Aqua Velva

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Aqua Velva is an American brand of grooming products targeted at men. Its best known product is the Ice Blue aftershave introduced in 1917 by the JB Williams Company.[1]


It was first trademarked in 1917 by the JB Williams Company[2] and later acquired by the Beecham Group in 1982,[3] SmithKline Beecham in 1989,[4] then by GlaxoSmithKline from 2000 until it was sold to Combe Incorporated in 2002.[5] As of 2016, it is marketed by Combe Incorporated and Unilever (formerly Sara Lee) in Europe. Aqua Velva products include Classic Ice Blue, Ice Sport, and Musk as well as Original Sport (sold only in Canada). The Classic Ice Blue serves as the original version of Aqua Velva.[6]

Combe Incorporated began shipping Aqua Velva exclusively in plastic "Shatterproof" bottles on February 1, 2010. Previously it had been packaged in glass bottles. It was stated that the change was made at customer request, and that the new plastic packaging contains the same product, with no changes in formulation.[7]


In James Jones' autobiographical war novel The Thin Red Line, a PX store is set up behind the lines during the Battle of Guadalcanal, which stocked exactly two products: Barbasol shaving foam and Aqua Velva aftershave. Within seven hours, the entire Aqua Velva stock was sold out, while plenty of Barbasol was still available. The reason for this was the high alcohol content of Aqua Velva: mixed with canned grapefruit juice, the aftershave tasted passable and ensured a “solid high” for the narrator's entire company.[8] Later, the alcohol in Aqua Velva was denatured with denatonium benzoate.

In a nod to the blue color, there is a cocktail called Aqua Velva, which consists of vodka, gin, lemon-lime, and blue curacao.[9] Among other things, this is discussed in the film Zodiac — The Killer's Trail as the favorite drink of author Robert Graysmith.[10]


  1. ^ "The Aqua Velva State – Today in History: November 17". 17 November 2020. Retrieved 15 September 2021.
  2. ^ US trademark 71107273, "Aqua Velva"
  3. ^ Thomas Derdak, Tina Grant: International Directory of Company Histories, volume 46, 2002, p. 205 [1]
  4. ^ Michael Kinch: A Prescription for Change: The Looming Crisis in Drug Development, UNC Press Books, 2016, p. 213 [2]
  5. ^ Combe Inc. To Acquire J.B. Williams Company, Inc.,, September 30, 2002
  6. ^ Aqua Velva Classic Ice Blue scent at Basenotes Fragrance Directory
  7. ^ (15 February 2010). "Aqua Velva Plastic Bottles". Badger & Blade. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  8. ^ Stevens, Sharon Ritenour; Jones, James (July 1999). "The Thin Red Line". The Journal of Military History. 63 (3): 706. doi:10.2307/120503. ISSN 0899-3718. JSTOR 120503.
  9. ^ Behle, Anna; Pawlowski, Alice (2021-10-28). "Recipe for standard BG-11 media v1". doi:10.17504/ S2CID 240207461. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  10. ^ doi:10.17658/issn.2058-5462/issue-03/jmelvin/p1 Retrieved 2022-02-07. {{cite journal}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)

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