There are only two things SAINt JHN truly believes in. “Water and rap music. That’s it. Those are the things that are consistent, that will forever be glorious and golden and you’re going to need ‘em and they’re going to be good for you and enrichen you.”
The latter sure has delivered for the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Guyana-bred rapper and singer lately. Last month, his profile skyrocketed after co-writing and guest-spotting on Beyonce’s Lion King smash “Brown Skin Girl.” Now, he’s built on that momentum with his second full-length project Ghetto Lenny’s Love Songs—a funky, offbeat collection of bedroom jams and trap bangers with drop-ins from Lil Baby and Lenny Kravitz, among others—which came out on Friday.
Everything else in SAINt JHN’s life—from his moisturizer to his headphones—is up for debate, open to scrutiny, and subject to replacement by something better at any given moment. “Every dollar I spend, I’m looking to fall in love,” he says. “I have a few things I already love, but I’m always thinking that I can do better. I’m always on the hunt.” For now, though, he’s let us in on the scents, skincare, and travel essentials he’s in love with currently—the stuff he’s leaned on to stay centered and focused on his non-stop marathon to stardom.
Scent Is Everything
The first thing you notice when you meet SAINt JHN? The guy smells incredible. He’s a hugger, and it’s tempting to hang on an extra half-second longer to get a second whiff. That’s by design: JHN is a genuine fragrance obsessive, seeking out and collecting scents from all over the place. His all-time fave brand is the old-school British house Creed—especially the fresh and citrus-y Millesime Imperial—and he mentioned several times throughout our interview that he was ready and waiting to collab with them.
But JHN’s most recent obsession comes from the upmarket SoHo apothecary MiN New York: “They’ve got a scent called Voodoo, which is really pleasant. It has a certain type of musk to it. I like musk and oud in a really, really delicate way. Because sometimes, if there’s too much oud, it just smells like you’re in the back of a cab in Harlem and I can’t do it. This one is more of a radiant citrus with a little bit of musk. I like that balance, because you smell like you’ve lived a little bit, but you just got out the shower.”
It’s not just his body that SAINt JHN wants to smell right, though—it’s everywhere he goes. “Candles are the newest tier of fragrance exploration for me,” he says. “They allow you to create your environment in an interesting way, to set the mood before you get there. I used to think I wanted to establish the mood when I walked in the door. Now I want both.” He began with his old reliable: “Creed has this Silver Mountain Water candle? Incredible. Damn, I shouldn’t have told y’all. Now everyone gonna know.”
“There are these soy wax candles I get from Goodhood in London. It’s called P.F. Candle Co., they’ve got this whiskey scent that’s amazing. Last time I was out there, I told [British rapper] Giggs, ‘You gotta get these candles.’”
The last way SAINt JHN keeps his world smelling fresh? A couple of Muji diffusers loaded with essential oils. “I have a personal one that I take on a plane with me. It's a really small square pouch that fits in my Chanel carry-on or whatever I have at the time. And I set it right next to me in first class. I'm very proud of that. I don't come from a whole lot. I'm in first class—write that in big print, bold. And then I’ve got the larger cylinder, which I try to have going in my room all day—and especially at night before I sleep.”
Up until a couple of years ago, SAINt JHN relied almost exclusively on his mom’s single-step skin solution: “She used to lather petroleum jelly on us. Vaseline. Fam, I’m pretty sure you could power a motorcycle with this stuff, and my mom was putting it on our skin. But it worked! Touch this.” (At this point, he stuck his arm out across the table, and we can confirm: soft as a baby’s bottom.) The only reason he eventually swore off the Vaseline? “That stuff gets hot. It’d be the middle of August, and it’s like wearing a whole raincoat of body product.”
From there, JHN experimented with a bunch of high-end skincare lines like Neostrada and SkinCeuticals, but eventually settled on something far simpler for his everyday routine. “I use Cetaphil face wash. It’s really simple. Nothing super fancy. I just feel like it needs to clean your face and not add or take away from anything. And then from there I go to a really basic moisturizer—also from Cetaphil.”
In the shower, JHN rotates a couple tiers of rose-scented body washes: longtime crunchy fave Dr. Bronner’s for everyday, and Le Labo’s Rose 31 for special occasions. “If you go in my bathroom you’ll see tons of bottles of Rose 31. That’s sexy. You notice my voice change there?”
And, finally, he keeps a tube of citrus-scented Aesop body balm on his person at all times. “Right now, I want to wear this,” he says, rubbing a healthy dollop into his hands. “I want to live in this on a consistent basis.”
Whatever SAINt JHN's doing, it seems to be working. When his manager forced him to get a facial recently, "the [esthetician] came out after and goes, 'I've never seen such perfect skin. There was nothing to do.'"
A Few Stray Recommendations
As SAINt JHN talked—and he certainly wasn’t shy—he dropped a couple of additional product recs into the mix that didn’t quite fit into the above categories.
“I got these Beats from Posty Fest when I performed, so shout out to Post [Malone]. They’re great for sleeping. They’ve got this suction cup quality to ‘em...you know the fetal position? It gives you that type of comfort. I’m in my own world by myself, and no one can hear my thoughts. On a plane, with extra legroom, my Muji diffuser going, a little Creed on my skin? That’s a glorious day.”
“I love Dove deodorant -- the one for women. I’ve been using it my whole life. I was never afraid to try female products. I didn’t believe in those gender identities as it related to products. I was like, “How do you determine on a molecular level that this is not for my gender?” You ever see a shirt in a clothing store, and you see a shirt that you think it’s cool, but it’s in the women’s section so you don’t pick it up? That was you, not me. I’m wearing that shirt. You don’t get to define me. I get to define myself. In the products I choose and in the way that I live. Make sense?”
“I brush my teeth as frequently as I can. I use this Phillips Sonicare one: it’s effective, consistent. The only thing you have to do is charge it. And toothpaste? I like Tom’s—the one with the leaf on it, the mint one. I don’t like the lavender one—that scent reminds me of an old lady with paisley on.”
Originally Appeared on GQ