Ashley Benson is officially getting into beauty. And she's doing so via a route plenty of celebrities have taken before: On Tuesday, the actor introduced ASH by Ashley Benson, an eponymous fragrance brand that also marks her first-ever solo business venture. (She had previously co-founded sunglasses label Privé Revaux in 2017 and craft spirits brand Thomas Ashbourne earlier this year.)
ASH by Ashley Benson's debut range includes two scents, with additional fragrances set to launch in 2023. There's East 12th, a rose-and-cedar blend inspired by New York City's East Village, and The Eighth, a mix of bergamot, musk and cashmere wood inspired by Paris' Eighth Arrondissement.
According to Benson, scent 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 to experiment with mixing and layering different perfumes on her own. "All my friends and people I worked with would ask me what I was wearing," she says. "They would say that I'd leave this scent every time I walk into the room, or whenever I left my jacket on set or something. I never told anybody [what I was wearing], though, because I didn't want anyone to steal my formula."
This passion for scents, combined with Benson's love of world travel, serves as the basis for the brand. Benson was visiting Morocco three years ago when the idea to create a fragrance brand first struck her, she tells Fashionista.
"I went Morocco on vacation and I happened to go to a fragrance merchant there in Marrakesh," she recalls, noting that she bonded with the merchant for hours. "That's when I first started to smell all kinds of different notes, and I actually created my own scent there for the first time. Literally two months after that, I got a call about doing a fragrance line, and I immediately said yes."
In a span of 21 months, during which the fragrances went through more than 60 rounds of product testing, Benson reimagined some of the scents she had encountered during that trip to Morocco — and yet the resulting eaus harken to New York and Paris instead.
"I just want people to feel confident and in their own element while wearing this perfume and knowing that 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 happy I got to tell my story within it."
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 Hotel Costes. The color of the fragrance bottle is actually based on the French hotspot's black lacquered walls and red velvet couches. "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 scent."
East 12th, Benson's other inaugural perfume, references New York City, which the Los Angeles native has called home for the last six years. "I felt kind of thrown into the city, especially without really knowing the ins and outs of it," she remembers of the time when she first arrived. "I didn't really have a lot of friends when I moved here, either, so I spent a lot of time to myself exploring the city and finding who I am as an adult going into my 30s. Obviously, you're 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 every facet creatively, I thrive here more than I do in L.A."
When asked to pair each scent with one of her on-screen characters, Benson assigns The Eighth to Hanna Marin from Freeform's "Pretty Little Liars," but adds that she'd probably wear both of them. As for East 12th? "I feel like [it] would definitely be Brit from 'Spring Breakers,'" says Benson. "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 off more of a European vibe, so I think that character would be The Eighth, too."
ASH by Ashley Benson fragrances will retail for $79 (for the 50mL bottles) and $25 (for the 8mL bottles). They are available Tuesday on 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.