Scientific studies confirm that, of all the senses, smell offers the best recall. In “Scent Memories,” the Cut asks people about the scents they associate with different times in their lives.
Next up is singer, songwriter, and actress Hayley Kiyoko. This month, she launched her very first fragrance, Hue, a mood-boosting, gender-inclusive blend of blood orange, watermelon, lychee, rose, creamy cacao, and soft musk. The Cut caught up with Kiyoko to talk fancy fries, morning dew, and a very nostalgic shampoo.
My first scent memory: I’m sure I had many scent memories prior to this, but a powerful moment was in middle school and homeroom, all the popular girls with their Herbal Essences. They wouldn’t dry their hair, so it would still be kind of wet, and then in the middle of, like, math class, they’d take their hair down, and I’d just get this whiff of gorgeousness. I’d be dying inside being like, Oh my gosh, I want to date them one day … Scent is just such a natural aphrodisiac, and that’s probably one of my fondest memories.
Happiness smells like: Peace, metaphorically, but literally, probably like fresh air and the trees.
Love smells like: Food. All types of food. I’m the happiest and I feel the most loved when I have a full stomach, and that’s just the facts. I love making gluten-free chocolate-chip cookies, so my apartment has been smelling like that a lot lately, and I also love Cuban food, which I’ve been bingeing on too much.
Heartbreak or loss smells like: It’s been a while since I’ve felt it, so I’m trying to remember that exact scent. Metaphorically, I feel like it smells like space. As an actual scent, it probably smells like sanitizer; like something kind of stale with just a glimmer of hope, but you don’t really see the hope.
Friendship smells like: Chocolate and raspberries. I don’t know if raspberries have that strong of a scent, but it’s the combo of the two. And dark chocolate is the only way. But I don’t like that 90 percent; anything above 75 percent, it’s too raw for me. I’ve made the mistake of buying an 85 percent dark chocolate bar, and oof. Too healthy.
Success smells like: Roses, but not the store-bought roses. It’s like when you’re walking in your neighborhood, and you see a rose in someone’s front yard, and then you take a sniff; a free sniff. That type of rose.
The worst smell is: Trash would be number one. And probably the second worst smell would be … Oh, my gosh, I hate. truffle. oil. I would make that number one, and then trash, number two. If someone is eating truffle in my vicinity, I’m gagging. And it’s such a trend now, where truffles are in everything and it’s like Why? It smells horrific. Like when you order fries and they try to spruce it up, and they don’t even tell you? We want it original. We don’t want extra stuff on it. Just give me the basic fry, please. My nightmare is fancy fries. Fancy fries are my nightmare. You really put me on spiral there. I didn’t realize how emotional this would be.
My ideal vacation smells like: Being in the woods with a beautiful view, and everything smells like dew. Maybe it rained all night, and then you wake up the next day and it’s just this fresh air from the rain. Those are my favorite vacations. It’s hard to tell the weather what to do during my vacation, but that would be ideal.
My home smells like: You gotta ask my friends. One of my friends said that my apartment smells like a ripe tomato which, honestly, I don’t really know what that smells like, and I don’t know if that’s a diss, or a good thing? She said it was a good thing because it reminded her of her grandma’s and I was like, this is devastating. You’re telling me my apartment smells like … your grandma’s house? So yeah, I don’t know, it’s not looking too good for me over here, but I would like to think that it smells like gardenias. I’m obsessed with these Aesop candles, the one that starts with a P, so that’s probably more accurate, but whatever, I’ll take the tomato comment.
The first thing I smell in the morning: Cozy sheets.
The last thing I smell before I go to bed: Probably eucalyptus or lavender, because I always take an Epsom salt bath. I like to smell like a plant at times as well.
A scent or smell I love that others usually don’t: I love coffee breath. I’m gonna lose a lot of friendships after this interview, thank you.
I smell like: Hue. I tried to create my soul and embody who I am in this fragrance, and so what I smell like is all of the Hue notes. We have blood orange and freesia, then it transitions into rose, lychee, and pink magnolia. And then I settle down a bit and dry down to a musk and a cacao — I’m very simple. I like to spray it on my neck and my wrist, and then I do an extra spritz, maybe on the top of my head, you know, for good luck.