Aquolina Pink Sugar

...the Industrial Revolution in your nostrils.

When your inner-11-year-old decides to grow up and move on from the charred chemical charms of Aquolina Pink Sugar - and that day may never come - here’s what’s out there for you:

Le Maison de la Vanille range has more of an “adult cupcake” approach, if such a thing exists. Vanille Sauvage de Madagascar is my favorite from this line. It’s a less chemical-y Pink Sugar with smidge of incense.

L’Artisan Parfumeur Vanilia is vanilla and ash, like cotton candy with a pack-a-day smoking habit. I layer this one with Comme des Garçons Avignon.

Keiko Mecheri Loukhoum eau Poudrée envelopes you in a billowy, powdery cloud of Turkish delight: rose, almonds and honey.

Indult Tihota turns you into Jonah in the belly of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. It’s a smooth, dense, sweet vanilla, without any of the plastic Barbie head or burnt aspects that sometimes come along for the ride.

Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille is Pink Sugar after falling in with an arty crowd and running off to Europe. Un Bois Vanille ditches the chemicals but keeps the burnt caramel and adds a worldly smokiness. And it wouldn’t be a Serge Lutens without a certain amount of fancy footwork -- here it’s beeswax, coconut milk and gaiacwood adding layers and interest.

Those are my favorite vanillas that I’ve encountered so far, but just I’m a vanilla dilettante, or “vanilettante”, if you will. I know there are specialized fumeheads out there whose winning Jeopardy! category is “Vanillas We Love”, and you’re the ones I turn to now. What vanillas do I need to try? Hermès Vanille Galante? Calypso St Barth Lea? Jessica Simpson Fancy? Clue me in to the wonders of the pod and the bean.

Pink Sugar is available from,, and, starting at $16 for 1 oz


  1. Indult Tihota [dupe] & Lostmarch Lann-Ael are my favorite HG vanilla/gourmand :D

  2. Vanille Galante, despite its name, is all about lilies. It's nice, especially in hot weather, but you might be disappointed if you're expecting vanilla.

  3. Thanks simplicity, I shall put Lann-Ael on my "to sniff" list. occhineri, good to know about Vanille Galante.I had read that its creator, J-C Ellena, had the heebie-jeebies about dabbling in vanilla. He considers it a cheat, too much of a crowd-pleaser, apparently.

  4. I'm glad you didn't find Pink Sugar too off-putting; I have it in my collection but it takes a special kind of mood and a blue moon to enjoy wearing it. The packaging reminds me of Candyland and my inner child couldn't resist!

    My favorite sweet scents are Un Bois Vanille by SL and Gourmand Coquin by Guerlain. Have you tried Spirituese Double Vanille by Guerlain? It's a really dark vanilla that smells like pure vanilla extract with a touch of rum. Yum.

  5. wristsniffer, I just tried Spirituese DV the other day (admittedly at the end of a long day of smelling and immediately after Guerlain Attrape-Coeurs had blown my mind), and found it just as you said, pure vanilla extract. It seemed more of an ingredient than a perfume.

    It was at this same Guerlain cavalcade (my local Saks had just launched their Guerlain counter) that I smelled Gourmand Coquin, which just seemed chocolately, and again, "ingrediant-y".

    But after my damning Shalimar with faint praise in the comments section of Perfume Pen Pals: Jicky, I've discovered that the EDP is the one I've made a connection with. The pure parfum is too full-on vanilic for me, but I love the EDP's smoky, burnt haze on the vanilla.

  6. I like my vanillia in cupcakes to be honest but ... it is a great scent when combined with others - ie as in Shalimar.
    That is the way I like my sugar! LOL

  7. Oh Katie - about Jicky (what the hell is "perfume pen-pals"?? I am a bit slow you know)- old girl here not used to the internet all that much!
    Jicky EDP is fantastic , EDT is "Poof"!!! gone in a second so never bother with that and the parfum is NOT the same as it used to be!!! Even the SA in the champs elysee Guerlain shop in Paris last year said it had changed - when I asked why and what have they done to change it or left out I got the "dumb look" --- in other words - we are not allowed to say. Its not as rich and yummy as it was Katie but for the money the EDP is just fine. Sad about Guerlain changing the parfum formula's on a couple of their old girls! Stupid too.
    I have had my "guerlain bitch" and now I must have a nice glass of water and a good rest up - ooooo , it gets my blood pressure up!! . LOL

  8. Sorry lady jicky, I should have clarified: there's a bit of a Jicky discussion a few posts back on this blog that could use your expertise. Just pop "Jicky" in the search box, and it will bring you to a feature called "Perfume Pen Pals: Guerlain Jicky". Another Jicky lover in the comments section there agrees that the EDP is the way to go.

