Following his award-winning portrayal of Elvis Presley, Austin Butler has cemented his place as one of Hollywood’s brightest stars. Despite his busy schedule, Butler has carved out time for a new role as YSL Beauty’s new global ambassador, timed to coincide with the launch of the label’s latest masculine eau de parfum, Myslf. Butler sat down with Vogue in New York City to chat about his fragrance preferences, wellness rituals, and the beauty tips he’s learned on set.
Recently I’ve been going in the sauna and cold plunge a lot—which I do love. It helps to make me feel like I reset. As far as switching off, I like to read—just sit out in the sun, under a tree or something, and read a book—it always helps me relax.
On his favorite book
I don’t know if I have a favorite book, it’s like picking a favorite kid.
On his morning ritual
I prefer a slow wake-up. I’ve gone through periods of time where the first thing that I do is work out or something like that; lately, I like to get up, take a shower, take my dog for a walk, make a cup of coffee you know? Journal a bit—kind of just start the day getting my mind centered.
On morning beauty
Not really. I just take that shower and that’s about it.
On his fragrance approach
My approach is that I wear fragrance depending on how I want to feel, kind of how I get dressed. It makes you feel a certain way so that applies to my life. I have some days where I wear fragrance and some days that I don’t. The first time I ever used fragrance in a role was when I was doing The Iceman Cometh with Denzel Washington here on Broadway. During rehearsal, I started putting this specific oil on my wrist, and I’d smell it before starting and then that ended up becoming sort of a trigger that would get me into that emotional state for the show. So every night before I’d walk out I’d smell this. I’d use it as a way of bypassing the conscious mind and getting down to the emotions. The true power of fragrance.
On the joy of fragrance
Well first, I simply love smells—I love a good smell. So for me, getting to surround yourself with that all day is one of the joys of the fact that people create fragrances, because then you can just surround yourself with something that you love the smell of.
On his signature scent
I don’t know if I have a signature scent, I mean I tend to go for kind of woody scents. I like that sort of richness of either a tobacco smell or whiskey, but nothing too overpowering. I like something subtle.
On his earliest experience with fragrance
I’ve layered [fragrances] since I was a kid. The first time I remember wearing perfume or cologne at all was when I was a child and I was sneaking into my parents’ room. My mom had this really floral scent that I’d spray on, then I’d spray my dad’s woody sort of scent. I used to mix them together, so as a kid I was doing that.
On beauty tips he learned on set
Before I’d ever been on set, I’d never really done any beauty things. But you have a lot of early calls when you’re on set and they’ll put those eye patches under your eyes. They actually really help! I always feel like it moisturizes under the eyes. I keep it simple though. I like to put on some face oil or something like that and that’s about it for me.
On his skincare routine
I really don’t [have a skincare routine] besides Amy [Komorowski] who does my make-up. She developed an oil that’s for your face called Circa 1970, and she gave me a bottle of that and I love it so I put that on my face. I get out of the shower, put that on, and go. I don’t really do anything else.
On what he never travels without
My passport. Other than that… headphones. I like to listen to music. I’ve got two pairs that I use—I have the noise-canceling Apple ones, and then I have the Bose headphones that go over your ears, when you’re on a plane those are a little bit better at cutting out the plane noise.
On his wellness philosophy
I think it’s all about your mind, you know, about keeping your mind in a healthy place. My mother used to do this thing where she would write 10 things she’s grateful for every morning. I’ve done that—some days I write three things I’m grateful for in the morning. It just kind of shifts your perspective and reminds you of how lucky we are just to be alive. It can color and change your day in a positive way—focus on little things that we can be grateful for. I prefer to do it in the morning because [the way] I see it, when you sleep, sometimes it’s like you wake up and your guitar is detuned and you’ve got to tune it. So, usually doing something physical that gets the blood pumping in some way wakes you up and that’ll change my state.
On his exercise of choice
I’ve done a lot of different things. When I was doing Dune, I started working out with this guy named Duffy [Gaver] who I found because Brad Pitt trained with him on Troy and he was a Navy SEAL. His workouts are brutal – that’s the main thing I’ve been doing recently is working out with him because he pushes you right to the limit.
I think beauty is less of an objective thing than it is a way in which we experience the world, because when you think about it, you could walk by a beautiful rose and be having a bad day and you won’t appreciate it. Or, you walk by it a thousand times and stop seeing it for what it is. But when we take the time to really be present, and actually take in the world with all of our senses, there’s so much beauty around us in every place. I think it’s more of the filter through which we see the world.
Yves Saint Laurent
Myslf Eau de Parfum