Do we think celebrities actually wear their own branded fragrances? I feel like J. Lo does, but Sarah Jessica Parker might not. In Ariana Grande’s case, I think yes, the tiny popstar smells like grapefruit-flavored cotton candy, with hints of amber—all the notes listed in her most recent release, Moonlight. It’s sweet but slightly sultry, like the uncomfortable feeling you had the first time you felt attracted to Zac Efron in High School Musical. How old is he? You wondered, assuming it was like, 43 and everything was OK.
Maybe I’m partial to Moonlight because the bottle is the same shade of My Little Pony violet as my childhood bedroom. Or because I really like listening to Ariana Grande on my evening commute. Or because I consider cotton candy to be a delicacy. Whatever the reasons, I feel fondly Big Sister-y about this perfume, which is Grande’s third—and she’s only 24! I like it and I want the best for it.
Moonlight, named after a song on Dangerous Woman but presumably, also the light of the moon, starts off intensely sweet. What is supposedly red currant and plum, to me, was more like grapefruit cotton candy, and it’s prominent. On a risky two-spritz day, I noticed a woman sitting on the train next to me turn her head aside and rest her chin on her hand so that she could permanently face away from me. But as it fades, the scent that sticks on is a whiff of clean cotton, a combination of warm vanilla and amber.
I had an identity crisis deciding if it was appropriate for me, a person doing my best impression of a Serious Adult, to wear something as sweet as Moonlight. Can I pull off a high pony in the workplace? I wondered. I googled “Ariana Grande height” thinking she might actually be the size of those little hula lady dashboard figures. (She’s 5’0”!) I listened, really listened, to Dangerous Woman to uncover some deeper meaning about the universe. But no, they’re just vaguely sexual, catchy lyrics by three grown men who do not get their own fragrance.
Wearing Moonlight is like the perfume equivalent of watching Ariana Grande transform from a corny Nickelodeon star to an impulsive, mistake-making adolescent, to an emotionally wiser 20-something who finally realizes the power she wields. It mellows out. She’s still rocking that long ponytail, though. It’s a sweet scent for dark times. I wouldn’t say the fragrance has as much range as Grande’s pipes, no, but not many things do.
Photographed by Tom Newton.
For continued enthusiasm, read here to find out what scent you should wear now based on your tween perfume of choice.