Dua Lipa on Gender Fluidity, Sensory Deprivation Tanks, and Her Signature Scent

The singer has no rules when it comes to beauty.

YSL Beauty LIBRE Launch NYC With Dua Lipa
Ben Gabbe

Dua Lipa is best known for singing about the “New Rules” governing relationships, but when it comes to beauty, the singer believes there aren’t any rules at all. It makes sense, then, that Lipa is the new face of LIBRE, YSL Beauty’s latest scent, which throws traditional ideas about perfume out the window, aiming instead to deliver a traditionally masculine fragrance with a “feminine heart.” Lipa sat down with W in the middle of a very busy New York Fashion Week to discuss the ethos behind LIBRE, which, she says, is all about experimentation, freedom of self-expression and breaking boundaries—a description that applies to Lipa herself. She also opened up about her favorite wellness trends, the trials and tribulations of trying to stick to a skincare routine, and how she channels her London childhood while hunkered down writing music in Los Angeles. For beauty tips and more, read on.

How would you describe the scent profile for LIBRE?

What I love about it is it’s so gender fluid. Anne Flipo and Carlos Benaïm, who created the fragrance, basically mixed scents of lavender and orange blossom to create something that’s masculine and feminine at the same time. And I love that because it also represents the brand’s ethos and really resonates with me and what I stand for: fearlessness, empowerment, and inclusivity.

What is the ideal occasion for wearing LIBRE?

I’ve been so lucky that I got to have the fragrance before it came out and I’ve made it my scent. I use it all the time. I don’t believe in having one fragrance for day and one fragrance for night. I have one and just use that.

Do you prefer fruity scents, floral scents, or woodsy scents?

I like floral scents. Nothing too strong. I like something that feels like an extension of myself.

What is your favorite smell?

The smell of rain really reminds me of London—especially when it clears up and it leaves this weird smell. Maybe it’s just really nostalgic or feels really homey to me, but that’s my favorite smell. When I’m writing in Los Angeles and it starts raining—which is like a freak accident over there—that makes me miss home so much. That smell… I’m like, “What am I doing here?”

When did you start wearing fragrance?

I started borrowing my mom’s perfumes when I was younger. That was my first experience with fragrance. I never like putting on so much perfume that it’s so overpowering, like when you walk into a room and everyone can smell it. I like just enough so that when someone gives you a hug, you have your own scent.

What does freedom mean to you?

From the very beginning, YSL has been about breaking boundaries, about gender fluidity and giving women the opportunity to not really box themselves into what people think they should wear. Yves Saint Laurent created the first female tuxedo. That’s freedom to me: allowing yourself to be whoever you want to be, wear whatever you feel comfortable wearing. When the tuxedo happened, it was during a time when gender fluidity wasn’t even something that was spoken about. In this day and age, it’s such a big thing. YSL was ahead of his time. I feel like this carries on in the ethos of the brand and really resonates with me because it’s everything I stand for.

Has anyone ever given you good beauty advice that you’ve taken to heart?

I’m not great at doing my own makeup, so I like to keep it really, really simple and stick to a few key things that I know work for me. But beauty advice? Taking my makeup off before bed. No matter how drunk I am. A wet wipe, if that’s what it’s going to come to, it’s happening! And after I brush my teeth I brush my lips, because it gets all the dead skin off. But that’s only when I can be bothered.

What are your other beauty must-haves?

I use serums instead of oils because I feel like oils kind of clog up my skin. I know everybody goes crazy for vitamin C, but I feel like it kind of strips my skin. So, I go for vitamin B and a probiotic serum before bed, just something nourishing that I feel like will strengthen my skin more than anything.

What’s your ideal spa day, and where?

I recently found this amazing spa in New York called Aire Spa. It’s these thermal baths, and there’s a really hot one and a freezing cold pool, and they have a sauna, a salt bath where you can just float… I think you can stay in for, like, three hours. You just jacuzzi hop. That’s really fun.

Are you a fan of sensory deprivation tanks then?

Well, the salt bath that they have there is kind of like that, but I would love to do the proper sensory deprivation tank where I’m just on my own. I’m a little bit scared of it, but I think I’d really enjoy it. I’m down to try it.

Are you adventurous with wellness trends?

Whenever I have time, I’m down to try some new crazy spa trend but I have quite sensitive skin, so more often than not it doesn’t really work for me. Recently I’ve been trying to just stick to my routine and not get too ahead of myself. It’s so fun when you see all these crazy fun face masks. I’m like, “I wanna do it too!” But not everything works.

What’s your favorite form of self care?

Spending time with my family and friends. That grounds me the most and takes me back to the reason why I do everything that I do. I’m so grateful to have those moments because when everything gets so crazy, I look back at those people and I’m like, okay I’m good. I’m where I’m supposed to be. Spending time with family and sensory deprivation tanks is really the next chapter of my life.

Related: Dua Lipa and Anwar Hadid are Instagram Official