from a screen—no sniffing involved.

That's what it's like with Phlur. The brand invites you to scope out your signature fragrance through its website, which presents each perfume's vibe through a playlist, beautiful images, and an entire story—like a mood board. Imagine: You and your friends hop out of an open-air Jeep in the red mountains as desert-inspired spicy notes of pepper, clove, and jasmine waft through the air, set to the tune of Spoon's "Inside Out." That's Moab.

"When we work with the perfumers, we give them visual storyboards—music, words—and let them be the artist and create the scent," says Eric Korman, founder and CEO of Phlur (the French word for "flower"), a new fragrance brand that makes gender-neutral perfumes. And while it might be counterintuitive to select a fragrance without smelling it, Phlur (alongside a few other brands like Pinrose, Scentbird, and Skylar) is doing just that.

Because while traditional scent strips help you to know whether or not you like a fragrance at first spritz, Korman thinks they're less effective at allowing you to live with a scent to see if it works for you. It makes sense: The experience of fragrance is often different than simply wearing it around a department store. "The traditional sampling process is sub-optimal," says Korman. "You never actually get the scent journey."

So, Phlur wants to take on you the journey. After feeling the vibe of the perfumes on the website, Phlur sends you three samples of your choosing (kind of like Warby Parker) that you can try out until one really speaks to you, and from there, you can get the full bottle at a pro-rated price.

It's also a scent you can purchase guilt-free—because it's safe for both your skin and the environment. "In this clean beauty wave, there's a big concern about fragrance," says Korman. "We're hoping that we can help drive more transparency, which is why we put all of our ingredients on our website—people should have a right to make informed decisions for themselves." Phlur has no parabens, BHT, or phthalates, and doesn't use any botanicals on the international endangered list.

Those are things you can't really say about so many perfumes—as most don't reveal their ingredients (and fragrance as an ingredient is an umbrella term to thousands of chemicals that manufacturers don't have to name).

For more smell-related stories, here's how to stop your sneakers from smelling, plus how to use baking soda to keep your laundry fresh

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