Charles Melton has a musky scent to him. At least, that’s what he tells me over Zoom while on break from shooting his campaign for YSL Beauty. “I don’t know if that has something to do with me being an athlete, or just, like, my natural pheromones,” he says. Today the actor officially becomes a U.S. voice of MYSLF—YSL’s woody cologne with subtle floral notes—joining Austin Butler, Finn Wolfhard, Lil Yachty, Hunter Doohan, and Noah Beck as brand envoys. “There’s a muskiness and this floral scent to MYSLF that I really enjoy, and I feel naturally fits with…myself.”
Melton’s earliest scent memories, from when he was just a toddler, are a far cry from the patchouli and orange blossom notes of MYSLF. “I remember sitting on my mom’s lap in a U-Haul while my dad was going inside of the gas station to pick up some sodas and beef jerky,” he says. “I remember the scent of Lay’s chips with lime, and I remember the smell of flowers.” He wonders if there was a rose bush near the gas station, or if he was simply breathing in his mother’s signature scent. “My mom likes floral oils and stuff like that,” he says.
Fragrance, the May December actor says, is integral to his self-exploration and daily routine. “I put on moisturizer [and] a little eye cream,” he says, adding that he then likes to “mist [fragrance] five times and walk through it.” The ritual eases him into the day—whether it be hyper-scheduled or unpredictable. ”It’s a pretty great way for me to start off my journey of discovery,” he says.
That interest in discovery extends beyond Melton’s sense of self to the characters he embodies. “The sense of smell and what it makes you think is subjective, right?” he opines. “But I think, as an actor, it definitely can help inform [a character].” While Melton didn’t pick a specific cologne for Joe Yoo in May December or Reggie Mantle in Riverdale, he does acknowledge how critical scent is to unlocking a character’s psyche.
“When you focus on the psychology of a character and get into the minutiae of why they are the way they are—what their emotional makeup is, and the complexities, and the layers of who they are—I think that informs a lot of decisions as to why they would maybe dress a certain way or smell a certain way,” he says. It’s almost scientific, how he works backwards, planting scent memories in a character’s past. “Part of the reverse engineering, the technical approach of understanding why—what lead [a character to a scent]—that’s an exciting starting point of curiosity to just explore.”