We are thrilled to see so many fragrance houses now offering refills for your fragrances, either in-store or online – better for the environment and our own already stacked shelves, and with some incentivising further with money-off discounts, it’s a win-win!
Some of the perfume bottles we have are not merely receptacles for the scent inside, but little works of art we like to keep forever. As beautiful as this idea is in theory, there’s only so much room in a perfumista’s life, and shelves full of empty flaçons gathering dust are a sad sight to behold. What’s more, the increasing consumer concern over companies who only offer single-use packaging has reached an all-time high – so we fully encourage supporting those fragrance houses who are truly trying to make a change and offer you the chance to refill a beloved bottle.
Historically, all perfume bottles would have been refillable, with the aristocracy comissioning bottles made by Baccarat or their personal jeweller, which they would then take directly to the perfumer to be filled time and again with their own bespoke blend. When perfume bottles were mass produced and became cheaper to make (and, therefore, to purchase), it was only then we first began to see the bottle as an object that could be discarded, with Cosmetics Business reporting that, ‘The global cosmetics industry is among the worst offenders of single use items, with almost 120 billion units of packaging annually ending up in landfill, according to a report by Zero Waste Europe.’
So, why not seek out some of these we recommend, below – and if your favourite fragrance isn’t currently refillable (some types of bottles aren’t currently able to be refilled without breaking them), then perhaps begin ask questions as to when they might offer a refill service, or what else they are doing to reduce unnecessary and wasteful packaging…
Mugler were one of the first contemporary houses to offer refills for all their fragrances, since 1992 in fact, explaining that: ‘We live in a time when sustainability and eco-friendly consumption is key, showing respect for our planet while we’re here is more important than ever. These environment friendly refill bottles are practical and easy to use, refill your beloved bottles of Angel or Alien. Obvious yet innovative, the MUGLER Refill Bottle is a must-have for any fragrance lover and ensures that your favorite scent never runs out.’ You can either re-fill your bottle at home, by purchasing a plain bottle and following the instructions on their website, having it refilled in store at a Mugler Source fragrance fountain, or returning an empty bottle of your favourite to The Fragrance Shop and having it refilled at a 38% discount.
Sustainability has been a key driver of the passionate perfume house, Floral Street, a cruelty free, vegan brand (certified by PETA) with packaging that’s all recyclable, reusable or compostable, all backing up in direct actions their ethos of ‘Packaging with Principles’. Floral Street also works with a British paper mill to create pulp cartons that are totally biodegradable – a first for the world of fragrance.
Now this contemporary London-based house has gone one step further and offer customers extra special personalisation and refill opportunities, saying: ‘New for this festive season, in our Covent Garden store in the heart of London, is Flora, our personalisation station, offering a customised touch to any gift. Plus, we now offer a fragrance refill service which positively reduces waste providing an eco-friendly step towards a more sustainable future. ‘Florina’, allows customers to bring their favourite bottles back so she can refill them to be reused and our fragrance ‘mini works of art’ enjoy a longer life!’
Experimental Perfume Club say that ‘Being eco-conscious has always been at the heart of what we do and we strive to source and manufacture responsibly,’ words that are now fully backed by their refill fountain, on offer to customers who visit their new counter at Selfridges, London.
Say EPC: ‘Our goal is to reduce unnecessary packaging and waste and enable loyal consumers to reuse their packaging again and again. Our first refill service will be available exclusively at the LAYERS lab at Selfridges, London. A place where you can reduce your carbon footprint by bringing back a bottle of your empty 50ml fragrance to be refilled for a reduced price. Looking after both your pennies and the planet.’
By Kilian have been another fragrance house championing refillable bottles since their very beginning, in 2007. Founder Kilian Hennessy wanted to create exquisite flaçons as objects of desire, referencing his inspiration of the golden age of perfumery, and making sure customers want to keep the bottles. Those stunning lacquered boxes are also 100% keepsakes, as the inner tray can be lifted out and the box then repurposed as somewhere to stash your jewellery (or sauciest love letters, perhaps…?)
By Kilian say that their new refill bottles make the process much easier, allowing for ‘an easy spill-proof process, with packaging slimmed down for minimal environmental waste. The cutting-edge dispenser stops transferring the perfume automatically, once the container is full to refill easily at home. True luxury should last a lifetime, and as such, all by KILIAN fragrance bottles are designed to be refilled.’
Perfumer H presents their fragrances in some of the most stunningly elegant, uniquely handblown bottles out there, if your pocket allows, and all these can be refilled by purchasing your choice of scent separately, in a lab style brown glass bottle, to refill at home. Though we know many fragrance fans who prefer to re-use them as iconic candle-holders or even use as a stylish vase.
Lyn Harris (previously the founder and perfumer of Miller Harris) believes in cultivating working relationships with fellow artisans, including Michael Ruh, the glassblower, and Studio Frith who worked on the packaging. With a core collection of five fragrances, twice a year, Harris introduces new, limited collections, and each scent can be purchased in 100ml size, which comes with two 10ml refillable travel sprays and a funnel for those who like to spray as they go (and you will, as all the fragrances are quite remarkable). The full size hand-blown bottles are also refillable whenever you wish, by visiting the Marylebone boutique.
‘There is a Japanese belief that to talk about your ethics is unethical, that it’s better to get on with what you do quietly’ note indie brand, 4160 Tuesdays, but reason that ‘On the other hand, the British are usually a good deal more questioning (and sometimes downright nosy – in a good way) about the way companies behave, so here is some info about what we do and why.’
And there’s good reason to talk about the work they are doing towards being more eco-conscious and sustainable, offering, among other things, discounts for buying a bottle with no cap (code: lidforlife – 5% discount), for buying just the bottle with no cap and no box (code: justthebottle – 10% – applies to 30, 50 & 100ml bottles) and they will even give you 25% off when you send your bottle back for a refill (codes: travelrefill for 9mls, fillmeup for 30, 50 & 100ml bottles).
The historic house of Caron invite you to have a refill at possibly the most stylish ‘fragrance fountain ever, having first revived many of their iconic scents on the creation of the Avenue Montaigne boutique in the eighties, later presented in perfume fountains created in crystal by Daum and Baccarat.
‘Refilling the fragrance bottles from the fountain’s bronze tap revived the art of perfumery,’ they say – and how we wish we had one of these fountains in our own fragrant boudoir! And you can experience a similarly glamorous fountain at the Caron counter in London’s Fortnum & Mason.
Whichever of these fragrance houses you decide to explore, we applaud the concept of refilling wherever possible, and look forward to even more perfumes we can refill at source, or at home, to our heart’s (and noses) content!
By Suzy Nightingale