Hayley Kiyoko discusses talking to girls and the power of fragrance

Knowing Hayley Kiyoko‘s fans have dubbed her “Lesbian Jesus,” it’s almost hard to envision a time when the multi-hyphenate talent wasn’t fully confident in every aspect of her life.

“In my youth specifically, I didn’t know how to talk to girls,” she told In The Know. “I kind of felt like an outcast.”

Kiyoko grew up in Southern California and started taking music lessons by the time she was 6 years old. She joked in a 2018 interview with Billboard that her dad still insists she release the first song she wrote when she was 8. Her talent has always been undeniable, even from a young age.

But breaking into the entertainment industry as a queer, half-Japanese woman required a lot of confidence. Kiyoko joked in that same Billboard interview, “I’m an extreme minority.”

Navigating both her aspirations and her sexuality, Kiyoko credits fragrance as a metaphysical armor in social situations that helped her get to where she is now.

“Wearing fragrance has always been a big part of my confidence foundation,” she explained. “I always struggled with my masculinity and also my femininity, and what balance of that was acceptable in society. I think what’s incredible and magical about fragrance is [it] is about how someone feels — how it makes someone feel — which transcends gender in general.”

Kiyoko also added that fragrance helped her with confidence when it came to talking to girls.

“My icebreaker was always like, ‘Oh my gosh, you smell amazing, what is that?'” she said.

That was the inspiration behind Hue, the gender-neutral fragrance Kiyoko released in early 2021. Unlike many in the onslaught of celebrity beauty brands, Kiyoko is focused on scent.

“[Scent] creates comfort,” she said. “I think of how my grandma’s home smelled or how my crush smells. It’s timeless. [And] I thought it was really important to continue to break those stereotypes and norms of what a ‘masculine’ scent is.”

Hue starts out with a hint of citrus from blood orange and freesia and then transitions into more floral notes with rose, lychee and pink magnolia. Finally, the scent dries into a “skin-like smelling musk,” Kiyoko described.

Shop: Hue by Hayley Kiyoko, $65

Credit: Hue by Hayley

“When I write music, I see color, and I’m very inspired by and comforted by color,” Kiyoko said. “I felt like [the name] ‘Hue’ was the best representation of the fact that we are all different shades of hues and colors.”

For now, there is no agenda to expand into a beauty empire for Kiyoko. Hue is truly a love letter to her fans and, hopefully, an armor for anyone else growing up and feeling the same way Kiyoko did.

“We’ll see what happens,” she said. “But for right now, I’m just focused on this incredible scent, where every day it makes me feel so, so good. And I’m excited for everyone to experience it.”

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