Ashley Benson officially entering beauty. And she’s doing it via a route plenty of celebrities have taken before: On Tuesday, the actor introduced himself ASH by Ashley Bensonan eponym smell brand that also marks her first ever solo venture. (She had previously helped found a sunglass brand Private Revaux in 2017 and craft spirits brand Thomas Ashbourne earlier this year.)
ASH by Ashley Benson’s debut series includes two smellwith additional fragrances due to launch in 2023. There’s East 12th, a blend of rose and cedar inspired by New York City’s East Village, and The Eighth, a blend of bergamot, musk and cashmere wood inspired by Paris’s eighth arrondissement.
According to Benson, fragrance has played an important role in her life. As she tells Fashionista, it was her grandmother who first got her interested in personal fragrance at a young age. Then, in adulthood, Benson began experimenting with mixing and layering different perfumes on her own. “All my friends and people I worked with asked me what I was wearing,” she says. “They would say I would leave this scent every time I walked into the room or every time I left my jacket on the set or something. I never told anyone [what I was wearing]however, because I didn’t want anyone to steal my formula.”
This passion for fragrance, combined with Benson’s love of world travel, serves as the foundation of the brand. Benson was visiting Morocco three years ago when the idea of creating a fragrance brand first struck her, she tells Fashionista.
“I went to Morocco on vacation and I happened to go to a fragrance merchant there in Marrakesh,” she recalls, noting that she was attached to the merchant for hours. “That’s when I started smelling all kinds of different notes, and I actually created my own fragrance there for the first time. Literally two months after that, I got a call to do a fragrance line, and I immediately said yes.”
Over the course of 21 months, during which the fragrances underwent more than 60 rounds of product testing, Benson reimagined some of the scents she had encountered during that trip to Morocco—yet the resulting eaus turned to New York and Paris instead.
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“I just want people to feel confident and in their element wearing this perfume and knowing they can afford it,” she says. “I want people to wear these perfumes and remember where they were when they wore them. Fragrance in general is a very personal thing to put out there, and I’m glad I got to tell my story inside.”
Benson has dubbed The Eighth her personal favorite because it “takes me back to all the memories I’ve had in Paris,” she says, citing frequent stays at the Hotel Costes. The color of the fragrance bottle is actually based on the French hotspot’s black painted walls and red velvet sofas. “Every time I’m in Paris, it just brings me back to the energy there. It’s sexy, it’s intimate, and it’s very much my vibe, so I wanted to reflect that in this fragrance.”
East 12th, Benson’s second first perfume, references New York City, which the Los Angeles native has called home for the past six years. “I kind of felt thrown into the city, especially without really knowing the ins and outs of it,” she recalls of when she first arrived. “I also didn’t have a lot of friends when I moved here, so I spent a lot of time on my own exploring the city and figuring out who I am as an adult in my 30s. Obviously, you is so different in your early 20s and I think it was really necessary for me to do. I feel very much in my element here and in all facets creatively, I thrive here more than I do in LA”
When asked to pair each fragrance with one of her on-screen characters, Benson assigns The Eighth to Hanna Marin from Freeform’s “Pretty Little Liars,” but adds that she would probably wear them both. As for East 12th? “I feel that [it] would definitely be Brit from ‘Spring Breakers,'” Benson says. “I also just finished an upcoming Amazon Prime Video series and the character reminds me of her. She’s just very elegant and stylish and kind of gives me a more European vibe, so I think that character would be The Eighth as well.”
ASH by Ashley Benson fragrances retail for $79 (for 50ml bottles) and $25 (for 8ml bottles). They are available on Tuesday ASHbyAshleyBenson.com, and will launch on Scentbird’s direct-to-consumer fragrance subscription platform on Thursday, Nov. 17.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.