    Re the parfum: so frustrating about all the tinkering with pillars of the perfume establishment!

  9. Thanks for reviewing this scent! I love it. And I'm not 11!! (Or maybe I am on the inside?) If it makes this 36 year old smell like an 11 year old, so be it. You are so right, it smells like dessert...but in a fresh way. I think the judges on the Top Chef or Iron Chef would say, “There is just the right amount of acid-like the zest of a freshly squeezed lemon-to bring out the freshness in the sugar…”.

    I'm not big on florals and perfumey perfumes. I like clean or sweets that smell clean. The only floral I wear is SJP Lovely. Otherwise I’m big on Philosophy or Demeter’s Laundromat. I think people who like Pink Sugar would like the LOVE line by Philosophy. I’ve work Falling In Love for years. But recently got their new scent, Unconditional Love. And I unconditional’dore it even more!

    P.S. – I find that men like to cozy up to me to smell Pink Sugar more than women do. ;-D

  10. Interesting recommendations. If I keep reading this blog, I may fall for another perfume shoping spree (the last one lasted for a couple of years). I guess it is better to take it slow.

    My favorite Vanilla is whituout a doubt Guerlain's Spiritueuse Double Vanille, which is not only discontinued, but sold at ebay for at least $300. At the moment, that is too much for me to spend on a perfume. At the moment >:D

    When I first smelled it I put it aside as another vanilla scent. It wasn't until I tried other vanillas when I discovered that the Guerlain had spoiled me.

    When I was a regular member at Basenotes, a nice woman asked for a little Indult Tihota icon. I made one for her (who can you say no to a White Stripes fan?) and I later had the opportunity to smell the actual fragrance. Pretty Nice Fragrance! Though a bit too femenine for me - says the guy wearing Shalimar light.

    Excellent blog Kattie. I'll be sure to stop by every now and then to check out what is new in the fragrant clouds.

    Isaias (aka izayus11, aka Xer Etéreo)

  11. Wow, I actually came here to ask for a Spiritueuse Double Vanille substitute. I got cought up with the memories as a fumehead.

    Do any of you guys have a good recommendation?

    Xer Etéreo

  12. Jennifer - "sweets that smell clean" make me think of a Lifesaver candy that got left in the pants pocket and came out of the tumble dryer with fuzz all over it!

  13. I'm still on my hunt for the perfect vanilla scent. It seems that vanilla is often paired with burned sugar (Lush Vanillary, Laura Mercier Vanilla Gourmand), licorice (Pink Sugar), or patchouli (LaVanila Pure Vanilla) notes which I don't like.

    So far, my favorite vanilla is CSP's Matin Calin -- I only wish it had more staying power than its current 4 minutes. D & G's The One is a decent winter-time ambery vanilla - smells like a cupcake to me. Philosophy just discontinued a body butter called "Fresh Cream" which I loved, and Cristina Carlino, the former owner said she had plans to make the scent in a body spray a year or two ago. It smells like Ready Whip. Interestingly, Carol's Daughter makes a leave-in hair conditioner spray called Black Vanilla that's quite nice -- perhaps they'll make it into a perfume one day.

  14. Johanna, so you're loving all things caramel vanilla, neat, no mixers. A couple of the ones I mentioned above may fit the bill:
    Vanille Sauvage de Madagascar by La Maison de la Vanille and Indult Tihota.

    I remember Jessica Simpson Fancy as being caramelly. But nothing that I know of would supply the condensed milkiness of Matin Calin. Fresh used to do a lightly caramelly milk scent called Mukki, which is now discontinued. But I seem to recall reading that Fresh may start to offer their discontinued scents at their stores, so there might be hope for Mukki.

  15. Thanks for the recs, Katie. I'm going to check them out.