Making Scents Of Agua de Violetas

If you’ve been around a baby, any baby, in Miami, you know the scent of Royal Violets Baby Cologne, or Violets Water, or Agua de Violetas.

And it’s way more than a scent. It’s a way of life.

This cologne is part of millions of lives, from birth to adulthood, thanks to Abuelas who always had the familiar fragrance bottles nearby.

And its international origin story has remained a secret until recently.

Let’s make some scents of it all.

Making Scents from Cuba to Miami

Agua de Violetas is typically used as a fragrance for personal care, particularly for infants and children. For adults, it’s associated with a nostalgic and traditional aroma that evokes memories of childhood. 

“The fragrance was not intended to become a baby cologne but the light, fresh scent became popular among Cuban mothers, who doused their infants in the mixture,” NBC explains.

Today, in many Latin American cultures, Agua de Violetas is a staple in baby care. It’s often used to perfume babies’ clothes, linens, and even their hair. The gentle and delicate scent is believed to have a calming effect on infants and is a way to keep them smelling fresh.

It has a sweet and floral scent derived from violet flowers, yet the exact first company to produce Agua de Violeta, or Violet Water, is not well-documented, and it’s been challenging to pinpoint a single definitive originator.

Historians have traced the use of violet-based fragrances and perfumes back many centuries.

But the godfather of the modern scent, as it’s now known all around the world, is Agustin Reyes, a Cuban perfume maker. He created the scent known as “Royal Violets Agua de Colonia Eau Cologne.”

This unsung hero had to introduce his legendary creation to millions of us, not once, but twice!

And his persistence paid off.

The Two Birthplaces of Agua de Violetas

On December 6 1927, Agustin Francisco Reyes started his perfume company in Cuba, according to his grandson on his company’s web site

“His passion and study of the plants and fauna that made up the raw materials that were his palette led him to Grasse, France to receive formal training in the art of perfumery,” his grandson says. 

After returning to his country, Reyes eventually started his own company and soon launched Loción Violetas Rusas. “Used from birth through adulthood and by rich and poor alike it truly is the cologne of the Cuban people. Over the next few years my grandfather became Cuba’s greatest perfumer,” his grandson explains.

During the Cuban revolution, the Reyes family had to leave their island home in 1960, and move to Miami, Florida. Luckily, the savvy perfumer brought his Agua de Violetas formula with him, and opened up his company in the United States just a year later, in 1961.

Today, familiar Agua de Violetas is produced by various companies and is widely available in Latin American markets and specialty stores catering to a Hispanic clientele.

“Cuban-American celebrities such as Gloria and Emilio Estefan purchase the bottles by the case,” Agustin Reyes III, who currently runs the business his grandfather established, tells NBC.

Yet, the Agustin Reyes brand holds a special place in the hearts of Cubans and Dominicans, and the many Latinos living in the Miami area, still home to the brand. Reyes’ cologne, and its glass bottle, is associated with tradition, cultural identity, and a connection to both the Cuban and Dominican heritage. 

“Agustin Reyes III prides himself on continuing to develop the scent in-house, as opposed to most fragrance houses, while using the original formula his grandfather created nearly nine decades ago,” NBC explains.

As for the Agua de Violetas scent, it’s found as one of the two most prominent scents in baby aisles, from Spain to the Caribbean to Mexico, and more. With more than 10 brands on the market, it remains a timeless scent. 

Here are five Agua de Violetas colognes available online right now:

  1. Crusellas Violet Water Cologne 16 Fl Oz (Agua De Violetas) – This mildly scented cologne can be applied once or more often if desired. It comes in an 8 fl oz size with pump and is priced at $14.99, on Amazon.
  2. Royal Violets by Agustin Reyes 5 oz, Agua de Colonia Eau Cologne glass bottle – “Enjoy the clean, mild and long lasting fragrance of Royal Violets Eau de Cologne,” from Ebay, $17.99.
  1. Para Mi Bebe Agua De Violetas Splash Cologne, 25 Oz, 3 Pack – This mildly scented cologne can be applied once or more often if desired. It comes in a pack of 3 for $35.23, from Walmart.
  1. Violeta Francesa Splash Children and Adult Cologne – This cologne is a “refreshing perfume of violets carefully made using genuine oil of violets imported from France.” It’s available from Amazon for $15.50.
  2. Mimitos Agua de Violetas Cologne Spray – Made in Spain, this 8.4 fl oz. bottle sells for $43.82, on EveryMarket.

By Catherine A. Jones

Cathy’s writing has appeared in The Washington Post Magazine, USA Weekend, People,, The Miami New Times, and dozens of other media publications and online sites. Her opinion pieces have appeared on, El Tiempo Latino, and more.

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