Aquolina is a relatively unknown fragrance company whose only products are the brother and sister scents Blue Sugar and Pink Sugar. While Pink Sugar is an overwhelmingly sweet, candied perfume, Blue Sugar “man’s-it-up” and presents a heady, sexy cologne that still retains the flirtatious sugary notes that its sibling is known for.
Before I was 14, I never wore cologne (and honestly, rarely even more than a basic deodorant… Shhh!). Those awful Axe Body sprays that smell like a boy’s locker room when the janitor has gotten lazy never appealed to me, and so I just went around smelling faintly of soap and fresh water (ironically, now some of my favorite base notes in colognes). But Sephora changed that. Sephora changes everything, really.
I went in just looking for a hair product to tame a style that would now be called the eponymous Bieber (I shudder looking back on pictures of me then… What was I thinking?), and walked out with two sample vials of colognes: Juicy Dirty English and Aquolina Blue Sugar. I tried Juicy’s first, as I’d actually heard of them, even then, and was instantly reminded of why I hated Axe. It smelled like sweat, musk, and aggressive machismo. That one went immediately in the trash. So the next day, I dabbed a bit of Blue Sugar on my wrists, went out, and fell in love. I returned to the mall a few days later to purchase my first cologne ever.
Housed in an attractive, blue tinted cylindrical bottle, Blue Sugar holds its own visually next to the likes of Dior’s Fahrenheit and BANG by Marc Jacobs on my vanity. I rather enjoy the simplicity of its design; no gimmicks (looking at you, PLAY by Givenchy), nothing belying more than it is.
Even now, the scent’s progression from Top Notes to Base Notes is still a journey I take pleasure in, and it certainly hasn’t gotten old. Throughout the entire thing, notes of caramelized sugar wrap themselves sensually around the others, caressing and embracing rather than smothering. Have you ever been to an authentic candy shoppe (yes, spelled with an extra “p” and an “e”; that’s how you know it’s authentic) while the mother and son duo were mixing a giant vat of sugar to turn into those sweet, little caramel chews? This aspect smells near exactly like that: flirtatious, slightly insolent, and sexy in a boyish, rustle-your-hair kind of way.
Some relatively light citrus notes predominate the first half hour or so, calling forth more grilled lemon with its slight smokiness (perhaps the cedar mentioned in the description) than fresh, invigorating grapefruit. This cleanly dissipates into a mix of lavender, ginger, and licorice with patchouli providing a nice binding (rather than being a true base note). The licorice-y notes, enhanced by an undertone of star anise, exude a purely sexual aura: heady, sensual, and intoxicating. It’s one of those notes rarely done well in colognes, but when it is (as here), it’s near impossible to not inhale deeply while closing your eyes and feeling your limbs slowly succumb to gravity’s pull. This isn’t a feral, rough sexuality; it’s one that draws you in and embraces you, perhaps caresses your neck and whispers sweet nothings into your willing ear.
The projection is rather strong, extending maybe a foot away from the body. People will know when you enter a room, and will be drawn inward by this alluring permeation. I’ve had others inch slowly towards me from a seat away, and attempt to surreptitiously smell my neck, though I always notice. You will definitely smell this when you turn your head quickly, or bring your hands up to fix your hair.
But what of lasting time to this? An amazing 12 hours. With three spritzes (one on each wrist and another at the base of the neck), I can still detect this from even a couple inches away after a long day of work, and even working out. It does fade rather well, reducing in strength in a slow, lovely progression rather than in awkward stages as some other fragrances do.
Although it is much more masculine than its sister, Blue Sugar is definitely not the most testosterone-fueled cologne out there. It’s a slightly confusing scent in its presentation: the caramelized sugar notes want to lend it a boyishly flirtatious manner, while the licorice evokes more passionate sexuality, and the combination of both makes me question just whatâ€”or for whoâ€”this cologne is.
Overall, Blue Sugar is an insolently sexy cologne, and a rather unique one in the world of men’s scents. It brings together the sweetness of boyhood and the tender, lustful touches of a date in dark leather and with an exotic name. It deserves a place in the collection of any cologne collector who can figure out how to tailor its mildly confusing nature to their personality.